Five days to go before I embark on Nanorimo – don’t worry these blog posts will continue – I’ll need the distraction of doing something else as a stare at a blank page and try to fill it with ideas.
That bird to the left has nothing to do with anything – except that the title was taken from Thunderbirds.
Ideas are slow to arise in my brain at the moment but it is my hope that on that faithful Thursday when this all starts something will have arisen out of the emptiness of creativity. Failing that I will just write 50,000 words of back story and, in the words of Homer Simpson, it will just be a bunch of stuff that happened.
When it comes to world building there need to be limitations. If the Enterprise could beam through any atmosphere and through shield it would remove the drama from many a story.
Expanding to other universes there are other limitations. In Babylon 5 the jump engines need time to recharge. And we all know the issues the Millennium Falcon has with its hyperdrive. Having these problems is vital to telling a good story. If the heroes are two powerful then where is the challenge?
For the type of science fiction stories I want to tell FLT will be vital. While a series set entirely in the Solar System might be interesting I don’t know the first thing about working out the physics of the situation.
And I don’t have time to get a degree in astrophysics to write the story. It will therefore have to be a soft science fiction and very soft at that.
The above picture is a firework. To my eyes it reminds me of a jump point from Babylon 5 – a sign that a ship is about to enter the star system. In designing my own idea for FLT this is the type of thing I wanted – but instead of hyperspace it is and instantaneous transit between star systems. The limitations is the accuracy of these portholes and the power needed to make them.
When it comes to word building I want to knew everything…
This includes the names and ranks of everyone aboard the ship depicted. I am very anal with this sort of stuff. This stuff is, probably, irrelevant most of the time. I still like to known though you know?
The reason for knowing was born out of the immune crewman idea in all of trek. Whether it is Spock, Data, Odo, The Doctor, or Phlox there is always someone aboard who can’t be effected by the threat of the week. So I figured if I knew the make up of the whole crew I would know which characters I could use.
And the porthole drive, for lack of a better name, came from a stupid place. In Star Trek the excuse for action is often ‘We are the closest starship.’ I hate that reasoning but that is a debate for another time. For me in order to be able to say that a ship was the closest I would need to know where every planet was in relation to every other.
Many years ago I did attempt to do that. I listed my fictional planets on a spreadsheet and started to make up co-ordinates. I even worked out a formula so I could plug in any two plants and get a distance between them.
Having a porthole drive sidesteps the issue nicely. All planets are as easy to get to as any other. Like in Stargate SG-1 as long as you know the stargate address it doesn’t matter where the other planet is.
That is one thing I have learnt from writing. Sometimes research and background information is necessarily. There are other times when a writer can make their lives easier by doing the simple thing and sidestepping the issue completely.
Doing research can get you pulled into an internet rabbit warren of irrelevant information. So next time you are looking something up ask yourself: How much do I need to know? Ask yourself if you can make a small change and avoid spending your precious writing time trying to find a small nugget of information.
For example lets say the protagonist’s mother is dying of cancer. To accurately research the effects of cancer on the body would require a lot of time. However the important part, for the story, is how it effects the protagonist. So you could try being vague about the mother’s illness. The emotional punch is the same and you avoid the rabbit warren of doom.
I’ll see you next time for an update on the first four days of Nanorimo.
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.
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