Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Very Special Bumper Edition Of Writer's Block

And would you believe it! Twisted Tales approaches five months of being ALIVE AND KICKING, people! Yours truly is indeed in a jovial mood today, so much that he's even forgot his pleasantries. Welcome all to, like the title says: a very special edition of the Writer's Block After A Story Is Complete. Only the second one ever, mind you. Whoa, I do seem to have a lot on my mind today. Have been planning to jot all these down for a while, and finally I found the time and motivation. So here you have it all, the culmination of some week-long thoughts:

Should I still be looking back on The Secret Room? From my point of view, it was pretty okie-dokie stuff. The added characters Stella, Jan, and Phyllis weren't all too bad, though I do wish I could've used Phyllis in less rushed manner. It did cross my mind of adding in a few more encounters with her, but I didn't want to drag the story any longer when there wasn't anything substantial to drag it with. The continuity could've used some tweaking, as with Mrs. Banks' motivations for evil-ness. If only, if only, then the ending would have been undisputedly strong. But...heh, it's what they've come to expect of me. All in all, nothing to be ashamed of here.

Am somewhat very into blogging these days, sigh...this blog is the perfect thing I need to rekindle an interest for writing. Not to mention gain a minor audience without sticking pieces of paper in their faces. It did seem a huge waste of time at first, but bit by bit I do find it enjoyable. Haven't had had a proper medium since those days of "polluting" the school magazine, haha.

Should I change the template again? New story, new template? But this one is sooo nice, and it's just too much trouble to have to move everything again. I had initially planned on wrapping up The Secret Room before my mid-term break last week, then scout around for good templates. Instead, I missed the deadline, and we are, right smack in my end-nearing term. Will still be on the lookout if I have time, but don't hold your breath. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Let's move on to something more interesting: the art of storytelling, through my eyes. I was typing out an old story which I wrote for my 2002 SPM English paper the other day(It'll be up shortly, I promise) when this popped up. It's always heartening to see how glaringly obvious your mistakes are, as compared to the first time when it seemed like the best piece of work ever written. Storytelling is indeed a mastery, one very closely linked to marketing, human behaviour, and psychology, all of which I've become keen to in the past few months. And nowhere have I studied more about this than through that much-criticised TV show: Wrestling.

Allow me to illuminate your senses. Pro wrestling started off back since who-knows-when, not much more than cheap entertainment played mainly to dull old men in dingy bars. For years it remained the same, a sport which only those who enjoyed knew about. Now, I'm rather sketchy when it comes to details, but sometime around the mid 1980s, a man by the name of Vince McMahon Jr made televised wrestling a money-spinning success. He, of course, was and still is the chairman of the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment). McMahon did this through the brilliant innovation of Wrestlemania, an annual wrestling spectacular where celebrities, singers, sporting greats, TV personalities and the like were roped in to add glitz. Though televised wrestling had existed long before that, Wrestlemania brought the concept of wrestling pay-per-views to a whole new level. It is said that the first Wrestlemania had to be a success for McMahon, or else he would've gone bankrupt.

On the back of a certain Hulk Hogan the WWF enjoyed a remarkable period of success. (If you've never heard of Hulk Hogan, you've probably been blogging since you were three). This period would come to be known as the "Rock N' Wrestling Era", where long hair and rocker dudes were the way to go. In those days, wrestlers were gimmicky, over-the-top, and the kids just lapped it up. Good guys were macho and heroic, bad guys were nasty to the core. Some of you might even recall a certain cartoon series featuring Hogan and his friends defeating the nefarious baddie wrestlers. You get the idea. Then somewhere down the line, they just became tiresome. Audiences could no longer tolerate the kid-friendly musclemen pandering for cheers, what more with Hogan and his eternal title reigns. They started tuning in to some new shows put on by upstart wrestling companies; mainly ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) and WCW (World Championship Wrestling).

