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NaNoWriMo – Day 25

Just a quick post for today. The editor on WordPress has changed and now I don’t quite know how to use it! That is fun isn’t it? Like going to the supermarket and finding all the isles have been changed.

I am writing to the future again. By the time you are reading this I will have just got out of work and there is a high degree of probability I will be panicking – as tomorrow (from your perspective) is my last day off in Nano.

I am behind on the word count for Nano as I write so I think I should snap to it before I look even more like the lady in the picture. It doesn’t look like her novel is going well does it?

I have attempted to introduce real physics to my story. Unfortunately I know almost nothing about physics. I have a few science fiction elements, namely FLT and a universal translator – although it takes time to deal with new languages. However I want to have rotational gravity. Now I’m thinking it might just be easier to slap on some artificial gravity and inertial dampeners and forget about realism. I hope your Nano is going well. See you next week when it will all be over!

***

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.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Day 18 of NaNoWriMO

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I like robots. It has been rare, in my limited experience, to see them properly employed in science fiction.

Star Trek doesn’t have robots. They show up very occasionally but are certainly not a regular thing.

Star Wars has lots of robots. Here the droids seem to be slaves. C3PO express signs of fear. So either he is sapient and really experiencing that emotion – or he was put together by a madman who wanted to make a non-sapient being that expressed fear. Like programming a Google home to speak in a quivering voice.

I didn’t even think as I wrote that sentence that we know who built C3PO – I guess it just shows my dislike of that plot point. Let’s not let this turn into a prequel bash or we will be here for a long time. (…or at least long enough to watch the Redlettermedia reviews.)

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The robots I want will be more like a robot vacuum cleaner than a Star Wars droid. They will of course be far more complex.

I have a robot vacuum cleaner but it always got stuck under the sofa. It can go in at the side but not the front so it was trapped until I could rescue it. This made it rather useless as I couldn’t just leave it to work while I was out. It would be nice if it could learn the room and so know where it could not go. Some models will even fall down the stairs as they can’t see a drop.

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When JMS created Babylon 5 he said: ‘No…cute robots.’ In the like vain I don’t want cute robots either. The robots perform a job on the ship but they are not going to rise up and say: ‘Destroy all humans.’ Nor are they going to seek to be human. Don’t get me wrong Data and Kryten is nothing bad but it is not a story I am interested in telling.

The robots in my story are non-sapient and do what they are told. They are no more slaves than your microwave or weighing scales.

This inclusion of lots of robots is advantageous as it means I can have a very small crew. I can therefore develop all the characters and set myself apart from inevitable comparisons to Star Trek.

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Incidentally I remember seeing some scales once that said: ‘Hello’ as you turned them on. Would you want them to have AI? Imagine stepping on scales and a little voice saying: ‘Oh God get off me you fat twit.’ – well for some that might be sufficient motivation.

NaNoWriMO is going well. By the time you read this I will have just come to the end of a week off work so hopefully I will be well ahead of the target. (Future me: ‘Nope’) My novel is a rambling mess but at least I am not running out of things to say. (Future me: ‘I really am – I just have to push through.’

***

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.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Day 11 of NaNoWriMo

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I am writing into the future in two ways here. Preparing this post ahead of time and my science fiction novel.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge and it is supposed to be. There is no time for the dreaded writer’s block. At the moment I am thinking about the ordinary world of the story.

There doesn’t need to be some big war that will lead to humans being subjugated by Kang and Kodus. There doesn’t need to be some great conspiracy or evil politicians. It can just be a story of a new world. And world building is interesting if hard.

person holding terrestrial globe scale model taken

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I have a character and she is starting to have a voice in the story. I had some background for her before starting. And as time goes on a writer stars to know the character. A writer my write something and then backspace it because a little voice is telling them it is wrong. Alternatively an idea may arise from no where.

Those ideas can be fought but it is a futile manoeuvre. (Incorrect strategy, Number one.)

I think my character, Stephanie McKnight, is trying to tell me something about her relationship status. I wrote her a boyfriend but she seems to be saying that that is not the whole story. I just have this tiny voice in the back of my mind telling me I am wrong about that but I am not sure in what way.

