Help - Writer block, the mid point.

Discussion in 'Author Discussions' started by demongordon, May 6, 2021.

  1. demongordon

    demongordon Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    9
    Reading List:
    Link
    Well I was following my own advice for once and started to plot the plot of my story. The problem is that I have a very clear vision of how to start the story, but now I can't think on anything.

    You see I already know:
    - The setting and background are clear defined
    - the main characters personality and abilities
    - how they first meet,
    - what is their main objective of the story
    - introduce the story main mystery.

    Now however I wrote myself into a corner.

    I can't think on what to do to connect the end point and the entry point. And I hope someone could give some ideas on how to fill this void and how to proceed. Or at least some tips on how to leave such writer block.

    The summary:

    "The story is set on a sci-fi universe and a colorful cast found themself into a colossal unknown spaceship floating toward somewhere at speed of light, and no recollection on how they got there, aside from someone that claim to be "The Captain" that seen to know more than they do. But first they need to reach a agreement to not kill each other."

    I already reach the point where the cast stoped killing each other and is ready to start exploring the ship. But now I can't think on what to fill the ship with.
     
    Seaway likes this.
  2. Blank-1

    Blank-1 Fantasy-holic

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2018
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    236
    Reading List:
    Link
    Have you thought of the history of the in-story universe for the background, or how they got in the ship?
    Perhaps you could leave hints to it, or hint at an issue in the wider universe out of the ship, eg dead soldiers/government officials/company workers and recorded data (or perhaps data that has been deliberately erased)
     
    aintg and demongordon like this.
  3. Bad Company

    Bad Company Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2020
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    172
    Reading List:
    Link
    The summary almost sounds like the opening of the TV series Dark Matter. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4159076/

    The ship can be filled with anything or nothing: ore, metal, minerals can be from a mining colony; refugees from a war-torn planet; smuggled goods or illegal goods; weapons; animals and plants for research or farming destination; a big green guy named Hulk; etc.
     
    demongordon likes this.
  4. Greater thunder

    Greater thunder Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2018
    Messages:
    936
    Likes Received:
    664
    Reading List:
    Link
    It sounds like you are fleshing out Among Us into a story. Check out some bits of gameplay on yt for inspiration for the inevitable, but sudden betrayals.
     
    demongordon likes this.
  5. Galooza

    Galooza The One True Walapalooza

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2017
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    253
    Reading List:
    Link
    Start asking the what ifs. What if this happened, where and how would that lead to the end scene? Think through a few, then walk away and do something else that completely takes your focus off the story. So long as you've put thought into ideas but haven't decided, your mind will start to sort things through naturally while you're not actively thinking on it. Like making stock, ideas need time to simmer.
     
    aintg and demongordon like this.
  6. demongordon

    demongordon Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    9
    Reading List:
    Link
    Yes I did think of it, but I was wondering if was too early to start to leave hints of why they are there, but you gave a good idea to use some elements they find while they explore to better fleshout the universe outside the ship as some of them aren't aware what mean to find X equipment or what is legal/ilegal goods. and even if I don't hint at the main plot it should be enough to hint the next plot point whatever it will be,

    I think I might have saw something about that, but for some reason my mind was sure it was something out of a more famous series like babylon 5(something that I never saw a complete episode) or something, I will give a look if I can see how that serie progressed. Anyway, the fact that it could be anything it was what is troubling me, is like looking at the endless possibility and be unable to choose how to tackle it. But having others refugees and unknow aliens and reasearch areas gave me a light to where to head it. Curious your comment gave me a idea of looking for the firefly serie as it also a bunch of strangers on a "pirate ship".

    I'm familiar with among us , but I don't think it tie well with the idea what I was going the plan is for them to fight more against whatever else and banter between each other and know each one. I don't think I can make a thriller, I really like my characters because each of them aren't very typical ship companions.

    That is a very good idea, I think my lack of familiarity with scify tropes along the infinity possibility that the ship may hold may have overwhelmed me, however taking a few step back and go step by step may be indeed a good strategy.


