The Story Machine

I don’t have a real firm plot in mind, nor do I have more than a handful of characters, most of whom I know nothing about. So why am I so relaxed going into NaNoWriMo? Because I have a Story Machine!

It feels a bit like cheating, though I still have to do the real work. It is basically a set of inspirations mapped to goals. The novel is set up in such a way that I can jump around a lot and add new stuff when I want/need. It also corresponds with creating a basic playable version of Paracosm, which is why I am also participating in NaGa DeMon.

The inspirations are:

  • Daily article mailing list from Wikipedia - This is possibly my favorite thing that pops up in my inbox. It has the Article of the Day, a handful of This Day in History entries, a word and a quote. It is great for getting the creative juices flowing, and I like to create little stories using each element from the message. I will do that, but fitting it into the context of the novel, and seeing how it develops.
  • Role-playing Games - Specifically, the original Dungeons and Dragons pamphlets. I want to emulate the powers and abilities of those early games, and progress through to modern games in terms of pace and gameplay. It fits into the story, as we have a displaced people who are suddenly giving the chance to develop powers never seen (by most of them...). I won't be copying them verbatim, obviously, but I feel the older games are fascinating, considering they were developed in a time before Wikipedia or the web. Their research is solid and deep, and they draw on ideas that have a lot of meaning. I am hoping to draw on that to make the characters that are powers more interesting and give them substance. I will have lot more to say about that, so look forward to that.
  • Current events - The biggest thing that comes to mind are the US Presidential Elections, as well as all the other political races. There is going to be a lot of commentary about that, but I am looking at ambient information streams as well. The weather, random thoughts of people on the OStatusphere, and things Clover are learning will be a part of the story.
  • The Enneagram - I am using the Enneagram of Personality as a basis for generating characters. I plan on working with a lot, and finding the ones I like to focus on. Let me mention that I am not an advocate of the Enneagram, though I am certainly accurately described as a type 5. I could just as easily use astrology signs, but I find the Enneagram to be really interesting in how it interacts with itself. I have created tables for rolling on it to develop personality, stress levels, motivations and evolutions for characters. It is hard to get behind a philosophy that I think is similar to Alignment roles, but it is also a challenge to read the descriptions of those types and try to get into their head for writing a character; at the very least, it is a neat tool to empathize with the people it inevitably describes, even if I don't subscribe to it as a complete system of representing reality. ^_^

My set of goals is fairly straight-forward:

  • Word count - I intend to hit 2,000 words a day. I am not editing, probably not even going to read what I've written. Just write until I've at least hit that word count. It is the most important thing for me.
  • Celebrate and explore diversity - Another table I created to roll for characters determines their identity and orientation, as well as superficial characteristics (like the color or hair or skin). I don't intend to have it brought up too often, but I will make a note of how people feel about themselves and how they interact with others romantically and/or sexually. I am not sure how I am going to play with the language, and as I am writing I will probably revert to using gendered pronouns for characters.
  • Internal logic - This is the part where the game mechanics come in. Paracosm is a system for playing a game, but it is just as easy to use it "single player" to build character interactions and create a consistency to have non-people characters interact (magic, technology, etc. [is there an etc? those seem like the big two]). This is actually really easy, since I've been working on this for years. ^_^

And that is my Story Machine. I will probably do follow-ups after November, since all my writing during will be for work or novel. In my mind I see the above elements like components going into my brain, and then operational code to produce something. Considering I just wrote over 800 words to describe my method, I should be able to do this!