Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Quel"ling the Desire for Narratives

After brunching at one of the many great eateries in Andersonville, sometimes Bart and I go exploring. Quite a few shops are must visits. One of those is Women and Children First Bookstore. While browsing, I came across a word I’d not seen before. Perhaps I should have known about it, as it deals with books. But for whatever reason, I encountered it for the first time on The Bone Magician by F.E. Higgins. The word is: Paraquel.

Familiar with that one? Fortunately, the book cover explained it as a story taking place during another story of the series. Interesting. I have to say that the actual word didn’t quite sound right to me… but then I didn’t have a better suggestion. Plus, it’s probably just due to not having had time to get used to the term.

I wondered, of course, how common such a term is amid the storytelling world. So I did the quick solution: To the internet! Google yields some pages, but not very much. Typing it into Amazon in a book search, only 5 entries show. I feel a bit better about not knowing it. It’s probably a newer term.

One of the sites that mentions paraquel led me to find some interesting words/concepts on Wikipedia. Though paraquel does not appear, quite a bit is categorized under sequel. Paraquel is but one of a bunch of “quels” that exist. You can check out the full article yourself if you’d like, but allow me to condense it for you.

Sequel – But of course. The narrative of events following an established narrative. Certainly you’re familiar with these.

Prequel – Another well-known term. The narrative of events that occurred before an established narrative, often those that led up to those circumstances that comprise a story.

Here’s where we get a little funky. What happens when a story is a prequel to one tale but simultaneously a sequel to another? Interquel. What? Here’s an example, using a subject I talk a lot about. Sir J.M. Barrie wrote a book called The Little White Bird, where the character of Peter Pan first appeared. Later the chapters concerning him got republished as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. It provides Pan’s origin story. Barrie then decided to expand on his idea and wrote the play, Peter Pan or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. He then penned the novel version, Peter and Wendy, published in 1911. However, there’s an enormous gap between how Peter went from being an infant on Bird Island in Kensington Gardens to being a little boy fighting pirates on the Neverland isle. Therefore, a story that bridges this gap would be an interquel. (For the record, this "problematic" gap of Barrie’s has always been of great concern to me – and I’ve been working on an interquel to explain it. I just had never called it an interquel.)

Midquel – This odd term is what Wikipedia lists to describe something close to a paraquel. A great example occurs in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. The Horse and His Boy is the only one which takes place entirely in Narnia. It occurs during the reign of the Pevensie children as Kings and Queens of the magical land. But at that point in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy had grown up into adults. The Horse and His Boy is one of the adventures they intersected and took part in during that span of time. Though I’ve never seen these movies, Wikipedia states that Saw IV takes place during the events of Saw III. Other examples can be found, too.

Parallel – Okay, this does not follow the suffix rule. But it’s what Wikipedia seems to call a paraquel. It cites Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Shadow as a parallel. For it runs through the events of the first novel, Ender’s Game, but from a different character’s perspective. Also listed is BURN•E, a short film on the WALL•E home videos. It’s a lot of fun, starting with WALL•E’s ascent into space as seen in the Pixar film, but quickly focusing on another droid whose humorous plight intersects the rest of the movie at various points, with BURN•E’s woes being shaped by the events of the actual movie all the way up through the end. One of my favorite “paras” is Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which centers on those two characters. We follow their philosophical bumbling on the “other side” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Instead of R & G entering a scene to interact with the main characters, the principles enter their scene instead, exiting to leave us with only R & G for yet another scene not otherwise in the Bard's play.

Sidequel - The last one worth mentioning. A sidequel takes place within a pre-established fictional world but using unrelated plots or characters. However, it could also refer to a side story for a particular character, sometimes referred to as a gaiden (a Japanese word meaning side story.) Think The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which transports Link from Hyrule to the realm of Termina.

I hope you found this as intriguing as I did. I have to say I rather like the idea of a paraquel. It allows for quite interesting stories. Perhaps instead of flooding us with over-worked extensions, Hollywood could do more like they did with Saw (assuming the paraquel of those films worked well.)

And perhaps one day I’ll get back to my interquel, Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.

UPDATE:  I did complete the interquel.  Click the title in the Subjects below for more about it.

1 comment:

Danielle Mari said...

And a really bad one is a Hellquel?