Kuzzter

A Thread for Writers to talk about Writing

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It’s more than a little grin-inducing to be mentioned in the same sentence with that crew. :D As for how to, I’ll say that I share a penchant for what @Lo Var Lachland said, it’s often hard to stay focused on one idea, leaving a lot of false starts. I recall doing this a lot when I was younger, the ideas seemed to come faster than I could possibly write them down. I would say, that if one is in that place in one’s journey as a writer, don’t fight it. Aim for short stories instead of Tolkien-esque sagas, and perhaps write a little longer each time. I’m hardly an expert, but I think such might be a learning phase one has to go through. 

To give this some comparison, Stephen King began working on what would become The Gunslinger and the greater Dark Tower series way back in the late ‘70’s, just before this old fart was born. The Gunslinger itself wasn’t first published till I think 1982, and it’s actually an evolution of five different short stories. He’s mentioned the roots of that story actually go even deeper, into some of his own very first writing. 

And speaking on writing, his book On Writing is a wonderful resource for a new writer, if a bit dry. 

For another example, the first book of Robert Jordan’s own epic The Wheel of Time was published in 1984, and the final book not until 2013, several years after his untimely death.

Ane let’s not even get started on Tolkien... :confused:

 

Now myself, my own creative process is a bit... bizarre. Shadows literally started as a bad Super Bowl joke and a few mission reports. It became a bit of a watershed for me. Right from the start, when I decided to actually put together a story with it, I committed myself to actually finishing the darn thing, and realized going into it I was going to have to fight to stay focused. What came out was solid novella-length, and a certain mod and occasional contributor around here (cough @Ten Key) once praised the “laser-like” focus of the writing. At the risk of tooting my own horn (HONK), I have to agree, as objectively as I can. It was definitely a challenge, and a lot of ideas never even made the initial cut, but I finished. This kinda told me that maybe I was ready for something more ambitious. I’d never planned on a sequel during the writing, but just being me, I left myself a few back doors...

...and promptly forgot all about them and smashed out a few windows instead. :rolleyes:

Whispers really began the very first time I saw Val in the game menu screen. She just looked so bright and eager and small. Like a kid trying to peek over a high counter. The character just sort of built from there. 

I also realized that if I was going to all-in again and pen a sequel, then it would have to be a trilogy. 

Y’know, because there are rules... ಠ_ಠ

And That has been quite the learning experience. I had to set all sorts of things up that were going to make absolutely no sense to anyone at the time, only so I could come back to them, sigh... years later. So far I think I’ve been doing alright, but I live in constant fear that some reader far more astute than I is going to come around any day now and say “hey way back then you said this, but now you’re saying this,” and I’ll instantly vanish in a puff of my own illogic. 

Speaking illogic, and my chaotic writing process, I have no notes. I’ve never been the note-taking sort, never been good at it. I have a smattering of fragmented sentences in various places that I’ve probably completely forgotten. I don’t settle down in a comfy chair before a computer or typewriter for driven writing sessions either, nearly everything I’ve written here has been on a phone or tablet in fits and starts during my downtime at work. :confused: So I’m probably not the best example of how to do things.

But, seeing as how I’ve just written a long, rambling epic right here, the goal is quite achievable:P, you just need an idea and a good helping of passion.

and a fresh battery. Crap. 

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4 hours ago, Just Jim said:

A pigeon??? I love this idea! You have to let me read it once it's finished and illustrated!

Agreed! I think I saw @Kuzzter mention this somewhere as well... and I do this all the time! And I'll roll around dialogue for hours and sometimes days in my head, and just sit back and sort of listen, until everything feels right, then write it all down. It's not that hard once you get the hang of it, and it is really how a lot if my characters evolved their own personalities.

ha ha okay. I need to block out my real name first though :P 

3 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

 

Never noticed you had over 10k rep. Congratulations!!!

*AIRHORNS* 

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Well alrighty then. How does my writing process go and what’s kept me at it?

Process-wise, like @Just Jim and @CatastrophicTotalFailure, I do a lot of my writing in my head first before committing it to the page. If I think up something that I particularly like and I’m afraid I’ll forget it then I’ll note it down somewhere. It’s an odds on bet whether those notes will be used though - sometimes what seemed good in isolation doesn’t really fit with everything else once I actually get down to the writing. Sometimes the story dog-legs away in a different direction and my notes become obsolete. :) 

So what’s kept me at it? To be brutally honest, habit. Deliberately cultivated habit. Normally I’ll dive into a project, get so far, find that getting to the next level is tougher than I thought, get discouraged (or at least, find excuses not to work on whatever the project is) and stop. 

