If you haven't heard of Twitch Plays Pokemon, it's this enormous thing that started a year ago where everyone plays an online version of the '90s Pokemon Red version --but everyone controls the same game at the same time. It's a mess when nearly 1 million users are inputing commands at the same time, but somehow they managed to beat the game in 16 days.
So what does this have to do with writing?
It created an entire, detailed lore/mythology and religion based on the events of the game. It's GLORIOUS. Like, I don't see this level of detail and epicness in published books, but somehow these pokemon enthusiasts came up with it.
Before reading on in this how-to, it would really help if you get a little familiar with the lore. Read this article: http://killscreendaily.com/articles/articles/feature/unraveling-cult-twitch-plays-pokemon/ (linked to in the external link, too!) It's so much more detailed than that with AATTVV--all terrain venomoth, arguably my favorite part haha, but this is a good overview.
But now let's get to the writing-relevant part. I'm going to analyze why the TPP lore is SO COOL and some take-aways for your own fictional religions in your stories.
First off, we got Abby K the Charmander and Jay Leno the Ratata. These guys were so endearing for two reasons:
1. we spent a lot of time with them at the beginning.
2. they had awesome nicknames.
Writing Take-Away: The more time we spend with characters, the more attached we'll get to them. Having another character give them some kind of nickname would make them more endearing to us, too. In my romance story, Stray, people got all excited when Annie started calling Darren "Darr". It shows these characters are close, so the reader may connect with them a little more.
And when we're really attached to a character, that's when you take them away and leave us in tears. ABBY AND JAY LENO WERE ACCIDENTALLY RELEASED BY THE HIVEMIND. Thus, the First Exodus.
Writing Take-Away: When beloved characters are killed, banished, or otherwise taken out of the picture by a grave accident from the MC, the readers will be mortified.
Second take-away: Naming this catastrophic event "The First Exodus". Giving a name/title to a major event will elevate its status in the reader's mind. A title will make it look more important and substantial, so it's more memorable long after your readers finish the story. Characters in-story will be referring to the event by that name. It's a great way to refer back to a major event without having to spend a couple paragraphs describing it. Just say "The First Exodus" or "Bloody Sunday" or "The Sacrifice of the Twelve". In Game of Thrones, you have "The Red Wedding".
This works for titling major characters, too: Drowsee the Keeper (of the Helix fossil), Bird Jesus (the Messiah), Cabbage the oddish as The Seed of Hope. ATV--all-terrain venomoth as The Dragon Slayer.
Now let's look at the formation of the religion. There's Lord Helix and the Dome Fossil. Two opposing gods will create their own line of followers. And then there are the New Worshippers of Old Amber. Even within the Helix followers and Dome followers, there are different branches that emerged because people interpreted the gods' will differently.
Writing Take-Away: An entire world probably will not have a single religion. There will be many opposing religions and different branches or sects within each because everyone has their own interpretation and opinion on what god wants them to do and how to behave, different practices of worship, etc. Be sure to involve multiple viewpoints of your fantasy religions. Not everyone will believe the same thing, and that will cause conflict and tension between different religions and sects.
What can TPP teach us about main characters? One of the big themes in all the fanart is Red with dark circles under his eyes with a thousand voices yelling different actions to him, and he's being driven mad. "The voices. They just won't stahp". There's a huge internal struggle happening with Red, so he keeps consulting the Helix Fossil (which is why it became a god in the lore), asking it what to do. Still, there are all these ledges he just can't get over, and it takes a full day to get over a freaking ledge.
Writing Take-Away: Your MC needs an internal struggle that creates obstacles for them. A ledge normally isn't an obstacle for people, but it does become one with Red's internal voices yelling different things at him. Your MC will have opposing values and goals, each having their own consequences and rewards, and it'll be a hard choice for them. Make your characters struggle as Red struggled with the voices.
I can go on picking this story apart, but I'll end there and let you guys take over. If you followed TPP, what other writing-related things can we take away from it? What made it epic (or not!) to you? Share your ideas in the comments!
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