Story Ideas: How to use an idea and turn it into something your own.

Youtube sucks.

More importantly, it is a time suck. I get stuck on it and I watch videos. I lose track of time and then nothing gets done. But sometimes I find inspiration in the piles of videos. So I came across this:

 

I am a fan of the show. I own a couple seasons, but I haven’t found the time to finish watching all of them. I do watch some of the battle scenes on Youtube as they tend to be well done and are fairly close to historically accurate for TV/ Movies.

For those that aren’t familiar with the show, the story of the series is the one of Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar was a Norse Chieftain and then king in the 9th Century. He was the father of historical figures like Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Hvitserk, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and Ubba. I am not going to go into too many details about the series, but I will kinda throw some spoilers in. But they aren’t really spoilers as it deals with historical facts and myths.

In history, Ragnar had raided his way across Northern Europe and had a bunch of sons. He had, however, pissed King Ælla of Northumbria. At one point, Ragnar was captured by the vengeful king. Who tortured him and threw him into a pit of snakes. Ragnar’s sons, all six of them, gathered a large army and then invaded Northumbria and Wessex, killing the king and taking large tracks of land.

In this scene, Odin, the Norse God, goes around to each of the Ragnar’s sons and tells them that their father is dead. Each son is doing something different. They are in different parts of the world, from the Mediterranean to working at the forge on a sword.

The scene is wonderful and works well in the TV series. They include the symbolism of the crows/ ravens and the wandering god in different parts of the show so that this scene is foreshadowed and is enjoyable.

I enjoyed the scene so much that I want to use it in my own writing.

But taking that scene is plagiarism. Right?

Wrong. Kinda. It’s complicated.

If I take the entire scene as is and use it in my novel word for word. As if that scene was written down into a book, then it would be plagiarism. But I am not going to do that.

First, I need to break down the scene into it’s different parts. To do that, I watch it a couple more times, on mute. With subtitles so I can see what they characters are saying. But they don’t say much.

The different parts. 

The sons.

They are all established characters. No time is needed to establish anyone. You have met them before. They are well developed characters. So for me to use this scene, I must have the characters established and well developed. I don’t think that I need to be sons though. I am thinking more like blood-brothers. Or members of a type of knightly order. Something like that.

Time.

As the characters are established, this is not an opening scene. Which is why it works for this story. For my story, I am thinking that it can be either the first plot point or the second. I am leaning the first. Establish the characters and then force them to get together.

The Crows, or ravens.

This is something that I will be taking from the scene. Having the God character preceded by Raven’s is something that can carry over to my novel. It adds stability to the character and foreshadows events in the story.

The God.

In the scene, it is Odin who is telling the son’s about their dad. In my story, it doesn’t have to be a father-God. It can be any type of God that does it. He just has to wander around watching people. I can make him less sinister looking that Odin was. But the character was also established. If you look up the opening scene of the TV show, you see him taking souls with him from a battlefield. In my book, I will have to establish him as a character, even if he gets no lines and is only seen from a distance.

Those are the different parts of the scene. Some can be taken as is, some can be tweaked, making the scene feel similar, without the nasty issue of plagiarism. But where and how do I turn this idea, into a non-plagiarized story?

My Manuscripted Universes. 

I have many books in the works, with the vast majority of them in the development stage. I do try and keep my world building down to a minimum. World building is a pain at times and I would rather do it as few times as possible.

I have three major fantasy story universes. Here is a problem, this story concept may not fit into any world that I have created at the moment. It may fit into one, the biggest one. ‘Agersolum’. But maybe not.

That means that if I want to seriously consider this story, then I will have to create or modify a world. But the idea is a good one.

Where to go from here?

That is the next question to ask.

You have found a kernel of an idea. A small flame. How to turn that single scene into a story.

First, I pick a world. You might not have that issue. If you do not, don’t worry about the world. You can do it after you flesh out the story a bit.

After I choose a world, I start asking questions.

In no particular order, these are some of the questions that I need to ask and answer to create this story.