    I would like to thank everyone for your ideas and I think I'm starting to see a light to where I can head up this story, I always open to more suggestion and tips anyone may have.
    If anyone is interested in a more detailed version of what is going on in the ship on the first chapters
    A very infamous Apocalyptic AI, now damaged with limited capability and acess to the smallest part of the ship. A fanatical priest warrior of a unknow alien religion that seen very adept to turn most alien plants into unexpected things. A unknow alien humanoid Queen, not fully mature, with strong psychic powers, that can create a colony of lesser aliens if there is enough biomass, but without any at hand. A mysterious masked man in a seen out place called "The Captain" very out of place in midist of the galaxy threats on board;
     
  7. applelollita

    applelollita Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2020
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    38
    Reading List:
    Link
    I have not written anything in this genre but I do know what can guide you out of this peril . There is an anime - Kanata no Astra and the mid point you are stuck in does appear in this anime . Hope you're able to write further .
     
  8. Darius Drake

    Darius Drake A poster of verbose posts

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    475
    Reading List:
    Link
    Reading this, if you're not willing to make this a thriller (and with such a small but diverse cast specialised in such narrow roles, that would be problematic in various ways), you will need to add an additional, external, force to the story. For example, these four individuals, three of which are likely seen as threats to the local human authorities (because Humans are regularly seen as at least a reasonably established power in Sci-Fi, to pad our ego's), are all trapped on a ship together and probably are more vulnerable than they are used to.

    So having the ship chased after by some local human authorities as an external threat that encourages everyone to work together can be the driving force for your story. You don't need to overly characterise the people following, basically making the story about people who don't trust each other working together due to the threat of being captured/imprisoned/enslaved/killed/other, and discovering how their talents can fit together to support each other (and, subsequently, how to use their specialties to destroy their fellow survivors/crewmates if the potential to survive on their own actually appears, or they are otherwise betrayed by said fellow survivors/crewmates). The only issue is The Captain, who, to me, seems to be on a different scale of progression to everyone else.

    When the story starts, The Captain obviously seems to be the person with the most power on the ship. Even if you didn't explain anything about them, the fact is that they are most likely the one in charge of most of the ship early on. The thing is, given the characters you introduced, that will change as the story progresses.

    The Priest will use his knowledge to develop alien plants for biomass for the Alien Queen. The Alien Queen will turn that biomass into workers, who will connect the AI to broader area's of the ship. The AI will take over most of the ship, but be incapable of improving itself internally, and is thus vulnerable to attacks from either the Priest and the Alien Queen. While the Priest has formed his own defence force against the Alien Queen from mutating plants, and the Alien Queen's Workers can also double as soldiers, with both the Priest, Alien Queen, and AI all being able to total the ship if the others try to take them out. A good old three-way stalemate.

    Thing is, I didn't mention The Captain in that last paragraph. Because you told us nothing he actually has to contribute to the ongoing running and improvement of the ship, and he has nothing to contribute to everyone working together as anything but a peacemaker. Which either means that he's there to get things started, or he's there as a major part of the "mystery" behind everyone losing their memories, power, and how they ended up on the ship. Either way, once everyone's started working together, The Captain is the most disposable character in the story, from the viewpoint of the other characters, contributing nothing physical to their ongoing survival and seeming relative freedom.
     
    demongordon likes this.
  9. Greater thunder

    Greater thunder Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2018
    Messages:
    936
    Likes Received:
    664
    Reading List:
    Link
    You don't really even need external forces out side good old "interests".

    Alien franchise used Aliens as just the in your face horror monsters while the corp that wanted to turn them into controlled bioweapons were supposed to be the really evil ones.

    At least that's my impression from the movies, but that's shit. Through all the movies, Aliens don't make as much use of their stealth as they should and really have massive luck as a species and somehow their blood can destroy any obstacle or restraint which defeats the purpose of stopping them as there's always some who got away or gestating in left behind corpses or shielded by a corp agent wanting that cash,..... lazoest possible ways to avoid having them erased were taken outside of simply resurrecting an Alien melted in lava in the next part.