With First Flight, it didn’t take all that long to get to a place where I didn’t want to stop but I was afraid I would, for the reasons mentioned above. So I put aside a couple of things and made a deliberate decision not to get into any new time-sucking games, thus freeing up spare time for First Flight. I’d say writing, but actually I’ve been pretty single-minded and haven’t gotten side-tracked into other writing projects either.

Now I’m not pretending for a moment that the last few years of free time have been spent in monkish seclusion at my keyboard. But I have got to the point where the First Flight habit is sufficiently ingrained to keep it rolling along. Although jerking along would probably be a better description.

It’s also fair to say that this has turned out to be a much bigger (or at least longer) story than I’d originally intended. It started way back when with one of the first things I ever posted on the forum, which was an encyclopaedia style page of world building notes. The Kerm, kerman and kermol were all in there, as were the an-Kerm, who were originally envisaged as kind of planetary elders and also a mechanism to resurrect deceased kerbals, as per the game. In the end that idea was getting uncomfortably close to being a bad Avatar knockoff, so the resurrection thing got dropped. The an-Kerm stuck though. :) 

Anyhow, the final paragraph of that encyclopaedia piece referred to Jeb, Bill and Bob’s pioneering sub-orbital flight, which sparked the Kerbal enthusiasm for spaceflight and kicked off the Kerbal Space Program. Some lovely (if rash) souls were kind enough to post encouraging comments, which got me to thinking it would be rather fun to write a short story about that pioneering first flight...

About that time I also read a post over on a different forum which basically argued that without the military applications to move things along, rocketry would never have gotten to the point where spaceflight became feasible. Now this sure isn’t the place to go down that particular rabbit hole but it was a thesis that I found a bit depressing. So I decided that my version of Jeb et al would be a bunch of enthusiasts developing spaceflight for the pure heck of it. 

Then somebody gently pointed out that that way lay large chunks of exposition but no real story. So I decided to throw in some competition for my Kerbin Interplanetary Society...

Which didn’t really work for me. For one it was leading me down the well worn ‘Space Race’ path, albeit between the corporate behemoth and the plucky amateurs. For two, it was going to strain the amateur spaceflight conceit to breaking. At one (soon to be abandoned) point, I had a Saturn class booster launching out of Jeb’s junkyard. Yeah.

Okay, if I’m not going for a Space Race, why else would my Kerbals need to keep going back to space. Which turned out to be a fairly difficult question to answer. Living space? As many people have pointed out, even the least hospitable environments on Earth are more hospitable than space. But what if Kerbin was physically running out of habitable room....

Which was my cue to dust off that original encyclopaedia piece. From that I figured out the basic history of Kerbin (which eventually became Echoes of Time) and I finally had a story I could stick with.

And then, much, much later, when the end was heaving into sight, it became apparent that a couple of loyal readers were still waiting for the metaphorical other shoe to drop. What I thought was a low point for my characters (from which they could start the buildup to the end) turned out to be rather less impactful than I had thought.

So I rolled up those (again metaphorical) sleeves and got back to work, with an awful lot of help and encouragement from those same loyal readers. That turned out to be absolutely the right decision. It’s made the story vastly better and it also rekindled the fun of writing it.

You see, at that point, the story was starting to feel pretty much on rails. Kicking it off those rails meant that it could surprise me again. Which it duly did. :) It also gave a handful of characters much more room to grow and develop - which has been really fun to write and (for me at least) a lot of fun to watch.

Anyhow, before this post turns into a short story in its own right, I’m going to stop here. Not sure how much use it was in terms of tips and pointers, but hopefully it was sort of interesting!

Edited by KSK
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On 5/25/2018 at 3:02 PM, Alpha 360 said:

I know @Kuzzter's Kerbfleet series started with a Duna colonization fleet, but did he have the entire series outlined or is most of it from the seat-of the pants?

