Makeshift solutions can be adequate but excellence inspires real creativity.
Excellence does not necessarily require costly or impossibly clever resources. Watching creative solutions to problems in poor countries can be educational. For instance, a large truck must be transported across a lake. The truck is too wide and heavy for any available barge. The makeshift solution is to drive the truck onto two barges, which carry it, side-by-side, across the water. A better solution, requiring creative common sense, would be to securely connect the two barges, using stable materials, before loading the truck. (Happily, truck and barges made the journey without mishap.)
I enjoy watching the movie-making process documentaries found on fantasy and sci-fi dvds, especially ‘Avatar’ (James Cameron) or ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ (Peter Jackson); in pursuing excellence the movie makers sought the best of the best, whether in exploring technical development or creating detailed sets, costumes and lifestyles – excellence that has paid for itself many times over. (Weta Workshop and Weta Digital were used by both directors; I highly recommend visiting the Weta website, or better still, Weta Cave in Miramar and Hobbiton, near Matamata, NZ, for a huge injection of excellence in creative thinking.)
Perfection demands a mastery of detail. ‘Making do’ works as a temporary, emergency fix in limited circumstances but is never a long-term solution; for real credibility, in movies, art, writing or any other endeavour, truth is in the details – and so is credibility. When detail is swept aside, any relationship to reality goes with it.
Story-tellers of fantasy must build a complete and believable world for their characters. Relying on what we know from our daily lives is insufficient for other-worldly experiences. With creativity comes consistency; fantasy worlds have to make sense; fantasy cultures must be believable; fantasy creations must work, not just ‘look good’; both terms and time-lines have to mesh. This requires attention to details even when no one else cares.
Consider the natural creation in all its glorious, infinite detail! A tree has thousands of leaves, all with the same function, yet none are identical. Describing a forest, for example, involves not just seeing trees but experiencing their scents, sounds and taste, their textures and temperature and colours, their relationship to time and latitude, all their moods and niche environments, and how they responds to weather or fire or flood or the lives they shelter or even the nature of those who merely pass through them.
What we imagine is triggered by what we already know; what we create expands on that, sometimes exponentially, and steps off the trail of normality into the vast unknown; and therein, my friends, lies excellence.Excellence-Inspired Fantasy