Subverting the Genre

The Wordsmith’s Anvil


It is tempting, as a writer, to conform to one of the popular genres; fold together the de-rigeour plotlines, bend and hammer in reader’s favourite character types, heat and finally temper it into a shining example of sure-to-sell. It is so easy to do.


If you do it right then you may have a functional knife, decent sword or even another hammer to shape more words on your anvil. You may well be successful. That is good, do you not think? Maybe. Molten Words Cast Out of the mould it pops. Smooth off the cast lines and flash, polish it into… …into what?


Exactly what the mould tells it to be. You see, you take your mould, fill it with the molten result of your works and leave it to cool. After a time, you crack it open and out comes….an exact copy of what the mould was made from. Vampires who have various existencial crises. Angels who, in spite of having god-like powers, still chase after a much ignored young girl who secretly has reality shattering powers.


The all-powerful evil overbeing who commands legions of fanatical followers and can murder anyone they like with a mere thought with the hidden weakness that everyone had forgotten about, killed by a precocious pubescent… Funnily enough nobody asks what happens once the hero and love interest share a kiss and the final page is turned.
The vast army or empire does not simply shuffle it’s feet and decide that unfettered evilness was a poor career choice. Will the minor villains and henchpeople turn good and they live in the cliche everyone loves? What do you think?


A Mighty Sword Forgéd


Yes, the accent is intentional for we are about to enter into a fantasy-based extended metaphour…(spelling intentional for pedantic accent)
The hero of the tale will often be seeking a weapon of some sort with which to end the Evil One forever.
No simple sword, hammer, arrow or pointy-murder-thing will suffice: a simple and enthusiastic poke into a convenient soft bit will not end the threat which means to end everything that is Good forever! It is never that easy.


A Quest must be undertook, many dangers faced and disparate characters who do not get on will find common ground and form an incredible team. Some of them might die, a traitor will be uncovered, maybe a deathbed (or death rock) redemption or two might take place. All good and fine.


The weapon being sought will be of incalculable power meaning that the Bad Fellow will be utterly destroyed by it. It might be somewhat harmful or devisive to our Bold Adventurers too but that adds to the depth and drama does it not?


A Sword is not Simply a Pointy Metal Stick


Now, not to bore you with the technicalities involved in turning non-sword-shaped metal into edged death, it is a long and arduous process.


One must select the metal, have a picture of the end result in one’s mind. One must bend, fold, hammer, smooth, beat, heat, temper and quench just right or one’s weapon will break the first time you try to beat someone with it.


For this example, too, one must also enbue the item with magic, secret knowledge or really, really fancy ornamentation in order to make sure said Evil One becomes the requisite number of Evil Pieces (none of which will be placed in a microwave oven to burn the hero’s house down and kill his parents).


One can make a sword mould and pour all the right ingredients into it. One can wait for it to cool and free it from its prison. One can tidy it up, polish it, give it a decent edge. One can even make it shine like a mirror.
One can do all of that but the first time your weapon meets a master (or mistress) forged equivalent, it will snap in two with a rather disappointing crack sound. The crack of disappointment, they call it.
Whomever it may be that they are.


Start with the Basics


As the metalsmith starts with – you got it – metal, what does the wordsmith start with? That’s right! With their brain! We got you, drew you right in and played one of those awful context jokes on you! Actually, some might call it inspiration, that ephemerous output of the Muses, others call it research. It is the same thing though, a wordsmith’s base material.


Words are, afterall, simply a process of re-arranging 26 letters into different configurations. This brings us to the First Contentious Moment; writers and storytellers. Anyone can be a writer but few have what it takes to be a story teller.


Five Minute Argument Break…

You clicked on it, didn’t you? I know, it’s an awful joke but it keeps me amused.


Author’s Self-Promotion Moment.


So, of course the author is going to mention his own work here. Why not? This is my Blog, thank you very much! In this case, I am using it as an illustration so please forgive my cupidity.