Duna, Ore Bust! was not plotted out in advance, at all. I suppose it was what you could call an "enhanced" mission report. I knew I wanted to explore Duna with a spaceplane, and that was it. All of the story elements happened because that was how it worked out in the gameplay: for example, Lisa replaced Bob on the mission for exactly the reason stated in the comic--it would have taken too long to retrieve him from the Munstation. Once Lisa was in the crew, I used her to explore themes I couldn't have explored with Bob... but if Bob had been on Kerbin when Hummlebee launched, I'm sure I would have come up with something different and specific to his character.

Eve: Order Zero was also an "enhanced" mission report, but in this case I set up a specific scenario to make the mission more interesting--I stranded Kerbals on the surface of Eve to set up an impossible rescue mission. When I sent the Dipperkraft into Eve's atmosphere I knew Bob would be landing on the surface...I did not know whether Tedus would survive or not. Obviously (in retrospect, seeing as i chose the title), I knew from the beginning that in the story the rescue would involve a series of heists and be contrary to Kerbfleet orders. So in addition to the mission report stuff, I wanted to tell you a story about heroism and friendship and "no one gets left behind".

And the present book--Kerbfleet: A Jool Odyssey. This one is a hybrid. The design and launching of Intrepid, the journey to Jool all the landings etc. are just another "enhanced" mission report. I am playing the game 100% straight in these scenes. The Kerbulan part of the story is different. Here I'm writing a story with a beginning, a middle, and yes an end, that plays out somewhat independently of the Jool-5 mission. In a lot of cases the Kerbulan stuff (especially the Battle of Kerbin) isn't even happening in the same save file as the "real" mission. 

This one isn't over so I can't say much, other than that 90% of everything that's happened regarding the Kerbulans was fully planned out long, long ago. You can see me setting up some of it way back in the Eve book. I had originally thought that I would have a fourth book after this one, and I did indeed have an outline in my head already for such a book--but I think it's pretty certain Jool Odyssey will be my last KSP graphic novel.

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I was skimming through all the mods here (Too Many Mods!) , and came across 'After Kerbin' planet pack. It's set 2 billion years in the future when Kerbol is about to transform into a big Red Giant and Kerbin is destroyed. Duna is colonized but faces a constant danger of being annhilated by the unstable star.. 

Inspiration for a story struck me, and I jotted it down on paper. Here goes~

In the 2 billion years since Kerbin was destroyed, you would think that Kerbals have conquered the galaxy. Wrong! Civilization does not always progress with time, and the Kerbals have reverted to the old ways. Civilization has been reset. And at the moment, powered flight is their greatest accomplishment.

That is until, a battered and ruined interstellar probe launched by the KSC into the galaxy 2 billion years ago comes back into the Kerbol (called Archangel now) system, where by a gravity assist with another star, it gets into an orbit around Kerbol(Archangel) with an apogee similar to the orbit of Duna(now called Solitude). It eventually reenters the Duna's(Solitude's) atmosphere and then impacts the surface. A few parts of the probe survive this impact.

The surviving parts are hailed as gifts from the Gods and are carted away. One night, the Main Character along with several other Kerbals, get a vision, presumably from the probe parts. They see Kerbals launching into orbit, exploring the solar system. They see a smaller sun, and multitude of planets and moons that have been colonized. This re-ignites the flame of curiosity within the Kerbals, and once again they are back in business! And they want answers!!!

How's it? What do you think?:) I am planning to expand it further, but no promises!!

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Quote

And they want answers!!!

They may want answers... but what are the questions?

You've got the large-scale setting. But you don't yet have the story.

You will have to establish some of the closer in stuff, for example the tech level. Are they banging rocks together? c. 0 C.E. Roman/Indian/Chinese/Mayincatec ? Victorian? c. 1950's America?  

Tumbling through the void for 2 billion years? That's some pretty serious Ragnarök Proofing even allowing for it to be less than pristine.  You may have solved the communications problem with a quick hand wave of physic visions. But, a bit of work in considering the mechanism on how, even if only for your own notes will be worth it.

 

 

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30 minutes ago, steuben said:

They may want answers... but what are the questions?

The meaning of the visions that they saw. Who were the Kerbals exploring the planets? What was that star system?(Kerbol ooked a lot different back then).  What happened, that led to their grounding on Solitude?

31 minutes ago, steuben said:

tech level

Like I said, powered flight is their greatest achievement till date. So think of World War 1 America, minus the weaponry.

