If you ever visited my personal website you might have noticed an ongoing project listed: Story Time. Since you probably have no damn idea what that is about, I'll try to explain the core ideas behind that project and what Christopher (Mithent) and I are intending to do with it.
The sparking idea for this project was the thought about stories in which nothing happens. Or rather, nothing of exciting and story-like essence happens. Just really life-like descriptions of what normal people would undergo as they lived their lives. The interesting factor of this idea is that usually people think their lives are really boring and uninteresting and so turn to read and write stories with a lot of excitement. And that's where the discrepancy becomes interesting to me: Is it possible to write really realistic slice-of-life stories and still make them interesting to follow and read?
I didn't want to start this project on my own, so I asked Chris to work on this together with me. To make things even more difficult than it already is to write a world modelled after reality and keeping the real-world timeline intact, the second idea was to split the two main characters amongst each other. This means that we each “control” one of the characters and decide what kind of backstory, personality and looks they have. Anna is Chris' character and Monika is mine.
We then spent a lot of time trying to decide exactly when, where and how the stories would take place. After a great many debates we settled on making it all take place in Zürich, Switzerland of the early 90s. The two would have graduated from a university of arts not too long ago and the stories would deal with them trying to make a living: Finding jobs, completing work, living together and coping with family and friends. We settled on this kind of scenario for a great many reasons; it had to be some kind of European city close to either one of us so we could relate to the culture and history present and reduce the amount of needed research. We also wanted a time that was sufficiently far back to be able to count as ‘history’ from our viewpoint, but still close enough to be easily relatable to modern times.
Since one of the core requirements to make this as boring as possible was to keep as close a tie to reality as possible, we then had to set out to figure out the ancestry of the two characters; how they came to Switzerland in the first place, how their parents met, what kind of cultures they inherit from, what kind of events influenced them, whether they were well off or not, what their siblings and families are and what ultimately would lead for them to meet. This took quite a long while to get going and in my opinion there's still a lot to work out about the past of the two, but what we have right now was sufficient to move on to the next crucial step in preparation.
The two characters aren't siblings, so they had to meet somehow and become good friends that would consider living together. The setting for this was to be the art university they both attended. For a long time as we planned out the backstories leading up to them entering university we still didn't know how exactly they would meet and start to get closer. A lot of ideas seemed unnatural, forced, and awkward. Finally, a natural enough situation came to mind: A contest at the school that would randomly mix people from departments and the two happened to be grouped together. The awards ceremony of this contest is the first story in the Story Time series that I'm going to publish my own version of. We've written other stories before this one, but they were never made public. I have written stories about Monika as well, but those were all about her past, so I didn't have to worry about Anna.
Since I do not have control over Anna's character, writing a story with both of them in it is difficult and requires approval from Chris. The same goes for him in reverse, of course. As we both don't have a good enough handle of the other's character yet currently the plan is for both of us to write stories with the same initial settings and then critiquing the parts about our character, so we can learn their intricacies better and get an intuitive idea for how they should behave. This means that I might have to make corrections or annotations to the stories once Chris has reviewed them, so be wary of taking what I write for granted right away.
Do still keep in mind that the stories being currently published are still not part of the main “Story Time” as they deal with events in the past of the original setting. Whenever we feel confident enough (perhaps some years from now, who knows) the intention is to write proper scripts and turn it into a comic of sorts, or maybe just an illustrated piece of writing. But, that's for the distant future. For now I hope you enjoy what we can offer.
I'm not sure if Chris is going to publish his versions of the stories here; I might be able to convince him to do so. If not, I might at least try to summarise them so you can get an impression of his ideas.
I hope this strange idea of ours has some appeal to you too.
Written by shinmera