Welcome back. If this is your first visit, then welcome aboard.
This post is a continuation of a series in which I discuss some of my thoughts, decisions and processes as I prepare for NaNoWriMo 2015. I’ve even given the series a nifty title now, Project 15.
In the previous post in this series I told you all what genre I would be writing in (Sci-fi Space Opera) and shared the basic premise, or central question, of the story as currently envisioned. In this post I will deconstruct that question a little and elaborate on the main points.
The story question, as it currently stands, is this:
When the Collective Fleet’s System Command Platform suffers an inexplicable loss, newly promoted Lt. Major Conrad Fitzroy-Mbega is assigned as Internal Liaison and must uncover the truth. But, will he succeed when faced with a distrustful crew, a suspicious command staff, and the looming threat of war with the Celestial Kingdom?
OK, Let’s break that down. I feel I should also add the disclaimer that at this point in the process, anything and everything is subject to change.
According to the formula I’m using the main parts of this construction are:
1) Something happens: a catalyst event that gets the ball rolling,
2) the Protagonist: our hero identified,
3) the Goal: what is the Protagonist trying to accomplish, and
4) the Antagonist: who or what impedes the hero’s progress.
Here I’ve set up my catalyst event as an “inexplicable loss”. That’s a bit vague, but I like it. It leaves open the question of just what this loss might be. It could be the loss of a crew mate due to death under mysterious circumstances, or the sudden displacement of a vital piece of equipment, or perhaps a military defeat when victory was all but assured. To be honest, at this point I don’t know what it might be. If you, dear reader, have a good suggestion, please put it in the comments below.
And what’s all this about a Collective Fleet and a System Command Platform? Well, we can’t very well have a Space Opera without Fleets of Space Ships and battles among them, can we? We have now identified one of the factions likely to be involved in stellar conflict, the “Collective”. The Collective has a Fleet and one of their facilities/space stations/battle stations is here referred to as a System Command Platform. We’ll flesh out the factions, their social, economic, and military structures, and their respective cultures later in this series.
I’ve read a few good Space Marines stories recently: Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, John Steakly’s Armor, and the Crimson Worlds series by Jay Allan, to name a few. So, that is probably why my thinking is in that general direction. Naturally, I want my story to be a little different.
The common thread in most novels of this type is that Joe Hero enlists, or is conscripted, into the Space Force and we get to watch him go through training, usually some Full Metal Jacket/An Officer And A Gentleman style boot camp analog, and gain levels in badass. So, for starters, I want my hero to already be competent in his field. That way we can pretty much get past the whole training business and get right to the action.
One good thing about the basic training scenario is that it gives the author an easy way to explain things to the reader, especially who the bad guys are, why we want to hurt them an break their stuff, and what cool toys we have for doing so. It may be useful, therefore, for my Primary Character (PC) to initially be somewhat on the outside so as to fulfill this role.
Who then, in a Space War, military setting might be reasonably competent as well as new enough to need things explained to them? I think perhaps a mid-level officer who has just been assigned to a new ship. I also think it might be interesting to further enhance the “outsider” status of our newly promoted young officer in some way. There is one class of officer that is almost always regarded with suspicion, if not outright contempt, from the rest of the command structure. This is the Political Liaison Officer. Wouldn’t it be interesting to turn this idea on its head? What if the PO turns out to be a heroic figure in the end? Something to consider.
Thus, I give you, Lt. Major Conrad Fitzroy-Mbega, newly appointed Internal Liaison. “Wait!” I hear the militarily savvy among you say, “Lt. Major isn’t a real rank.” And you would be correct, for the real world and the current time. Since my story takes place a few thousand years in the future, I figured there would likely be some reforms and changes to military structures and doctrines. Yet another topic for yet another post, or two.
Lt. Major Fitzroy-Mbega’s stated purpose aboard the Command Platform is to uncover the truth behind the afore mentioned inexplicable loss. Again, this is rather purposely vague. Maybe I’ll change it to something more specific later, once I figure out what that might be. At this point this sounds, to me, a bit like a crime investigation story, or perhaps a counter-intelligence operation. I am curious what other possibilities might occur to the minds of you, my dear readers. Please, share them with the rest off us.
Here I’ve laid out a handful of potential blockers to our intrepid hero’s success. I’ve also established another possible faction in the all important space battles, the Celestial Kingdom. I wonder if you all can guess the sort of society and/or culture I currently envision for them.
Very well, there we have it. This then, will be our heading as we navigate through the next few months. Along the way we will delve into the technology and whiz bang stuff the characters will have at their disposal, explore the future history I’ve dreamed up, and visit a few of the roadside attractions.
Please, join me in this endeavor.