I’m going back to loopfics.
-There’s one big problem with them. They have no ending.
Then again, the same can be said about nearly all fanfics. What makes loops stand out?
-Ok, they have no plans for an ending.
The same can be said about even more fanfics (even of the ones that were completed, many were improvised), and many professional works as well (Hi, Mass Effect writers). What makes loops stand out from those?
-They do have plans for an ending-in that they explicitly and completely remove the possibility of an ending.
What does that actually mean?
-Here it is (Warning, spoilers for Undertale and several other games follow)
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Well, from the author’s guide, here’s the backstory:
Yggdrasil, the world-tree computer that is/runs/controls the entirety of all universes in existence, has broken down for some reason. The Admins who run Yggdrasil have decided to keep all the universes looping in time in time while they fix the problem (whatever said problem is). Some people within these universes remember events from time loop to time loop: these people are called loopers. The Infinite Loops are the various stories of these loopers, who are based off fictional characters from any and all media, as they try to live with time continually repeating. They aren’t completely bored out of their minds though. Occasionally, loops will have variants where people swap places, gender gets bent, history is vastly different, or the loopers are placed in a moment earlier (or later) in their lives. Loopers themselves are the only ones that remember anything about any of the loops: anyone who isn’t looping will just reset. Death means nothing to loopers: they will just reset into existence next loop (having still remembered their death though.) Sometimes different universes will cross over, either merging for a single loop, swapping loopers or non looping characters, or just creating any number of fanfiction-world variants. Virtually anything is possible.
Virtually every looper is very very stir crazy. And very very powerful.
Seeing as the time-till-completion of the Yggdrasil repairs is infinity, they better buckle down for a long ride.
So, it’s a justification.
What is it?
Before the loops began, something (and no we do not need you to explain what caused it. This is the frame for our Excuse Plot. Just don’t think too hard on it okay?) happened that destroyed a large chunk of Yggdrasil and threatened to destroy all of reality. Instead of simply rebooting the whole multiverse (which might not have worked in the first place) the Admins that run Yggdrasil decided to go for an alternative solution: lock the universes in repeating time loops until they could solve the problem. How long until they solve it? Well the given number is Infinity. Though there was a number in the Warhammer 40k loops semi-recently: a section of the multiverse was 0.000….002% restored. Yeah. We’re nowhere close.
So yeah, that’s what it is. Out-of-universe, it’s a novice writer’s dream. In-universe, it’s a character’s nightmare. This is, as they say themselves, an obvious excuse to just write “crackfic” snippets-except by linking everything together, it becomes a twisted monster.
If there was no linking, no canon, and it just was a crackfic free-for-all, then I wouldn’t care for them-but also not gaze at the concrete foundation supporting the mess. Maybe it’s SB’s love of the quantifiable, but the gap between the rigid base and the ‘random’ mess it supports is huge.
The loopfic authors themselves don’t think that much of the stated backstory-but, for whatever weird reason, I do.
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One of the things that got me inspired (or, to make a reference, determined), was seeing an increasing amount of Undertale loops. Undertale has time-loops in its own universe (they’re the in-universe explanation of saving and restarting the game).
So, this is not only a little bit of an issue, but it illustrates the other parts. Sans the skeleton is arguably, in the looper’s terms, Awake, and it has turned him into a cynical, lazy creature. Flowey, the antagonist, was driven to evil thanks to the SAVE ability and getting bored by everything. Characterization the actual loopfics noticeably lack.
Realistically, anyone who looped would go insane. But with dramatic license removing that, there’s still no theme, no point. Compare this to existing works of fiction featuring time loops.
-Imagine if Groundhog Day ended with the loops continuing. The final scene would be Phil Connors waking up after dying fighting a grizzly bear, and in the scene before that he built a jetpack and flew into one of those oversized mascots.
-Imagine if Majora’s Mask ended with Link doing something even weirder, with the main conflict not even resolved.
-Imagine if Undertale ended with the main character trying to bounce out on a trampoline.
That’s the level the Loops are at. Goofiness propped up by a setting. Shackled by the fact that the theoretical end-point is totally out of the protagonist’s control. Yes, only 2×10 to the negative 1903568th power percent of the multiverse is restored, and the few universes that are are probably some throwaway games or generic action novels.
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If I had to write a loop, what would I do?
-Have a planned ending with the multiverse being returned to normal, with plenty of drama to come from that.
-Build the story around the loops ending.
That way, the loops would be used as a plot device, rather than as an excuse.
Next installment, I’ll talk about possible suggestions for reforming the loop threads.