Marloth

Marloth Narrative Documentation

Summary

The purpose of this document is to define the qualities of a Marloth narrative.

Items

Ambiguity

Rules

  • A narrative should regularly keep details of the story ambiguous to allow multiple viable interpretations.
  • In such cases, these interpretations should not be intended to be mutually exclusive.
  • When a Marloth narrative uses ambiguity, to some degree all possible interpretations are true at once.
  • Ambiguity in a Marloth narrative should not be used to allow the audience freedom of interpretation. It's not to be open-ended. The purpose of ambiguity here is to layer one possibility on top of the other, forming a legend.

Reasons

  • This form of ambiguity adds dreaminess.
  • This form of ambiguity is an efficient way of adding dense depth.

Confusion

When this documentation uses the word ambiguity, it is generally referring to positive ambiguity. This is in contrast to negative ambiguity.

Positive ambiguity is when a communication supports multiple logical interpretations and all of those interpretations are desirable by the author.

Negative ambiguity is when a communication supports multiple logical interpretations and one or more of those interpretations are contrary to the author's intent.

Within this documentation, negative ambiguity is referred to as confusion. Confusion should be avoided.

Awe

Background

One of the primary goals of a Marloth narrative is to inspire awe. Most of the rules in this document are either directly or indirectly derived from this root goal.

Wonder can be a synonym for awe, which is fitting since one of Marloth's primary influences is Lewis Carrol's "The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland". Marloth is a type of Wonderland.

Brevity

Rules

The writing style of Marloth is concise. Verbosity should be minimized. This includes:

  • No lengthy descriptions.
    • Occasional paragraph-long descriptions can exist if they have strong meta-physical implications.
  • No detailed descriptions.
    • Character's physical appearance should be vague with only a few key highlights.
  • Skipping narrations that do not have major significance.
    • As an example, narrating how a character travels from one point to another.
    • Action sequences can be a little more detailed, but should still be no more than a paragraph at a time and sparsely used.
  • Dialogue is allowed lengthier passages. A single dialogue can span multiple pages, though dialogue of that length should not be frequent.

Reasons

  • I like efficient communication.

  • I don't like filler text. A reader's time is important and should be used preciously. The honor of reading is bestowed on the writer, not the reader.

  • Dense, significant communication overwhelms the audience, helping add awe.

  • Minimal text lends itself to Marloth's high concentration of implication.

  • It's more efficient to write. (This is offset by the work it takes to manage so many dimensions in a Marloth narrative. Traditional story telling is more verbose but the verbosity is also more loosely coupled like a string of islands.)

Climax

Rules

  • A story is an equation, where each part of the story is filling out the equation
  • When the equation is fully filled out, the solution becomes evident and the story is over
  • The point where the story is completed is the climax
  • The final puzzle piece should depend on previous puzzle pieces for meaning and significance
    • Don't end on a reveal that would have had nearly as much weight earlier in the story
    • The final puzzle piece and the final point should not be the same thing. The final puzzle piece (within the context of all the other puzzle pieces) should imply the final point.
      • The final point can also be explicitly pointed out after the last puzzle piece, but even so, it's still the final puzzle piece that is the main ah-ha moment, not the exposition.
  • The final puzzle piece should be non-obvious
    • Hide it behind complexity and audience prejudice
  • The final puzzle piece should be information that involves people
    • It should be either directly or indirectly about one or more people

Continuity

Background

Narrative is a sequence of transitions from one state to the next.

Rules

  • Marloth narratives should have a steady sense of progression and moving forward.
  • No backing up.
    • Characters can have set backs, but they shouldn't be pure set backs. Something should still have been gained in the process.
  • Marloth narratives should periodically contain transitions between radically disparate states.
    • More so than most other narratives.
  • In most cases, major transitions should be reserved for the division between book parts.
    • This is one of the main purposes of parts in Marloth narratives. A six part Marloth book will roughly have six major states.
  • The transitions between books can be more extreme than the transitions between parts.
  • The transitions between books still need some continuity.
  • Past, present, and future should overlap and occasionally blur.
    • Don't blur these too much or any sense of progression will be lost.
  • Avoid nonlinear narrative.
    • Some of the benefits of nonlinear narrative are still achieved through the blurring of past, present and future.
  • No prequels.
    • This could be organized under avoiding nonlinear narrative but is worth it's own point for emphasis.
    • Since blurring time is allowed in a Marloth narrative, some notion of prequelishness is allowed, as long as a book is not a pure prequel.