  • Who does the God tell the Sons about?
  • Was he important in the world, and in the story?
  • Was he a POV character?
  • Was he a protagonist of some kind?
  • What did he do to deserve his fate?
  • Who did it to him?
  • Why did he die?
  • Could he have saved himself?
  • Did he sacrifice himself?
  • What did he do to get the attention of the God?
  • Who are the son’s?
  • Why are they important?
  • How is each son different from the next one?
  • How many son’s are there? (Ragnar had six. I don’t need to use six.)
  • Are they good fighters?
  • What are they up to?
  • How many are POV characters?
  • What are there reactions to the news?
  • What is the God, the God of?
  • What is his purpose?
  • What do the son’s do with the news?

As I answer the questions, they lead to more questions, which will also need answers.

For those that don’t have a story universe to write it in, now is the time to add in questions about the world. Draw a map, etc.

That way a story will slowly form out of a single simple idea that I saw at 2am on Youtube.

Until next time.

 

 

 

Tattoos

This blog post is going to be completely off topic in regards to writing or anything that I normally talk about.

First a brief, or not so brief story.

Some of you may know that I lost my dad when I was young. I barely remember him; I was young when he went. What I do know of him was what I got from my mom and the stories that relatives told throughout the years.

My Grandpas were two men that I am happy to have had in my life. I had a different relationship with each of my grandpas. Growing up, it never occurred to me that one day they would be gone; as an adult it was something that lived in the back my mind, that I didn’t want to acknowledge.

My Grandpa Hennig passed away a couple of years ago. He was the mayor of a small city and we talked endlessly about politics and technology; he loved cameras and solar power.

Then two years ago, my wife miscarried our third child. It hurt her more than she let me know. I wanted to help her in anyway that I could. Grace showed me the picture of what she wanted and she got herself a tattoo.

She got one of a bird and some flowers. It is absolutely beautiful and I can’t even begin to do it justice in any description.

Not long after, my Grandpa Pedde passed away. He was an electrician, a farmer, he loved computers. He knew more about computers than I did when I spent a summer earning money helping him out on the farm when I was 18 years old.

All of these events combined together did something. Growing up I suppressed my emotions and hid away weakness. Hiding away did something too. After the loss of my third child I felt I needed to do something as a memorial, for them all. Most of my siblings have gotten memorial tattoos to suit their needs for healing. When my wife had hers done to commemorate our third I obsessed over it.

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Sorry about the multiple pics. The part by my wrist is hard to see all of the writing in one picture.

I have always wanted to get a tattoo, but I never knew what to get. I would always lose interest in it and change my mind. This time I had a rough idea of some of the elements I wanted to include and handed them over to Kat Cleland of I Heart Tattoos and she transformed them into the piece that resides on my right forearm.

To break down the elements in the tattoo:

The little boy. 

The boy represents the child that we lost.

The cowboy boots and hat.

They represents my dad. When I think about him I think about the pictures that I have seen of him in rodeos.

The kite.

The greatest memory of my Grandpa Hennig was that my Grandma told us to go fly a kite when we were being annoying one day. We did. It was cool. I still have the kite. It was made out of a garbage bag.

The skull-kraken

My Grandpa Pedde was an avid fisherman. He was always fishing, or wishing that he wasn’t so busy that he could go fishing. He always had a story about why he didn’t catch the fish.

The quote

Yes it is a quote. Geek points to all who get the quote. “We are all just stories in the end, so just make it a good one”. The quote speaks to me at a personal level, geekery aside, because my life is fueled by the desire to create/tell stories, and is a reminder to live my life to its fullest.

The scene

This was something that was added by the tattoo artist. I had the different elements and the quote. She put it all together into a small story. The little boy with the slingshot in his pocket is letting go of the bright red kite to fight with the monster of his imagination.