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Maybe she is in a poly relationship?

That does provide an interesting dynamic to the story. Science fiction has always been about exploring new possibilities.

I don’t hold to the Roddenberry idea that in the future we will be perfect. However I do think that we could reach a point of being less judgemental about other people’s choices.

I don’t what to get on a soapbox here so I will use a flippant example. I don’t understand people wanting to watch sports. In particular spending hundreds on a season ticket – that doesn’t mean that I am going to call for every stadium to be torn down. And it works both ways – some would ask why I spent £20 on a picture that an actor has scribbled their name on.

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For now I just need to listen to my character. I’m sure she will revel her wants, desires, and the truth about her in time.

If you’re not a writer this might sound like nonsense. Why can’t a character be what you want? Isn’t a novelist God to the story?

In my experience that is not the case. Ideas come as if from nowhere and when they do the writer has to listen.

So if you are writing now take some time to listen. Are you sure that your character has a pet cat? Might they be a dog person? Are you sure they have a brother? Might it be a sister?

The list of potential questions is endless. Good luck with yours.

***

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.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

 

 

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Day 4 of NaNoWriMo

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4468 words in to NaNoWriMo and I think it is going okay. I just need to write myself into the story a little more.

It is funny to think that with writing sometimes you have to meander your way to the story. When it comes to the edit I imagine most of those 4468 words will go. However that is part of the point of this exercise to get the words down on the page – or on the screen.

And so far the words are falling from my fingers to the screen so so far I am pleased. I am nowhere near the hump. I do have a week off in a couple of weeks so that will be a chance for intensive writing.

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The hardest part of NaNoWriMo is avoiding the rabbit warren of research. It is so easy to get sucked into irrelevant facts.

Even something as simple as picking the city a secondary character is from can take time.

One trick, and this is a ‘Do as I say not as I do.’ situation. Is to use codes. So put <>, (), {{, and so on instead of the name you don’t know. You can use find and replace later. Essential for NaNoWriMo. For me though I can’t help but being pulled to research. Some of it is essential. Writing may not be rocket science but my story is science fiction so some of it is.

***

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.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

 

 

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5…4…3…2…1 – Nanowrimo is Go!

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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.

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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?

dscn0416_11670707_o 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…

sky earth galaxy universe

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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.

sky space telescope universe

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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.

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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.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Nanowrimo – 2018

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Nanowrimo 2018 is fast approaching and I will be taking part. Even though, at this precise moment, I have very little idea of what I am going to be writing about.

I already have several projects on the go and it would make more sense to finish one of them but I enjoy the challenge of nanowrimo and I want to do it. Also I have done it for the last couple of years and don’t want to miss one. It is funny how an established habit makes it easier to continue. I discovered the other day I had missed a day on my morning pages and that was annoying – although it is possible it was a computer error and that entry didn’t save.

sky space milky way stars

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There are some characters in my head that I have done very little with and I think writing 50,000 words on one of them might be a good idea.

I have been a fan of Star Trek since I was very little. And have been telling stories since I was old enough to speak/annoy my parents depending on how you look at it. So it was only natural that I would have my own starship crew.

I have in my head a group of eight main characters that make up my starship crew:

  1. Commander Michael Wisdom
  2. Major Virgil Noxon
  3. Major Duncan O’Reilly
  4. Major Tracy Troxell
  5. Major Melissa Dorn
  6. Major Svea Borg
  7. Major  Dimitri Kriskovich
  8. Lieutenant Stephanie McKnight

As you can see it is perfectly balanced between men and woman – which in the crazy way this world is going will probably annoy everyone!

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I have written a story or two with these characters but haven’t got fully immersed into their world. Weirdly I have back story for some of them.

I know, for example, that Lieutenant McKnight has red hair, is from Toronto, and her father was a Police officer.

I know Svea is blond, started as an enlisted crewman and, made the jump to officer – although I have since rethought how the ranks work in this universe.

I know Melissa is French, gay, and went into the space force over the objections of her father but that they now have a good relationship.

I know Duncan O’Reilly is from a race of genetically engineered humans, is telepathic, and has small horns on his forehead.

I know that Virgil Noxon was adopted, has twin younger siblings, Wyatt and Morgana, and, that his mother served in the space force before him.

