Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ignore Everything I Have Said


Okay, maybe not EVERYTHING everything. I don’t want you to ignore this post. And there’s probably plenty of other things I’ve said in here which you shouldn’t ignore. Okay maybe “everything’s” a bit broad a generalization-ARGH WHAT AM I SAYING FOCUS OMEGA.

This post is going to be about canon. And since it is also going to be about me shouting NO STOP THAT at the way a lot of people are doing things, I figure we should start with a silly picture regarding canon as a means of getting things off with a more cheerful tone.



Anyways, canon. Those of you who know my non-Slenderia writing are likely aware that the majority of my focus has shifted away from the Slender Man Mythos toward the Fear Mythos. I do still have active projects in the Slenderverse, but most of my writing time is being spent on my Fearblog and Fear creepypastas. And there are several reasons for this, but one of the biggest for me is how both universes treat their canon.

You see, two of the mottos for the Fear Mythos are “There is no canon” and “Everything is up to the writer.” While I have heard the claim that the Slender Man Mythos also has no canon, in practice this isn’t always the case. Throughout the history of the Mythos, I have seen several instances of people claiming that a blog is “doing it wrong” or “not really Slender Man” when they try to do something different than the norm. Contrast to the Fear Mythos, where the mentality is “whatevs man, we’re all afraid of different things. The Fears have different universes. Wanna make a new Fear? Das cool, brah.” (quote from Slendyslayer) The reason for this is, I believe, because the Slender Man Mythos is viewed as a setting, while the Fear Mythos is viewed as a writing tool. In the Slenderverse, there is the assumption that every story takes place in the same universe, where every story adds more to the overall canon, and with every inconsistency handwaved away by “dimensional bleeding” (this is primarily with blogs; while there have been vlog crossovers, there is much less of an effort to create a consistent setting in that medium.) In the Fear Mythos, on the other hand, it is assumed that, unless stated otherwise, all stories take place in their own universe, with the only connection being a shared pantheon of eldritch abominations. Even those abominations are not consistent: at the base you start with the “Vanilla Fears,” which are the most basic concepts of what the Fears are (ex. The Fear Mythos Series Bible currently describes the Wooden Girl as simply as “The Wooden Girl is a life-sized marionette of a girl. She uses her strings to control others. She is said to represent the fear of control.”) From that bare bones description a writer can go in any direction they want to.

In the early days of the Slenderverse, the shared setting was one of my favorite aspects. Seeing people come together and create an entire universe together out of nothing was fascinating. To document that phenomenon was one of the main reasons I made this blog in the first place, and my World of Slender Man post was almost a celebration of that creation, taking in the entire universe which we had made as a whole. Yet as time has passed and I’ve gained more perspective on the Mythos, I’ve begun to find that the shared setting often has stifled creativity rather than encouraged it.

In its more extreme instances, this has resulted in series being trolled out of existence because they did something different; two examples being Breaker and Frap and Friends (blog is dead, therefore no link). In its more common form, the stifling of creativity comes from writers seemingly following a canon checklist when creating their stories. “Alright, slenderproxies, check. Path of Black Leaves, check. Slender Man is silent, evil, and spends more time chilling in the background than actually doing anything, check. Protagonist either runs from Slender Man, fights proxies, is a proxy, or studies the Slender Man, check.” And so on. I don’t mean to insult Slenderblogs, as there are many good blogs which work creatively within the formula. But at the same time, they are still working within a formula. And as time passes, that formula has only grown, as more is added to the canon and more points are added to the checklist.
Then there’s the issues of continuity snarls and lockout. As each story continues to work within the same continuity, they add more to that continuity and build upon all previous stories. Within a small group of stories this works fine, but as the number of stories grows, such a system makes the overall continuity begin to become increasingly complicated and difficult to penetrate. Most major stories these days work under the assumption that their audience is familiar with several other aspects of the Mythos prior to coming to their series, which can turn many new readers off from a series. “You must read/watch series X,Y, and Z prior to reading this blog” is not the best marketing strategy. Just imagine what would go through the brain of some poor soul who happened to stumble upon the current Mythos and everyone is talking about Redlight v2; they wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.

This has led to a very repetitive setting, where experimentation is encouraged only so long as it remains within proper boundaries. Sure, you can say that anyone can write anything they want to, and technically that’s true. There’s nothing stopping someone from writing a completely unique story and posting it online. But if you want to play with the cool kids, you need to play by the rules. Most of the popular Slenderblogs are ones which follow the standard conventions of the Slenderverse. You do get some more unique stories amongst the popular blogs, such as Records of an Impossibility, but even that blog is tied to the general Slenderverse canon. Two very good blogs which I’ve recently read have been LakeReflections and Nowhere, No One,Nothing, both of which are very different from the normal Slenderstory. Yet while both often receive acclaim from those who read them, they tend to be overlooked in favor of the more conventional stories. (Seriously though, check them out. They’re good and completely different than most of what you’ve probably read in the ‘verse.)

