Writer’s Commentary: The Crows of Thunder Bluff

A big thanks to everyone who checked out “The Crows of Thunder Bluff” last week. Over the past few days, several readers have asked me to do up a “director’s commentary” like the ones you find on DVD/Blurays. I still stand by this not being a fan-fiction site, but it occurred to me some of the lore fans out there might enjoy this, so here we go:

Yes, Sark Ragetotem is in game. You can find him in Thunder Bluff over on Hunter Rise. I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a fan of “fan-fiction”, mostly because the stories come completely out of left field and are (dare I say) masturbatory, “Here’s the story of *my* character and how awesome she is!” There are countless NPC’s, even major ones, lacking any backstory. Personally, I love it when I’m reading WoW based fiction and I come across the characters in game. I’m not an RP’er, but even I pause and think, “Heh… there he is!” Ker Ragetotem is also in game, and it was my decision to make her Sark’s daughter. In hindsight, I worry that I missed something in the WoW tabletop RPG about these character’s, but… que sera.  I think I’m safe.

Fantasy fiction as a whole suffers from a large problem, Mary-Sues. What’s a Mary Sue? To quote Wikipedia, “A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in literary criticism and particularly in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader.” Ever read something in which the main character just runs around being awesome for the whole story until you finally stop cheering, and want to just punch him in the face? Yeah, that’s a Mary-Sue. For “The Crows of Thunder Bluff”, I was adamant Sark would not be perfect. He fails to notice the Grimtotem in time. He fails to save the bridge to his people. Heroes mess up; what makes them heroes is they keep trying.

Hamuul Runetotem was tough. It’d be easy to write him as a god, turn him into a Mary-Sue, and even give the whole story a deus-ex machina style ending (omnipotent force shows up and sets everything right). I tried to avoid that with the choreography of the fight. Hamuul screws up. Magatha blasts him when he should have seen it coming. Hamuul’s response is to fight dirty. My attitude was that he was beyond gentlemen’s rules. Too much tragedy had already happened, and his job was to end it quickly. He’s old and wise. He’s not going to be flamboyant. Since Malfurion is effectively “balance-specced”, I decided to write Hamuul as feral. We’ve never seen him in action before, and his comments in early quests about how old and tired he is left me with a, “Yeah right…” attitude that he must be covering up his quiet physical power.

As for easter eggs? Ten points to anyone who noticed the Eagle Spear. In “The War of the Ancients”, the Tauren leader Huln Highmountain wielded this weapon, which was already at that point in time a tauren artifact. Some of Huln’s descendents are in the game, the most famous probably being the Tauren Death Knight Trag. Obviously by giving the Eagle Spear to the Bloodhoof’s I was subtly stating that Cairne and Baine were also his descendants. Another ten points to any of the StarCraft fans out there who noticed that Hamuul announced his arrival by quoting the Protoss.

Someone asked me if there was anything I wanted to put in the story that didn’t make it in. Not particularly. Although I was tempted a couple times to have Sark look across the central rise and see the tauren weapon master Ansekhwa defeating a mob of Grimtotem sent to kill him.

The story of “The Crows of Thunder Bluff” is obviously very simple. It’s effectively an action sequence. Some might criticize that it could have been longer… more epic. More angles. More dialogue and backstory. My response? Sometimes your audience doesn’t want a steak dinner; they want a cheeseburger with fries and a coke. Your job as a creative writer is to entertain, not show off how awesome you are.

So there you go.  One of the biggest problems with being a writer is the amount of time it takes your audience to experience your work. For that, I’d like to thank everyone for the time they took to check out the story. Thanks again. And if you have any other comments or questions, by all means, let me know.

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