Reasons

Cozy

Background

Many locations in Marloth fall into one of two opposing extremes: wilderness and sanctuaries.

The wilderness is dangerous and scary. When a characters are in the wilderness they can never let their guard down.

Sanctuaries are safe and secure. They invoke warmth. Warm lighting, warm food, warm drinks. And windows to see the harsh conditions outside and emphasize the contrast.

Rules

  • A Marloth narrative needs to have major characters occasionally in wilderness settings
  • A Marloth narrative needs to have major characters occasionally in sanctuary settings
  • In most cases, whenever a major character is in a sanctuary, he or she should be in the company of friends
  • At least some of the sanctuary scenes need friends dining together

Deja Vu

Rules

  • Use patterns to create inductive similarities between different characters, suggesting that they are in one sense the same character.
  • Use foreshadowing to give some characters a vague notion of future events.
    • This can't be just any character or any event.
      • Some characters are more connected with the big picture.
      • Foreshadowed events should be pivotal and be ether one or both of:
        • Events that at first look undesirable but in retrospect are a hidden blessing.
        • Events that would not normally be expected.
  • Repeat some events where a character who is vaguely aware of the big picture identifies that similar events happened before and this time the character is trying to change the outcome.

Reasons

  • Deja Vu is a critical means of generating dreaminess.

Dependency

Rules

  • Everyone except God is dependent on someone or something else for every ounce of power they wield.
  • Make those dependencies evident.
  • At the same time, dependency blindness can be utilized to add surprise to the narrative. Make dependencies evident, but that doesn't have to happen right away. Dependencies can be hidden and then later revealed to much amazement.
  • Aside for a Christ character like Tralvorkemen, do not have super characters that are absurdly more powerful than the characters around them. This applies both for heroes and villains.
    • If an opposing force needs to feel scary and overwhelming, either reduce the power of the heroes facing that force or have the force be more quantity than quality (Facing an army instead of a single character as strong as an army.)

Dreaminess

Rules

  • A Marloth narrative should be as dreamlike as possible without interfering with other rules

Reasons

  • Dreaminess is one of the most powerful methods of generating awe
  • I love dreaminess
  • Dreaminess is a signature feature of Marloth

Euphemism

Rules

  • Rely heavily on euphemisms.
  • In particular, rely heavily on thematic euphemisms.
    • Thematic euphemisms can overlap with symbolism, such as how the candy Jillybons are both a metaphor and euphemism for drugs.
  • To some degree, a narrative should rely on euphemisms in such a way that it ironically feels like a children's story that is not a children's story.
  • Anything sexual in nature requires a euphemism.

Reasons

  • Marloth narratives touch on a lot of heavy issues and euphemisms help minimize the sense of endless negativity.
  • Euphemisms add flavor, humor, and implication.

Family

Background

When I was young, family did not mean much to me. The more I have grown, the more my appreciation of family has grown.

The first Marloth book has hardly any familial relationships. Later books should revolve more around family.

Family does conflict with some of the tropes Marloth capitalizes on. Exactly how to resolve this tension is a problem not yet fully solved.

One benefit of emphasizing family within a fantasy setting such as Marloth is that most similar fantasy settings tend to de-emphasize family. Thus, there is a considerable frontier of unique situations available by simply taking a routine fantasy situation and mixing it with family.

Rules

The first book breaks most of these rules, but it is what it is.

  • Every Marloth narrative should have many family relationships between its characters.
  • Family should be presented as something that is valuable.
  • Don't just show dysfunctional family relationships. Also show healthy family relationships.

Reasons

  • Family is devalued in modern narratives.
    • Modern narratives either have an unrealistic lack of family relationships or focus on dysfunctional family relationships.
  • Family adds meaning and depth to narratives.
  • Family is adds additional dimensions of situations for audiences to relate to.

Friends

Background

As I age, past friendship becomes a stronger motivation for my art. Most people are not good at keeping up with old friends, and of that I am the extreme. I've had so many dear friends over the years that I will probably never see again in this lifetime. Most of them simply from parting ways and no longer being in the same neighborhood of life, though the older I get the more death becomes the prime divider, as already some of my dearest friends are no longer in this world.

It may be self-delusion, but art is my knee-jerk reaction for capturing all of the past that is dear to me—a means of honoring it, preserving it, and hopefully packaging it in such a way that others can enjoy it.