Looking again at the Fear Mythos for comparison, where things tend to get a lot crazier. Slender Man’s one of the more popular Fears to use, but he is much less defined than in the Slender Man Mythos. In Fear, Slendy is a tall guy in a business suit who usually doesn’t have a face, and around whom people tend to disappear/die. That’s it. Everything else about him is completely dependent on what the writer wants. Most writers tend to borrow heavily from the canon of the Slenderverse, using ideas such as proxies or the Path of Black Leaves, but they’re also completely free to do something radically different. Someone could write a story where it is discovered that Slendy’s one weakness is kittens, and the blog ends with the protagonist throwing kittens at Slendy until he dies from cuteness. And this would be completely alright. Hell, my own blog has a time traveler attacking the Slender Man with a flaming sword in the middle of a hidden research facility being used by a secret CIA conspiracy to conquer the world (OF COURSE), and that was acceptable for the Fear Mythos. Just looking at the blogs I’ve read recently, there’s Chain Mail, which used the end of the friggin’ world halfway through as a plot point (something which could never happen in a shared setting,) and City of Sinopia which essentially goes “Hey everyone I’m creating a new Fear for the sake of this story and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.” And then of course I must mention OH GOD THE RAPTURE IS BURNING. Words cannot describe RAPTURE, except to say that it is completely unlike any Slender or Fear blog which you have ever read. There is no way it could work in the mainstream Slenderverse, because it spits in the face of every established canon concept of the Slender Man Mythos and how Slendy stories are supposed to go, and it does so without any shame.


What I’m trying to say here isn’t that everyone should drop ship and head over to the Fear Mythos although you totally should because we have cookies and the Wooden Girl always could use more pets. What I am saying is that writers need to be less afraid of breaking away from the “canon” of the Slender Man Mythos. All the things I discuss in this blog are wonderful tools to be used in a story, but one shouldn’t feel that they have to be a part of that story’s setting. Say you’re writing a story which doesn’t need proxies for the story to be told? Then there’s no reason to feel obligated to include proxies just because everyone else says Slendy uses proxies. Want to make a story where Slendy’s actually a benevolent figure? Go right ahead; even if every other story contradicts you, you’re writing your own story. Their canon shouldn’t matter to your canon. Don’t be constrained by the writing of others; be free like buffalo! But not hunted to near extinction like buffalo! Because that would be bad!

30 comments:

  1. Dear Omega--

    Thank you so much for making me feel better about my "passive, bored-with-winning Slenderman who sorta just ignores people he doesn't have use for" stance. XD I also feel like less of a dumbass for my plotlines being tied together by a demi-Fear (that my co-author and I totally made up on the spot when we started). tl;dr: you, good sir, just made me feel like a rebel instead of an outcast, haha.

    -a kow-towing author

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  2. You are awesome, Omega.

    I just want to point out, too, that experimenting with crazy concepts sometimes makes great stories. The current Game Master's Tournament is simplistic in its plot (it's the Hunger Games in the FEAR MYTHOS), but everything is really driven by its interesting and unique characters.

    And the most recent blog I read, Nightsongs, uses Theodore Quiet. That's right: a joke character. And they make his so creepy.

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    1. I'm really hoping this person has read PLAN 31. I hope that anyone who ever makes a reference to Theodore Quiet has read PLAN 31. :c

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    2. Anyone who hasn't read Plan 31 is missing out.

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    3. Well, I imagine people who don't hang around the forum won't understand a single thing that happens in Plan 31...

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    4. Something tells me I need to read Plan 31. :P

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  3. This is actually what spurred the re-boot for my blogs eventually when I get to it (well this and the personal crap) Because I realised that although I was going for some crazy non canon shenanigans I was slipping into a "follow a consistent canon and reference it" method too. So yes, strongly agree with this post.

    And hell, I strongly thank The Fear Mythos in general for giving me a new and improved writing out-look.

    Need something to finish this post off...

    ....

    ...

    Mephi needs more explosions. Much more. Never-Ending explosions is the only way to go.

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    1. Oh, you will get your explosions, good sir. Mephi will have eventually so many explosions that even Michael Bay would be shocked.

      Because that's what makes a good story. The number of things that blow up in it.

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  4. I really, really need to try to get into the Fear Mythos again. Standard Slender Man Mythos is so ungodly boring for me now.

    This post has given me much to think on. My closed little mind has a hard time accepting the concept of a non-shared universe. Bothersome.

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  5. You're right. There is no canon in the Fear Mythos. That's because the Fear Mythos doesn't exist. This is not a joke. I mean it. Let a Fear Mythos story be given. What do we know about it? For starters, the author is aware of the Fear Mythos. Also, it's got horror elements. And... that's it.

