And by ‘IP’, I mean ‘intellectual property’, which, as a tie-in writer, is a thing I deal with quite often. IP is both a muse and a monster, a headache and a balm, for a number of reasons that the inestimable Nicola Vincent-Abnett has outlined in two recent posts at her site. The first is HERE, and the second, HERE. You should go read those.
For me, there’s a certain comfort in having a structure, if not a formula, in place for a given project before I type out word one. I’m not a ‘seat of the pants’ sort of writer…I like outlines, plans, and the aforementioned structure. To do otherwise, for me, is akin to furnishing a house that hasn’t been built yet. I need at least the skeleton of a story to be in place, before I start inflicting my particular brand of dubious artistry on the narrative.
Too, there’s the fun of making the limits work for you, rather than against you. I look at the limits of a given IP as the curve of a race-track, something to hew to, skid across or drift through, depending on the needs of the story in question. Limits, y’see, just force you to think. They force you to stretch those creative muscles in clever ways, to do something different (or the same, but better) with what you’re given.
Granted, limits aren’t for everybody. Some folks work best when the story takes them where it will, and I admire that. Heck, I’m in awe of that. But for me? I need to see the edges of the canvas to finish the painting.
What about you?