Rules

  • As a narrative progresses, friendships should be a more integral part of the story.
  • A friendship can contain much conflict. A beautiful friendship can exist with no harmony but consistent caring and self-sacrifice.
    • I don't mean to devalue harmony here. Harmony is very important but more in its own right, in a section of its own.

Gothic Christianity

Background

It is common in modern epic fantasy for the protagonist to be saving the world from a powerful force of evil. While I am still formalizing my ideas around this, I am increasingly reaching the conclusion that world-saving-stories are a practice that is both unhelpful and unhealthy.

World-saving-stories have several essential premises that are false:

  • The world is mostly good
  • The world can be comprehensively conquered or destroyed
  • The world can be saved by someone other than Christ

That is humanism.

Marloth is a setting I call "Gothic Christianity". Basically, it emphasizes and dramatizes the fallen state of humanity. The world is fallen and wicked. A remnant of good is trying to uphold virtue amidst a sea of vice. Yet the heroes need not fear, for good cannot be snuffed out, and is the true foundation of the world. The wicked are dependent upon a Creator they reject.

Rules

  • The protagonist should never be trying to save the world
    • With the possible exception for that goal to ultimately be subverted
      • With the further caveat that subverting primary story goals tends to result in conflicted stories and dissatisfied audiences
  • Narratives should not create a sense that if a particular flicker of good is extinguished then all hope for the world is forever lost
    • The first Marloth book doesn't entirely keep this rule, but later books should
  • The world of Marloth should never be in danger of being comprehensively conquered by evil or destroyed
    • A narrative can have characters afraid of such a possibility as long as that fear is eventually disproved, at least to the audience
    • Marloth is fractured into sub-worlds and those sub-worlds can be destroyed, though in such cases the residents wake up in a lower sub-world
  • If the world ever is saved at a grand scale, it should be saved by a Christ-character, not a protagonist

Reasons

  • World saving is a pretentious power-trip
  • World saving loses all sense of scale and relatability
    • It's ironic that when it comes to world building, save-the-world stories tend to have the most under-developed worlds
      • The world in such cases may still have much detail, but there is generally a dissonance between the adventures and the world that is being saved
  • World saving is a lazy attempt to add grandeur to a story without any actual investment in depth of impetus
  • Presenting good as a tiny, fragile thing that can get permanently snuffed out is border-line blasphemous
  • Such stories cultivate anxiety over lofty issues the audience has no control over, and distracts from the smaller, immediate concerns the audience actually is responsible for

Horror

Rules

  • Each narrative must include a significant amount of moral horror.
  • Each narrative must include a significant amount of creepiness.
  • Avoid gross happenings.
    • This includes:
      • Gruesome violence
      • Body horror
      • Creepy crawlies
  • It is okay for horror to be violent as long as it is not gruesome or any gruesomeness is purely implied.
    • Examples:
      • It is okay for a person to get stabbed in the torso.
      • It is not okay for a person to get stabbed in the eye.
        • There could be exceptions to this case such as if a main character losing an eye added a lot to the rest of the story.
      • It is okay for a person to fall to their death as long as impact is not described.
  • When horrific things are happening, rely heavily on implication and euphemisms.
  • Do not try to scare the audience.
    • It is fine if the audience is scared, but don't try to force it. Don't include elements whose purpose is to scare the audience.
    • It is fine for characters in a narrative to be scared.

Ideological Contests

Background

While Marloth is not about [personal contests](#Personal Contests), it is about contests between ideologies.

Rules

  • A Marloth narrative must be filled with ideological conflicts.
  • Ideological conflicts should not be resolved quickly.
  • An ideological conflict should never be resolved over the course of a single scene.
  • They should resolve over at least a part's worth of time.
  • Each narrative should have multiple scenes with public forums. The world is the stage.
  • Ideologies are mostly defined by what a person worships.

Reasons

  • Ideological conflict is one of the greatest ways to add depth and significance to a storyline.
  • Ideological conflicts are not about personal demonstration, they are about faith. It is like betting on a horse and then seeing which horse wins. The people betting may be participants in the race, but it is not their individual qualities that determine the winning horse. Those who trust in God will always win.

Implication

Background

Marloth depends heavily on implication.

Rules

  • Whenever something can be deduced, provide just enough information to require that deduction.
  • Use pronouns liberally, as long as it does not cause ambiguity.
    • All ambiguous pronouns are confusing.
    • Exception: if the identity of the target is clearly hidden from the reader.
      • Example: "Suddenly someone screamed."

