Translating A Narrative I’ve Come To Understand

— Films. Videogames. TV shows. Books.
So, recently my efforts have been diverted to a project I’ve been working to develop. It’s unlike I’ve written, especially on a far larger scale. Which compared to my short fictions in the past, has become a source of encouragement. The question is what do I have to share with you, right?

I came to feel despite the formation of my short fictions and which had been developed into late 2012 and published only on my blogs. That there had many written drafts of unpublished work which I had began to write at age 18, but they couldn’t fully be realised, materialise, simply because even with my brain many years ahead of my age, I had been lacking the correct sense to fully understand what it took to write a book. Especially since I wasn’t a reader of books, you call a bookworm, except those that we introduced to me as textbooks at university, in my schooling years.

And so, since age 18 to now, what had failed to materialise had in fact become a true source of practicing the craft of written expression, before I could fully accept the responsibility as an emerging writer, an aspiring one at least for now. But what struck me always, was that I wanted to write a book that could one day be adapted to film. This had been the main objective that continues to drive my enthusiasm to explore what I want to invent. With words, within the digital canvas of modern tools. The digital paper and typewriter.

And only until – at age 30 – have I grown wiser that I feel deeply the need to venture out with a project of such larger scale. One that can rival Hollywood standards, even if at a technical level. But with a difference.

I grew up watching all kind of films, in a variety or diversity of languages – global cinema. As if a cinephile. As I studied the narrative(s) and the lives, the people (characters) that had been given a voice through the medium of memorable filmmaking. The visual format. And yet the people, directors, actors, cinematographers, scriptwriters, the entire crew that put together these films to share to the world, the talent they had, needed nurturing over time. It suddenly gave me a sense of freedom to want to explore the formation of narration. And that, whether it was right or wrong, at least I invented what I felt I could, wanted to. Was possible.

It encouraged me to get imaginative. I was able to attain a sense of direction into what was a promising medium. It had to be writing, it would give me the time to explore, experiment with risky ideas. Allow me complete freedom. Because at least the objective was realistic within this format.

But it wasn’t just about experiencing what I had learnt from studying the process of filmmaking, and narrative, but rather what I could do with that knowledge. Even how editing and sound effects could be applied to such powerful effect in films such as William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. I could come to understand how sound and silence would be introduced, in the absence of each other, and even in the presence of both. It required great skill.

A seed of idea to write a novel began to drive me when I was 21. What had I known was to visualise Hollywood-like scenes, but I lacked the sense to weave a narrative, completely. I would write a stack of pages, discard them once nothing could further encourage any progression, and then moved to another. This was the time when I found myself so influenced by films that I wanted to invent very similar themes. As if each idea of the voice of the current audience. Retaining my original sense of creativity. But it simply wasn’t enough. Because there was something else lacking, I could sense instinctively. My gut instincts had evolved.

As I continued to study the formation of films. In a variety of languages, and genres. There was the medium of visual storytelling, through the technologies such as, videogames.

A craft that grew popular for me with the arrival of the PS One. I instantly realised that this craft was becoming in a sense a film-like experience, and that you had the power to play as the lead and drive the narrative. So, in this sense, I was learning what they could do videogames and offer to the audience. Which cemented this believe by some of the finest in videogame talents Hideo Kojima, Bruce Straley & Neil Druckmann, David Cage. They were changing the face of storytelling and gameplay through videogames and evolving their abilities as the technology advanced to such potentialities. Such as the PS4, I loved the experienced. But unlike films, the pace in videogames was rather in control of how you chose to play, to advance through to the end of the narrative. It gave you the time to familiarise yourself with the mechanics. And actually surpassed the usually length of a film, by even 100 hours of (repeated) walkthrough, and roughly 4–5 hours of cutscenes that advanced the narrative. Two videogames that I truly came to finally realise that films could be possible in the format of videogames right now, were MGSV The Phantom Pain and The Last Of Us. You had the prefect Hollywood experience.

The emphasis, that their was an audience of gamers that actually wanted videogames to be adapted to films. I could completely agree with that. It always came back to the most loved medium on an entertainment, global level.

But I also grew intrigued, greatly, by TV shows, the fact that you could watch film visuals and with it being produced as episodes. Unlike films, the characters and story lived through to a larger length of season(s). Notably A&E’s Batels Motel. From powerful performances to narrative, and a moving background score.

Quite obviously, it always depended on how well crafted a product was, that left a memorable experience. It’s how effective you could make use of the medium(s). But I loved the idea that in this way, you stayed larger in the experience. It wasn’t over in 2 hours like films, and that, in order to keep the story or characters alive you had to create a sequel, or even a prequel. Because the lifespan in films was far shorter. You could argue the 007 series, which eventually did reboot itself for a modern, fresh minded, emerging generation. Anyway, with videogames that was completely different, even in a single game the experience could last up to 4–5 times larger. Books stood a far better chance at reader experience. Always did.

I admire films, being dyslexic, I am a rather practical and visual learner, and in films, visuals and audio were both seen and felt. Quite easily understood to me because I could see and hear the atmosphere of a scene. What I had in fact lacked in was that I had not familiarised myself with enough reading material. Books. Novels. I wasn’t a bookworm. I hadn’t quite grasp written expression, despite practicing it to a stretch of 12 years, I actually hadn’t applied it correctly, because I simply had struggled with the basics of writing. It was here that I felt I was best to begin reading books, catch up to years that I missed out on reading, due to unstable, changing circumstances.

And that’s what I exactly did, I began to read.

Some of the finest material(s) I came across was an emerging writer, who become a friend, and later established herself as a Twitter sensation, Ksenia Anske. Her books made me fall in love with books. I loved it! I was able to comprehend how words effectively applied could help visualise, generate a mental image in my mind like I was watching a film. This is exactly what I came to realise. My real problem was written expression. I hadn’t completely grasped it. Or even how to express my imagination. I could prefect visualise scenes, but without the correct way of applying written expression, such scenes could not be fully realised, hence, discarded as a result. Suddenly the language I spoke and knew, had to be translated correctly to words. Because it mattered. If it didn’t make sense, then it wouldn’t be considered of any significance. Any meaning. What it meant to me. And especially what I wanted to transfer to the audience.

Like any number of films, TV shows I had seen, videogames I had played, studied them with such detail. I was enjoying the text I was reading beautifully written by Ksenia but also constantly analysing the depth of written expression. There was also Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, the phenomenal, cult novel which finally allowed me to express my thoughts freely, limitless written expression.

And finally, just like the many seeds of idea(s) that came before and failed to materialise, I placed faith in my heart, and had developed a fresh single one. Fully aware and prepared to dive into a form of writing which, deep within its core, would establish what I wanted to invent, but also what I had learnt, and how that knowledge would be applied to an effective use to fully realise my imagination. A collective research of a variety of mediums.

This is what I come to define such form of process;

“The depth of a book, visuals of a film, pace of a videogame, & the narrative structure of a TV show. That’s what I’m working on.”

– M. Aamir

. . . 

Photo by Joel Robison (Flickr)