    The sci fi shady corp doing very basic anti human rights deeds is enough. You can spin whatever you want with such a premise.
     
    demongordon likes this.
  10. Darius Drake

    Darius Drake A poster of verbose posts

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    475
    Reading List:
    Link
    By "Outside Force", I meant anyone outside of the protagonists who force them to get along, and can be used to push along the narrative whenever it's starting to get stuck in place. It doesn't need to be a literal military force, it just needs to be the method the author utilises to push the story along. Making it a military force hunting them through space is easy and makes it so that they character's revealed in the spoiler don't have the possibility of just fighting it off individually. Additionally, because Space Is Big, it's entirely reasonable for the author to have the characters have temporary downtime where they're hiding effectively.

    In Aliens, the Alien is an external force, and, technically, so is the "sci-fi shady corporation". My suggested method, however, is closer in comparison to Predator, where the Predator is, plot wise, an external force. There's a whole bunch of horrible things related to the characters of Predator, but the external force that drives the story forward is the Predator actively hunting the characters.
     
  11. Greater thunder

    Greater thunder Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2018
    Messages:
    936
    Likes Received:
    664
    Reading List:
    Link
    And I meant " You don't really even need external forces outside good old "interests". "

    Which means just because its sci fi, the primary motivator isn't really whatever came from space. It is the relatable humans going apeshit in their response and hos distorded their desires and methods are.

    In Predator, Arnold doesn't attempt to leave with "da choppa!" because he can't shake off his impression. Objectively, it's an alien that simply uses better tech and sees humans as merely another sort of prey. Subjectively, it's been fucking with him and killing his brothers in arms. Pretty sadistically too. And at the end, it laughs with a human voice when it gives one last Fuck You by activating self destruct on its arm device.

    Same thing with Alien or Avatar ( planet Pandora one) or Ender's Game,.... The new space thingamajig/creature is only really there for us to witness humanity by using a new "commodity" as a lens.

    It's not always good at it (refer to Ender's Game again) but that's the purpose.

    I know people give it a lot of crap, but Terrans of Starcraft reacted as could be espected when confronted with all kinds of alien bullshit, tech, species jumped out at them. Panic, excitement, lot of interests fights crippling reason and carrying on at the end of the day ( except for people horrifically tortured by sci fi aspects(Ghosts, infested, the Protoss to Terran splicing research,.....) and those who died, but some people aren't lucky even being born in an environment of a very developed humanity scenario).

    Aliens did a shit job of that. Everything was aligned so Xenomorphs and whatever they fuck mutate into due to later part shenanigans ultimately surives and adapts further even in cases where it looks like they lost ( with killing off some mature ones, maybe a queen,... but there's always more ),...... and humans just fail at every turn, already inferior in phyiscal attributes and talents ( no acid blood, prehensile tails fast as whips and sharp as spears, no exoskeleton to even stop some future guns bullet rain,....) either never having warning or taking it seriously even when losses reach concerning levels ( as long as its but a small community of people, no matter how temporary like in transit or prison, bleeding numbers in a span of hoirs or few days is fucking concerning).

    So 3 was already postdeath of the series, and fliming anything more was just atrocious.

    You can have an occasional deranged character, or no danger signs taken seriously groups, but basing an entire franchise on that is just no good.
     
  12. demongordon

    demongordon Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    9
    Reading List:
    Link
    thx I will check out, it seen like the story about a unlikely space ship crew with a clear objective and I believe it will provide some good ideas.


    I see, having a external pressure for them to united and not kill each other is a great idea to pass the first barrier of getting this ship going, from danger within to dangers outiside the ship it will force them into interact with each other and there is a clear time crunch that because the ship is flying by itself they need to take control of it before it goes into the sun or something, as time goes they will be getting more info on the ship details.