To those who have read either the current draft or the prequel: Collected Preludes one thing may well stand out. Not just the odd British spelling and strange sense of humour. What might draw the most inquisitive of minds is this; the subversion of assumptions, the twisting of expectations and the fact that the mountains of source material are questioned at each and every point.
All the stories are true, or at least that used to be. One popular genre these days involves the Bible of Christianity, just like The Chronicles of Enoch does.


This, in its way is a subversive genre started by that rather popular series of novels which started everyone wondering about what that ancient Italian Polymath was really up to with his religious paintings.


A whole sub-genre has since emerged, feeding on the doubts and controversy Mr. Brown stirred up. The good ones among therm ask the most important of questions; how did it truly begin and how did it change so drastically?


What would happen if we could prove that the carpenter from Nazareth actually meant something quite different to what was later attributed to him?


The Dramatic License

Oh, it looks like mine expired. That could be embarrassing (also I am not that young, please don’t tell)!

I have mentioned this before because, you might be surprised to learn, it is very important .


Dramatic license; not the terrible mockup I created for a few seconds of amusement but the less physical kind.
Storytellers predate writers because, should we believe the archeologists, speech predated writing. Before people discovered that making symbols mean words was the latest thing (all the other up-and-coming civlisations are doing it!) there was only one place to store all the important stuff and make sure it did not vanish forever.


The Oral Tradition.


Travelling storytellers would move from placed to place and, often for a space by the fire, free food and alcohol, would entertain their hosts with stirring tales about the exploits of some heroic figure or other.


Perhaps they would include religious or moral instruction into the mixture. They would leave but the story would remain behind, now resident in the heads of those who had just heard it.

The Travelling Story Now


Seeing as the storyteller earned their living from the quality of the stories they told, it was not unknown for a good one to…well…add bits to the original they had heard previously. Some local flavour, a bit of cultural relevence, seemingly casual observations made on their way into the village/homestead/farm/tavern as well as their own opinions and biases.

When they left and a copy of the story remained with the latest recipients thereof, the story may well not be the same as the last version told. In fact, the same story could be getting told, in a variety of slightly different incarnations, in a number of different places at the same time.


One day, newcomers would come the village or, gathered around and, lacking decent television and WiFi, the villagers would retell the story. Perhaps they would go to a local gathering and tell it there.


Storytellers being as they are, the urge to stamp their own individuality onto the tale was rarely easy to resist. Lessons and themes important to their culture and society would find their way in.


Names might well change in the process, locations, even the ending. The more the story travelled, from mouth to mouth, ear to ear, the more it changed, the harder it became to recognise the original from the new and shiny version. It is possible that facts were exchanged for the kind of drama which promised food, wine and a warm bed for the night.
Maybe the overwhelming need to ensure that an important lesson was learned or vital information passed on was factored in.


That favourite childhood game of “Ethinic Stereotype Whispers” is suddenly quite a significant learning experience. Gilgamesh became Noah and the list goes on and on.


History is as stable and as reliable as the human beings who study and repeat it.


The Point is Reached


It is easy to conform to a popular genre.


Anyone can, with effort and focus, produce a half-decent tale of what people on certain platforms like to read but will your story, neck-deep in the morass, ever be more than one of hundreds?


The point of this article was to illustrate how seemingly mundane and everyday events may well become something quite different.


A young boy on the way to market sell his family’s only cow returns with a handful of beans and concocts a fantastical lie.


Two children bearing bread through the dark forest get lost for days and agree on a spine-chilling tale to explain their absence and, to their thinking, avoid a good thrashing.


The human race prefers the gentle lie to the hard truth. That is, as writers, our job; to bear them along the path of a fantastical tale towards the final truth, the point.


Along the way, we entertain them, we show they joy, dispair, shock and perhaps horror.

We teach them without their even being aware of it and then, when they arrive at the final page and – in a mixture, we hope, of pleasure and sadness – read the final words they mutter


“Now it makes sense! Now I understand!”


And they smile as they stare off into the space you took them to.
They have accepted the truth without even realising it!