 

33 minutes ago, steuben said:

I followed the link, and found an interesting solution. The probe will probably contain a message for the aliens, wrapped under several thick layers of protective materials to save the message from corrosion from particles suspended in space. The information is probably coded in the same manner of the Pioneer Probes, but the message would probably be engraved on Granite blocks, encased in diamond, perhaps? Makes more sense than psychic visions:D..... Also, the speed of the probe in Interstellar space would not be relativistic, so there won't be a lot of corrosive impingement of interstellar hydrogen.

And culturally, I think a mix of Real life Indian, Russian, and Far East would do.... 

Wow, this might just work out... Anything else you guys can comment on??

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2 hours ago, Nivee~ said:

How's it? What do you think?:) I am planning to expand it further, but no promises!!

Sounds good to me - I say go for it! :) 

As well as the probe, you've got all sorts of opportunities for finding other ancient kerbal relics out around Jool and Eeloo (or whatever planet pack you choose to work with), which could be interesting. Plus - Duna? Unless the ancient kerbals managed to terraform it, you've got a fairly large population living on a not terribly hospitable planet. Heck, even if the ancient kerbals did manage to terraform it, that terraforming would probably require regular maintenance and probably wasn't designed with a red giant star in mind. Either way, 2 billiion years is plenty of time for that maintenance schedule to have slipped. :) 

All sorts of scope for world-building there. And you've got a ready-made source of tension from the outset with Duna on the edge of catastrophe. Maybe the scientifically literate population are struggling to persuade a less rational faction that Archangel really will destroy them. My knowledge of stellar dynamics is less than... well stellar, but if Archangel has been oscillating for the past million years or so, then most of the population is probably used to it by now and persuading them otherwise might be hard.

Alternatively, you could just have a good old race against time. Your kerbals need to move out to Laythe before all is lost...

Or whatever else you dream up. :) Your story, your rules.

 

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23 minutes ago, Nivee~ said:

Like I said, powered flight is their greatest achievement till date. So think of World War 1 America, minus the weaponry.

Depending on where you plan on standing on the Mohs Scale you might want to read through "Footfall" by Niven and Pournelle. One of the themes is Knowledge Without Understanding. Which, depending on what the probe gives them, may come into play.

You will also want to review Apocalypse How. Since they've been Hit So Hard The Calendar Felt It atleast a couple of times.

I didn't say it couldn't be a psychic vision. Just that you had to consider the mechanics and implications of it. To change it to granite encased in diamond just changes the mechanics and implications.

You're in World Building territory here. Not something to be skimped on lightly, for a mere moment spent here can save the plot from ruin.

 

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The terraforming, I suppose is artificial in its initial stages, needing Kerbal intervention. But now, the Sun has enlarged, resulting in a greater energy output. This warms up Duna, leading to the frozen C02  gassing out from Duna's crust. A natural global warming. So Duna(Solitude) does not need any more maintenance for it to retain its hospitablity.

45 minutes ago, steuben said:

I think that within these 2 billion years, several civilizations would rise and fall. I don't have any data regarding how long a civilization can exist. Mankind, as a species has survived for 50,000 years and has seen several world changing events brought upon by technological, political and other reasons. I think Kerbals are in general, peaceful..So war does not play a role.  But there as this one book about a generation ship, whose passengers forgot that they were on a interstellar spaceship after several generations, and devolved to the level of tribals....Something similar could happen to Kerbals as well..As time passed, society decided it would be best not to breach the blue sky, and never to go into the 'Beyond-Beyond'(Outer Space). They would forget that they originated from Kerbin..

And that, @KSK , is the reason why I want an ancient probe to visit Kerbals, not the other way around.

So, the calender falls off, several times, but because of social reasons, not apocalyptic ones..

40 minutes ago, steuben said:

The New kerbals will have to do everything from scratch! Building little SRBs and smaller satellites to 5m humongous rockets, they will approach it step by step. The message will be a rudimentary one: What are Kerbals? Where is their homeworld situated?Details of their solar system? What is their tech level? (Keep in mind that Moho will be destroyed as Kerbol begins to swell, and Eve loses its thick atmosphere and has begun melting. Kerbin becomes the new Eve, so the New Kerbals will be very confused)

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I'm thinking of starting a story relatively soon, and the main "push" to go to space is to establish a penal colony for political/social dissidents. Any thoughts? As for who those dissidents are and what the government is like, i'm typing on a phone right now so i'll have to get to that tomorrow.

