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Specifically, it relates to some comments I made some time ago about the construction and maintenance of “status quos”....Check out Seavy's analysis of the storytelling engines that make up classic comic characters here.
The idea is that when creating an open-ended series, you include a variety of different elements that act to help the writer in generating ideas for stories; each of these elements can be seen as a component in a “storytelling engine”....
So what elements make up a storytelling engine? The basic concept of the series, for starters; Doctor Who, to use a series we won’t be looking at later on, has as its concept “a mysterious stranger has a time and space machine.” Then from there, you layer on the main character, with his motivations and backstory (”an endlessly curious not-quite-human trickster, on the run from his own people who see helping people as a crime”), the supporting cast (”a young woman with more curiousity and guts than common sense”), the setting (”the inside of the time machine”, “modern-day London”, “a variety of alien planets”, “various Earth historical locales”), the antagonists (”a variety of evil aliens who seek to enslave or destroy people”), and the tone (”light-hearted adventure, with occasional forays into horror.”) Each of these, ideally, does something to help the writer come up with a story or move it along, and each of them could be changed in ways that help or hinder the writer. (For example, if the Doctor was “a heavy reader with no interests beyond enlarging his vast library”, the series would probably have to work much harder to get him involved in events.)Each series has these elements, and each series evolves over time as different writers take a hand at the character....