Building a Story VI

This is the sixth 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 second paragraph where the story really starts moving as we have now introduced our aliens that our marines must fight in order to survive. Our next paragraph will provide some direction for the story, lots of action, and a little bit of discovery to keep the suspense going.

The “What the hell is that?” moment in a story

1st Squad must make their way through the complex while dodging attacks from an unknown alien species.”

Now that our story is in full motion, it is time to deliver the action. Our sentence from our initial paragraph is simple and direct. Our marines have to fight their way back through the complex against a bunch of aliens. Could we leave this as is? Sure, but what is the fun in that? Lets add some juicy details to this sentence to develop the story.

First, we needs to get our marines moving. Sitting around in a lab will only get them killed and they know that. When a plan goes FUBAR (fucked up beyond all recognition), marines need to get their chain of command involved in order to work as a unit and gain direction. With that in mind, our marines would contact their CO (commanding officer) to report the situation and get new orders. Now we could just have the CO keep things short and sweet and order them back like it is a Sunday stroll through Central Park. Where is the fun in that? Let’s keep things really out of control and have the CO’s squad in the Command and Control center also be under attack by this unknown species. This allows our marines to relate, but also add problems as that means that these creatures are all over the situation and they will have to be at their best to survive.

To add to the problems, lets also cut off Second Squad who were also sweeping the station. Since we aren’t focusing on them, they provide a complete picture of things completely falling apart all across the station. With everything gone to hell, the CO orders First Squad to return to the Command and Control center to regroup. This order gives our marines a direction to go in and something to focus on instead of dying at the teeth of some weird and alien creature.

We can now give a good block of action as our marines have to fight their way back to the CNC. From our previous paragraph, we know that the main way is blocked, so our marines need to find and use the long way around the station through a maze of corridors and access tunnels. These are all excellent places to stage some fights between our marines and the aliens.

Action is all good, but this is also a suspense story right? So lets add some of that here to keep things interesting. This is where I ended up changing my mind probably twenty times before settling on the details that should be discovered here. The initial idea was to have a bunch of aliens attacking the crew, but how could there be enough aliens on a science station to provide enough fodder for our marines to go through? Since this is a science station, what if we were dealing with some fringe science like cloning or genetic manipulation? Having thought about it for a while, I settled on genetics as the reason for infestation. Kind of a Doom/Alien Resurrection hybrid situation where we have genetically created creatures that infect humans as they come in contact with the aliens. That allows us to have true aliens along with fodder created by staff of the station. Now the marines have more to worry about than just be killed, they have to worry about being infected.

This new plot point will get introduced here as our doctor (obtained in the previous paragraph), studies one of the recently killed hybrids and figures out that it isn’t actually one of the specimens, but something new. Meanwhile, our injured marine from the previous paragraph starts to get sick and when he hears about this, keeps his sickness to himself for fear of being killed by his own troops.

We should also probably kill a marine or two during these action sequences in order to keep the danger real. I’m a firm believer in killing characters to add suspense and fear that everyone is going to die. Don’t get so attached to your characters that they survive everything you through at them or, at some point, the story becomes unbelievable. It is fine to have a main character survive, but others around them do need to die to keep the danger real for the reader.

With all of that said, I think we have our next paragraph finished. Check below to see the finished third paragraph.

The squad reports their situation and finds out that the command center has been attacked by an unknown species. Squad 2 is also cut off in the crew quarters on deck 6. First Squad is ordered to return to the command deck to regroup. The squad makes their way from deck to deck while dodging attacks by species 52. The doctor explains that there are two specimens, but the creatures that have been attacking them are not one of the specimens. Daniels and Wells are killed during the fighting. Rustovich gets sick from his wounds.”


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