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Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

To Thine Own Self Be True

One of the things that keeps repeating in much of the writing advice is to find the time of day you're best at (for writing, natch). Unfortunately for me my major times are at 6:30 am (when I'm in the middle of the commute), 10:30am to 1:00pm (which might work to write over lunch, if I actually had a lunch, that was negotiated away by our union many years ago), and then at 10:30pm to 2:00am (when I'm trying to sleep).

For the 6:30am I mostly get single lines. So I try to remember the things I think of on the way into work, and write out the notes when I get there. Mostly things like, "a roosting flock of lights create an oasis of harsh day." Goes with a story that's been long in the formation stage about drilling on the arctic circle. This story started with the line, "It starts in the back of your head, in the far autumn corners where the dry wind rustles November leaves of forgotten things."

Then this mid morning my brain starts working on what it must have been grinding on for the past few days, from a report about a ship lost at sea in the Bearing. So what about ship wrecks in space? Of the crew, 46 were picked up, 44 are expected to survive (two have already died) and one person was lost at sea. What do you call a person lost in space (that phrase it too close to the show name)? Lost to the void. While it's a SF trope to have rescue pods, doesn't it seem more likely that it'll be individual survival suits, just like those who ply the deathly cold waters for their trade? So imagine bodies in bright red environment suits, floating against the stars. And just like sailors in the suits, how long can they survive. Depending on the temperature of the water, those sailors don't have long.

So how would an "Space Coast Guard" function? What's the space equivalent of "losing your rudder" and "taking on water"? Hence a full page of scribbleings. What are ships doing? Where are they? How could the space coast guard get there fast enough? And just what disabled the ship?

Ah, here there be dragons.

(said like the old commercial, "Oh, it's a Subaru") Oh, it's a Cthulhu story!

"It was a bad day, waiting for the tunnel to finish. Opening a custom worm hole, even a short travel one, even with their top of the line equipment, was hard work. A rescue worm hole couldn't afford to be placed in the safe zones, far outside any known mass. EWHs were always danger close operations. You might open the other end right through a survivor or in the only pressure zone on a wrecked ship.

"There were 48 men and women eight light hours out. Each in their own survival suit, touching the void just six inches from their skin. Or that was the hope. It would take another (?) hours to drill the hole, if they were lucky. It was a week until the closest ship could arrive on station. Their suits were good for 26 hours. They had already used eight and a half hours of that.

"They were using data that was eight hours old. "

That's just a sample of the notes I wrote out.

Another Cthulhu story.

"The station bugaboo/myth was that the space coast guard would probably be the initial team to make first contact. They have scenarios about how it would be, ships on fire, war, pomp and circumstance, vulcan mind melds. Nobody expected it would be an alien eating the entire ship and making human-sicles out of the crew."


Ken McConnell said...

You have some great ideas there Steve. I really like your prose style. Get writing, this is one fan that just has to read some of you stuff!

I've been struggling with my Luna story for Hadley Rille Books. I have a good SF idea, I have plenty of obstacles for my protagonist to struggle with and I have a hopeful ending. What I'm struggling with at just one thousand words into it is voice. Hard to find a first person voice for the story that fits.

Once I get that figured out, this story will be pretty cool.

Steve Buchheit said...

Thanks Ken. The text on the front is verbatim from my hand written notes so it's what I consider the bad first draft. I don't have a good opener yet.

Have you thought about using third person limited for the story telling device, instead of first person. That way the voice becomes more of a "writer's style" issue instead of a "story flavor" thing, if that makes sense. The third person then gives some flexibility on what you show, but the limited says that the POV character would need to experience, think, or see the story event. That is, without a story break you couldn't "jump heads" or show us the "meanwhile, on the other side of the island" scene.

Ken McConnell said...

I have thought about third person limited, but because this story is about only one person, it makes sense to see it from his POV. It's a man vs environment story so the personal struggle is a big part of it.

I'll eventually figure it out. I'm really trying to make this one technically as good as possible. I'm spending a lot of time getting the tech and science correct. I just need to spend the same effort on getting his voice and hence character right. I still have plenty of time.

This one is making me stretch a bit, which is a good thing.