I am quite happy with the tattoo and  am currently trying to figure out the next one. Yes I am getting another one. (So it begins hahaha)

But this isn’t just a cool tattoo. There is meaning behind it. Not all tattoo’s need it, but I feel that this one did. The personal meaning behind it made it possible for me to deal with the lifetime commitment a tattoo requires…its part of me now.

 

For anyone intrigued by the tattoo, feel free to visit the link.

Link. https://www.facebook.com/ihearttattoos 

https://www.instagram.com/katclelandart/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/reesecleland/?hl=en

 

Update: Writing, life and the family

I know that it has been a bit and my posts have dropped off. I apologize for that. My day job has gone nuts and I have spent a couple weeks doing 10 hr days. The pay will be great. After the greedy governments takes there cut.

Anyways. That has taken a lot of time from my writing and other thing time. I have pushed some things aside so that I have time to think.

I am only working on one writing project a day at the moment. The others will be there once I get more time. I am also wanting to work on the house more. I need to get it done. I am tired of living in reno-land. It is not pretty and there is no cookies. I was promised cookies.

Anyways. The family is going good. My 5 yr old girl is singing and dancing to everything. We have to be careful to what we put on, she will sing to it. Sometimes it is not appropriate.

My 6 yr old son plays piano and now wants to play guitar as well. He also take pictures with a cheap point and shoot camera we got him. He draws pictures and paints things. He is also working on a story series with him.

The one project that I am not going to drop. It is too important. It must be done.

Speaking on the project. It has a new name and the first book will be published in a few weeks. As soon as I get some notes from the editor and the cover art is done.

The new name for the book previously called, ‘Space Courier’ is now called, ‘The Des O’Neal Chronicles‘ It is a planned 6 part series with the first book under the subtitle of ‘The Saboteur Missile Attack‘.

Anyways. I work early in the AM. At an ungodly hour of 6AM. Time for bed.

Laters.

 

New ideas.

So I hate my brain. In the dark, cold recesses of the night. When I should be doing something important like sleeping, my brain is at work.

Some people think about work, or the money troubles that we all seem to be in. But for me, I am thinking about a story idea. Not an old story idea, but it is usually a new story idea.

This time, I thought of a new story centered around the idea of writing a story in the early bronze age.

That was the catalyst of the story. I have talked more about that concept in previous blog posts.

So, then I created a character. Arn. He is a 16 year old son of a tribal Chief. His tribe has been enslaved and killed at the beginning of the story. He is the last of his people and now he must find some way to move forward when all he feels is despair and anger.

The world is a land of mythical beasts, God’s demon’s and demi-gods. They all walk on the earth and meddle in the affairs of the puny mortal humans.

I have created a mythos of the gods. I have created a break down on the land and the different peoples. Magic has been created. I have written the first chapter.

The worst part is that I am excited to write this story. My mind is plotting out the story even now as I type this. I want to write it and get in onto paper.

But I have so many different projects to do.

Why brain? Why!

A short one today.

Until next time.

Futurism: Mars Part 2

In this blog post, I am going to go into details in the different changes that happens to the Martian Colony over time.

The obvious one is that the colony grows larger. With 12 different colonies with different agendas and sponsors from earth, Mars becomes a real life version of the computer game Civilization. A hundred years and multiple generations pass. Most colonists, no matter which colony that they are from view themselves as Martians first and only the place of there ancestry grudgingly.

But before the advent of hostilities between the different colonies, the situation changed.

The colony’s themselves have a wide range of different problems and issues that must be fixed. The biggest one is taxation. The sponsors of the colony’s take a large portion of any money made by the colony for themselves before it is left to pay it’s people. Little money is reinvested in the colony itself and the expansion and maintenance of it comes out of the colony’s own funds.

From the colonies, all of the industries of space were controlled. The bosses all lived on the earth, but the people fixing the machines, building the probes and sending shipments back to Earth were all from Mars. The governments of Earth came to rely on the money from the Martian colonies more and more. Each year, they took more and more to support the failing societies on the planet Earth.

