Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nyssa: A Dark Modern Fairy Tale

By James Curcio

"A modern dark fairytale." Or so I say... I realize it is considered in bad form to analyze your own work. In some ways we're furthest from it. But I'd like to make some crucial points about storytelling, especially within the framework of a modern fairytale. Why not a story I wrote?

Sea Fang by Stas Prohortsev
So, Nyssa: Love Notes To A Stranger.

What is this story really about? What is the nature of a fairytale but to use elements of the unreal to talk about dimensions of our psyche, or psychological experience that are quite real?

I wanted to create the first issue of a series told not by the protagonist but by someone else. And I wanted to make it an unreliable narrator, a narrator who gives us this protagonist almost like she is hidden in the shadow created by his projection. I spent about two months thinking about writing this seemingly simple short story, because this was a challenge.

Not that the initial semblance of who and what Nyssa was took very long to germinate. I got my initial concept in a few minutes, on a cold overcast morning sitting on the subway on my commute to work when I was working as a UI designer for TLA.

But I wanted to open up the opportunity for an ongoing series about a character, and I didn't want to introduce the character from the inside. So it took me a good two months of thinking to figure out the angle I wanted to take. We're talking about a 3000 fucking word story here. I almost never take so long on such a small amount of text.

As I said, we first meet Nyssa from a distorted perspective. The protagonist doesn't really know her, even though he is increasingly obsessed with her. In that same way you don't really know the barrista you have a crush on. They're like these far off symbols to us, that we dream of one day having a real relationship of some kind with. But generally, that never comes to be.



That's all we get on Nyssa here, and it is all we're meant to get. Our lonely protagonist is not a veil for me, but he shares one thing in common with me: the addiction to writing.

Nyssa, the idealized form, is a temporary muse. This is a story about writing, and writers. Maybe also a story about "loving" people that we don't actually know at all. But most of all, it is about the writing muse, and the end waiting for all of us as we chase this impossible ideal...

This represents over a year and a half working and reworking a 10 page story. The challenge for me was not in telling a story, but in creating a story about writing that does not in the slightest give that away unless you know what to look for. Like most writers will tell you I think, "it's not perfect." We can work and rework forever. But it finally reached a point where I was willing to share it.

The unillustrated issue 1 is $.99 as an eBook on Kindle and Smashwords.

Ditto on credit.
A bit about production, and the future of this project if it has one. I am working with the artists to get the illustrated version released by the end of the summer. It will be more than $.99. And I really hope that it will be the beginning of an ongoing series about Nyssa herself, supposing we can pick up a publisher or production method that allows for enough budget to keep the engine running. Unfunded projects have a habit of languishing in neutral for years. No more.

After issue 1, there will either be a solid Nyssa series, or nothing at all. I have, in my mind, the rough arcs of an entire "season" for Nyssa, leading right up to the prequel to Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End. Let's hope it comes into being. Because yes, like 404 Documents and many of these other pieces, they are all myths that tie into each other even if they are simultaneously constructed to stand alone, and allow non-linear interaction (so not everyone has to read the same piece first.)

Throughout this are pictures that came up in my Tumblr and have been saved in the "inspirational reference" folder. They are not my own.



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