Writing a Universe 51636 words and Counting

Hubble Image of NGC 3324 | ESA/Hubble

IMAGE CREDIT: Hubble Image of NGC 3324 | ESA/Hubble

Remember as a kid before your parents told you why the sky couldn’t be purple or a rainbow of colours when a cardboard box and a few stuffed animals were all you needed to create a world. I remember a few of those moments, they occurred in a world where as a kid everything was possible. That is until you get to know reality and start thinking within the confines of our world not the one that could exist.

I’ve tried to get back to those moments, the one where you could create a world in your mind and give it form on the page. When you are storytelling, in that world you become God, the one to decide what happens, the shape of the world, its rules, characters and what will make it feel like more than a story on the page but a living breathing world.

In December 2013, I was in Southern India during the holidays and while I loved India most of that time for me was spent on my own. Those holidays were rough because I had no one to talk to, I had no Internet for the most part and no one was celebrating the holidays I knew.

The reason why I mention this is because it was then that I took to the page but not to prognosticate or analyze my failings but to create a world I could escape into to calm my mind and give it an outlet to focus on. I’ve always loved science fiction on television, movies and in books because it felt like you could explore issues that you couldn’t do otherwise. It was like you could see a possibility for who we could be in the future for better or worse.

So I took that as my starting point and just wrote and wrote and am still writing. I didn’t start with a core idea for a story instead I wanted to create the world the story would take place in. That meant I was doing it from the opposite position of how most authors write, where they build the world around their story. I come at it as a gamer who loved games like Dragon Age, Skyrim and Mass Effect where are all role-playing games where your goal is to save the world.

So I created the world through my consumption of books, movies, tv shows videogames and my interests in space and the “what ifs”. In some ways it makes it harder because you are not going from the grain of sand to the beach you are going from the beach trying to find the one gem along the coast.

I started the universe with how real it would be, I will be grounded, like it feels tangible and real. This means the physics are those we will have to deal with when we go out in space but within another layer on top that adds a speculative science element to the mix that could allow for travel beyond Earth. So I worked out the science, where we as a species would be and the tensions and different competing interests that would make up the world.

In this process I have wanted to write character moments instead of starting with the story. A moment would take place in that character’s past before the start of the story and be a defining moment that would shape how they would see everything afterwards. It would also serve to change how they saw their past. The reason why I am doing it this way was that it gives me a moment that I can go back to if I use any of these characters in a story.

I wanted to write a novel but have a few more other ideas for the world, one would be too complex for me to do now so I am thinking of planning out a story and then doing it in a serialized format. I know this gets it feeling episodic but that’s OK. I know maybe no one will ever read what I write. I know that the story and each iteration will continue to evolve that the page I write is not static nor would I want it to be but you know when it feels like the right thing to do, then this would be it for me.

I read in a book by John Truby called The Anatomy of a Story and I am going to paraphrase that if you are going to tell a story do it to change your life and that what I hope this can do, if nothing else that it changes me in some way for the better, if I can do that then I consider that a win.

So I have a prelude for the story which is more like an introduction to the world, I specing it out scene by scene now and it isn’t going to be the story I tell but an event that takes place in the world whether it is just referred to in passing or is a foretelling I don’t know but I want anything I put out there for public consumption to be part of a living breathing world. That is how I am framing it, and it feels like the right thing to do for me.

So I have a book sized world already in waiting and how it’s time to start writing. I think the mediums will take many forms. I will probably try to do short stories, short movie scripts and maybe even just a few scenes here and there until I can find what makes the most sense.

The hardest part is putting your world and story out there, you hope for the best but you have to be willing to deal with the worst. I expect that it will get lost in the shuffle and maybe it will never get anywhere but I can’t stop doing it, you know when it what you need to do and this is one of those times.

When I think about the question why do I write? My answer is because I can’t not, this is a story that I must tell whether no one reads it or not I do so because I must, I write because it is part of who I am whether anyone else believes it is irrelevant as long as I do it and pour my fire into every word and give it the focus it rightfully deserves.

I am not the best writer out there and this will be a trial by fire that I will fall many times, I will be called a hack, an idiot and much worse for every spelling and grammar mistake I make but that’s the only way to get better and I look forward to discovering my own writing style through this endeavour.

Space is near infinite, the distances are beyond our ability to grasp and since we started looking up it has been an inspiration and it is our future, now how can I not want to write when my canvas gets to be the universe and beyond.

We all must climb many mountains, those goals we can see and that treacherous path it will take to get there. This is mine, one that I climb not only out of need but because I want to brave the trek to witness how far I can go.