Space Time and Writing

October 7th, 2018

So one of the things I really wanted to do with the Punk Series was make sure it was a scientifically and historically accurate as it could be (within reason of it basically being an alternative history for our very origins). This means I have to research lots of different subjects and even sometimes do some calculations – for instants one of the super structures I wanted to build in the series in the deep future would have taken more matter than is contained in the Universe!

This has provided me with a challenge and something to solve – I want the structure – how can it still exist?

Within the challenges set me for the current work in progress – a collection of stories centred on Mars I have had to look into various things like types of space travel/ship design, terraforming and geology of Mars and the evolution of dolphins to check that they would fit into the story line and if not how I could make it so that they did fit with out breaking continuity. One of the things that quickly became apparent is that you are dealing with a different magnitude of time.

Space Time is often bandied about in physics and science fiction and is wrapped up with gravitational anomalies and what not – that is not quiet the Space Time I am referring to here – rather I am borrowing a concept from my geologic training – Deep Time.

Earth’s history is a long one – way longer than the average humane or possibly any human can get their beds around – we have existed for hardly any of our planets history – a fact I play around heavily with for the books. So to deal with this Earth Scientists talk of deep time – it is rock time – it is time not on a human scale which is typically tens of years – if we stretch ourselves we manage hundreds and if we try really damn hard we start edging to the thousands but by millions of years we are struggling with the visualisations and it becomes mixed and matched with the thousands!

Now many of the characters in the Punk’s Universe are rather long lived but even so a lot of the space travel is still beyond a life time. And even within the solar system I have to be careful about travel times and communication lags and think of ways they would deal with these – as it turns out these are also awesome plot devices rather than hindrances but I have to keep track of who’s who and how long they are expecting to live and if they are the first to live that long because that drastically alters their perception of time. Think on the child asked to sit still for ten minutes which is for them an unreasonably long amount of time – it is a huge chunk of all the time they have ever experienced!

With the space colony stories – ie not ones just based on a planet other than Earth – these distinctions and changes of time perception as well as just the shear amount of time subjective to us as the reader’s perception is very important.

GothNoWriMo 2018

October 1st, 2018

As a warm up to the National Novel Writing Month – known affectionally as NaNo I shall be doing another of my little writing traditions – GothNoWriMo. This started out just being horror and gothic fiction but I have co-opted it as a lot of the Punk’s Universe is quiet dark.

And of course the other thing is that I have momentum going on the project I started for this years Camp Nanos – little mini writing challenges that are set through out the year – one in the spring and one in the summer!

So I plan to continue with my Martian stories – I am jumping around in the time line at the moment – so one minute I am in the established colony as they terraform the planet and then we are deep under ground where they have fled to survive and then we are on the surface watching adaptions to a dying planet and then we are back when they first set eyes on the planet for colonisation and then we are in our own near future finding the remnants of all of this that has gone before.

Did I mention I do the spoiler thing?

GothNoWriMo has a flexible word limit between 30-70 k words which should be doable though October is a little insane for me as a month as I am working 3 different festivals all of which run for multiple weeks over lapping each other O.o

Designing the Empires

August 7th, 2018

Though the novels I am working on this year are primarily focused on the colonies throughout our solar system specifically Mars there is some stuff happening in the Empires back on Earth. This is really the first time I written anything centred in the Empires – there has been stuff with them on the periphery and even “early days” stories that go back to the founding of the Empires and one or two shorts based on military actions around them but they have been based on boats or research stations and not in the actual urban hubs as it were.

So what am I doing to design these Empires?

Lots is the answer but I will break it down into 5 action points:

1) Start with what we know

This means I am reading up on Empire’s that have existed in our actual history, the Ottoman, Roman, British, Persian, Ching Dynasty, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Mayan etc… what made these Empires? How did they form, evolve and eventually die?

This is obviously a lot of reading but doubles as research for other things as well – a lot of other things.

And it should be noted that religions and movements also often have variants of Empires associated with them which are pretty interesting to read about too.

Then of course there are financial empires and what could happen if they truly got to rule.

2) What we can’t know

The issue is with scifi and fantasy writing and world building is that a lot of the case scenarios don’t actually exist but you need to think about this in order to build an Empire that matches and is realistic for the people you have created.

For me this means I need to think about the evolution and needs of the people in my stories – how far into the desert are semi-aquatic humans likely to go? Would the lay of the land and access to water affect how they physically built their settlements and therefore affect how the Empire grew?

Of course!

Making little check lists and flow diagrams can help with this aspect of the writing.

3) Time Lines

Empires are not made in one day so how did the ones you are writing about form? Sketching out little histories for them can be incredibly helpful, especially if you are dealing with more than one and they keep having wars!

This can help you pin down certain aspects of the Empire which can then act as a frame work for the actual story writing.

Also such notes are often of later interest once you get a fan base going or if you wish to work collaboratively.

4) Fragments and Fragmented

Empires are often made from conquered people, or merging countries due to royal blood lines and often both. This means there are a lot of little countries or city states or planets that have fed in or been gobbled up to give your empire the flavour it has. Some of these groups may well still have distinct identities or maybe they have been forced to homogenise if the later is true there will often be an under current still carrying the histories and language of the down trodden no matter how hard the powers that be try to destroy it and maybe that is all in the past and no the Empire is trying to rekindle it’s dying cultures.

This means there are traditions, clothing, music, writings, ways of cleaning the house and sleeping that you may need to think about, not to mention are any of the groups still fighting for their freedoms – are there terrorists, peaceful protests, deadly protests or just gang warfare between tribes that used to be waring?

Pinterest or drawing skills can help with this – design some of the clothing and general look of the people and they become far more solid in your mind and who’s fighting who tends to become clearer in the writing process.