ECW appealled to audiences for their cutting edge hardcore action never before seen in a wrestling ring; for once the wrestlers felt real. Their shows were held in a very closed environment and the wrestlers constantly went into the crowd. The interaction, the bonding, call it what you will, it was truly there in every ECW show. WCW, on the other hand, was a stroke of genius led by a very, very clever man named Eric Bischoff. Backed by billionaire Ted Turner, he did one of the dumbest things any fledgling company would dare to do: go toe-to-toe with the giant. Bischoff was convinced that in order to be the number one company, he couldn't just appeal to a niche audience. He had to take on the still massively popular WWF straight. Like McMahon before him, failure on Bischoff's part would make him out of a job. Bischoff did some pretty unethical things; he broadcast the results of WWF's taped shows on his shows, he lured WWF wrestlers to WCW and made them diss their former company on air, and even recorded some not-so-nice commercials. The thing was, the more he did these outrageously wrong things, the more interesting it became to watch WCW. It didn't help that WWF's own product was faltering. The power shift was complete one night when Hogan (now in WCW) teamed up with two blokes by the name of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the New World Order, or nWo. The three would wage a storyline war against the entire WCW company, garnering tremendous viewership as their faction kept growing.

Meanwhile, WWF was in serious trouble. Wrestlers were defecting like there was no tomorrow, and viewership was declining steadily. Try as they could, they just could not find enough likeable wrestlers to carry the company. The period of gloom continued through 1997, when even their most entertaining wrestler Shawn Michaels refused to take part in Wrestlemania that year. More controversy ensued later when WWF Champion Bret Hart, having signed for WCW, did not want to lose it in front of his home country. McMahon would then conspire to "screw" him out of the title live on national TV, making McMahon one of the most despised characters in the wrestling industry. Just when the world thought that McMahon had no one but himself to blame for WWF's demise, the turning point would show up. If the previous era had been built around Hulk Hogan, this would be the man for the new era. His name was none other than Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Some of you might recall a period around 1998 to 2002 when everyone watched WWF at least once in their lives, the infamous "Attitude Era". No one could possibly not have heard of the names The Rock, Stone Cold, Triple H, Undertaker, Mankind, and so forth. Once again, the people were cheering. They cheered when Stone Cold beat up McMahon, the "evil boss". They cheered each time The Rock quoted his famous catchphrases. For one magical moment in time, wrestling didn't seem like two guys in tights whacking the stuffing out of each other. It was an utterly hip phenomenon, a pop culture people cared for and made a part of their lives.

This story, known as the legendary "Monday Night Wars", is a story which has deeply fascinated me since I started watching wrestling in mid 2000. It has long intrigued me why nine out of ten people these days say they used to watch wrestling, but it's no longer fun these days. Could they have grown tired of it? But wrestling was by no means a new thing when it peaked in 1998. Nor was there a sudden upheaval in the company. It is, no matter how many times I see it, incredibly puzzling how a whole population could've stood up and taken notice of an old, tired product all at the same time. I've watched and read countless related material, and yet it still is intruiging how and when the tide turned. How did Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, mere wrestlers like so many before them, manage to whip entire arenas and millions of viewers into a frenzy each time they appeared?

And that is how so much can be learnt from the mad, mad world known as wrestling. We've all seen wrestling matches before. We know how they end many times. We know what the wrestlers are going to say, going to do, and most of it seems fake. There're countless situations which could never happen in real life, but you do sometimes still get goosebumps waiting for two guys to go at it. It's all a combination of the logical and the magical.

Congrats if you made it to this final paragraph, though I doubt many of you did. A HUGE shout out to the always-excellent columnists of, where I get my fixes of wrestling news, previews and reviews. Thank you for teaching me how to tell a story that first and foremost, gives what the reader wants, not what you want. I still have a long, long way to go before I perfect it, but the journey is always the exciting part. Having said that, let us wrestling fans wait for the next Attitude Era like they did in 1995.

P.S.: I'll be taking a short break before the third story commences. Just need a little time to develop this cool idea I have in my head, and brush up more on effective storytelling. It's called "Ghostopia", by the way. ;^)

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