Head Games (2)

Part two, as promised.

As the initial spark for this book came about from the two of us gaming, and we have been deep in discussion about game theory and the like for the last, well… most of our time as friends (read: forever), it occurred to me that the answer to writing this book in a way that made the two characters actions seem more natural, more like they were guessing, improvising and fighting every step of the way and less like it was a scripted destiny, was to actually write it like that. Originally, as previously mentioned I had made a semi-serious remark about wanting to re-write the film Enemy at the Gates as a better book (better by our standards, at least). Then we decided to tackle it together, which made sense as we tend to collaborate pretty well and we would have twice the research time, etc. to devote to it as a whole. Finally, in a moment of delusion, I decided that we should basically write the book individually, from each character’s perspective, as if it was an RPG, and whatever the other one did would affect the path of the story.

To this end, we will write (presumably alternating) chapters separately from each other, after first agreeing some groundwork, and then will edit the others work where required. This encompasses the two most important points concerning the way we intend to complete this project:

  1. Writing totally separately from each other, then giving the manuscript to the other for editing. This editing process will help us to achieve a cohesive style throughout the book, whilst retaining each character’s distinctive voice. It will mean that we can monitor the direction of the story without dictating to the other what they should write, and also that we can reign the other in when we start to go off the reservation (we do this a lot).
  2. The ‘groundwork’ of which I speak, will be how we don’t write two stories at completely cross-purposes, will begin with us defining a map of some sorts to represent the city where the action is taking place. After agreeing some basic descriptions of it between us, we will go away and write our character’s impressions of the place, resulting in two different styles and perspectives. Later on in the story, it will consist of us feeding the other some number of scraps of intelligence (location of the other sniper, their plans, etc.) for each chapter, some number of which will be true and some which won’t. This will be where the fun and (hopefully) the realism comes into play, with the cat-and-mouse scenario in full swing.

Essentially, it’s some kind of bizarre blend of a two person RPG, mental chess and the game Battleships, all moulded on to writing a book – so it’s probably not going to be very easy. We also have the issues concerning editing it into a vaguely cohesive style, veto-ing each other’s ideas, figuring out when and how to stop, and at the moment actually creating this scenario and system to deal with it (we’re considering a fictional city, perhaps Konstangrad or something to that effect). However, it will be fun and if we can pull it off I believe it will be a unique creation and very rewarding.

I don’t want to give away too many of the ideas I have about my character (the Nazi sniper who is, as yet, unnamed) other than to say that I would very much like him to be a Chigurh-type character (No Country for Old Men, people) but I don’t want to end up with some sort of caricature of a psychopathic Nazi killer, because that would be incredibly boring both to read and to write about. I’m sure I’ll find the right level once I start getting into it, suffice to say that he’s going to have funny ideas regarding the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, concepts of honour and bravery in battle, the place that war has in society and his loyalty to the Nazi party/the country of Germany. Still need to come up with a decent name yet…


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