Creative Journey: 15 Weeks and Counting

Creative Journal #7

I have to be honest. I’ve had this blog edit tab open for more than a week. I’ve got a lot I want to say but if I don’t post something, I think I will never publish this progress report. SO……here is a quick post and Chapter 3!

Lessons:

  • Dialogue
  • What is Meaningful?
  • Bogging Down

I’m starting to get a feel for how much dialogue I like to write and what feel appropriate for the conversation. I think the major lesson is, I need to think about how natural the conversation feels? Think about the conversation I am writing and imagine myself in that conversation. What are the words I would shorthand? Would I shorthand those words with anyone or just a friend? What do I already know and how does this affect the timing and the length? Writing dialogue is still slow, I’ve embraced that but thinking about dialogue as a conversation I’m listening too rather than a story I’m trying to tell makes it easier. I don’t know if that makes sense……

There were a few times where I was moving from one scene to another and I had to think about how to start the next scene. I know what the milestone was I needed to hit in the chapter, but the extra stuff happening on the scene needed to take root to set the backdrop. This was also a problem when I would take a step away for a day or two and needed to pick up where I left off. I would have an idea of where I wanted to go one day, and when I came back I would have a different idea. I was fighting myself on how to make the progress needed to get to the next scene. It became less of a fight when I started asking, “What is meaningful to the story?” If I had two or three competing ideas, what had the most meaning and what was going to make getting to the next step smoother. I don’t yet know if these are the right decisions, but they are decisions, which I think not letting myself get bogged down in the details will be the thing that allows me to finish this first draft.

Speaking of getting bogged down, if I was hitting a wall, I started writing mini outlines to get myself through a scene. I can’t tell you how valuable that has been for the last two chapters (as of this post I am into chapter 6). Sometimes, when you need guidance, create it for yourself with a mini outline!

Chapter 3 Below! As always, unedited and notes included. Please feel free to leave comments.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xeM2AH3Quh9v8LtiT_Glr12PfChtadUz9dG6WqjTfRE/edit?usp=sharing

Chapter 3

“I didn’t want to move your bots to the airlock until you had a chance to look them over so I had Darren set them up in here, your workshop”, Tarik said.

While the space was small, it was perfect for her needs. 10 meters below the Trade Moon surface, Sarah had a four by four meter space with a bot control panel on one side and a workbench on the other. The control panel had 4 monitors which could be tuned to any bot the controller wanted to control [##make specific camera bots]. There was the interface controls where she could work on the programming for and bots connected to this particular port.

“If you write some programming you think would be good for the whole crew, we can move it to the master panel in the main dock.” tarik said as he continued the tour

Her work bench was an L-shaped desk with a modular tool kit on one side and open space on the other.

“You can move the modules around depending on what hand you prefer” Tarik said.

Being left handed, Sarah was looking forward to moving the tools and parts from the right side to the left. Being able to play around with where each item was best located for its intended purpose and how often the item was used was oddly exciting for the new controller.

“”Most of the smaller parts you will need are here, or in the storage room down the hall” Tarik said.

While everything Tarik was saying made it to her ears, she didn’t hear any of it. She understood what she was being told and later she would weirdly remember what he had said, but in the moment, she was in her own world of possibility. “This is my space” she thought to herself.

“I know the walls are bare and I encourage the rest of the lads to decorate, but other than Darren and his [sports team] poster, the rest of my crew don’t seem to bother with the decorations.” Tarik said as he looked onto his datapad to see what was going on in the main dock. “Tell you what, I need to introduce you to the crew at some point, but I don’t want to shock them by taking you out there now for a dock tour. Get yourself situated in here. I will give you the dock portion of the tour next shift. Tomorrow’s early shift I will call the crew together and we can formally introduce you”

“I trust your judgement, but just so I know, when and who should I be careful around?” Sarah asked

“When would be now and who is everyone, I’m sorry to say. The boys who work for me are good people but who know what they will say when they are out and about. We are one of the smaller docks so the boys don’t spend a lot of time with the larger crews. Those are the guys you want to avoid. It is best you avoid the worker common areas at all cost. I’m sorry it has to be that way but there is no telling how they would react. I don’t think they would be violent on the spot but they will try to intimidate you and break your spirit. My crew has 4 people, including yourself. Darren you know, Cammo, goes by Cam, and Franklin you will meet. Get yourself settled in, next shift starts in 4 hours. I’ll let Darren cut his shift short so he can stop by, say hello and bring you up to the dock to wrap up the tour. Really happy to have you onboard” Tarik said

##Give some details on C & F via Darren

Tarik left Sarah in the workshop with her 10 bots, each of them had been unpacked. Each hanging from the ceiling inside an adjustable mount. She wanted to get started on her workbench set up right away. She took down the last bot she had updated on planet and placed it in the open space. She went though all the updates she had made to this bot using all the same tools she had used at home. These were the baseline tools she would need for most of the work she would do on her bots. In the course of 30 min, she has the base setup for her workbench. The tools and parts she would use the most were the closest to her seat. She then laid out all the tools she was familiar with but didn’t use often or hadn’t used yet and gave them a common area in the workshop. As she integrated them into her process she would add them to her base setup, but for now, they could all live together in one are. Next were the tools she was not familiar with. She organized them at the end of her work bench and set up an open area on the table where she could work on side projects in order to get familiar with what these tools were, It was no accident the scrap pile and garbage bin were on this side of the bench. Mistake would be made on the side of the shop, fun would be had as well.

Darren arrived 3 hours later. “What up Cuz?”

“What do you think?” Sarah asked motioning to her neatly organized workshop

“Good God…..you must have had fun with this project” Darren said

She didn’t answer, she just stood and stared at the results of the last few hours.