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Well, first you're going to have to come up with an answer to the question of why all of these undesirables are getting a free ticket off-world.  Lifting even a single kilogram into orbit costs a lot of funds; a firing squad is much cheaper, and other methods cheaper still.

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8 minutes ago, Commander Zoom said:

Well, first you're going to have to come up with an answer to the question of why all of these undesirables are getting a free ticket off-world.  Lifting even a single kilogram into orbit costs a lot of funds; a firing squad is much cheaper, and other methods cheaper still.

Well my kerbals are strictly nonmilitaristic, so a firing squad is out of the question. I also don't have debtors prisons or similar since my kerbals want to leave the environment as untouched as possible. Funds aren't really a concern either.

Edited by DeltaDizzy

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@DeltaDizzy Well, what about making Dres a penal colony? Those dissidents should be a lil bit educated, and should not be political. Because if you send political prisoners to a penal colony, they might just declare independence after securing enough resources.

52 minutes ago, Commander Zoom said:

why all of these undesirables are getting a free ticket off-world

Maybe because the Government wants cheap space labor? Mining fuel and other resources ? Thats why I said the Kerbals should be educated enough to know that the slightest disrespect to the authorities could leave them stranded, without resources... and of course, operate the machines...

(I had the same idea once :), but it was set in real life 1860s.. Indian prisoners working as indentured labor in Caribbean colonies in real life)

Edited by Nivee~
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1 minute ago, Nivee~ said:

@DeltaDizzy Well, what about making Dres a penal colony? A bit like Australia used to be? Those dissidents should be a lil bit educated, and should not be political. Because if you send political prisoners to a penal colony, they might just declare independence after securing enough resources.

Maybe because the Government wants cheap space labor? Mining fuel and other resources ? Thats why I said the Kerbals should be educated enough to know that the slightest disrespect to the authorities could leave them stranded, without resources... and of course, operate the machines...

Well these kerbals have never been to space before, but they have made sea bases before so they know about life support. The plan is to make a small space station and fill it with those opposed to the status quo.

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@DeltaDizzy Maybe make your space station in a manner that each Kerbal is isolated in a single pod, with no communication from Kerbin or other prisoners? Isolation in space leads to psychological torment, long times in weightlessness lead to deterioration of their bodies. Convicts die several times in a single lifetime. ...

A firing squad got nothing on this...

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Unless there is a Rama-like alien spacecraft demanding a large group of randomly assorted kerbals, I wouldn't think that any sane government would send prisoners up there. Why not imprison them at the bottom of the oceans, especially if they already have the tech.

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@Kuzzter I binge read your graphic novel, not many people have this level of patience..

I am curious though, what was the premise of the fourth book going to be??

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4 minutes ago, Alpha 360 said:

Unless there is a Rama-like alien spacecraft demanding a large group of randomly assorted kerbals, I wouldn't think that any sane government would send prisoners up there. Why not imprison them at the bottom of the oceans, especially if they already have the tech.

The reason they are dissidents is that they wanted a space program. I can explain better tomorrow.

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4 hours ago, Nivee~ said:

I am curious though, what was the premise of the fourth book going to be??

Telling that would spoil the end of the third book :) 

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1 hour ago, Kuzzter said:

Telling that would spoil the end of the third book :) 

Oh! Never thought of that!! Your story is at the climax, right? Let's hope it does justice to this epic trilogy..

I have started reading JustJim's works too... And there are several more graphic novels in here! Looks like I will be very busy... :D

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I've been writing a KSP story set in the same universe as @DarkOwl57's Life at the Top novel...so a fan work of a fan work! Currently nearly done Chapter 1 at 3,209 words...

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1 minute ago, SiriusRocketry said:

I've been writing a KSP story set in the same universe as @DarkOwl57's Life at the Top novel...so a fan work of a fan work! Currently nearly done Chapter 1 at 3,209 words...

I'm almost ready to start writing part 1 of mine now, and I'm hoping I finish it.

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21 hours ago, DeltaDizzy said:

The reason they are dissidents is that they wanted a space program. I can explain better tomorrow.

Please explain! :) I have been waiting for it!!

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15 minutes ago, Nivee~ said:

Please explain! :) I have been waiting for it!!

The planet is governed by a group totally dedicated to the exploration of kerbin, but a small group wants to start a space exploration program. This makes them political dissidents. Why not send them up so they can see what a bad idea it is?

Edited by DeltaDizzy

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