Tag Archives: story

A Better Introduction

So I had the first character bible post all written up and ready to go when I realized it was going to be absolutely pointless without some sort of foundation for the story.  What’s the point of knowing about all these characters if you don’t even know where they are or why?  With that in mind, here is a better introduction to the story.

Once upon a time there was a barely habitable planet that the space government decided to use as a prison.  This planet was so cold, it was basically only possible to support life near the equator.  The space government called this prison planet Burg.

Burg

This wouldn’t be just any prison though.  It would be a rehabilitation center for citizens who had turned to committing some “lesser” crimes, such as theft or tax evasion.  Instead of cells, the prisoners were placed in houses.   Every day, they were allowed to go outside for supervised outdoors time. They were allowed to interact with their fellow prisoners, so long as said interactions were friendly and peaceful.

Housing 1

Instead of cell blocks, they had sectors.  The sectors were divided up based on species, so that record keeping for each planet that made use of the prison would be neat and easy.  There were nine planets in total that used this particular prison system.  They were spread out over four solar systems.  The nine alien species found on Burg were (and still are):

Goliaths – Giant, heavy people with stone skin.

Samaki – Amphibious race from a mostly water-covered planet.  Can survive on land for short periods of time.  Have gills.  (Their sector has specially designed houses that are like sad Sea World aquariums.

Creech – Humanoid race with feathers for hair and giant bird wings that they can use to fly.

Bortol – Vaguely canine species with animal snouts that make speech impossible.  Fortunately this species has the ability to communicate telepathically.  Highly developed sense of smell and hearing.

Rizzarian – Lizard-like species with tough scales that coat the body, and hair-like tentacles that grow from the top of their heads.

Delliakite – Somewhat feline species with pure black skin, spindly legs, and knees that bend backwards.  Giant, lidless eyes and small noses and mouths.  Large, semi-feline ears.  Can teleport short distances.

Lepthian – Shape-shifting, amorphous, see-through species.  Can heal minor wounds almost instantly due to fluid bodies.

Human – They look and act like humans from Earth, so they’re called human.  But honestly I’m not trying to imply that Earth exists in this universe.  It’s just there’s already a word for human, so why muddle the issue?

Aodik – Compact, humanoid species with dark hair and purplish skin.  Because they are shorter and not very strong, they often develop technology to do their work for them.

Sectors

Instead of prison guards, the prisoners answered to Enforcers, who kept the peace by patrolling the streets and keeping an eye on things from their encampments between sectors.

Enforcer

Instead of a warden, Burg had an Overseer.  It was this person’s job to keep the Enforcers in line, give out orders, head up certain committees and hearings, and interact with the government outside Burg.  The Overseer’s word was always final in any matter.  But don’t worry, the power definitely didn’t go to any of the Overseers heads.

Overseer

Note: I haven’t decided what species I want to make the Overseer yet, so for now he’s just Evil Space Elvis.

Mandatory re-education programs were conducted on a daily basis in each sector, to help show the prisoners the error of their ways.  Once prisoners had served out their sentence, they were evaluated by a committee and (usually) sent back to their home world to rejoin society.

A second infraction got them sent back to Burg for a slightly more permanent stay.  Unless they moved up from minor to major crime, in which case they went through the more traditional prison systems on their own planets.

Burg’s system worked out well.  Until one day, a war started.  Like they do.  Men and women from the military came to Burg and offered prisoners a chance to wipe the slate clean if they simply fought for their government.

Space Army.jpg

Many prisoners chose to fight.  Others chose to stay.

Years passed, and the war was lost, giving way to a new regime.  Shortly after that, all communications and travel to and from Burg were cut off.

More time passed.  Burg ceased to be a prison or a rehabilitation center or whatever you want to call it.  The new government had no idea it existed, and had no use for an old rehabilitation planet anyway.  Enforcers and prisoners alike were suddenly stuck on this world, with no way of escaping or communicating with their loved ones at home.  Yet, rather than band together, the old dynamic was ruthlessly, well… enforced.

Hundreds of years went by, and Burg became something new.  The prisoners started families.  The Overseer and Enforcers created a government of their own.  Soon only the ancestors of the prisoners, the original Overseer, and the Enforcers remained on the planet.  Yet the descendants of the prisoners were still treated like criminals, despite having committed no crimes.

Resistance groups cropped up within the sectors, attempting to take back their liberty from the unnecessarily cruel Enforcers and Overseer.

None have yet succeeded…

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The Beauty of Terrible Stories (Part 2)

I guarantee this post isn’t going to make much sense if you don’t read Part 1 (previous post).  So do that.

Also, before we move on to the joys of Supermarket Mania 2, I want to share a TED Talk with you.  It’s one you may have seen, but as it pertains to creativity and education, I feel it is my duty to pass on the message to those who haven’t.  This guy is funny and has an enjoyable accent.  Watch it, please.