“Are you ready for the rest of the tour?” Darren said

“Yes…….I was afraid to go outside the workshop before you or Tarik came back”

“Yeah, I get that. Tarik asked me to show you around the rest of the workshop and office area. He also wanted me to show you the living levels. It’s a nice little perk, being a smaller dock, that we have our own rooms. The larger docks will have guys sharing rooms so they don’t have to excavate so much regolith. Our rooms are small but we spend so much time in the workshops and in the dock office, it isn’t a big deal.”

“I’m ready for the next part of the tour if the coast is clear.”

“Haha, I know the rest of the guys on the Trade Moon are assholes, but I hope you are able to get comfortable here. Cam and Franklin are good guys, the not the brightest stars in sky but they are cool. Cam likes to spend a lot of time outside with his bots. He is a strong dude with a bit of an invincibility complex. He doesn’t seem to have any fear for what space can do to your body if you lose the protection of your suit. I understand how one can get that mentality when working around the docks. There are debris sweepers flying around to protect the equipment…..and us. I try telling him he should at least recognize the danger but I don’t want to fight that battle too much. It’s a losing battle. Franklin has been our main programmer. He is ok, not as good as you but he likes the construction & repair jobs. I had to help him build up his transport fleet. He got to the moon with a set of 20 constructors and  when the build job he was recruited for was completed, he needed my help to convert some of them to transport bots. We wanted to get started on some inspector bots but the programming was a little more advanced than Franklin wanted to take on and most of the inspection jobs are taken care of by Evan’s crew.”

“Who is Evans, I’ve heard his name a few times…” Sarah asked.

“He is the co-owner of the dock we work in. He isn’t here very much. Here being the Trade Moon and when he is on the moon, he is in the business center working on deals and getting the latest of the comings and goings of the Trade Moon. I’ve not had a chance to get a feel for the guy. I met him once when I was brought on but I’ve been on shift all the other times he has been here. Did Tarik say he was going to introduce you to Evan’s crew?”

“No.”

“Hmm, I’d stay clear of them until you have to interact with them. That won’t be too difficult. You will see during Tariks dock tour, Evan’s half of the dock and our half are separated. The dock office is shared, which is why they co-own, but Evan’s crew spend all their time in the main dock our out with their fleets. You can also work off shift to them and I’m sure you can set up a remote station for yourself just in case.”

“Fun….”

“Yeah……let’s go check out the parts storage and living quarters”

Darren took her on a mini tour of the storage area with parts they could use to upgrade or make new bots. A lot of the parts in storage were foreign to Sarah has her experience was based on planet based bots and out of the box Trade Moon bots. It was clear, she would have the chance to build all kinds of bots for the dock’s fleets. Between her technical knowhow and Darren’s hardware skills, this was going to be a fun job.

The living quarters were modest but as Darren had said, a space to yourself on the Trade Moon was something special. This gave Sarah a feeling of comfort as she would have a space to not only make her own, but a place to hide when the time came.

The way the docks were built in levels. The level closest to the Trade Moon’s surface was where the main docks were located. Anyone orbiting close enough to the Trade Moon would see various holes in the surface, each one being a different dock. The patterns made it look like each dock was it’s unit but there was more under the surface. SInce the Trade Moon workers would be exposed to radiation on a regular basis, their working and living areas were built underground. After the docking bay levels, the workshops, dock offices and transport tunnels were dug into the regolith. A lot of this building phase was lead by the [AA]. Which humans had no problem digging in the Trade Moon regolith, however building stable tunnels and underground rooms was a different story. The [AA] had the ability to easily make walls stable and keep progress moving on the initial building of the Trade Moon’s business sections. It was assumed the workers would sleep in their offices until they were able to build the next layer down. This is where the living quarters were going to be located. Bedrooms to start but as time and money allowed, there would be common areas and living areas to make the Trade Moon feel more like home, as much as this meant to the men on the moon.

“Three levels, that was the plan for the pre-government expansion,” Tarik said. “I don’t know if this will be meaningful to you for at least a while, but that there is where you can hook up to the Hook Travel Net, we call this HTN.”

While the [AA] wanted to have the humans build as much of the Moon Base on their own. The [AA] built the HTN to connect the different parts of the Trade Moon as is grew. The HTN was made of billions of carbon nanobots that could make themselves into any structure. In this case, they created towers with wires made of the same nan-bots that workers could hook up to and travel anywhere the network would take them. While the [AA] could set the nanobots to power themselves, they didn’t want to make things too easy for the humans, so they sent the nanobots to be limited to how well the humans could build their power infrastructure. The humans decided they would grown the power grid for the nanobots to match the edge of dock operations.

“I will let one of the boys show you how the specifics work, but the short of it is, extend the hook in your backpack, type in your destination and you will be taken to the main wires. The mains move faster than the local dock wires. It’s the best way to get around if you don’t want to take the underground passages.” Tarik said.

It was decided they would all meet first shift in the next cycle. Sarah had seen all the there was to see in the Dock and the workshop. She was tired and wanted to get some sleep in preparation for her first day. There would be a staff meeting first shift tomorrow where Sarah would meet C&F and Tarik would set the expectations now that Sarah was on board.

Sarah fell asleep that night to the visions of bot fleets working as a group and lines of code running through an interpreter.

 

 

Creative Journey: No Real Complaints

Creative Journal #6 I need my Creative Juice to Kick In

Hello again, it’s been a week and while I wait for my go juice (coffee) to kick in, I’m going to write up what I worked on yesterday.

