This is the fourth blog in an ongoing series of designing a story using my writing process so others can get an in-depth look of the process in action. As before, this process works for me. If you find something you like, use it. I won’t even ask for credit.
In the last blog, we covered the creation of the paragraph overview for our story. It is short, simple, and hits all the points we want to cover in our story. From here we want to expand our single paragraph into multiple paragraphs to add further detail and flesh out our story further. We will be taking each sentence and turning that into a paragraph on its own. Don’t be afraid to change things as you go through this process. Some ideas might sound good to begin with, but when you get into the details of that idea, you may feel that it doesn’t work the way you thought it would. That’s ok. Change it. It’s your story afterall.
Before I get into creating our expanded paragraph, I wanted to make a quick note about world building. Some people are good at dreaming up ideas and remembering them in their head until it’s needed. Most of us have to write stuff down to be referenced later. I’m of the latter. I found out pretty quickly that a Sci-Fi story, to be believable, has a lot of technical writing in reference to weapons, vehicles, government, and science. If you are going to write a believable story, you are going to have to figure out how your world/universe works. What year is it? Do they have bullets or laser guns? Do they have faster than light travel? What kind of space ships? Are their aliens? If so, what kind? How far advanced is the science?
Take some time and figure out the details of your little world. This is where your research skills will come in handy to find inspiration for your unique world/universe. Remember that Sci-Fi is a story of what could be plausible, forget what does or does not work now. If your story is in the year 2500, whose to say we haven’t figured out faster than light travel by then, regardless of what Einstein says. 🙂 I’ll probably write up a blog covering the world building for this story at a later date so you can see the research in action.
Front Line Paragraph
“A platoon of special forces operators from the famed 7th Special Forces Company are deployed to the space research station HC-456 Mendel in the Vega Sector to investigate a distress signal.”
Let’s start with the first sentence of our paragraph and see what we can do to expand it out. This sentence serves as our introduction to the story and world. A lot of the detail here will be setting up what is going to happen in our story and introduce our characters. The first thing to do is figure out a date that our story should be set in. I want it to be in the future and far enough along that space travel is now common and not exploritory. The tech should be established and reliable. If using today as a starting point, let’s say it takes a hundred years to finally get out and explore our solar system with starships. From there we discover a means of faster-than-light travel (FTL). So that is another hundred years to perfect the technology so it is considered reliable, putting us into 2200’s. So now we spend time exploring and colonizing planets. Even with FTL travel, it takes take to build ships, send supplies, and build colonies. Let’s say another 150 years. Now throw in a war or two for good measure which helps develop and advance military technology (this is a military story after all). After a devastating war, there needs to be time to recover and reestablish society. At this point we are around 2400. Throw in some cold war years against a previous enemy and I think we have reached a point that the tech and science of the universe is solid.
Next we want to add some details about who and where. Now our original sentence has some of that figured out already, but lets go one step further. Our marines will be the CFMC (Confederate Marine Corp). I like the word Confederacy since our main character would be part of a large collection of worlds. A Federation could also work, but is too close to Star Trek for my comfort level. With that in place, the CFMC would answer to a joint military head, like a Ministry of Defense. Next, our research space station will be part of the private sector to add some intrigue, so we need a corporation to run it; Hydra Corporation as I like the imagery of a corporation that has its hands in several different honey pots. Also, a play off of the Red Skull’s Hydram which was a research branch of Hitler’s occult science team in the Captain America movie and comics. Since our corporation is our quasi-bad guys, the imagery is perfect.
Our next topic is what; what is the situation that would cause our marines to go out to this remote research station? Well, our first sentence says their was a distress signal. There are a ton of reasons on why a distress signal would be sent out. Since we are dealing with a research station, lets say that is some black book research involving not so nice stuff. My first thought is that a cold war enemy has breached the station in an attempt to get a hold of the research. In the process, an “experiment” of the research gets loose. That would be a damn good reason to send out a distress signal in my mind.
Since we are using a secret research station and a evilish corporation, they would want to protect their secrets and use some other story to tell the military. I think we will take the previous idea of using a cold war enemy breaching the station and use that as the corporation’s “cover story” and let the true reason be a mystery at this point in the story. As for who it is, I’m thinking it should be humans as I want an alien to be the true center point of the story, but revealed later. Since we established that their was a cold war, perhaps a group of human controlled planets broke off from the Confederacy over a disagreement of something which turned into a civil war and then a cold war. Let’s call them the Pegasus Republic from the Pegasus Constellation. They make a perfect and believable scapegoat for a evilish corporation to use.
For our next part we need to explain what our marines will be doing and how they will be getting there to wrap up our introducation. Considering the situation, it is a search and rescue mission as the corporation wants to get their people off the station and not risk their own assests to do it. Our marines then will go in an rescue the scientists, but ordered to leave the station alone so the corporation can clean it up later. This will eventually lead to a conflict of interest for our marines who are just trying to survive a new alien threat.
Lastly, our marines (which I’ve nicknamed the Hellcats) will hitch a ride with the CFN (Confederate Navy) to our location. The ship will be called the Austin (after the city I live near since Round Rock doesn’t make for a good ship name) and will be a Mars class Destroyer. The Navy wouldn’t send a carrier out for a simple search and rescue operation as they are too valuable for such a small mission. However, a destroyer packs enough punch to handle small situations by itself and is large enough to carry a company of special forces marines. I picked Mars class to denote that it is a large class version of a naval destroyer. We also need to pick a method of FTL travel. After doing some research, I decided I wanted something unique rather than using wormholes or warp drives. In my research, I stumbled onto an old disproven theory about aether. That got me thinking that if a ship could somehow use aether to “ride” light, they could travel at the speed of light or better. Sounds fun and is certainly unique, so we will stick with that.
I think that about covers are first sentence being expanded into a paragraph. What does it look like all put together? Check it out below.
In 2543, CFMC is ordered by the Ministry of Defense to investigate Hydra Corporation research space station HC-456 Mendel orbiting the planet Omega 692 in the Vega sector. The station sent out a distress signal two weeks ago on the aether about a loss of containment and hostiles breaching the complex. The MOD believes that insurgents from the Pegasus Republic are responsible for the attack. The company is ordered to investigate the station, rescue survivors, and eliminate any hostiles present. Delta Company (Hellcats) board the TCD-112 Austin, a Mars class Destroyer. The trip will be two weeks and seven jumps through aether space.