Reasons

  • It exercises the reader's imagination.
  • It adds a sense of mystery.
  • It can assist brevity.
  • Implication is the salt of humor.
  • It can add ambiguity.

Legend

Background

A legend is a dense, tense, composite idea.

When an audience witnesses multiple versions of a character or story, those different versions are compiled into a singular, blurry composite idea. The different versions contained within this idea are both unified and conflicting. That tension is legend.

Rules

  • A Marloth narrative should have a strong sense of being legendary.
  • This sense of legendary should not be confused with pomp and grandeur.
    • It is not grand.
  • This sense of legendary should be personal and intimate.
    • It is an understanding shared by only a few characters instead of a general world of characters.

Mania

Rules

  • A Marloth narrative should have a significant amount of manic energy
  • A Marloth narrative should have a significant amount of insane humor
  • Not every scene should be manic

Reasons

  • Because I like mania.
  • Mania is overwhelming, and through that can add dreaminess and awe.

Misfits

Rules

  • A Marloth narrative should generally involve a band of misfit heroes
  • The heroes should have weaknesses and flaws
  • The heroes should not be misfits by choice
  • The heroes should not be proud about being misfits
    • Unless some pride is allowed for a short period and then debased
      • Marloth is not about misfit pride. Such arcs should be neither dragged out nor central
  • Through God's power, the heroes should surprise the world by triumphing over seemingly more powerful forces of evil

Reasons

  • Audiences empathize with underdogs
  • Audiences relate to protagonists with flaws
  • The portrayal of misfit heroes should be humble
  • Stories with misfit protagonists easily become pretentious
  • When not worshipped, misfit heroes can be a great depiction of humble

References

  • "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" - Matthew 5:5
  • "So the last will be first, and the first last" - Matthew 20:16
  • "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Mystery

Background

Mystery is a critical ingredient for Marloth. Mystery evokes awe. Arguably, awe is impossible without some element of mystery.

I love mystery, but I don't like mystery novels. The term mystery novel is almost a misnomer. The purpose of a mystery novel is to destroy mystery. Or, more generously, to create a mystery and then dismantle it. Once a reader has finished reading a mystery novel, any awe that was generated by the novel's mystery is gone.

Ordinary vs. Extraordinary

Rules

  • As much as possible, balance the ordinary and extraordinary.
  • At any given time in a narrative, either ordinary or extraordinary must be dominant.
    • This is less my rule than a natural rule.
  • A narrative can occasionally switch whether ordinary or extraordinary are dominant, but should do so sparingly.

Reasons

  • Narratives should have elements of the ordinary.
    • Ordinary is healthy.
    • Ordinary is humble.
    • Audiences tend to undervalue the ordinary, allowing strategic uses of ordinary to setup the audience for surprise.
    • Ordinary is a good foil for extraordinary.
    • Ordinary adds narrative dimensions and depth that extraordinary lacks.
  • Narratives should have elements of the extraordinary.
    • Audiences love extraordinary.
    • I love extraordinary.
    • Extraordinary can adds dreaminess.
    • Extraordinary adds narrative dimensions and depth that ordinary lacks.
    • Extraordinary is good for metaphors and euphemisms.
  • Frequently flipping dominance can muddy the distinction and contrast between ordinary and extraordinary.
  • Frequently flipping dominance can interrupt continuity.

Pacing

  • Marloth narratives generally follow a cycle of introduction, escalation, and climax.
    • Often these cycles align with story parts.
  • Along each iteration of these cycles, the pace starts slow and gains velocity.
    • The rate of this change is usually exponential.
    • A Marloth book also follows this pattern of escalation, so later parts start with a faster pace than earlier parts.
  • Pacing is closely tied to continuity. Breaks in [temporal continuity](#Temporal Continuity) slow down pacing.

Personal Contests

Rules

  • No personal contests.
  • No seeing which of two characters is stronger or smarter or a better fighter.

Reasons

  • Personal contests encourage pride and insecurity.
  • Personal contests naturally boil down to viewing characters as single values. When a 5 and a 7 fight each other, the 7 always wins.
  • A narrative can have deep, significant personal contests that don't encourage pride and insecurity, but it requires that the entire narrative is built around having deep personal contests tied to larger ideological struggles.
    • Marloth will never be built around personal contests to adequately support meaningful, healthy personal contests.

Problems and Solutions

Background

I've found that good games have a basic activity that is their bread and butter. It is both the foundation and the fallback that fills the gaps in more specialized activities.