Chapter 3 has been finished and I’ve passed the 6k work mark. I find that I am looking for places in my day to add writing and I am also disappointed when things like my laptop running out of battery at work prevent me for keeping my writing jam going during lunch.I had taken my laptop to write in the morning and again at lunch. Fire up the machine, burrito warmed, and “battery critically low”……I was non-plussed.

While I write Chapter 3 yesterday, I will be posting Chapter 2 below. I’m also going to add a link where the whole story will reside as it grows. Feel free to leave your comments in that file 🙂

Lessons I’ve learned in the last week:

1) Don’t take breaks when there are time references being made I will need to reference in the not too distant future.

2) Tell people you’re writing a book (or working on a creative thing)

3) Reward yourself

Expanding on these lessons……

There is a dialogue where I use what the dock owner says to set the timeline for the rest of the chapter. I slogged through the dialogue and called it a night. This was Tuesday…..then I get to Friday, sit down, and it turned into an exercise of re-reading what the characters said in order to write the rest of the chapter. NOW…..I know I could just leave it and edit later. However, I want to form good habits now and since I am sharing this as I go along, I want this to make as much sense as possible for you. I’d hope early readers would be a little forgiving when it came to notes in the text but I don’t want to do a thing where I take you out of the story. As a reader is reader, if there is a timeline or plot hole separated by 2 paragraphs, that doesn’t read well. While the reality is that the separation is a few days for the writing, it is a matter of minutes for the reader. Let’s not be my own worst enemy.

I’ve been telling people I’m writing a book and the reaction is almost universal. “What kind?” and “That’s exciting!” and I have to say, it makes me want to write more. I am pretty sure I said this in my last post (no, I’m not going back to look) but the consistency in the reactions is great. In general terms, I saw the same reaction when I was designing games more regularly, people are usually interested when you are taking on a project. I think the big different between a game and a book is that people know how to engage with a book or the idea of writing a book. With games, people have no ideas games can even be designed. That probably sounds weird but in my experience, people don’t know what to say to “I designed a board game”. On the other side of that, “I’m writing a book” people can immediately reference the books they’ve read, papers they’ve written and they can estimate the effort required to write a book. Not to say the effort to make a game is any less, books are more understandable.

Reward yourself for your efforts. I’m not a fan of dialogue. I don’t have the writing pallet yet to get multiple characters that much…..character. I know this and I don’t expect to be good at dialogue in my first book. With this in mind, I’m going to get through it and because I’m eating my vegetables, I’m going to design a sporting even for the Luxe Universe! I know it will be in the book at some point, I just don’t know when. What I do know is that I’m very much looking forward to adding this sport and it will be a thing built into the story which will keep me going. I suppose you could call it a Quidditch clone mechanics, not the sport (it isn’t designed yet) but the idea of adding a sport to a story that may or may not need it. But sport has a special way of bringing people together and in a world where there are a lot of dudes floating around, they will want competition, so it fits.

Those are my lessons for the week. I am setting a goal……of sorts. I am not a fan of goals as they are too specific for me. I prefer to “work to constantly improve” which may sound like a cop-out but I’m working on so many things at the same time……usually…..that I don’t want to set a goal I know I won’t meet because it is too specific.

I want to be done with the first draft in 16 weeks. I wanted to write that as 4 months but I think 16 weeks has a little more punch. It is July 15th @ 6.52am……first draft will be done Nov 15th.

Below you will find chapter 2, as always, unedited and notes included. Please feel free to leave comments.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xeM2AH3Quh9v8LtiT_Glr12PfChtadUz9dG6WqjTfRE/edit?usp=sharing

Chapter 2

The train was making it’s way out of the station when Daryl got the reply

##add back the message details

::Hey Daryl, good to hear from you. I do have a controller job open. I’ve been really pleased with Darren’s bots and efforts so far [Details Set – Off]::

::Makes me proud to hear that, his cousin is looking for a job and I wanted to ask if I could set up an interview::

::Sure, can you have him apply through the boards?::

::[Encrypt Set – On] There is a reason I wanted to reach out before we took that step::

::[Encrypt Request Confirm – Yes/No] {Yes} I’m intrigued::

::[Encrypt Confirmed] Her name is Sarah::

::[E] Ah……I see. Well you know how I feel about the culture up here. It stinks. And if Sarah is as good a worker as Darren, I would be pleased to have her aboard. What kind of fleet does she operate?::

::[E] [Add Participant : SARAH]::

Sarah’s data pad gave her a new chat notification

“Tarik wants to know about your fleet” Daryl informed her

::[E] Sarah: Hi Tarik, my Uncle says you want to know about my fleet. I run 10 bots. They are all inspector-transport hybrid bots. I am building my first construction bot now. I have tested all my bots in the pool. I also helped Darren build up his fleet when he was recruited::

::[E] Tarik: Hi Sarah, pleasure to meet you. I’m sorry we can’t go through the normal channels on this one. I understand you’re responsible for the interface program Darren has been running::

::[E] Sarah: That’s correct. When Darren and I built bots in the shop, I focused on the programming and got a lot of help from Darren with the bot building. I’ve learned a lot about the building since he’s been on the Trade Moon and I think I am ready to make the jump::

::[E] Tarik: I’m not worried about your skills to be honest. The only question I have for you is, are you prepared for what you will have to do  when you’re up here? It will be easy to “hide” you by giving you off shifts. We can have you working behind the scenes on the programming. I don’t know how much on-site work you’ll be able to do but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Assuming of course, you’re ok with what it will be like while you are here?::

::[E] Sarah: My Uncle has told me what it would be like to work up there as far as the culture is concerned. I just want a chance to work on the Trade Moon::

::[E] Tarik: Excellent, I need to chat with your Uncle about the best way to get you up here::

::[E] Sarah: Thank You! Thank You! You won’t be disappointed!::

::[E] Daryl: Thank you Tarik. Let’s hop on the Verbal Comms when I get home. That work for you?::

::[E] Tarik: Let’s jump on comms tomorrow. Evans is floating around the office the next several shifts::

::[E] Daryl: Understood. Chat tomorrow. Thanks again. She will be a good worker for you::

::[E] Sarah: Thanks Again!