The colonists were also not allowed free travel between the different colonies. All communication between the colonies are controlled and regulated. Only official communications can happen. That means friends can’t have a phone call if they love in a different colony.

The colony’s are also directly controlled from mission control back on Earth with the colonists themselves having no say in what they do. They are only there to carry out there orders and not to question the minds of the people on earth.

The only colony not following orders in that regard, the only one that has gone off the reservation, is the first one. The Mars Corp. They are considered very rebellious in nature. Doing what they want and not listening to the corporate bosses. The bosses are happy about it. There profits are high, while the other colonies are barely surviving.

Then the corporate bosses of Mars Corp does the insane crazy thing. They move there Head Quarters from Earth, to the Mars Colony. They also move all of the personal that want to go and there families. The colony pulls all ties from earth except to pick up new immigrants to the colony.

Mars Corp becomes the first Mars Colony to become free. Free from the tyranny of being ruled by a group of people millions of kilometers away.

The other colonies took notice. The Mars Corp sent messages to each colony offering assistance with there transport shuttles if required.

Earth-side blocked all communication to Mars Corp. They couldn’t help as no message would go through.

Then after a couple years, one of the colonies failed. The one sponsored by the European Union. A sand storm damaged there oxygen processing and there power generation. An easy fix if you have the supplies. Mars Corp had the supplies. No message went through.

The colony went dark. It was two weeks before the news got out. A rouge agent of the EU Space Agency leaked the news to the colonies. Tensions boiled and 125 years after the first colonist set foot on Mars, the people rebelled.

In the year 126, the United Colonies of Mars was created. This started the first inter-planetary war as the governments of Earth cried out from the lack of money to run there nations.

Again. Information that probably will not make its way into a book, but this sets the stage on what the People of Mars are like.

Next time. Terra-forming. A mistake? Or intentional?

 

Futurism: Mars Part 1

In this post, I am going to talk about what I think will happen to the colony of Mars and how that will effect the story world that I developed.

First. Some information about Mars.

Mars is cold. Duh. It also has a very small atmosphere with no magnetosphere. Meaning that the solar wind has stripped the planet of its atmosphere over the course of a billion or so years. It also has no air pressure and is regularly blasted with solar radiation.

Mars does have water on it. Very important. It was also wet at some point in its history. Meaning that it was warm at one point.

The first colonists settle on the surface of mars in pre-fab shelters. They do bring with them very sophisticated 3D printers so that they can manufacture items from the resources that Mars provides.

There goal at this point is self-suffencincy. How do they provide all of there needs without relying on Earth. The trip from Earth opens up only once every two years to get help. We have all seen ‘The Martian”. If not, go see it. That is probably the most accurate dipection of what living on Mars would be like. It does get some stuff wrong, but it is a movie. Forgive it.

After nearly a decade of work and a population nearing a hundred colonists, the colony still hasn’t reached self-sufficiency. It’s corporate backers, are getting worried. They had planned for a span of 15 years before they could start sending resources back to Earth. Now 10 years was up and they had still not gotten close.

They have a stockpile of food and water. Oxygen tanks full of breathable air and shelter for there current population.

The problem with the situation is that they are having a problem of building new structures to house new colonists, or expand food production, or to build anything. They are having to spend a large amount of resources and time to build the structures to be radiation proof. The lack of the planet’s magnetosphere is the source of the problem.

How is that a problem with self-sufficiency? Population of a settlement without anyone from the outside should be at a large enough number to be viable. Scientist call this minimum viable population. It is usually used for wild animals, but it works for space colonies as well.

If the colony doesn’t get to at least 2000 people, then there is a risk of genetic issues as the generations roll by. Without the additional people they will not have the manpower to start sending resources back to Earth for profit.

The colony discovers some caverns nearby. These caverns are spread out over the course of a thousand square kilometers and some go deep into the Martian crust. They discover that the Martian crust shields the caverns from solar radiation.

The colonists decide to move the colony from the surface to the caverns. They decide to live underground.