To a lesser degree, stories, especially long-running stories, need that same sort of bread-and-butter activity. For now, the nominated fallback activity for Marloth is problem solving. When in doubt about what a character should be doing, give him or her a problem to solve.

Eventually Marloth will probably need more specialized bread-and-butter activities, but this is a good start.

Rules

  • Regularly devise problems for characters to solve
  • Problems should be well defined
  • Characters should be proactive in solving problems
  • Focus on problems being challenges and opportunities instead of burdens
  • Problem solving should revolve around good application of knowledge about the problem domain
    • If the character does not have enough knowledge about the problem domain, that is a prerequisite problem that must first be solved in the same manner as other problems
  • Problem solving should require minimum guessing.
    • When experimentation is required, there should be some means by which that experimentation can be systematized and optimized.
  • Some personalities are more geared toward problem solving than others, so be careful not to over skew every character to hard-boiled problem solving
    • Maybe I will find better techniques for how to handle this issue later. Maybe have less problem-solving-personalities still solve problems in a less technical-looking way.

Reasons

  • Problems defined this way help engage the audience
  • Problems defined this way help involve characters in the story more and reduce passivity
  • Problems defined this way help with world building
  • Problems defined this way help justify explaining world mechanics
  • Problems defined this way add meaning and depth to the story

Rebellion - Fighting the System

Background

  • An essential element of many of the dreams that inspire Marloth is fighting against some vague, vast, organized force
  • An essential element of what I get from TBM's music is rebellion

Rules

  • Marloth narratives should generally involve some form of organized evil that must be rebelled against
  • Ideally this should be broken into smaller organizations that loosely form a larger system
  • These organizations should be vague
  • Similar with the rules for villains, there should not be a singular emperor
    • Likewise, the narrative should not become fascinated by these organizations. They are not the focal-point of the story.
  • Part of the rebellion should be ideological. This is counter-cultural rebellion.
  • The rebellion should be tied to submission to something else
    • At its heart, the rebellion is choosing between two masters
      • Rebelling against the more apparent master in favor of the less apparent master

Reasons

  • A part of my personality is rebellious
  • Rebellion is bad when it is rebelling against good things
  • Rebellion is usually a product of pride
  • Some forms of rebellion are good and healthy
  • The heroes need something evil to rebel against
  • These organizations are primarily a means-an-end. They exists to be rebelled against.

Romance

Rules

  • Don't convey the idea that there is a single, special someone out there
  • Don't matchmake characters solely on personality

Reasons

  • Love is about sacrifice and kindness, not personal chemistry
  • Ultimately, the health of a marriage is based on love, not personality
    • With enough mutual Spirit, any two Christians could be married and result in a wonderful marriage. The world relies on superficial factors as a substitute for love.
    • At the same time, there is wisdom in marrying someone with compatible personality and interests. While love can overcome anything, such hurdles need not be sought out.

Social Restraint

Background

  • One defining property of a narrative setting is how constrained the characters are by society via laws, customs, and politics.
  • A lawless setting does not mean there are no consequences for actions. There are still natural laws, just not laws enforced by a national government.
  • In a lawless setting there is less organization, and thus less need for customs.
  • In a lawless setting, characters are less affected by politics.
  • With less restraint, characters are more free to make decisions that would otherwise be made for them. This can be useful for character studies.
    • This is why child protagonists are so often disconnected from guardians. Firm guardianship restricts the child's ability and need to make hard life decisions.

Rules

  • Marloth tries to strike a tenuous balance between a lawful and lawless setting, but leans more toward lawlessness.