::[E] Tarik: My Pleasure, glad I can make this happen for you, check the job posting when you have a moment::

 

Sarah pulled up the Trade Moon job board with here data pad. She scrolled to the bottom where Tarik’s name was listed. Bot Controller now showed as [Cancelled]. It felt weird that a word with a negative meaning was the official notice she was going to be working on the Trade Moon but she knew the world she was going to would be small for her and this moment where she knew where she was going with her next step was quietly exhilarating.

 

A few days later, the plan had been thought out and tickets purchased. Space tourism for the masses was becoming a thing on the planet Luxe. Tourists to the Trade Moon were on a regular schedule and discussions for trips to the [other moon’s name] were happening. The technological jump which made space travel for the masses possible was the space elevator provided by the [AA]. Located on Luxe’s equator, there were regular shuttles from the Hub [reference city Sarah lives near?] going to the elevator. Most of those shuttles were for the contractors on their way to the Trade Moon but tourist travel was increasing over time.

 

The most popular form of tourism to the Trade Moon was to go for a week. It was a 6 hour trip to the top of The Elevator. [##there is only one elevator right now, hence why it is called “The Elevator”] From there, it was a 2-4 day hopper shuttle to the Trade Moon. Once on the surface, tourists would be assigned a place to stay and taken on a tour. The tour was sparse as there was no commercial presence yet on the Trade Moon. There was an agreement in place among the dock owners that commercial businesses and the expansion of tourism on the Trade Moon would wait for the Space Gov’t to get up and running. After the guided tour, the Trade Moon visitors were left to their own devices, assuming they stayed in the public areas. From the public zones, they could see the trade docks at work and get a good view of the central station of the hook travel network. It was difficult to see the different ships coming into and out of the Moon Hub since bots took care of most of the last mile transportation. This meant the tourists would get to see the different bot fleets working together to move goods from one place to another but they inspection and construction and inspection jobs were much more luck of the draw. Tourists would have 2-3 full days on the Trade Moon then they would make the trip back.

 

A tourist trip was going to be step one to getting Sarah on the Trade Moon and into her new job. Her Uncle would leave 3 days after Sarah. She was booked on a week long trip to the Trade Moon. She would get to do the tourist thing for a few days, see what sights there were to see, look at how the bot fleets work together and get used to the layout of the Moon Hub, at least from a tourist’s point of view. Her Uncle would depart via direct flight on one of the worker shuttles departing from the Planet Hub. Moon workers were given the faster mode of transport to the moon since there was only one space elevator. Daryl would take her bots with him and if anyone asked, he was there for a visit and to drop off the rest of Darren’s bots.

 

*   * *

Sarah boarded the space elevator with a group of 15 tourists. A family of 4, both the children between the ages of five and ten sat in the corner of the cable transport gondola. Two college aged who were disappointed they would not get to see how the cable worked with the gondola. A group of 5 folks from the [green nation]. Sarah could not tell who the tour guide was but based on the conversation Sarah could hear, this was not a tech savvy group. They seemed interested and excited in the whole process but it was clear they fit the term “space tourist”. Sitting on the same bench seat as Sarah were two gentlemen who were mostly quiet, kept to themselves and seemed content to close their eyes and let the hours go by until they needed to board the shuttle on the Anchor.

The hours passed, as the gondola went up, so did Sarah’s excitement about what was happening. Around hour 2 she allowed herself to think about how this was the first time she was going to space. She was slightly upset with herself she had never stopped to think she had never been to space before. It was obvious, of course, but the reality of what working in space would mean had never really occurred to her.

The space elevator had the option to use an artificial gravity field, but this option was not made public. The idea being that, as the tourists went higher up, they would ease into the sensation of being in space. There was no way to avoid the jolt of weightlessness once they reached the anchor, but every little bit helped. The shuttle used to get tourists from the Anchor to the Trade Moon was fitted with gravity generator. It was always set to equal the Trade Moon’s gravity except during transfers. It was easier to get passengers into and out of they seats when they could take “normal” steps.

Sarah’s Uncle wanted her to have as much time to herself in the Moon Hub before she started work. He knew that once she got started in her job, she would be consumed by her work and she would also have to stay out of sight more often than not. He didn’t want her to lose sight of the fact she was on the Trade Moon and what we she doing and where she was doing was special and required her thoughts to make it above the ground she would be working under for days at a time. She could do her job, but Daryl didn’t want her to get stuck on the Trade Moon, regardless of the male dominated work environment. The galaxy could literally be hers.

Her room was located 3 levels underground. Food was available all the time in the form of nutrient pastes and flavorings. The children of the group were not pleased but they were plenty distracted watching the bot fleets working to move goods from ships to docks and back again. Sarah was also distracted by the fleets. She wanted to see the formations they flew in. She wanted to count how many were working in pairs or groups. She also wanted to identify potential ways to save time with a bot only fleet. She knew there were a lot of controllers who would work alongside their bots. This was not going to be an option for her, unless the work was in the dock. Inspection and construction jobs were out of the question.

Sarah’s datapad flashed a notification from her Uncle

::[E]Uncle Daryl: leaving in an hour. I’ll send a message once I’ve connected with Tarik::

 

*   * *

Daryl watched as Sarah’s bots were being loaded into the rockets storage. He sent her an encrypted message and made his way to his seat. There were three other workers on this transport. Daryl didn’t want to talk to anyone during the flight but the pilot recognized him.

