In my previous installment in this series, I talked about the major influences on Welcome To The Fold. Here, I'm going to talk about the way those influences came together to form a story.
From the beginning, this story was always about a schizoid view of reality. The first half is the world we all live in and navigate through. The other half is a fantasy world that lives first in the head of its creator, then in the heads of those who appropriate it and turn it into a sort of LARP-cult. Much of the dynamics of the cult from within came from Ted Patrick's book and many other places. (The cult isn't based on any actual cult, but rather on the general behaviors of such movements.)
Originally, when I wrote the whole thing as a failed screenplay, I took a totally objective view of the goings-on. Whenever someone talked about the story within the story, it was mentioned, sometimes described, but never shown. For a screenplay that was fatal: movies are about showing and telling, and if I wasn't showing people what needed to be shown, then I wasn't doing my job. What's the sense of inventing a fantasy setting that enthralls people if you give the audience no direct idea of what about it was so enthralling?
To that end, the first thing I told myself I needed to do with the revamped version of this story was give people some idea of what about the story-in-the-story excited the characters. It wasn't just the setting, though; it was the characters themselves, the characters they longed to identify with, that we needed to see as clearly as possible. Rose Of Versailles and Utena helped give me ideas about what those characters would be, especially Kijé, the protagonist.
The story, then, needed to start with our protagonist on both sides of the page: Kijé herself, and Ann (Annika), the real-world person playing her in the game. Everything is told chiefly from her point of view, save for moments when her estranged boyfriend Renton reads the books based on the game, or writes about the game's pernicious influences in a pseudonymous blog. (We later find out the way she knows about all these experiences of his is because he tells her, but how he does so is something I save for the very last part of the story.)
How everything unfolds from there took some slight influence from The Demons, but again only in the sense of how that book's psychology about such moments is astute. Young, idealistic people with boundless energy and a thirst to change things for the better succumb to their worst impulses, and eventually spiral down into self-destruction. The urge to have the new world, in whatever form, even if only for a moment, even if it ruins you and all around you, surpasses everything else.
What mattered, though, was giving these revolutionaries valid motives for rejecting the world around them. They look around and find themselves in a time and place that has no room for heroism, that values cynicism and cheap pleasure over principles and sustainable joy. They want to replace it all with something better, from the inside out, and the story they've been immersing themselves in suggests a blueprint for how to do that. And so when the story's own creator says, no, you can't do that with what I've created, you're taking it too seriously in all the wrong ways, they decide the only way forward is to wrest his story away from him, to make it into their thing instead of his.
Next installment, I'll talk in detail about the characters I created, and the roles they each fill.