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I was just handwaving a festival scene, but I suddenly asked myself, "Wait, why am I handwaving this?" Then I got to thinking.

It occurs to me that while many video games have festivals, weddings, concerts, celebrations, or the token End of Star Wars Parade scene (often deconstructed, as with the wedding at the beginning of FFXII), fanfiction seldom represents these kinds of scenes.

I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because it's better onscreen than in prose. Maybe it's because we tend to write what canon failed to treat adequately, rather than the things it covered in detail (hence the tendency to ship non-canon). Maybe it's because some of them are painfully cheesy. But I think there could be as many ways to use them as battle sequences or pub/inn scenes.

Or maybe I'm just blanking, and celebration/festival scenes are more common in fanfic than I'm remembering.

The things that stand out in these celebration scenes are: (a) the characters can behave in a public yet private context, because in large groups few people tend to notice you, (b) celebrations tend to involve lowering inhibitions, so characters show a different side of themselves (c) while most narrative tends to focus on personal interactions between individuals, big festival scenes embed the personal experiences of the characters within their community or culture and (d) festivals and celebrations often display elements of a culture including art, symbols, values, music, legends, myths, spiritual beliefs and practices, so they are an excellent set-piece for worldbuilding and context.

This entry was originally posted at http://auronlu.dreamwidth.org/191860.html, where it has comment count unavailablecomments.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
The thing is, festival scenes are awesome pulled off well, but they're hard as hell to write. A lot of the things you can convey onscreen as incidentals -- the color, the cacophony -- need to be evoked in prose, and they are IMO some of the most difficult things *to* evoke when they're not supposed to be overwhelming the senses in a bad way.

And then you have to juggle ALL the main characters, plus ALL the NPCs around them doing something interesting, plus ALL the cultural decorations and whatnot, plus ALL the ritualized elements...and do it without changing focus every two sentences until the reader gets dizzy, if that's not what you're going for. It's oddly easier to handle onscreen, even though you still have to juggle all these things, because there are all kinds of ways to make them visually less important than what you want to focus on, but in prose every sentence has equal weight. It's hard to have something playing out in the background of the primary conversation without distracting the readers and forcing them to switch back and forth rapidly.

Also, they tend to be the most gorgeous and awesome scenes in the game, so you always have an acute sense of what you're falling short of.
Dec. 17th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
Gorgeous icon!

And yes, they're complicated scenes. Having recently gotten myself into a battle scene with about 15 main characters, Yu Yevon and an awful lot of fiends-- one does not undergo any sort of large-crowd scene in prose without a good reason. That's probably why my first instinct was to handwave.

But I figure that if Tolkien can do it, we can do it. Fields of Cormallen, baby!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
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