“Administrator! What takes you back to the Trade Moon?” the pilot said.

“My son wanted the rest of his and I figured I would see what it was like up there since I had left, so here I am, bots in hold” Daryl answered.

“I think you’re going to be surprised, a lot has changed in the last 2 years”

Daryl was pleased to be noticed but they fewer people who knew he was on the Trade Moon, the better. He needed to be able to get back to the planet and not have people wonder how he got back.

The pilot, now in the cockpit came over the comms, “engines fire in ten minutes, set your belts to soft lock. Belts tighten 2 min to engine start up sequence. Flight time will be 18 hours. Feel free to move around the cabin and if you want to sleep, be sure to secure yourself to the walls. You don’t want to float around and bang your head against the wall. You will hear me again after injection, listen to Doris countdown and take off notifications.”

Doris, a digital voice, gave a 60 second warning to belts, a 30 second warning to engine start up and a 10 second countdown to take off. On the way up she gave answers to what the different noises were as the ascended.

“WHY ARE THEY TELLING US ALL THIS? THIS AIN’T OUR FIRST LAUNCH!” one of the passenger yelled out.

Daryl knew they were testing the comms system for high end space tourism. People would pay to get to the Moons faster, but it was best to keep them informed as they went through the process. The pilot needed to fly the transport, Doris was the solution.

 

*  * *  

Daryl, Sarah and her bots were on the Trade Moon. Daryl had messaged Sarah he was at the dock with Tarik and her bots were in the workshop waiting for her. At a predetermined location, Daryl and Sarah were going to swap places. While there was no easy way for the tourists to get to the dock section of the Moon Hub, Tarik could get them to a good spot. Sarah had already identified it and was waiting for them when they arrived.

Daryl could not wait too long as the shuttle which was supposed to take Sarah back to Luxe was departing in an hour. They only had a moment to speak.

“Thank you Uncle Daryl”

“Give em hell kiddo”

Daryl said another thank you to Tarik for the risk he was taking for him and his family.

Both parties went their separate ways

 

Daryl had boarded the shuttle back to the orbital Anchor. He felt a combination of pride and fatherly concern for what was left of his family now working on the Trade Moon. He knew they would be able to hold their own, but space, as he was aware, is an unforgiving place. He wanted to send a message decided to wait until he was back on planet.

 

 

 

Creative Journey: Going to Hit the Writing Gym

Creative Journal #5 Chapter 2: Struggle

I started Chapter 2 after taking a few days off from writing and I think that was a mistake. I’ve learned some lessons over the last couple days.

  1. Generalize some plot points for future use
  2. Need a plan to build my “writing stamina”
  3. Dialogue is difficult
  4. Limit time away from the story

My plan has always been to have multiple stories and give them common points of reference in time. One character in a story seeing another character while they are in their own story. I want to give readers attachment points from one story line to the next. I think this is going to be difficult, especially for a new writer but my theory is that the dividends paid by this kind of world building will have long term benefits to Luxe System stories. Lesson 1 this weekend has taught me that I need to generalize points in my story so I can easily reference them in the future. For example, there will be a ceremony on the Trade Moon later in the story. I need to give this ceremony a name or an event which will make it unique in time. In my head, I have been trying to make these common points specific to a character and what they are doing, rather than making a common point a global event. This means I will have to cross reference one character’s timeline to another character’s when using these common points, in order to avoid plot holes, but again, dividends.

Lesson 2 is all about getting myself used to writing for long periods. I took time off this week for life, capacity and schedule reasons. Life happens, but I’ve been sitting down today (Sunday), trying to make progress and I’m having a hard time getting through 1200 words. In attempting to diagnose the problem, well……I am unsure what the problem is. I do know Lesson 3, writing dialogue is part of the problem. Dialogue is hard. I take for granted how easy it is to talk. That sounds weird to me, but writing dialogue requires me to have to switch from one character’s POV to another and think about how they will respond, how they speak and what words they use. AND……I’m not even writing complicated dialogue with complicated characters. This is basic what I’m working on, but writing my first major conversation took a lot out of me. I think this will get better because I am not used to these characters yet. I think the solution is, over time I will get into the head of these characters and will be able to reference their motivations as quickly as I reference my own IRL.

Lesson 4 taught me that I need to spend less time away from the story. As I’ve said, I took some time off from writing this week and I’ve paid the price this weekend. I think the progress I made last weekend was great, but gave me a false sense of security. I would take a day and think “I can get a lot done on the weekend”……NOPE! However, I did get a nice surprise, when I did come back to the story on Saturday, I was not entirely sure where I was going so I pulled up my outline and I was able to get back on track instantly. I am already off script as far as the outline goes, but I am using the outline as a way to reference where the story needs to be in terms of landmarks in the time line, which is perfect.

Those are the big lessons I learned this weekend. In looking for ways to improve this process for myself. I need to look at how to handle the struggle points along the way. Today is a struggle, as the sub-title says. I’m facing the struggle as a writer, Chapter 2 doesn’t really have a struggle. The biggest problem at this point is, if I hit a part in the main story I’m working on, I will get bogged down. I need to have side projects I can work on so when the main project hits a wall, I can leave and come back. This is how I work when I design games and I think this is the way I need to work when I’m writing.

Speaking of, I think I want to start working on a new game this week. Even if it is in outline form but I’m feeling the game design. I know I said that in a previous post but I’ve written this down in my weekly notebook to actually work on a game.