And I know that Michael Wisdom is the middle child. His elder brother is also in the service and his younger brother is somewhat estranged from the family.

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So, yes, all this information is floating around in my head but there is very little written about these people or their universe. So my novel for November will be about these people – now I just need something for them to do.

***

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.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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I Understand…

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Some people complain about diversity in fiction. They seem to see something wrong with having characters from a variety of backgrounds. This is going to be a post where a white, heterosexual, and male person talks about diversity. What have I got myself into?

When Star Trek Discovery began there were some complains about it. It had a black female lead and a gay character. There are people who dislike it purely because of these factors. I don’t like Discovery. I saw the pilot and 1.5 episodes and it wasn’t gripping me so I watched something else instead. It had nothing to do with diversity. On the contrary that was one of the few bright sparks of the show. It is about bloody time we had a gay character!

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Previously, in Trek, we only had off hand references to gay people existing. Whoopi Goldberg got a small victory in changing a line to reflect everyone rather than being heteronormative. In DS9’s Rejoined Kira couldn’t understand why Dax can’t be with the woman she is falling in love with. In that episode it was the Trill taboo that was the problem and not that they were both women.

Diversity is good and it is something that should be seen more of in films. However there is a side to it that I find confusing. Some people talk about it being needed to help the audience identify more fully with the characters. This was certainly true of Whoopi Goldberg who was inspired by seeing Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. As, at the time, a black woman in such a position was unheard of. Uhura was fifth in command of the Enterprise!

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Now I know what you are thinking: ‘You are a white heterosexual man. Almost every film ever made has a white heterosexual man.’

You are right of course but, for me, those factors don’t mean much.

I need to clarify what I am saying here because I do not want to cause any offence to anyone. I know that white privilege is a thing. And so is homophobia.

I know that no one is going to question me walking down the street holding a woman’s hand. No one is going to question me standing on a station platform holding her while waiting for a train. If I was gay they might. It should not make a difference. Love is love. The point I am trying to make is that my privileged status is shown in indifference. So although I am privileged I don’t notice it because it manifests in people being decent. I haven’t seen the other side. And I don’t really think of my sexual orientation, my race, or my gender as being significant to the person I am.

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I remember reading a book report in Primary School. When I was finished I was asked a question: ‘Do any of the characters remind you of someone you know?’

I thought about it and I said that one of the female characters reminded me of my brother. Some people in the class were confused by that. As if men and woman were so wildly different they couldn’t be compared in that way.  I don’t think I have ever needed similarity to find connection – or enjoyment in a work of fiction.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of my favourite shows growing up. It has a mostly female cast and I never felt alienated or disconnected or disinterested.

The too main male character’s in the show are Giles and Xander. I like them both but they are nothing like me. Giles is an older mentor character and Xander had enough confidence to ask out his crush out – I could never do that and I wouldn’t have been asking out a girl with super powers. Although I probably would have handled rejection better.

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TL:DR: Diversity is fantastic but its absence doesn’t effect my enjoyment.

I said before that factors like who I love and my gender don’t matter so what does?

The things I enjoy doing would be much more important. I prefer quite nights in to noisy nights out. With the acceptation of if I am kissing someone!

I am also disabled. I don’t talk about it much, and I think I generally say no to the question, but technically I am. I have dyspraxia, a condition that effects hand/eye coordination, I also have some issues with mental heath.

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So…I was wrong.

When I saw Doctor Who last week I had a feeling of joy inside when Ryan was shown to have dysprixia. I finally get it. Diversty is not just a nice to have it is absolutely essential. So on this one I have been a little slow.

Also Jodie Whittaker was awesome as the Doctor I have never liked a new Doctor so fast. She had echos of Tennant and even a bit of Troughton.

I look forward to seeing where they go with this show. And I hope they show Ryan coping with his dysprixia rather than an alien healing him. As much as I would like to be normal magic wands don’t exist in real life. And as a very special woman told me the other day: ‘There is nothing wrong with you.’ I should listen to her – a boost to self-esteem is invaluable.

I hope you are doing well with whatever you struggle with. You can do this!

***

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.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

Leave a comment

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