Temporal Continuity

Background

  • Temporal continuity is a term I invented to refer to an aspect of pacing.
    • There's probably a better, more established term but I don't know what it is and don't know where to find it.
    • I'm thinking an alternate term could be "Temporal compression".
    • The opposite of temporal continuity is a temporal break.
  • Temporal continuity is how much time passes between narrative elements (usually scenes).
    • Strong temporal continuity is when one scene bleeds into the next scene within a gap of minutes
    • Weak temporal continuity is when a scene begins on the following day
    • Extremely weak temporal continuity is when months or years pass between scenes.
  • The pros of temporal continuity are:
    • It speeds up pacing
    • It is more immersive
    • It is more personal
    • It is more manic
  • The cons of temporal continuity are:
    • It restricts narrative scope to events that can happen within a short period of time
    • It restricts the ability to build history during a narrative. In this case any history must be pre-existing and referred to indirectly instead of depicted
      • Flashbacks can depict past history, but are significant breaks in temporal continuity and pacing
    • Can leave audiences feeling like not a lot happened
      • Another way of putting this is the impact of events is less efficient when the events are temporally compressed
      • A book could take place over the course of a single night and contain a perpetual string of major events, yet at the end of the book the audience would feel like only a night's worth of happenings took place. Each major event would feel smaller than it normally would if it had a more isolated segment of time with a larger space between it and its neighboring events.
  • Some of the cons of temporal continuity are derived from a lack of one of the benefits of temporal breaks: temporal breaks give the audience a pause to absorb and catalog recent events.
    • In some respects, a temporal break is like an audience nap. It gives the audience time to think and process whether or not they put the book down.
  • Pockets of temporal breaks have reduced effectiveness compared to carefully spaced temporal breaks.
    • One well placed temporal break can be as effective as many temporal breaks
    • Most writers do not consciously use temporal break for their macro benefits; they use temporal breaks because inserting them whenever convenient makes it easier to string events together. Most writers pepper their stories liberally enough with temporal breaks that the macro benefits are incidentally provided.

Rules

  • Marloth narratives should have as much temporal continuity as possible
  • Breaks in temporal continuity should only be used for:
    • Setting up later depth, profoundness, and [deja vu](#Deja Vu).
    • Major transitions
      • Though in a way these don't necessarily contain much passage of time, just such a difference in context that there might as well be a significant passage of time.
  • Alongside the rules of pacing, temporal breaks should mostly exist near the start of a book and its parts. The later parts of a book should have more temporal continuity.
    • The last part of the first book has nearly pure temporal continuity minus a few of its earlier scenes. The bulk of its narrative takes place over the course of a single night.

Reasons

  • I tend to prefer narratives with strong temporal continuity.
  • Marloth narratives should have a significant sense of progress.
  • Marloth scenes should be deeply overlaid with historical significance.

Villains

Rules

  • Always plural.
    • There can be an over-arching villain that sort of represents all the others.
      • This should be downplayed
  • Most major villains should be representatives for villainous forces
    • Focus audience animosity toward the force, not the representative
  • Each major villain should represent a different ideology.
  • Villains rarely die.
    • And in death I mean permanent death without being resurrected as some kind of zombie.
    • This may eventually be upgraded to "Villains never die."
      • No villains die in the first book; unless the Queen is considered a villain.
        • The fates of some characters such as Bobby and Osmand are never specified. It's implied that they died a second time but they may have been resurrected by Tralvorkemen.
  • The narrative should never revolve around villains.
    • In other words, the story should always be more about the heroes than the villains.
      • The narrative should never be fixated upon villains.
      • The most major villain is still a supporting role.
    • Villains can still play an integral part in the plot.
    • Whole scenes can be devoted to villains scheming.
      • Just not frequently.
  • Always present the over-the-top best representation of a villain's ideology.
    • Sometimes other narratives present weak ideological opponents that are easy to deride.
    • Don't use straw man arguments.
    • Don't use straw man villains.
    • If an ideology is wrong, you should be able to depict the strongest rendition of that ideology and still cleanly defeat it, because reality is opposed to that ideology.
  • Each narrative should have both villain alliances and villain wars.
    • And villains backstabbing each other

Reasons

  • For me it feels small and narrow to have a single villain.
  • Having a singular villain tends to require more of a [personal contest](Personal Contests).
  • It is unhealthy to have narratives fixate on villainy.
  • Some of the audience's connection to the story can be lost when more focus is put on the antagonist than the protagonist.
  • Straw man arguments will repulse holders of that ideology where a stronger argument could turn their heart.
  • Straw man arguments are pretentious and immature. They are a lazy, cheap shot.
  • Richer conflict and storytelling arise when the best versions of two ideologies clash and all of the hard questions are methodically wrestled with and addressed.
    • Straw man arguments tend to avoid the hard questions.

Whimsy vs. Reason

Background

Whimsy and reason are at odds with each other and form a spectrum. Generally a narrative falls on one side or the other of that spectrum.

Rules

  • A Marloth narrative should strive to balance whimsy and reason.
  • Different locations, characters, and passages can be more whimsical or more rational.
  • Generally elements tied to science and the ordinary should be more rational.
  • Generally elements tied to magic and the extraordinary should be more whimsical.