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.

 

 

 

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: 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.

Futurism: Part One

This is the first part of a many part series of blogs that are going to talk about the science fiction world that I have created for my son’s Serial ‘Space Courier’ and others.

(Part One of Space Courier is nearing completion in editing and I expect to publish as an ebook on Amazon and a print version on Create Space.)

As a general declaimer, the information created for the world building of these stories is not intended to be thrown completely at the reader, but shown slowly throughout the stories as it becomes relevant to what is going on. Example, the main character, Des, in Space Courier lives on a giant space station Jov 1-H. He does not care what is happening on Venus or the price of tea there. As such, there is no mention of Venus or its Psychedelic Tea leaves.

So the story of Space Courier is set 500 years in the future. Why 500 years?

Good question. I picked it out of my ass.

Well. Kinda.

I selected 500 years as it is a good point in time that is far enough in the future that it gives me freedom to decide what has or hasn’t been accomplished at that point, but it is not too far away to be completely unmanageable. I didn’t want to be so far away that it I show life similar to modern day in many ways that it would break the story.

To start, I decided on a very rough history of how we, as a race, escaped the confines of Earth and became a multi-planet species.

There are two main schools of thoughts that have sprang up when you talk about us colonizing other planets.

The first is that it is obvious that it is a National or multi-National government that colonies other planets and moons.

But I don’t fall into that camp. I sit firmly in the other camp. I think that while governments have will power and money to do expeditions of this type, I don’t think that it is the case with interplanetary travel.

Christopher Columbus revolutionized travel to the Americas. He led an expedition to India and found North America. Everyone knows the story. He was also paid by the Spanish monarchy to do so.

But the numbers don’t add up.

Columbus was using old technology. Sailing ships have been around forever and the style that he had were around for many years. Further more, he knew that the Earth was round. They had known that for a while. He was an idiot and did not bring enough food to last the journey to India if there had been no North America around for resupply.

Nothing in his trip was experimental or difficult. They could navigate by the stars and the currents would bring him to the Americas even if he had no sails. His trip was nothing special in relative terms to what the first Space Travelers seek to do.

When we go to space, in real life as well as my fictional world, every piece of technology used is going to have been invented in the last 30 years if not sooner. That is getting all of the supplies, personal and material into orbit. The multi-month trip to the planet or moon, as well as that habitat that they will be living in.

The struggles that they have to face, especially the environment, is so much harsher that what Columbus faced that there is no comparison. I can’t come up with a single metaphor or simile.

Stating all of that and looking at the social and economic problems that are around today, I feel that it is not going to be governments that take people permanently to space. Governments will take Astronauts to space to play golf and maybe do some experiments when they can. They will not be taking people to space for permanent settlement.

They do not have the money or the political will power to do so.

What one government takes years to build up, it is often ripped apart by the next. NASA cuts programs all the time as one congress takes money away almost at a whim.

Also, the fact that the Spanish Monarchy payed for Columbus is not the same as the U.S Congress funding NASA. It would be like SpaceX going to congress for a lump sum of money to outfit an expedition to colonize Mars. Not a government bureaucracy getting a quarterly budget allotment that it MUST spend.

So, politics aside.

In my fictional world, NASA and China send over a couple manned missions to Mars and they play a killer game of golf. Among some really good discoveries that manned missions tend to do. There is no wind storm that disables stuff and causes a botanist to be forced to grow potatoes from his own shit. Sorry.

What happens after that is that there is a landmark legal case where a private corporation sues the world governments and opens up private space travel and privatization.

The legal basis of that idea is shaky at best, but it is something that happened 450 years before the main characters of my books were born. It’s okay for it to sound off. Listening to a history professor is like that. I know many times where I heard the history of what happened and thought to myself, “Really?”.

In my fictional world, the first permanent space colony was funded and built by someone that wanted to make money in the enterprise. I will go into more detail on some of the stuff that a corporation could be making money on in space next time. For now, this blog has gone on long enough.

Until next time.

 

Rambling: Encouraging others to write.

In many ways I am an enabler. I enjoy having others find enjoyment in things that I find enjoyment in. That I have passion in. I enjoy it so much that I don’t shut up about it.

I have been criticized for obsessing about my passions and my interests.

Is that criticism justified? Warranted?

Probably.

I know that I obsess over things. It is how I am able to write about my books. Fix my house. Go to work or get out of bed. By obsessing over things, I am able to focus on something long enough to see results in that avenue.

Even if I wish that I can hit the snooze button again and go back to sleep.