    As for the crew symbiotic relationship, with each other helping one another, it was one of the designs of the setting. As most of them are capable of controlling the entire ship alone if they are at full power but the limitation of the situation forces them to work as one.
    - AI, is damaged, without robots, manifacturing capability.
    - Young Queen, without a brood, time and biomass.
    - Warrior Priest, without the rest of his legion, equipment and leader
    - The Captain, without a crew, ship access and physical prowerss
    I was first torn between making alot of redshirts or just focus on the main cast and decided against expanding the cast for now, but now the balance of power is everywhere and the captain seen to got the worst.

    To tell you the truth, the captain place is really hard to decided. I had few roles, as I trying to avoid having too many combat characters, I'm struggling in where to put it.
    - The Face: where he deal with anything that isn't logistic or combat, be talking to the other people or being the peacemaker.
    - The Quirky Dungeon Master: that seen to apper and disappear at random, giving crytic hints and advices.
    - The Bullshitting MC: where he has to pretend to be really in control to not be killed by all this people and maybe evolve into the other role like strategist/face.
    - The Space Wizard: where he has some strange powers fitting to deal with more exoteric enemies and explain the mysterious skills and knowledge.

    I do have some external characteristic that I want the Captain to show to others.
    - The only "normal human" on board, so he can't overpower the others members.
    - Suspiciously knowledgeable, of things that are alien for any of the others 3 characters. (so if the alien queen the AI and the Priest doesn't know he knows.) however his knowledge seen to be lacking in many others more common aspect.
    - Extremely confident, he always work as if he has a firm grip on everyone weekness and/or great backing/power, even if there he is in midist of a space mexican standoff.

    I'm still unsure what I'm going to do with him (storywise) as everything he does could in theory be done by the others characters if I change their personality or give them more data storage. However I don't know if doing so will making things work the way I envisioned.

    I think I understand what you mean, the conflict specially in sci-fi, could be created by the crew itself flaws, be greedy ideas, pride, etc... that instead of solving a problem, they can escalate a relative minor trouble or let the problem fester into big problem. With the alien part being just a way to show the human problem in a new point of view and not that humans are good and alien evil. However things like alien series films show a unresonable amount of fuckups or convinient alive eggs, time and time again to repeat the same story, that only plot armor could explain instead of rising and falling organically and stay dead.

    However, I understand what Darius Drake is saying because, he is saying in more general terms that when you have a group of people that doesn't get along the most effective way for them to work as one is to have a threat that superseded the previous internal conflict in favor of this new external one.

    If I understood both of your points correctly.

    Well thx again for the points raised, I feel I'm getting a better grip on what I'm writting. Bring more if you can, I appreciate.
     
    Greater thunder likes this.
  13. Greater thunder

    Greater thunder Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2018
    Messages:
    936
    Likes Received:
    664
    Reading List:
    Link
    To be honest, it might even take skill to fuck up external motivation thing so bad.

    What's that Jason Statham movie again? Crank, I think? The one where they inject him with some weird shit that will kill him unless his heart is working at it super fast for the rest of his life.

    He predictably lasts fruit fly short, expiring in a matter of a day or few days.

    He does get a lot done and doesn't give up out of sheer desire to live before that happens though.

    While I wouldn't watch it again, it was a pretty nice "let your brain sleep" movie that one time which is all you could ask for really when you simply do not want to think.
     
  14. Darius Drake

    Darius Drake A poster of verbose posts

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    475
    Reading List:
    Link
    No, choosing to keep the cast small makes sense, particularly if you're inexperienced with writing. And the start of the story is just as important, if not more important, than everything else.

    The Captain is an important character starting up. If anything, they're the most important character at the very start of the story, as their direct power is relatively comparable to what they're used to, and they are likely the only one who can actually pilot the ship early on. The AI is locked out of a lot of the ship, so that almost certainly includes the flight controls. The Alien Spawn Princess/Queen is of an alien race that likely would use their psychic powers as a means of controlling the ship. The Fanatical Priest with Alien Plant-Based Powers/Tech almost certainly utilised a ship that was based on the Aliens and their technology that he worships, and thus is unlikely to know how to pilot a human ship.