The caverns allow for the construction of the colony to happen at a faster pace. Each piece of the structure needs less material as it is only holding in the pressure for people to live and not keeping radiation out.

The colony expands exponentially. The population shoots up and by the year 20, the colony has it’s 2000 people.

Then its population really expands. With the invention of a magnetic launcher, the cost of space travel drops to about $500 per kg. That open’s up space travel for more people. Nations finally get off there butt, other corporations are founded, and the single Mars colony become 12 separate colonies each with it’s own backer.

I will leave the history lesson here. But the main question is, how does this affect my story that takes place a few hundred years from now?

And the answer is absolutely nothing. It will never show up on the page. The only thing that it does is that it creates the culture and people of Mars. You will see some similar aspects that will distinctly shape the people until the time of my stories.

That part does have a big deal in the present date of my story world.

I will stop there for today. Tomorrow I will go through some of the different aspects of Martian Culture that is adopted over the years and some of the details on the changes to the colony.

Futurism: Part Two

In part one, I talked about how the first colonists got off of the Earth and some of the reason’s behind it. In this post, I am going to talk about more specifics on how a corporation could make money sending people to space.

The first question the inevitably comes up is the extraordinary cost of getting anything into space. I’ll leave the politics out, but that basics of it is that it will cost approximately $10,000 per kg to send anything into Low Earth Orbit and approximately $30,000 per kg to send anything into Geosynchronous Orbit. Please note that LEO is anything around 160km to 2000km above the surface of the earth, while Geosynchronous Orbit is 35,786km above the surface of the earth. That means that it currently costs $75,000 to send an average human into LEO and 2.25 million to send one to Geosynchronous Orbit.

That price tag is huge. Impossibly huge. It is a huge barrier to human space exploration that it is what is holding everything back. It is not the risks to humans or the technologies that have to be devolved in order to make it work. It is money alone that is the barrier to space exploration and if anyone says otherwise, they are lying.

The biggest part of the cost to space exploration is the insane amount of fuel and material that it takes to get the cargo out of the gravity well of earth. The cost of moving cargo around the solar system is far cheaper. I am sure that you noticed the difference of moving cargo to Geosynchronous is only three times the cost for 17 times the distance.

A company can make a huge amount of profit by mining ice asteroids and providing the clean drinking water to the ISS. And that is only the tip of the iceberg for the amount of opportunities out there.

There are asteroids out there that are comprised of a large amount of rare earth metals. These metals are what make computers and modern life possible. But they are called rare earth metals because they are rare on earth. Out in space, however, they are not as rare as they are on earth. There is a nearby asteroid that has more platinum on it that has been mined from the earth since we knew of its existence.

That can be done by robots up to a point. At some point it becomes essential for humans to go and live in space. Only certain experiments can be done in a micro gravity and then there is the entire question of the asteroid of death issue that a multi-planet species will fix.

Once they get to space, human’s have a wide range of different needs that will need industries to meet. The best way to do that is to produce those goods in space. Where they don’t have to pay for the goods to be shipped out of the earth’s gravity well.

That means that the best way to develop long term space colony’s before we are able to build a space elevator is to cut the earth out of the equation for as many things as possible. No high prices of goods from Earth brings down the cost of living in space.

In my fictional world, that is what the corporations fight for and get. The ability to go space and the ability to ship materials back to Earth and to expect to make a profit of goods and services.

These corporations start by mining asteroids and building space stations in space. The develop Mars as a Space Colony and it is the private industry moving forward that prompts NASA to send a space mission cause heaven forbid a private industry getting to space before NASA.

That brings up a rather large amount of different issues as well, which will be talked about in a later blog post. Most of which aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things as the the story takes place in 2500 CE and not 2025 CE.

The story world changes from the time of the first explorers and settlers to the time of Des and the Jovian Empire. Just look at how life was like at 1525 CE to now in 2017 CE.

Next time I will go into more detail on what I think that brief history of what happens to each of the planets. Well, maybe one planet. We’ll see how it goes.