History #Villain #ChroniclesofEnoch #Discovery #PassionForTheArt #AlanJFisher #Religion #Creative #Philosophy #thoughts #Dramatic #ArtoftheStoryteller #Storytelling #WritingTips #WritingTropes #WritingMentor #Writinghelper #WritingCoach #BookWritingPixies #NewWriters #assumptions

Secret Societies and Hollow Men

(and women, of course)
There are dozens, if not more, relatively new and ancient secret societies in the world today; all of them have a single aim driving their existence and continued survival; world domination.
There is, to my mind, one small problem with that picture; how can they all be working towards world domination? Surely we only need one shadow government subverting everything? They cannot be competing to be the dominant subverter surely?
That would, we believe, be rather silly.
So, a more logical mind would come to a different conclusion; either there are no secret societies at all or there is only one of that that is real; the others are inventions of people like Dan Brown. perhaps he is responsible for all of them but the secret masters let him live for their amusement.
Everybody Wants To….
Tear for Fears references aside, there are, at last count, over 100 secret societies operating either large-scale or minor subversion. Let us list some of them, at least those we get to meet to a degree in The Chronicles of Enoch;
  • The Illuminati; Made popular by Mr. Brown though few remember the original Illuminati Trilogy that started it all. They are, allegedly, an organisation formed by some of history’s greatest minds whose primary objective is to bring down the Catholic Church and usher in a new age of secular equality for all. As long as said people do what the Illuminati tell them to do. They are “always watching over” us and are said to monitor all communications and surveil every single person in the world for their own protection from unnamed evil forces (possibly the Catholic Chruch).
  • The Rothschilds; A massive banking legacy that controls all the world’s politicians and decides who wins elections. They own all of the world’s banks and control all of the wealth; therefore are dominant in pretty much every aspect of society and life if you think about. It is supposed that there might be a mild antisemetic element to this conspiracy but when has that ever stopped someone?
  • The Nine Unknown Men; a society formed in India somewhere around around either the beginning of the 19th Century of the current era or 270 B.C, depending on who you listen to. These nine men were elected to hide away and guard knowledge deemed dangerous to the human race but vital for its eventual survival. They were to watch and guard until the time was deemed right. They have supposedly leaked secret knowledge on advanced technology and so forth to trustworthy individuals (such as Nikola Tesla) over the years.
  • The Knights Templar; on Friday 13th October 1307, all members of this order were supposedly arrested and executed in quite a well-synchronised operation for the time. They were tried for heresy and devil-worship but, it was thought, their accusers were either after their vast fortune in cash and land deeds or whatever it was that they found under what is now the Western Wall in Jersusalem. Though thought to be extinct, many believe that the Order survives today and may even have morphed into Freemasonry and Roscrucians, and even the modern Knights Templar.
  • The Skull and Bones Society; based out of America’s elite Yale University “Bonesmen” as members are called have included men such as George H.W Bush, George W. Bush, members of Fortune 500 corporations, and the CIA. They are said to be part of a plan for these wealthy and influential individuals to, you may be surprised to learn, take over the world.
  • Opus Dei; Formed by a Spanish priest in 1928, “The Work of God” is an orthodox Catholic organisation recognised and funded by the Vatican. They are said to own and control a number of banks in Spain, Latin America, and a number of other predominantly Catholic countries. Their exact aims are uncertain but Catholic domination is seen as one of them.
  • The Bilberbergs; not a secret society as such because everyone knows about their meetings and where they take place but nobody except the very influential attendees know what happens at those closed-door meetings. The Premiers of the world’s nations, important academics, financial risining stars, and others deemed worthy of an invite. The fact that the Chatham House Rule nondisclosure is applied to all attendees, conspiracy is rife in regards to this group.
That is, of course, not even a fraction of the number of shadowy organisations out there either. They all seem to share a number of important things in common;
  1. World Domination
  2. Secret Knowledge
  3. Hidden Sources of Wealth
  4. Influential Members
  5. A Lot of Rumours But Nothing Proveable