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    1. ..what? I'm having trouble deciphering this. I've read it several times now, and I still don't quite get what you're trying to say. Do you know what a mythos is? Because "the author is aware of the X mythos" is the only requirement for writing in any public domain mythos. Like the Slender Man Mythos. You don't even need to have horror elements to write for either the Slender Man or Fear Mythos; I've written stories that aren't horror and are in both.

      The Fear Mythos is intentionally very vague because it's primarily a conceptual mythos rather than a canon-centric one. All it takes to write in the mythos is to consciously want to write in the mythos. But that, alone, is such a specific requirement that it keeps 99.999% of all fiction out of the mythos. We're a hard mythos to define if you're just trying to define it from an in-game perspective, because we're a meta mythos.

      But that's just my answer to what I think you might possibly be saying.

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    2. I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say here. The Fear Mythos is a term to describe the base Fear pantheon and setting, and stories which come from that base. If you want to be technical, no it's not really a "Mythos." But then again, neither is the Cthulhu Mythos or the Slender Man Mythos. "Mythos" is just a short way of saying mythology, and neither Cthulhu, Slender, or Fear are legitimate mythologies. Far as I can tell, the Chulhu Mythos just go the name because it sounded cool. Then the Slender Man and Fear Mythos copied it because copying Lovecraft is what we doooooo.

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    3. I think what he's trying to say is that precisely because it lacks canon, the Fear Mythos can't really exist. If basically any story can be a Fear Mythos story, then how can you separate what is the Fear Mythos from what is not the Fear Mythos? You can't really define anything until you define what it is not, is what I think he's saying, and if there are no rules for the Fear Mythos, then there are no criteria by which to say "this is part of the Fear Mythos" and "this is not", i.e. it's impossible to demonstrate that the Fear Mythos exists, because a lack of definition makes it indistinguishable from the rest of literature.

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    4. But not every story can be a Fear Mythos story - there is a set definition. A Fear Mythos story is a story that involves one or more of the Fears. That's it.

      I don't see how "we have no canon" means "everything is a Fear Mythos story." It's quite obvious that everything is not.

      "Canon" are simply stories that that establish rules for a specific setting. Star Trek and Star Wars each have a canon. There are rules for setting stories in there.

      The Fear Mythos has no such rules - you can have any type of story you want, with any sort of plot, in any setting or time period - but what makes a Fear Mythos story a Fear Mythos story is the fact that it has Fears in it, even if only implicitly.

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    5. Just ignore me. I don't really know what I mean either. I'm just not a huge fan of the Fear Mythos and I'm trying to figure out why. This is only another attempt, clearly failed.

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    6. @Alliteratir Well, it doesn't even need a Fear in it, really. It just needs to involve characters, organizations, or locations from the Mythos. At least, so I'm told.

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  6. This is also why I shifted my Blog from Slenderman Mythos to Fear mythos.

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  7. I remember when I first came up with the idea of the Dan Ferris story, it was just supposed to be part part of the Slender Man Mythos, then I heard of the Fear Mythos and I thought "Oh f@&k yeah, that sounds way more fun". Slender stuff is cool, but the existence of other eldritch beings gives stories a lot more to work with in order to make things really really interesting.

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  8. Yeeeeeah, I feel like I fell into that pitfall so hard... XD

    Though in my case, I also kept deluding myself into thinking I'd be interacting with established bloggers in no time and throwing around all these crossover ideas and.... yeeeeeeeaaaaah.... that never really panned out. Honestly most of the things I did with my blog that I'm not happy with now and think are stupid (and you should think are stupid too), typically came from working on some notion of how I could make something work within this "unified canon" of the Slenderverse and use it to collab events and ideas with other authors that I had no actual OoC contact with. So basically I kept coming up with ideas and plotlines that revolved around the notion that other bloggers would like the idea, pick up on it, and run with it alongside of me. But then I would do something and no one would pick up on it or care, and then I was stuck with an idea that I really hadn't planned out well enough to exploit on my own and no longer knew what to do with. XP

    Like, I definitely should have cut my 'The Third' plotline the moment Redlight(v2) showed up. But I had kind of written myself into a corner by that point and didn't know where else to go with things. So that's another issue that can come up when you're adhering to a canon mythos... the community, without even meaning to, can kind of fuck you over mid-story with new plot elements you weren't expecting.

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  9. Although the miles and miles of Slendercanon are admittedly kinda intimidating to me, I've still always somewhat liked the idea of it. Still, I kinda wish at one point I'd stumble across a major mythos blog that isn't mostly about proxy wars and focuses on Slendy doing what he does best.

