[Media Meandry] Incidents Build Characters

As I continue along toward completing my playthrough of Pokémon LeafGreen, I’ve wondered about the benefits of playing this game from not just a relaxation/escapist perspective, but from a narrative perspective. In “Inconsequentially Building Characters,” I have wondered whether having the names alone would be enough to help me brainstorm character ideas? I decided no, overall. Organic, non-contrived storytelling is usually better, in my opinion.

Novel Spoilers?: Minor [Are characters created? Discovered?]
Game Spoilers? None

In Endless War, there was a debate over the validity of material added in-game.

If the culture of the Discord MUD is created through gameplay, like in LeafGreen where if I find a character useful I might think of them more subconsciously before writing about them in my second novel which could lead to a more expanded backstory, then what happens when things are added on that you can’t interact with but are added to the game’s culture? I wasn’t involved with much of the conversation directly – other than to say that if I can’t interact with it, I don’t hold much value in it, however, I respect it that others like it – but it got me thinking.

The culture I like most in Endless War, we all like most, was caused by incidents.

Whether it’s Ben’s Van becoming a [groanworthy] meme or finding Pokémon likable, when we can attach ourselves to the event, it feels more real. If the idea feels contrived to build something into the culture that doesn’t quite match, it feels wrong. To that end, while I have yet to use Honora-Exeggcute, I’ve already intended to expand her role out in the second novel, so it’s not like using this Pokémon will help me brainstorm ideas directly. Indirectly, though, there could be certain attributes that carry over.

I’m balancing a large team, and once I run out of names, I suppose I’ll need more names.

I have a whole second page of Pokémon that I’ve caught to fulfill in-game objectives to receive rewards. I still don’t know what to do with them directly, but indirectly I doubt they’ll be used as characters in Novel 02. There’s no narrative weight to any of them. When I catch a uniquely new Pokémon or find one I’d planned to catch for a while, I can draw a name from my character list based on general traits. I decided against using a generic name like SEAKING-Seaking for my Surfer, as I debated with previously. I decided on Adriana-Krabby since in-novel, Adriana is the wife of Josh, and in-game, Josh-Gyarados was going to be the original Surfer.

I have a few more slots before I have to generate new characters.

Before I finish LeafGreen completely, I’ll begin creating character sheets. I’m not sure how comprehensively this will be since right now I’m aware of the general premise and characters I want to introduce, but also, I can spend more time than necessary in character pre-production. It should be good to have clear backstories, attributes, and drawings for the main characters, and lighter versions for side characters, but planning out everything for every possible character would lead to contrivances.

This Pokémon naming process has reminded me of the value of Sammohini’s old team.

Her help desk team didn’t make much of an appearance within Novel 01 but there are touches of familiarity that show that she cares deeply about her crew. When Sammohini talks with “Mung” over the phone, she calls him Mungkut without the reader knowing that’s his full first name. Now that I’m naming Pokémon based on these “side characters,” looking at my notes from over six months ago… wow… I’m remembering some of their resonances.

Will the Pokémon that go up against the Elite 4 become bigger in-novel characters?

I’m not so sure. There is validity in saying that as I bench more underperforming Pokémon, I might not think as often of their in-novel counterparts, although I wouldn’t say that Honora would have Exeggcute tendencies directly. When I write fiction, there are the baseline facts, and then there are the details that are filled in. It’s like using a paintbrush tool in a drawing program, except instead of having an automated tool that does it for you, you sit there with your imagination and imagine what might happen.

Sometimes, you might go for pink and then purple appears instead.

If you try the purple and it looks good, then why not go with it? What if pink wasn’t going to work? That’s where, I feel, if we extensively brainstorm out pink ideas instead of work within a basic framework – where pinks, purples, greens, and reds can all work equally – we can adapt our writing to match what’s working and what’s not. I think that’s where jamming things into cultures to demand that they work is the same as contriving a certain character into a story just because that’s the character we decided before we began writing.

I have a few more names to use before I need to generate new characters.

I generated Jorun-Snorlax last time but I still have no outward purpose for her character. She could make an appearance in Novel 02 or maybe 05? That she’s named gives her character more chance to grow, because then her boyfriend, Nils, could have something to say in her regards to Sammohini. Or it could be some information that, like the Iceberg Theory, doesn’t do much more than provide background and context. I didn’t think of Nils having a girlfriend in Novel 01. He didn’t imply or directly reference Jorun. Would she have made an appearance if I’d played LeafGreen early and had this question appear before I began writing? Would Nils have mentioned her, like Josh mentioned Adriana?

These hypotheticals can mire the thought process.

In-game, I’ll level up everyone to 41 and maybe begin to decide if I want to bench anyone. In-novel, I’ll decide on some character basics as I mentioned above, and begin using that drive as I had intended months ago.

Then, when I begin work on Novel 02, I can brainstorm more consistently with clearer characters.

Quotes: None.
Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium and my personal experiences.
Inspirations: Waiting for a doctor’s appointment, I wrote the notes for “main 6 versus elite 4 as main characters?” and “helpdeskers” under the title. I didn’t reference the title enough, but I guess to that point, incidents would be provocations of culture, like how Ben’s Van was a joke that spawned into a meme, whereas if I arbitrarily named some random Pokémon, what would be the point of that? To that note, the Endless War reference might even feel weird, but both have been on my mind today, while working through back and body pain.
Related: Essays building “The Story,” and other Sammohini Arc and Media Meandry essays.
Pokémon LeafGreen Series:
01 – “Easy Mode Living
02 – “Real Life Grinding
03 – “Had To Play
03.5 – “Fiction Inspiring Fiction
04 – “Videogames Aren’t Ambiguous
04.5 – “Level Up Yourself
05 – “Catching What’s Next
06 – “Recatching Escapist Tendencies
07 – “Inconsequentially Building Characters
08 – “Incidents Build Characters
Screenshots: Skipped the side characters this time around. I’ve also been less interested in movesets, which is why there are many blank spots above every Pokémon after Lisa-Dragonair below, but I figure soon I’ll do some graphics clean-up, or not, because… whatever.
Written On: 2020 May 11 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
Last Edited: 2020 May 11 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.