Before I drop Chapter 1 in here……this is a good example of lesson 2. This post is roughly 800 words and I’ve been able to get this down with little issue. Writing these posts is definitely part of building up the writing muscle. I think I will start working on other outlines as well, but only in very high level views and probably do some more world building around the Luxe System itself. I have a lot of the bones built but there is a lot of meat to be put on these bones. That is enough for now, here is chapter 1…..enjoy!

Chapter 1:

note: this is unedited & unformatted, includes notes to myself, may have spoilers, open to your feedback, thank you for coming along on the ride!!!

Sarah spent a lot of her free time looking at the Moons of Luxe through her telescope. One of the Moons was a smaller, oblong satellite captured by the planet long ago when the system was forming. The other moon, The Trade Moon, shone bright in the night sky. The Trade Moon used to go by the name “ “ but now that space exploration was a real possibility, referring to “[name]“ as “The Trade Moon” was quickly becoming the norm. Citizens of [the place Sarah lives] had a serious case of space fever.

Sarah’s interest in the trade moon was to become a worker on the trade moon. She has spent much of her youth working on the bots in her Uncle’s workshop. She never had a manual to work with and she preferred it that way. From a young age, she wanted to figure things out on her own and the more she knew about “the right way” to do things, the less she wanted to do things as expected. She had plenty of friends in school and she spent a normal amount of time getting into trouble, spending time with her friends and working hard enough in school to not get noticed for good or bad grades. What she did differently compared to her peers was; when she wasn’t doing the things normal kids do, she was in the workshop playing with the new bots or helping her cousin build planet-bots.

All of this bot tinkering worked out for her cousin Darren, as he was accepted in the most recent recruiting program for Trade Moon workers. When he got the word he was accepted, they worked furiously to get his bot fleet ready for the trip. They didn’t know what would be best for the conditions and the job the bots would be performing on the moon, so they tried to build a two or three bots for each situation they could think of. They knew the jobs could range from inspections to repairs and there would for sure by cargo movement jobs. What they didn’t know were the one off jobs which would inevitably come up. These jobs would require different connector ports, used by the bot to interact with ships and cargo on a physical and electrical basis. Being they could plan for anything, Sarah spent a great deal of time writing the programs which would allow for bot’s hardware to be updated on the fly and cut down on the downtime which came along with these kind of situations.

Darren’s strengths were on the hardware side of things, he always relied on out of the box programs or had Sarah modify the code for the bots build in the shop. This system was fine for earth-bots as the out of the box programs were pretty robust on their own. Once the word came Darren, was going to be working on the Trade Moon, he asked Sarah for her help.

Darren experimented with the physical limits of the bots. He had built in connection ports so multiple small bots could connect to each other and act as a larger bot. While the larger bots would be better for the job, when the large bots were down, he could plan on having the smaller bots work together. When a smaller bot was out of commission, he could replace it with another smaller bot. They were also cheaper and expendable. Being able to get a replacement on the trade moon would be difficult at first, but a dead small bot was parts for the other small bots.

Darren had been working on the Trade Moon for [length of time]. Today was the day Sarah and her Uncle were going to take a trip to the Planetary Hub and see if there were any jobs she could take on the Trade Moon.

“Are you ready to go?”, Her Uncle Daryl asked

“Yes, is there anything missing from the parts list?”

Uncle Daryl reviewed the list she’d put together….

“How many pulse drives do you have for the mini-bots”

“We’ve got three brand new drives, two which need repairs which I think I can handle and one I need you to look at. I can’t get the fuel flow to read correctly. The display reads as normal but the engine output is 40% of normal.”

“Bring it with us, we can drop it off at a shop in the hub. I’d work on it here but we’re going to be at the hub for a few hours. May as well show you were to go in the Hub to get these sorts of things fixed. If we can’t get you a job on the Trade Moon, we should look at getting you work in the Hub itself.

Sarah was so focused on working on the Trade Moon, she had never thought about a back up plan. She always appreciated this about her Uncle Daryl, he was thinking about backup plans and looking out for her best interests.

Daryl could see her shoulder slump as she realized there had to be a backup plan.

She kept up a facade and replied, “let me get the broken pulse drive and I’m ready to go.”

 

*     * *

 

As they arrived at the hub, a message arrived on Sarah’s comm-pad ::DARREN: Hey Cuz, good luck at the Hub today. Hope you’re able to find something [sender not currently on network]:: ::Thanks Cuz, I’ll update you when we’re on our way home::

First stop at the hub was the bot shop to drop off the pulse engine. This was not the first time Sarah had been to the hub, nor was it the first time she had been to the shop. What she had never received before was a guided tour of sorts from her Uncle. Daryl had been one of the labor pioneers of the Planetary Hub and the Trade Moon. Daryl had worked on constructing the Planetary Hub and when the Trade Moon was being built up, he was a worker advocate and adviser during the alpha recruitment process. The connections he’d had from the early days of the Trade Moon kept him updated on who owned what docks, current events and the occasional happyness update from the workers themselves. He was not sure if this was going to help get Sarah a dock on the Trade Moon and he didn’t want to get her hopes up, even though she was aware of his history.

“Right, let’s go check the boards” Uncle Daryl said as they walked out of the bot shop

A group of students being given a tour were blocking the way between the bot shop and the Trade Moon Depot. The TMD, as it was referred to by those in the know, is where the work boards lived. Dock owners would post different jobs they needed filling. There were contract jobs, bot fleets required jobs, bot-less jobs and there were always recruitment jobs for the AA. Since the AA offices had yet to be built on the Planetary Hub, they would use these boards to recruit workers. If there were people looking to work off planet, this is where they would be looking.

The display was made of three vertical monitors with a list of dock locations by latitude and longitude, dock owner name, job type, duration and post date. This was not the first time Sarah had been in front of this board. It was however the first time she looked at it with intention to apply.

