Nanowrimo 2011: Week Two

14 11 2011

Well, week two is under my belt and I am almost 44% of the way through.  There was some rough going there for a little while.  I know how the story ends, but half-way through this past week I felt like I had no idea how to get there.  I decided I needed to stir things up a bit and get my main character out of the sterile, predictable environment I had him navigating in.

Now he is all alone on an alien planet with an idea of what his destination is, but no idea how he is going to get there.  Sounds a little bit like the author that is writing him, doesn’t it.  Looks like we will find our way together.

One of the really fun things that I’ve discovered while writing this novel is building a world from the bottom up.  Not only am I building a back story for Earth that takes my main character into position for meeting an alien civilization, I am creating the alien civilization that he comes in contact with.  I get to invent all the customs, technologies, physiologies, environments, etc, etc, etc.

This novel is meant to be a part of a much larger work that will culminate in the book that I really want to write.  This book will take place thousands of years after the novel I am writing this month, but in order to make that culminating novel work the way I want to, I have to start with certain ground rules.  For example, there needs to be a certain amount of similarities between the species from different planets, two arms, two legs, two eyes, etc.

It’s funny because I used to complain about Star Trek and all the funky face makeup used to differentiate humans from species from the opposite side of the galaxy.  The only difference between the two is a ridge on the nose!  But I understand now that certain unbelievable things need to be suspended in order to make the story work the way you want it to.

My main character struggled with the fact that he was so alike with the aliens he met in Chapter 5.  He just scratches the surface of some research I had done on evolution and the reason we humans are the way we are.  Although I didn’t buy everything I read about the topic, it did serve to make me a better science fiction writer.

Some of my favorite science fiction stories involve human interaction with alien beings from other planets.  There have been a couple of first contact stories that I really enjoyed, and both contained aliens that were very alien and difficult to relate to.  It took a lot of work to develop those really cool aliens.

My problem is I need to populate my universe with dozens of alien species and they need to be able to relate to each other on most things.  It would take way too much time to get to the real meat of my story and be distracting if I had to combine aliens together that can’t relate at all with each other.

So I took some things I read in Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human by Chip Walter and came up with my own theory.  (You can see part of it in Chapter 5.)  This works for the science crowd.  Or you could go the way Star Trek did and chalk it all up to some ancient humanoid race seeding the galaxy with their DNA.  Or you could go metaphysical and say it is the work of God.  (I have my own ideas, but won’t go into it here.)

I will not discuss the real reason all these aliens in the part of the galaxy my novel takes place are so similar in the novel.  I will leave it open to the reader to interpret it their own way.  That will not keep certain characters from developing and believing in their own theories, but the reader can decide on his own.  If you read this you will know the reason is purely laziness on my part or you can call it writer’s craft or whatever.

Phwew.  Too bad I can’t include the word count of this rambling post in the novel I’m writing this month, but writing in this flow of consciousness style is good practice for increasing words written per minute.

Remember, if you want to read what I have so far you can start here.

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