Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Functional Friday

Staring at the blinking cursor.
I have a lot that I could say, but the last post was long enough ago that I'm struggling to find a coherent diving-in point. I'm also self-consciously culling items that are on my mind but either deserve a more focused treatment or have no place on a public blog. Now I'm self-conscious about having started both sentences with "I." No turning back now, there's a paragraph in the little box. Onwards, typing fingers. Onwards!
Long pause. Too long.
Months ago I started creating a space-commerce-research-mining infrastructure in my head that I was hoping to populate with entities and stories that have been floating in my head for years. I have folders filled with drafts, planning documents, sketches. Nothing ever really materializes because I never took the time to compile or go past the surface before the brain starts getting bogged down in minutia. For instance... One of the things I want to put together is an inter-solar-system trading system based on standardized cargo containers. An interlocking system that can be customized and reconnected to suit multiple transportation methods individually or in groups. I landed on rounded, triangular wedges with tracks along the edges to slot them into various frameworks. My reasoning was that a modular approach could accommodate a simple progressions system. At first you're dealing with single wedges. A plucky startup sourcing materials or providing transport for single containers. As you expand and thrive and gain the resources you could upgrade your facilities to handle multiple containers, or even super-containers made up of many of the smaller containers. Basically working your way up the food-chain until you're operating a multi-solar orbital base routing cargo from dozens of plucky startups operating on the planets below you.
That's the stuff my brain gets hooked up on. Not characters. Not backstories. Not social dynamics... that stuff feels 'unimportant' compared to having the 'sandbox' be clearly defined. I want to build the framework, flesh it out, put it on a timeline, let it grow a bit, develop some conflicts and 'history' in broad strokes.... and then dive in at various points to let characters live in that world.
Coming of age stories. Redemption stories. Classic heroics and cowardice. Greed, anger, hate, love, indifference. But first I have to get the details right.
And then I happened to click into an e-mail telling me about a Kindle-book sale (Sorry Mom!). Now I'm reading a book that parallels a lot of the ideas I had for my universe and am getting more and more self-conscious about the various influences that I have absorbed and the very real possibility that my stories about humans (primary focus for other people) won't carry the effort I'm putting into the framework they'll exist in (my primary focus). Irrational worry is irrational.
So apparently that's the stuff on my mind at the moment.
One of the puzzles I'm trying to find a graceful solution for is the trope of secret knowledge. In a universe where you aren't the strongest, the smartest, the quickest, or the most popular... you need to have some sort of leverage to twist the world in your favor. A revelation, a skill, an earned piece of insight into the higher level workings of the world... something that makes that person the protagonist instead of the dozens of other people they interact with.
My thinking is that my first attempt will utilize luck. Right place, right time. It's easy, it explains why this is unique, and it gives me some leeway for developing that ancillary components of my universe: the necessity of embedded representatives of a central authority in any long-range excursion.
Uh oh. I'm starting to type out high-level thoughts for my universe... can't do that! Not here. Like I said this stuff has been swirling around for quite some time and I finally feel like maybe I can begin locking it into reality. Trapping the mists of invention with words and images and pinning them to a board. At least until I get bored. :)
Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

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