The question of why there are so many of them is one nobody seems willing to provide a decent answer to or, how they are going to share the world once they have dominated it to their satisfaction
The Chronicles Makes its Move
Those of you who have been paying attention to our artworks will have noticed that a number of those secret societies get at least a nod in The Chronicles. It might be their symbolism being hidden in such an artwork and, therefore, being associated with certain characters, it might be characters either claiming or truly belonging to one of those organisations, it might be a certain character claiming to be feeding all rumours related to a number of these societies on the internet but they are there.
The Chronicles cannot be a work that deeply involves conspiracies and not included at least two of them.
The Illuminati; we meet at least three Illuminati characters towards the end of Darkness Within;
  • Douglas Fairfield; their Chief of Operations and Intelligence based out of Home Base, an artificially created island somewhere in the South Pacific. This island is hidden from all forms of detection using technology of unknown origin. Fairfield is a former Met Police and Mi6 operative and manages a vast surveillance network that uses covert drones, hacking into metropolitan CCTV networks, and backdoors into the monitoring networks most governments use to keep an eye on their citizens. Asmodeus has womed his way undetected into some of their servers.
  • Kaleb Aristedes; a billionaire playboy (there must always be one) and accomplished pilot who acts as ‘taxi driver’ for the Illuminati. He ferries whoever needs to be taken between Home Base and anywhere else in the world using a series of hidden fuel dumps across the ocean.
  • Lord Sir James Perrithwaite; former politician, distant cousin to the Queen who died over 30 years ago. The Illuminati like to pick their Grandmasters from the dead as it makes things less complicated, ultimately. It also means that Perrithwaite may never leave Home Base or be seen in the world, especially considering his former position.
An amusing note to add at this point is that my decision to include the Illuminati was inspired by how easy they are to join these days. I got an email telling me that all I had to do to join is sign up. I could rise through the levels of their ranks by purchasing their cheaply made jewellery and associated tat. I’d always thought it was more challenging than that was signed up with no hesitation. I kept getting thier well-written motivational emails for a while until they realised I was unlikely to make a purchase.
The Nine Unknown Men; there is only one of the Men present in Darkness Within but we do have plans to involve others later on in the series;
  • Rabbi Tav Pachowski; rabbi Pachowski was recruited into the Unknown Men by Marcus Vanderbilt, the father of Charles and Peter. At this time, the rabbia has actively been collecting intelligence on known Fallen angels and Nephilim around the Atlanta area. He has been tailing Sable for what may well turn out to be very personal reasons.
Of course, there is no denying that Asmodeus is very much involved in an awful lot of conspiracy traffic these days; many of the stranger pieces of information regarding the weirdest of the secret societies tend to come from his archives and bots. He especially likes the ones which cause arguments and mistrust, they are the kind that, he’ll tell you, require hard work and artistry.
Conclusion
There is no question that people are fascinated by the possibility of secret people, doing secret things in secret places which affect the rest of us. There is a lasting appeal to knowing a little bit more about these shadowy figures we can influence in no way whatsoever, or at least thinking that we do of course.
Just like ancient peoples invented gods and demi-urges to explain difficult, unexpected or inexplicable natural events, modern people need explanations too, it would seem. We need to believe there is some kind of sense and order to it all in direct opposition to all evidence.
Nefaerious secret people manipulating everything from the shows on television to the words you consciously see in the newspapers are as good an explanation as any other.
Asmodeus has one final word for you, though;
“…these people who told you about these organisations, these societies that hide in secret places and, basically control everything, right? These people who provide the information you read about; how do they do that when said organisations seem rather keen on secrecy and privacy and, it is hinted, are not shy about discouraging – terminally quite often – interest in their activities? How did they stay alive long enough to actually report it?
“So, I think we can safely say that any information you are seeing on the internet either comes from this very room or, you can assume that it is faked by someone else because the mere fact that it is ‘out there’ means that it is in no way a threat to Them; whichever They it happens to be referring to or popular at the time…”