This is the fifth 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 our first paragraph of our story. Next we will focus on the second sentence and expand that into a full paragraph to further develop our marine story. This second paragraph is the start of the action of our story. This is an important part to our story in that we are introducing our setting for the first time. For me, the setting really needs to be a character in its own right to add to the suspense of the story. This will follow the same process as the previous paragraph.
Let the suspense begin
“1st Squad must make their way through the complex while dodging attacks from an unknown alien species.”
Our second sentence is pretty lean on details so we have some work cut out for us on this one as we introduce a lot of information and get put our story into second gear. To start this off, we need to note that our marines arrive at the station after a long trip through aether space. Since we are doing a suspense/action story, the station should appear abandoned or in the process of losing power to build on the spooky unknown factor of the station. This would immediately put our marines on the defensive upon entering.
Having now reached the station, our marines enter the station and begin their mission. There are a lot of different ways one could go about this process. The most obvious means of finding the scientists would have been to have the Destroyer Austin do a scan of the station and just look for life signs. Well, that’s too easy and would ultimately give away information about our true antagonist. So, let’s say that something in the station is preventing a scan, perhaps the fusion reactor of the station is on the fritz and radiation prevents a complete scan. This gets our marines on the station without giving anything away.
The next natural step in the story would then be to have our marines make their way to the Command deck of the station is try to do scans internally or find out information about where they may be. Information is king is warfare and so our marines would do their best to get as much information as possible. Our marines breach the station and sweep their way to the Command deck in hopes that the station scanners will be able to give them more information. With this we can add more suspense and mystery when the marines don’t find anybody in route to the Command deck. The whole station seems empty.
Upon reaching the command deck, we need to block the easy path once more in order to get our marines to search the rest of the station and break them up. Since we are not doing a full-blown novel, 30 characters is a bit much to try to cover in detail. Instead, we want to focus on just one squad to make it more manageable. Upon finding the Command post, our marines will find that all the systems are on the fritz due to power surges from our previously mentioned faulty fusion reactor. The squads are then orders to sweep the rest of the station to find the scientists. At this point we can finally focus down onto our main characters.
At this point, we need to get our marines moving and in a place that will advance the plot. Since we are dealing with a science station and we have an evil corporation, it makes sense to send our squad to a laboratory deck on the station. Since our marines aren’t suppose to access the information on the station to find out about the research going on, they need to find someone to tell them. Now we introduce our wayward and scared scientist who gets to tell the marines that there are no Pegasus commandos on board. Here is where we can finally introduce our actual opponent, an alien species.
In thinking about our actual bad guys, I began to think of a way of introducing a unique opponent as opposed to your standard alien hunting people. To keep the running theme of having an evil corporation, what if the company took an alien and made a human-alien hybrid for purposes of study? This thing then gets loose along with the original alien. This dual threat would keep our marines guessing as to what they are running into. Since we are dealing with a new species, I decided to just call them specimen 52 because why would scientists give a hybrid lab rat an actual name?
With all of this new information, our marines would call in to the Command Deck and inform their commanding officer of the new information. They would then return back and reevaluate the situation. Well, allowing that to happen wouldn’t give us much of a story now would it. Now is the time to cut off our marines and throw a bunch of hybrids at them. Space station, I would think, are designed much like aircraft carriers, lots of small passageways and hallways with lots of stairs. We can through in an elevator or two for good measure. To keep our marines for getting back too easy, the main route back to the Command deck is cut off when there is an explosion on the station that causes a hull breach. Now our marines are forces to take the long way back.
To round out our second paragraph, we can introduce specimen 52 in a surprise attack on our marines. Since we haven’t developed any details on our hybrid yet, we can leave this part vague and develop the specifics later. Suffice to say that it is a surprise attack and one of our marines gets injured during the fight, which we will give a name in the process.
That pretty much covers our second sentence. Our plot has now gone into full steam as our marines have to race back to the rest of the platoon before they are killed by our new deadly hybrid alien species. Here is how that full paragraph looks when put together:
“The TCD Austin docks with the seemingly deserted station after not being able to scan the station. Three squads of the platoon spread out and sweep through several decks, which are deserted, to the Command and Operations deck where they establish a command post. Two squads are ordered to sweep the rest of the station to find survivors and report contact with Pegasus hostiles. 1st squad makes their way to the outer laboratory deck of the station on deck 13 where they find a scientist, Dr. Walter Carr, who is hiding from what he calls specimen 52. On their return sweep to the CNC, there is a hull breach and the main lift and stairwell is destroyed. The group then has their first encounter with species 52. Sergeant Rustovic is injured during the fight.”