“Not him, not him, not him….” could be heard coming from Daryl as he checked the names of the different owners

Sarah knew there was a boys club mentality on the Trade Moon. Her Uncle was not proud of what the Trade Moon had become and quite honestly, he hadn’t thought about the boys club being a problem until the day he realized his niece would want to work on the Trade Moon.

“Are there any names I should look for?” She asked wanting to do more than just stare and wait.

“Tarik & Evans are co-owners of a small dock. Tarik is a good guy, he took on Darren after his recruitment assignment was completed. Fraco is the other name I’m hoping to see here.”

“Franco!” Sarah quietly exclaimed as soon as she heard the name “Oh…..3 month contract job, and it’s bot-less.”

Hearing the disappointment, Daryl added, “Well, sometimes you have to take was you can get. You want me to massage him?”

“It’s worth reaching out”

“I’ll message him while we eat. Let’s grab a bite.”

 

The food court was big and had all kinds of options. Daryl explained that the food court was built to give non-travellers a reason to come to the Hub and check it out. They food diversity was on purpose in the hope that people from all over the world would be passing through the hub. “It shows so real forethought” Daryl concluded as he took a bite from his sandwich.

 

Both of their data pads flashed with a notification. Franco had replied to Daryl’s message ::FRANCO: I have four interviews lined up already for that job. I’d be happy to take Sarah on, but I can’t risk having these four guys interview and not hire one of them [satellite connection]::

“That makes no sense. He is the owner. How does anyone know how many interviews he has?”

“They don’t” Daryl answered “but this might be an on-site interview. If it is, the guys interviewing will be seen and when Franco has a new hire and no one sees one of the four on the dock, they will start asking questions”

“Ugh”

“I know, I’m not proud it’s turned into that up there…..”

The conversation pulled the mood down like a gravity spike. Along with the message notification, Sarah got the notification the pulse engine was fixed and ready for pick up. Not wanting to dwell on the situation, they finished up their meals and made their way to the bot shop.

 

Having paid for the fixed engine, Daryl said, “let’s take one more look at the board. At least we can save the listings to our data pads and we’ll know for next time what we’ve already looked at. You can sign up for board notifications sent direct to your data pad as well.”

While she said nothing, her shoulders gave the “okay” shrug and they started off towards to the boards

“Tarik! A new posting!” Sarah exclaimed “And it’s a bot-controller job!”

“I’m sending the message now” ::Hi Tarik, I see you have a bot-controller position posted. Darren’s cousin is available, can we chat?:: “It looks like they just started their day cycle, we should hear back sooner rather than later. Regardless of how he responds, connect your data pad to the the Trade Moon and Hub boards ##I need to reference this earlier in the chapter## Set up the notifications and we can get the next train out of here.”

“Already done Uncle”

“Good, let’s get going”

 

Creative Journey: Chapter 1 Draft 1 is Done!

Creative Journal #4 Chapter 1 wasn’t so bad

As the title of the post and the sub title spoil, Chapter 1 is now done. 1800 words later, I think we are off to a good start. I have a question for you…….do you want to read this as we go along? I mean……it’s an unedited rough draft but I believe in sharing what you’re making as you make it and I would be re-missed if I didn’t at least ask if you were interested in getting “early access”. Leave a comment if you’d want to see chapters as part of these posts, or as their own posts?

What I’ve learned so far……

  1. Getting 1000 words into a story is a lot easier than I was expecting. My goal was to hit 1200-1300 words per chapter and I got to 1800 with ease.
  2. I’ve had to learn how to make notes as I go and be okay with coming back later. In prep for starting this project, I was reading Scott King’s “How to Write a Novel in 5 Days” and the excerpts he was sharing, there were some notes where he would come back to the details later. I totally get that even after < 2000 words. There are times when the next 4 or 5 steps are clear to me, I need to get them down on the page. I can’t get bogged down by the details.
  3. Along with getting bogged down by the details, write now, edit later. I’m not good at proofreading nor am I good at writing cleanly, I’m too lazy to care about that as I go….BUT……I found myself going back in the text (when I was mentally wandering) and I would start to edit. I had to tell myself, if I am in a space to write words on paper, write new words and don’t bother with the old stuff. I’m going to have to go back later regardless…..deal with it then.
  4. This is fun

I think this is most important lesson. I’m actually enjoying this now that I’m in the writing process. I have no idea if it is any good and I still don’t know yet if I care for it to be any good. Right now, the audience for this consists of me and you. I have not selling, marketing, outreach goals so I am doing this from a care free state of mind. I hope it stays like this as long as I am writing.

What I need to be careful of is letting this be the only thing I am doing in my free time. Today was special as it was a holiday so I let myself spend most of the day writing. Confession: when I say “all day” I had the file open and when I was at the computer, it was the main thing I wanted to work on but I did play some video gates (Heros of the Storm) and had YouTube running on my other monitor. I was plenty distracted but this is the way I creatively work.

Being that I can write one chapter in the course of 2-3 hours a day. I think I can get the first draft done by the end of August……IF……I make this a regular task and I get some extra writing in on the weekends. We shall see 🙂

Thanks again for reading through this. Let me know you feel about reading the story as we go along. Have a great rest of your week and see you next time!

Creative Journey: Luxe System Outline Done-ish

Creative Journal #3 Stick around, I’m sharing some story line this evening 🙂

This week was mostly about getting the first Luxe System book from an idea to an outline and possibly start writing?????

I can tell you that as of an hour ago, the outline is done-ish. Why the -ish?