My obsessions is what gets me into trouble and out of trouble. (Like watching 18 hours of a game on Let’s play and then buying it for way too much money.) I obsess with keeping a roof over my kids heads, which makes me go to work and take Overtime hours. I obsess with my half completed house renovation so that I can keep getting things done in it. Maybe one day I will finish it. I also obsess about my writing.

My writing is my passion in life. They say follow your passion and this is it.

Writing.

Writing novels, writing for my kids, writing for the complete stranger so he gets a kick out of my work. Every day I spend most of the hours thinking about some story. How to fix it, how to make it better, where to go with it. Or a new story idea that will distract me from my current work in progresses.

At the beginning, I said that I am an enabler.

What does that mean? Most people think of it as a bad thing. That I am a bad guy for encouraging someone to do something. And it can be. If I was a drug addict or a drunk.

But I am not. I cannot afford to do those things. I am a writer after all…

I enable people to follow there passions. Follow there enjoyments even if it is just as a hobby and part-time. Even if they only dabble and are not serious about completing it. I do, however, mainly encourage people to write books. Read above about my obsession.

And you may ask why? Why enable people to write books?

The answer to that question is selfish. I do it cause it is lonely over here in writing land by myself. Writing is considered a solitary affair. You sit in a room by yourself writing about make-believe people in make-believe lands doing impossible and crazy things. With no one to talk to but the people in your head…

I just realized how crazy that makes me sound…

Anyways, writing is mostly solitary. But there are times when a writer must talk to other people. Other writers. It gives encouragement and it can make you responsible for getting the work done. (Like trying to explain why your word count hasn’t moved in two weeks, but look at what you have done in that game you play.) It also helps you grow as a writer as you can learn from other people. Learn from there failures as well as there successes.

I encourage people to write as there is a lack of a strong writing community where I live and the only writers that I talk is through a Facebook group. Most are from the U.S. and I will probably never meet in person. I hope that by encouraging people to write that I can build a small writing community of my own.

Or I am a crazy obsessive compulsive who can’t stop shutting up about my make-believe characters in my make-believe world who all live in my head. You decide.

The Horror! The Torture! The College Students!

Well. It’s been a while since I talked to you all. Today I am going to talk to you about perspective and beginner writers.

There are many different people that will have there own opinion and knowledge on the subject. Many of whom are much smarter than I am and are much better writers as well.

But today I am going to give my opinion on the subject as I am an opinionated S.O.B. and I feel like standing on the soap box.

You see, yesterday I wrote the majority of this blog post in a tiny note book as I was being tortured by an unspeakable horror. I was taken captive by my wife to go to listen to her college creative writing class read portions of there ‘manuscripts’. (Please note that I did find about four of the story exerts enjoyable. My wife’s was included in that number.)

I use the term manuscript lightly.

In there defense, they are all mostly beginners and they don’t know any better. They don’t know about show, don’t tell (unless you want to). They don’t know about proper dialogue techniques. Or plotting methods to make a story easier to plot out. They don’t know about a lot of things that only experience gets you.

But all of that is okay. I can usually ignore those mistakes and enjoy the moment. I can usually try and turn off that critical part of my brain. To simply enjoy listening to these passionate new writers enjoy the beginnings of their journeys as writers. But I couldn’t. Not that night.

Which is why I wrote this blog post on a tiny note book at the back of the crowded room.

The reason for my lack of enjoyment was the fact that most of the writers wrote their pieces in First Person Perspective. Author after author did it. Like herpes, it spread to most of the class and wouldn’t go away.

So as I sat there, I wondered why did they do it? The first answer to jump into my mind was that it is a college setting and it is all ‘Literary’ fiction. And that theory is possible. But there was a fantasy novel and a historical one. There was a Horror and a couple comedies. Maybe the fact that colleges push the notion of ‘Literary’ fiction isn’t the case.

Maybe the teacher gave them permission and encouragement to do First Person? And that theory is also possible. The teacher is trying to get them to put pen to paper and if a student was going to write in first, who is he to stop him. She is writing, right? Right?

Or maybe the students were all lazy and thought that writing it in First Person was the easier way to go? They are college kids after all and most of them don’t have fine arts majors. This class was supposed to be an easy elective to break up the hardship of their major. A reprise.

My theory is that it is a mix between the second and the third theories. The teacher gave permission and encouragement. And the students were just being lazy. The students took what looked like the easy road.

But is First Person Perspective the easier way to go. Is it easier than Third Person Limited?

