Thursday, August 25, 2011

FWIW, Starship...

I am tearing my hair out over a mostly-completed chapter in the current arc of I Work On A Starship. Too many puzzle-pieces to fit in! But at least I have all the players on the board. I'm startin' to think Rannie Wu is a little woo-woo. Monomaniacal, anyhow, and not at all pleased with disorder and randomness. You can imagine how Edger culture afflicts her.

8 comments:

warlocketx said...

I suggest a violent intrusion, in which the Mole People/alien invaders/local SWAT team/gang of badguys/? come busting in and involve the cast in such a complex altercation that nobody remembers what was originally happening until two chapters later. The extreme of that is the "Hazel Stone Tactic", in which you start a new chapter depicting the characters discussing the successful resolution of the previous situation, but before anything concrete can be brought to visibility the violent intrusion happens.

It's a cheap trick, and admittedly works much better in a dramatic presentation than a book, which allows people to reread and go "WTF?" Its real value is that it breaks the author's mental logjam. The scene itself may not survive -- I have several such in my "outtakes" files.

A milder alternative is to pick a fork of the plot that kills off the protagonist and most of the sympathetic characters in interesting ways. Others exist, but the point is to shove a quarter-stick of dynamite into the crucial plot point and whack the detonator. It can be immensely clarifying.

Regards,
Ric

Roberta X said...

No.

Will explain later.

Larry said...

Now THAT's a short and to-the-point reply!

warlocketx said...

::shrug:: No need to explain. Not all my suggestions are good ones. My self-esteem is not damaged by rejection of the, erm, less valid eructions.

In my own writing I occasionally find myself so frustrated that having the Orange Octopoids of Ophiuchus enslave the lot of them in the treacle mines is the soft option. The fit passes more quickly if I commit the vision to text; the resulting episodes are rarely or never allowed to show themselves in public.

Regards,
Ric

Drang said...

The Beginning and the Middle are easy, it's the End that gets me, every time. Probably why I stopped writing.

warlocketx said...

Drang, what works for some people is to do it backwards. Think of an End, and work back to the beginning.

Of course Real Life™ doesn't have any such neat divisions. The Beginning has the characters in a certain situation. How did they get there? Work back to the beginning of that episode. It may not be as interesting a story as you'd like, but it's a useful exercise.

Regards,
Ric

Roberta X remotely said...

Ric's right about his last bit of advice.

The one I refused --left out the ";)" -- it's okay as a never-get-published brain cleaner but one of the things I promised myself with IWOAS was that it was gonna be an ordinary job. Sure, the nature of interstellar travel in a covertly-settled expanse of stars only recently out of a cold war (or two) means Space Bobbi brushes up against Big Events from time to time, but I am not gonna get myself out of trouble by having the Reticulated Hydrocephalids land and drag everybody into a good ol' shoot'em up. There are people who write great battle scenes. I'm not one of them.

There is exactly one batch of aliens encountered along the hidden frontier. I know what they are, I know who found them (a French Extrasolar Legion Captain named Alain Landing) and I know a little bit about him (grew up on St. Pierre/Miquelon with a single mother, father was an Anglophone Canadian, single, smokes, has a hot-shot reputation he thinks is undeserved, and he suspect he may be looking at the doom of humanity). But they're not really an invasion threat per se. Besidees, I'm saving them far later.

warlocketx said...

One of the joys of writing is being the penny-ante Deity of a quite restricted Universe. Stars in their courses, hmf. If I want one I'll put it there.

It does, however, provide new insight into smiting. When the characters want to slope off down the pub in the face of Thou Shalt Conform to the Plot, floods, meteors, and Plagues of Frog come naturally to mind. "Yo, --s, go wander in the desert eating sky cheese for forty years, then let's see how you argue." Not all such episodes need appear in the historical record.

And of course violent intrusions can appear in the course of an ordinary job. "We've got a spastic thromboidulus in the hypoplasmoidal warp torus! We're all gonna dieeeee!" can be just as unsettling as Reticulated Hydrocephalids, and may take longer to fix.

Regards,
Ric