    The Captain, however, is a captain of a human space ship, probably the one that everyone's on. They almost certainly know how to operate it, and what's required to make it go. Early on, that's enough to give The Captain enough power to overwhelm the other cast members, particularly if there's some internal security measures that only The Captain can operate. The issue is what happens once everyone else starts working together, and The Captain loses his job of piloting the ship to the AI.

    There are numerous ways you can deal with this:
    - 1. You can write the story with The Captain being the reader surrogate, with us primarily following The Captain, with the other cast only entering the story when The Captain is with them. This would allow you to transition The Captain from being the person directing the ship to the in-between guy who helps everyone.
    - 2. Alternatively, you can set it up so that the reason all of the cast are mysteriously crippled and in a ship together without any knowledge of how they got there was due to them being captured and put into a Simulation, either to steal their secrets, to rehabilitate them, or both, with The Captain being the secret warden of the rest of the cast. Just sprinkle in an odd detail or two that reveals to readers that they're in a simulated reality, like someone spotting an asteroid teleporting a few feet, and the twist should be fine.
    - 3. A third option is to do something like make him into a Cyborg who, while still the "normal human" of the group, had their mechanical parts initially broken to the point where they're only about normal human specs instead of the military level specs they had previously been. If you have them secretly repair themselves while also foreshadowing the fact that The Captain is a Cyborg, and revealing the fact that humans have Cyborg Technology, you can get away with it.
    - 4. That's all I can think of off the top of my head, beyond mixing them, though I'm sure there's more.

    I shortened it to the important points you stated, as everything else was attempting to explain this. And I'm getting confused by your point, since I don't see where the advice to help guide through the author's writer's block is. You seem to be saying "let the crew be the sole driving force for the story", but if the author wasn't having difficulty with doing that, they wouldn't have posted this help thread. And I never said that the crew isn't the heart, and major driving force of the story. The external force I'm recommending adding is merely an aid to keep the plot moving. Sometimes it can work as grease to smooth out the operation, other times it can be a crowbar to force the story out of a stale rut it finds itself in.

    I have not seen this movie (Crank), however, I would categorise the stuff that he was injected with as an external force for that movie. It puts the MC on a time limit, and forces him to behave in a certain fashion that they normally wouldn't. As such, the MC's life changes significantly from what it would have if he didn't know about the effects of what he was injected with, or if he hadn't been injected at all.

    If we use Red Dwarf, a Sci-Fi Comedy Story with a cast that, for the majority of it's early run, consisted of a laid back repair technician who survived the death of everyone on the titular spaceship a million years ago due to being in chrono-stasis punishment, an AI Supercomputer that almost certainly became defective sometime over the millennia, a humanoid evolved from a cat that was the reason why the technician was punished with chrono-stasis, a hologram of the technician's obnoxious, incompetent, and panic prone work partner, and a robotic butler that they picked up. The reason why I bring this up is because the series is episodic, and nearly each episode has its own external force. The first two episodes has the introduction of the character's and the story's setup, with the change in environment and how everyone reacts being the external force of the episode. As the story progresses, there's external force examples such as: A Video Game that's designed to read a person's mind and make a perfect world for them, Shape Shifting Aliens that read minds to choose shapes to change into, Another Ship piloted purely by Holograms, and dozens more, and that's while avoiding mentioning some of the weirder episodes. "External Force" in this context is just anything that affects the crew that isn't standard for them.

    Well, from what I'm reading, I'm going to say that you did interpret my point correctly.
     
    demongordon likes this.
  15. Seaway

    Seaway Going on a Cultivating Field Trip

    Joined:
    May 10, 2021
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    318
    Reading List:
    Link
    Tbh. Same bro. Same. I can see the beginning and end but middle I always don't have it well thought out and so many plot holes form .