My opinion is no. It is not easier. It seems like it at first glance. Like that flat straight farming road. No turns or curves as far as the eye can see. But just beyond sight are dangers. by taking this road for it can quickly turn into a mud pit if you don’t tread carefully.

First Person is more restrictive than Third Person Limited.

In First Person you can’t see or hear anything outside of the range of your main character’s sight and hearing. If the main character can’t see it or hear it, they don’t know about it.

That leads to situations where it is impossible to move the plot forward. Or the plot moves forward but the writer has no way to tell the reader what is going on as the main character doesn’t know. It is also very hard to hide anything from the reader without coming off as cheating.

It is very hard to jump back and forth in time and forget about showing a different characters Point-of-View as writing a book with multiple First Person Point-of-View’s is not something anyone should try. Too many ‘I’s’ to keep track of. There is no ‘I’ in team.

In Third Person Limited, you are inside the Point-of-View of one specific character. You can hear the thoughts of that character when you want to. Or not as you see fit. You can’t, however, hear the thoughts of other characters around the Point-of-View character.

That is Third Person Omniscient and different than Third Person Limited. Also not apart of this blog post.

In Third Person Limited, you can run into similar problems as First Person. It is limited as the reader is only experiencing what the Point-of-View character experiences. He has no knowledge of what is happening on the other floor, etc. But with Third Person Limited, you can always jump into the Point-of-View of another character to let the reader know what was happening. If is easy to hide things from the reader without coming off as cheating.

Like First Person, you are still describing the setting, etc from the Point-of-View’s perspective. The intimacy that comes from a First Person Perspective story is still in a Third Person Limited, but just less of it and only at the authors discretion. However, with Third Person Limited a standard pitfall is the characterization coming off as hollow or only skin deep.

So does First Person have a time and place to be used?

Simple answer. It does.

On the other side of an airlock.

Outline vs Discovery Writing: The Battle Continues

It is time to enter the battle. The epic battle between Outliners and Discovery Writers.

Both sides are frothing at the mouth and ready to fight it out. Ink will fly. Paper will ripe.

Okay that metaphor died on arrival.

My thoughts on Outliners and Discovery writers. Notice that I called it Discovery Writing and not Pantsers. I find that the term Pantsers doesn’t do the writing method justice. I think that it is a little bit of a low blow in the epic fight.

Well. It makes you think that you have no idea what you are doing. That you are just winging it and have no idea what you are doing. That your inability to want to create an outline means that you are somehow incompetent in writing.

The discovery writers, however, don’t like to feel confined in an outline. They don’t want to miss the spontaniousness that comes with discovery writing.

What does this mean for me and my opinion in this issue? I see the good in both sides of the argument.

Outliners like to plan there stories. They go into the griddy details on what needs to happen and when. They look into the little pieces of info that a discovery writer may miss until the 2nd or 3rd draft. The are better at writing more complicated stories that involve multiple viewpoints or time frames.

Discovery Writers enjoy a certain spice in the stories that they write. A well written discovery written story feels more natural and tends to flow better. Discovery written books tend to have less view point characters or time frames.

They both have issues and the issues with the methods need to be mentioned too.

Outlined stories can be stale and the characters may have a motivational problems. It is usually when the story makes a left when the outline goes right. Or that the outline says that a character must do something that the written story doesn’t allow for.

The problems with discovery written books is simple. Plot holes. As the author doesn’t have a plan on what is happening, there can be un-foreshadowed scenes, and plot holes through out the story. Discovery written stories tend to need more revisions that there counterpart.

So what do I do?

It depends on the story. I do both.

I will leave a pause for the reader to freak out at the political statement.

Done?

Good.

I write both. as it depends on the story. I have written some where I have done complete outlines to them. I have written others where I Discovery Wrote it. I have done some where I have gotten part way through a Discovery Written book to discover that I had gotten lost and I need to outline my way out of the mess that I was in.

What was better? It depends.

The Outlined one was a collaboration with my 6 yr old and we did an outline as it is his story that I am writing. He just have the grammar of a six year old.

The Discovery written one was a NaNoWriMo challenge that I didn’t have enough time to get an outline done, but I had a fairly good idea on where I was going. The one that I needed to outline my way out of it was that I was writing a book, then I decided that the backstory was just as entertaining as the story and needed to be part of the story.

My conclusion. Don’t worry about how you write the book. Just write it. Decide how you want to write it and get those words on a page. getting word count every day is much more important than worrying about how you are writing it.

Until next time.

Nathan Pedde