    Note to self: get up offa my lazy ass and get to writing that bleeding tree story I've been planning for a while. -.-

    Also, RAPTURE IS AWESOME OMGWTFBBQVCRETC EVERYONE MUST READ IT NOW OR SUFFER MY WRATH

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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  10. I agree, completely. This is great reasoning and offers a good perspective on what makes Slendy fall short. I had never heard of the Fear mythos, before, so thanks for that.

    From what you've described, the Fear mythos embraces the same conventions as the Lovecraft mythos. Lovecraft wanted people to use his ideas as a jumping-off point for their own stories, using the same eldritch horrors he had created, and dreaming up their own. That's what makes it versatile, long-lasting, and strong.

    I would comment, as well, that the Slender Man isn't just a setting so much as a character. I, myself, am completely guilty of being dismissive of stories that I feel are steering Slendy in a non-scary direction. It's because I feel that Slendy embodies fear, but specific fears, not just fear in general. It embodies the Uncanny Valley in a very specific way, and I find that imbuing it with more human characteristics or relatable motives takes the creepiness right out of it. What you imagine is far worse than what they could show it doing. Many of these stories come off as teenagers writing fanfiction, and that's really what it is, but it often doesn't work that well to evoke an emotion.

    Slendy, to me, is a character, like a character from a movie or book. When people write things about it that take It out of character, it immediately ceases to be creepy and destroys immersion for me. How I have established Its character is mainly from the original Victor Surge thread and the Big Three (MH, EmH, TT), and inference.

    EverymanHybrid, in my mind, took Slendy in a new direction and it ended up being very creepy because they left a lot of ambiguity about what happens to people.

    Anyways, I digress. Slendy has become a character with known traits. When people break from that, it ceases to FEEL like Slendy.

    I agree with what you've said, though. I look forward to delving into the Fear mythos.

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  11. You've basically summarized every reason that I like the Fear Mythos.

    Then again, it's Omega. That's sort of a given.

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  12. What's the name of you blog, because it sounds very epic, especially since I dig things like Army of Darkness and Hellsing where totally crazy stuff happens and it be epic.


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    1. Mephi: The Eternal Revolution

      http://mephirevolution.blogspot.com/

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  13. But ya I never started a slenderblog because it seemed to me that it would be too rigid, I wanted slendy as a character not as the only focus of my blog. Plus the fear mythos in general seemed like a more friendly place to start and not a place that I would have to beg (as I have seen people do with slenderblogs) on other people's blogs for people to visit my blog.

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  14. Hi :)

    Just wanted to reach out to fellow Slenderman fans that you might help us out. There’s recently been a new Slender: Source game being released from Steam (not the “Slender” game presently out). However, the new game needs enough YES votes from fans for release. If you could offer your vote or even a journal post via your site to let fellow fans/members know, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Here is the link to the game in question: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92917473

    Sorry to post this here, btw, but didn’t know where to post it XD

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  15. Hey, I like what you have to say about the subject of Slenderblogs being too confusing and formulaic for newer fans to penetrate. That's part of why I, but a humble fanfiction author and Slendy fan, have stuck to writing fanfiction and poetry about everyone's favorite tall, dark, and faceless humanoid abomination. I just find it so much easier to create, breathe, and exist in this fandom when I don't have to be so limited to the same constraints as everyone else. I purposefully keep my stuff standalone because I want my tales to be open. Sometimes I work within the constraints, sometimes without, but I always keep things open. Isn't that what the creators of the being wanted to begin with? An open interpretation?

    As a newbie outsider looking in, I tend to see many of the Slenderblogs out there as a bit "elitist". I think it's cool you wanna do a bunch of stories about the wars between proxies and humans and Slendy trying to take people as warriors for its cause and all, but that really just isn't my thing. At all. I got into this mythos/fandom/whatever you wanna call it because the concept of what Slenderman is scared and fascinated me. That is why I am here, right now, writing this comment. I don't want to be associated with something that feels like an exclusive club. I would much rather treat this being as something open, something anyone can write for. And that is what Slendy should be, in my opinion, a character with collective traits and a certain eerie dread, something that epitomizes the fear of the unknown and the fear of being hunted by things we cannot understand. I see Slenderman more as a Lovecraft-flavored eldritch abomination, and as such I really think it's better off when authors can have a bit more flexibility with it while still making it very sinister and very creepy. To me it should be "whatever goes, so long as it is terrifying". That kind of flexibility is important to me as an author and Slendy fan, and while I do enjoy Slenderblogs (even the formulaic ones) and read them for my own twisted enjoyment from time to time, I just don't feel comfortable being involved in the twisted network it's become. I don't feel at home and I don't feel like it's an inviting atmosphere.

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  16. Could you review my slenderblog? I'm new to this so if you tell me how to improve, I'll appreciate it very much! It's at:
    http://whimsicalparanoia.wordpress.com

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