Star Wars Episode Hmm…

Here’s an article I posted on LinkedIn regarding our next visit to ‘a galaxy far, far away.’ To me, these seem like valid thoughts

 

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 1

The tricky thing about stories: You have to start somewhere. Though they are continual streams of thought, action, dialogue and description in the mind of the author, the story itself must have a jumping-off point (or jumping-in point). This can be an art form all by itself. Pick the wrong spot and you can either confuse the reader or put them to sleep with plodding (if necessary) detail. (Does anyone really remember what Tolkien said in 50 pages of Hobbit description? We just remember that they’re kind folk and we like them for being odd.)

The starting point for a world seems just as awkward and problematic. Do you spend a few paragraphs describing moss on a boulder, a peculiar fish in the sea, symbols etched artfully into the hilt of a dagger?

Since your world contains your story, it seems reasonable to use that story to describe the world, which then helps inform the story. (A tale about the crunchies in a cat’s litter box probably doesn’t fit in a realm of airlocks and thruster issues.)

So, where the hell do you start?

Bowness Summit, Lake District, UK

For 25 years (yes, that long) part of my brain has existed in the fantasy realm of Verisye. Dragons, dwarves, fighting with swords, all that stuff. Once this place was created (in high school, thanks in part to Elmore and Easley paintings and the Dragonlance chronicles) my brain gave it a sort of permanent-resident status. It couldn’t be un-created. (Excavators: Turn about, go bother the neighbor.) Not that I wanted to undo it or give it up in any way. The place was fun. Possibilities were endless, and I was King (or God). For once in his life, Justin had his own set of rules and victories. For an audience of one, it was a pretty sweet show.

As the initial concept expanded (and expanded and expanded) the overall story focused on two people: Valessha and Dirkennion. Theirs is a love story set among extraordinary times. (More on that later.) There’s also the significant problem of an unstoppable enemy (Kalimoraith, a fun villain) and why said bad guy shows up on the doorstep of a rather orderly world. (More to come.)

About three years ago, we had a series of foggy mornings right after Christmas. (I love foggy mornings, when my creative engine leaps right into fifth gear.) So over the course of a week, sitting in my leather chair in the foggy quiet (before the kids rose) I penned the scene outline for a new screenplay. (I think in terms of cinema, so this just made sense to me.)

Immediately, this became the story before the big love story and problems with Kalimoraith and so forth. A title of The Prince of Endless popped up and stuck. It’s like it was all etched into stone tablets and my brain took snapshots.

And how to start this story? Where?

How about two town constables (police) investigating a boat-wreck in a swamp?

 

–To be continued…

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Oversimplifying

On FaceBook the other day, there appeared an ad which a younger, less-mature me would’ve gotten really pissed-off about. It was for a weekend writing retreat (hundreds of starry-eyed writers crammed into a conference room) where someone could ostensibly learn to write a novel in 40 hours. Four-zero hours.

When I thought about it (and this feels like a gimmick sale) this would only make sense if someone gets the bones and structure and a few character details in place. Then, their story is done. (Well, not really.)

To get the bones and structure worked out is to simplify the overall narrative and arc into elemental terms. “Man falls in love with woman” becomes “boy meets girl” and so on. Naturally, life is that simple, isn’t it?

For fun, I decided I’d try it with “Endgame,” a war/sci-fi novel told from the perspective of my heroine, sniper Captain June Vereeth. (Probably 2,000 hours of work, all told.)

(The story starts in the middle of a battle, when Vereeth and company are defending a fuel dump on a Hoth-like world.)

snowy mountain peak with treetops in foreground

Girl (Captain June Vereeth, in the midst of battle) shoots bag-guy enemy commander.

Girl meet boy (Dhani, equipment tech) in cave during battle.

Girl re-joins best friend (Prubius) and boss (Joffe) in battle.

Girl is nearly killed by falling, exploding enemy craft.

Girl and best friend are nearly killed by cave-in. Boss dies (crushed).

Girl, best friend, boy and two others are trapped, cut off from battle. Boy’s arm is pinned.

Girl, as ranking officer, orders removal of boy’s trapped arm (lest boy dies).

Girl tries not to panic, orders party to find a different route back to Base (main route is compromised).

Girl and party are saved from cataclysmic blast (fuel cache detonation) when bad guys penetrate the Base.

Girl wonders what to do (party is without maps or radio and is stranded 70 million miles from friendly territory).

Girl orders party to push on, mulling options and the war itself and the opposing side.

Girl and party emerge from cave tunnels, look back to see volcanic-blast aftermath of Base explosion behind them.

Girl and party are surprised to see planetary defense rockets (which were delayed by cyber attack) suddenly launch skyward, aimed at bad-guy cruisers in orbit.

Girl and party are nearly crushed by many tons of falling debris (those bad-guy cruisers).

Girl and party move on, knowing bad guys will be back (and will be as surly as ever)…

 

Okay, so this story doesn’t break down into really simple statements, after all. But it sure was fun to write!

Endgame cover by Greg Simanson Designs. Cover shows characters, rockets and a woman's eye against a green-ice background and twin suns, orange lettering. "The war begins" is added at the top.

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