5) Infrastructure and Buildings

Empires often see rapid urban growth which means there are issues with plague and sewerage and feeding people, so how are people getting around and how is that waste being dealt with? Is there anything for medical help like centralised hospitals or is it all done as family in care or even perhaps a cultural culling of the sick and dying?

If your people are not exactly human then what shape do the buildings have to be to accommodate them and how will this affect rooms, and streets and whole cities?

How do people get around? What are the transport networks – water, road, air etc… what sort of speeds are involved and how safe is it?

Remember no Empire has ever managed to expand beyond it’s communication network – if messages can no longer be reliably relayed then the Empire splits into sections where they can (then those sections often go to war).

Talking to actual town planners can be helpful for this as is watching architecture programmes and playing computer games that involve building up empires.

Week 2 CampNaNoWriMo Summer 2018

July 14th, 2018

This week started well but we have reached that point of all the things happening at the schools and the dashing around here there and everywheere and of course last minute festvals and things being thrown into the mix for work!

So I haven’t had as much time at the computer, I have however taken out my note book where I’ve been working on the flash fictions. Last month I sepnt about 30 hrs working on them and got about 30, 000 words written but what I also did was write a ttile on each page up until 100. Titles that are connected to the Punk Universe and I have been filling up a page with either actual prose or notes. This is a portable piece of work and the shortness of each piece means it doesn’t matter if I get interrupted and I can just scribble a bit here and there.

Bit annoying for my word count as it is not in electric form! But it is also awesome world builing – most of the titles I purposely chose to be part of the space colonisation story lines!

Week 1 CampNano Summer 2018

July 7th, 2018

I’ve made a pretty awesome start – I am getting up and getting the kids out to school – the youngest is at breakfast club so I basically get from 7:15 until 10 to write but I am neglecting my admins and I am not sure how long I can get away with that for!

I alos have workshops and art shows to deal with along with some naughty medical stuff which is determined to stuff things up – but the word count is creeping up and the story is flowing!

The working title is To Survive The Martian Rain and is about the phase in my fictional Martian history where the tereforming is breaking down and no help from Earth or anywhere else is to be had. Various disasotrs and wars have cut the colonies off and they are floundering. The environments are becoming hostile once more and the dolphins, seals and aquatic apes/first humans are having to adapt.

CampNano Summer 2018

July 1st, 2018

This week sees the start of CampNano Summer – I am continueing with the story I started for the Spring CampNano and so will once again be deep within the termoil of the Punks Universe. I am currently exploring the deep past and the Sea Empires’s sojournes out into space. Specifically I am chronicling the fate of the Martian colonies of old part of the Red Globe Series (Martian Chronicles is obviously already taken as a title!) which started off as a series of flash fictions.

The aim is to have 300, 000 words written by the end of the year not including the flash fictions and story starters that are already written.

I struggled a bit with April’s challenge so am still struggling to reach that first 100 k word goal. To be fair I have continued to work on the Pods storyline this year as well as pottering within the other various story arcs of the universe.

This particular writing challenge sees the end of the school year and is therefore a time of transition and kid dashing here and there and entertaining so my aim is to try and get as much written initially to give myself a little bit of lee way. Last month was all about writing flash fiction and story openings – all based within the Punk Universe – next year will mark 10 yrs of me taking part in the novel writing challenges so I want to start releasing the universe to the public properly, hence the focus!

Week One of GothNoWriMo 2017

October 9th, 2017

I broke the 10 k barrier – I wrote over 10, 000 words but I will have less time towards the end of the month and hammered most of the words out whilst being too sick to get out of bed for any length of time!

I have no idea how many words I will manage in the coming week but will keep plugging away – I am trying to devote the first part of the morning to writing. The idea is that I can whack out 1000 words and that will be the minimum for the day, I then get on with other things until the evening when depending on what is happening might allow me to do some more writing.

Since my head injury writing is hard but this year is so much better than the last two years (the year of the actual head bang I pretty much dictated everything).

I’m not really writing the story I’d planned to write – instead I thought I’d finish off some of the flash and short fictions I have languishing. In going through my archive and deciding what to work on I came across a story idea and just decided to roll with it 🙂

It is called The Pods and is based in the near to medium future of the Punk’s Universe – it is after the Zombie Apocalypse and nuclear strikes but before the Geowars.

GothNoWriMo 2017 Begins

October 2nd, 2017

It is novelling time again 🙂 I have my pumpkin spice and hot drinks on tap and am prioritising computer time as writing time 🙂

The word goals for GothNo are 30-70 k – I will be happy with 30 k – I desperately want to set myself the larger target but not sure I should due to the ever on going head injury stuff so I am setting them as loose and flexible targets! As of yesterday, I already have 4 k under the belt 🙂

But October is a pretty busy month for me so I know I will get hardly any writing done towards the end of the month, so if the writings going to happen it has to happen NOW!

GothNoWriMo 2017

September 26th, 2017

October approaches and that means it is time to start writing – I tend to start my serious novelling in October which gives me a nice warm up ready for NaNo itself.

Of course being October and the month of Halloween I always feel I should write the darker parts of The Punk Story Lines.

I haven’t quiet decided what I am going to be writing yet in October but hoping to steam through and do a good 50 K – I’ve been struggling with a head injury the last few years which has made nano quiet the challenge! But If I start with 50 K and see where I can go from there!

History of the Renaissance Documentary

July 14th, 2017

During my research I came across this documentary on the History of the Renaissance with Peter Weller – this was kind of a fun circular thing as I am researching history for my scifi series and discover that Robocop is an Art Historian! Or rather the actor that played the original RoboCop went and got a PhD in Art History and now does programs for the History Channel 🙂