Since I’ve taken the “standard” three act approach, I was trying to break the story up into three pieces. The first 13 chapters are are Act I, the next 14 chapters are Act II and the rest of the book is Act III. Did you catch that? I have no idea how long the final act is going to be. BUT I do know what is going to happen.

On Friday night, I was having a hard time sitting down and writing chapter specifics for the outline. After sitting at the computer for 30 min and making no progress, I decided to stop looking at this specifically and write up the basic story arc for each act. I moved the main character from the trade hub to an outpost construction site. I got half way through Act III and I realized I had no good climax for the story. I scrapped what I had in Act III up to then and reconstructed the story.

The similarities between story building and board game building make story writing feel like home.

Saturday I took the day off from creative projects and today, Sunday, I wanted to start writing the book, which meant writing the outline. I was able to get Act II written, yay! What I noticed was the level of detail started to drop as the chapters went by. By the time I got to Act III, I did not know enough about where the details of the story were going for me to put Act III into an outline. SO……once Act II was done, I decided to put the major plot points into the outline for Act III and I will get to it later.

What this means is……..it’s time for some actual writing of this book!

So what is this first Luxe System novel about? Well……the name of the book is, The Trade Moon of Luxe. The main character is named Sarah and she wants to work on the trade moon. Working in a little different on the moon as people are in charge of  a fleet of bots. The bots are used to move goods, inspect ships, make repairs and build structures. There are jobs which need to be performed by people but for the most part, jobs are meant to be done by the bots.

Sarah is able to get a job on the Trade Moon. She needs to figure out how to work in a place where women are not welcome but she is skilled enough to run circles around the other bot fleets in the moon. She is looking for new technologies she can apply to her bots and she is constantly customizing what her bots are capable of. The thing with these bots is that, the connectors and ports are standard, what the workers do with the bots themselves is up to them. The bots being used on the trade moon are as unique as the people who run them.

After spending some time working on the docks of the trade hub, the story moves to an outpost where Sarah and a small group of workers are tasked with building the first mining outpost on the moon. The trouble is, there are other people who are interested in mining the moon and this is still space, there are dangers abound when humans leave the relative safety of Luxe. While Sarah and crew are away from the main hub, there is a new government building/module being added to the trade moon. A trade moon which was run by the men who owned the docks, is getting a new governing body, what could possibly go wrong?

I think that is enough for now. I don’t know how much I want to say before I give away a spoiler or say more than I want to commit to in the story.

Have a great week and when I make more progress on this or other creative projects I’m working on, I will place that update here!

Keep Making!!!! -Chris

PS I did spend some time today watching YouTube videos on what it would be like to live on the moon and what asteroid mining would entail. I like to use these kinds of videos and reason-ability checks for what I am thinking when I write these scenarios.

Creative Journey: Luxe System Act II, Unfocused but Outlining

Creative Journal #2

I think the bad night of sleep on Sunday has really set me back. I’m double tired today compared to yesterday BUT I made progress on Luxe so rather than going on about my bad sleep, lets talk about the story.

I’ve made it through the outline for act one and have started act II.

I didn’t want to get stuck in one region of the trade moon so I’m moving the story to a different area. I am also going to introduce the concept that corporations are going to be exploring the solar system. Actually……as I write this…..I have yet to define who the people are on the trade moon, at least as far as who they are working for. I guess the rough idea is they are paying the different gov’ts of the Planet Luxe to give them space and working with the aliens are who are moving goods and tourists in and out of the trade hub.

I don’t actually know what the volume of stuff and people that moves through the hub, but I don’t think that matters just yet.

I guess I am not too concerned about questions of that detail as I will answer them once I get to the writing portion.

That’s it for tonight, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything for more than 5 min. I feel like I know where I want this first Luxe story to go and I just don’t have the energy tonight to get the outline farther than I already have. Time to make some super short bullet point reminders and put this one down for the night.

Note of personal improvement: I did get to my French lessons today for the first time in 5 days. No coding which is bad but I have to be realistic about the energy levels I have when I get home.

Til next time!

Creative Journey: Outlining & Sleep & The Luxe System

Creative Journal #1

Kept going on the outline of the first Luxe System novel. I’m not sure how much is out there about what The Luxe System is. I will get into that more in another post, but for now….it is the story about a human planet who has started to get into reliable space travel and they are noticed by an Alien race who wants to help them move forward in their pursuit of exploration as a species.

They also want to help build up the Luxe System as a trade port in this region of the galaxy. A lot of the stories I want to look at first are the stories of the planet Luxe coming to grips with expanded space travel and sorting out how each nation will fit into this changing world.

There are nations who are interested in technology and others who want to get back to want nature means. There are no more wars as there was a major war in the past which was so bad, all the nations……at the time……agreed to disarm themselves and not travel the road of war ever again. Everyone had lost so much, the motivation to change as a species was strong.

Anyways….as I said…..more detail on that later.

I’ve been outlining a story about a girl named Sarah who wants to work on the trade moon. Jobs on the trade moon are more about managing a crew of bots who do the work for you. Some people are good at automating all their bots, others want to work side by side with their bots. When a dock owner hires you on, you need to show them what your bot crew is like and what they are able to do.

I’m up to 12 chapters of the outline and I think I am through the first act. I figure I will go with the act system for my first novel as trying to do anything fancy is probably doomed to failure. Not to mention I have ZERO novel….er…..writing experience at all so lets play by the rules for a while.

I am proud of myself that I sat down and worked on this tonight. I got a really bad night’s sleep last night and I took a nap when I got home from work. I know that when I get to the point where I am writing I need to be able to focus for longer periods of time and forcing myself to work on the outline tonight and write this post is a good start. I have to decide if I will work on programming or French this evening as it is almost 9 and I really am tired.

That’s all for this evening…..