Okay so Supermarket Mania 2, by G5 Entertainment (available as an iPhone app, which makes waiting rooms 12% more tolerable).  I’m only going to recommend the sequel, as the first game is a bit buggy.  Don’t worry about missing any of the drama, though!  That’s what this blog post is for!

The plot of Supermarket Mania (the first): A young woman named Nikki goes to work for an obviously evil man named Torg at his obviously evil supermarket.  Because we all know how evil those supermarkets can get.  Torg’s supermarket serves as a training ground for Nikki and her new friend, Wendy, before they are fired (and replaced with EVIL robot workers).  Wendy’s one and only personality trait is that she likes to eat.  She’s not overweight, mind you.  She just likes to eat.  Pretty much everything she says garners a response of, “But Wendy, you just ate!” or, “Wendy, you cow, stop thinking about food.”

Supermarket 3

Anyway, Wendy and Nikki find an old man who wants nothing more than to start his own grocery store that is full of love and wholesomely bland foods.  They do so.  This somehow puts the Evil supermarket out of business.  White people cheer all around.  (There are no people of color in this game.)

The plot of Supermarket Mania 2: Nikki is still running bland supermarkets!  Through her love and compassion (because that’s what people are really looking for in a supermarket) she succeeded in drumming up a loyal clientele.  There’s Old Lady, Regular Type Lady, Mom, Teenager, Girl with Scooter, Yuppie (I swear that’s what they call him), Thief (She doesn’t actually like this guy), and Celebrity.  They all come and go, and everything seems great for Nikki and her ever-growing list of White pals.  Except Torg is still evil!  And he is bent on getting his revenge by doing stupid things like causing traffic jams outside the store and painting the word “SALE” on the window.  Spoiler alert: None of these plans succeed.

But the best scheme by far is that Torg will stroll into the market, wearing a trench coat and a fedora, and use a giant, wooden mallet to break Nikki’s various machines.  It is worth mentioning here that Nikki has a security guard in her employ.  Mr. Blowfist… or Barefist… or Bareknuckle.  Something vaguely obscene.  His job is usually to stop Thief from thieving (Swiper no swiping?), but he’s never around when Torg comes by with his mallet of doom.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist taking a screenshot for this one.  Because sometimes you can hire someone to help you with your various tasks, and those employees will do nothing to stop a man in a trench coat from smashing the juice squeezing machine.  They will watch him do it with a smile on their face.  Look:

Supermarket 1

Do you see it?  Do you see what’s happening here?  Let me help, just in case you’re lost:

Okay, so now you get it.  I suppose Nikki doesn’t pay the woman in the orange dress to stop people from sabotaging the machinery.  Hell, Nikki doesn’t really pay her at all.  She purchased her for $1,200.  One-time fee.  I imagine Orange Dress would politely ask Torg not to crush the machinery if only she were allowed a paycheck or a union-mandated break.

That’s all I’ve got!  We’re going to move on to a more serious subject next time.  Fair warning.

 

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A Simple Little Flow Chart

I was thinking a lot recently about cliches and how hard it is to avoid them.  Romantic cliches are particularly tricky.  In order to illustrate this, I decided to create a nice, little flow chart that explores some (but not all) of the common romantic plot lines that can be found in books and movies.

You’re gonna want to click on that image to make it bigger, obviously.  Don’t worry — it’ll open in a new tab.  You should also be able to click on it once it’s open in a new tab to zoom it in even more.  I think you’ll be happier with it then.  Have fun!

Boy-Meets-Girl-Flowchart

Please note the disclaimer in red in the lower left corner.  I just couldn’t cover everything.  This process was exhausting enough as it was.  Hell, the computerized version wasn’t even my first draft.  I did it all on paper first.

See?

I threw my ruler on there for a size reference.  I had no banana for scale.  (Very few people are going to get that reference, I fear)

I threw my ruler on there for a size reference. I had no banana for scale. (Very few people are going to get that reference, I fear)

But the reason I did this was to show you that avoiding cliches is hard, and you shouldn’t be expected to do it perfectly.  That’s why I talk about taking a cliche and making it your own.  At this point there aren’t many more options.  You’ll note I didn’t really have examples for the “They’re both gay” storyline.  That could use some exploring.  And, of course, my own novels — Hellbound, Grotesque, and The Dreamcatchers — can be found in there.  Because I am not above these cliches at all.  I just try to make them as fresh as possible.  You will also note that many titles appeared multiple times.  That just serves to further illustrate how complicated something as seemingly simple as a relationship between two people can get.  It might also help you to develop some ideas for your own characters and stories, I hope.  Try exploring multiple story arcs at once, or turning a cliche on its head.

Also I did not include the following story line for what I hope are obvious reasons.

Boy and Girl Meet —-> They do not develop a relationship —-> They never see each other again

In a story, if you bring up two people meeting, it has to be relevant somehow.  So….yeah.

I want to talk a little bit about the art of criticism next, so that’ll be coming up.

Ta ta for now!

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