Spoilers for Portal 2, something about writing and comedy, SPOILERS FOR PORTAL 2

29 Apr

Wrote a big long rambly bjournal post earlier, saved it as a draft, came back to it just now, read it, thought, “Literally no one wants to read this, myself included”, made the world a slightly better place by not publishing it.

Anyway, I now have an outline for an MoD short story. It involves an insane AI, so naturally I’m worried that I’m just ripping off Portal. With that said, this insane AI isn’t really anything like GLaDOS, aside from being an AI and (as mentioned) insane (although not INSANE insane, from the AI’s point of view it’s perfectly rational). And yet is it even POSSIBLE to write an insane AI now, without the inevitable GLaDOS comparisons? Tricky, tricky, tricky. I think I have to trust myself to write this story my way, that this is my insane AI, not anyone else’s, that the differences will show through, that my ‘voice’ is strong enough to create that distinction, and that the story is strong enough to support what I’m trying to do. Still, though, doubt doubt doubt doubt doubt.

(Doubt is, I believe, essential for good writing. If you don’t doubt yourself then something’s wrong. Then again, you need confidence too; confidence in your characters, confidence in your story, confidence in your ability to pull it all together. Odd combination, really. Getting the balance right is tricky.)

I watched “Talking Funny” recently, with Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, Louis CK and Chris Rock, and I found myself agreeing with Ricky Gervais’s philosophy most of all, that it’s not about the cheap laugh, that he hates it when he gets a laugh from a joke that he knows anyone else could have made–within the confines of the show this idea wasn’t fully explored but it struck home with me, it helped solidify a lot of things I’ve been thinking about lately. There are comedians out there who live on cheap jokes, who can get a crowd laughing with lowest-common-denominator stuff, but then there are the comedians who are a step above that, the comedians who craft their jokes, who work at them, who polish them, who throw away more material than they use, who reject ideas out of hand because they’re ‘too easy’, and these are the comedians who rise above, these are the comedians who aren’t just popular but who are thought of as something more. I’m not even talking about comedians who ‘make you think’–although they’re often one and the same–but those who really work at their humour to make it the best it can be, to make it something that only they could create. The distinction was drawn between people who would laugh at anything, and people who laughed because they understood. And I think it’s the same with writing, there are people who’ll read anything and then there are people who really get what a writer has done. People who search for something more than ‘ordinary’. I’m not saying one’s better than the other, but that’s the kind of reader I am, and that’s the kind of reader I write for. Whether or not I succeed, I honestly wouldn’t trust myself to judge. But I like what I write, despite the self-doubt, so I think there must be at least some worth to it. After all, I’m incredibly picky.

Back to Portal 2, because it really is something special. (SPOILERS ARE COMING.) It’s difficult to pick a best most favourite bit (leaving aside the Final Action, of course, because that’s … just something else entirely), but this was amazing:

GLaDOS: Well, this is the part where he kills us.
Wheatley: Hello! This is the part where I kill you!
CHAPTER 9 – The Part Where He Kills You
Achievement Unlocked: The Part Where He Kills You
(Achievement Description: “This is that part.”)

I bet they were giggling for ages about that, I bet they danced when they came up with the idea. I bet they got more and more excited when they realised they could put an achievement in with it to add yet another layer to the gag. This is what ‘creation’ should be like. Dancing and giggling and getting excited because you’ve done something nobody else could do.

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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Of Writing


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