0642 – callie’s world

So what do I know so far. We have Calliope, Talia. A peer of Callie who’s very different from her. And some sort of Tony Stark/Handsome Jack/Elon Musk type character, not sure if he’s the big bad. He runs some corporation that’s presumably exploitative… this corporation will probably be a proxy for Google, Amazon, Tesla, Shinra, Hyperion. This corporation needs to be different from the rest in order for the story to be interesting. It needs to do good things, it needs to be legitimately improving the world in some way. Maybe having just one corporation would be a little too simplistic.
Also need to think about the government. Natural resources. Religion. What do people believe? How are resources allocated? How developed is AI/magic? Maybe I need to learn from the corporation in Enders Game.
So Calliope starts out in some sort of boring suburban sort of setting, but something happens that makes her leave it. I don’t think I can kill her parents off; that would be too lazy. Maybe she’s raised by grandparents? Or if she’s raised by her parents… what are their expectations for her? What is the cultural raga she inherits?
Think about Final Fantasy. Cloud’s dad is never mentioned. He leaves his small town to join the army and become a SOLDIER. What happens to the protagonist from Lost Illusions? He borrows money from a friend, has a shitty relationship with his dad who low-key exploits him. But then he exploits his friend (brother in law?).
Terrangima- no mention of parents. Luke Skywalker’s adopted parents die in a town razing. Terra’s father was an Esper, her mother…? Died at childbirth? Died when the worlds got rifted apart?
What if the people in this world believed that God was a software engineer, or some sort of AI or programmer? “In the beginning there was the command line”… ah, Google says its Cryptonomicon. I should probably get around to reading that, so I don’t waste too much time trying to reinvent things that I can just adapt and remix.
What would be the name of the Musk character? Shall we give him a biblical name? That sounds fun. Bible character names for the evil folk. Solomon? David? Joshua? I’m thinking Solomon. There’s something semi-likeable about that name. I’ll probably also include folks like Elisha or Elijah, Jedediah, Obadiah, stuff like that. Maybe. We’ll see.
What else do I want to think about. Okay, so I have Callie, Talia, Solomon. Solomon might maybe have an annoying partner, associate or lackey named Saul.
What else? What about their respective families? And what about the peer of Callie that I haven’t figured out yet? I’m guessing that Callie generally has this sense of uncertainty, nervousness, doubt… somewhat Hamlet-ish in that regard. And so Callies friend would have to be someone oddly peaceful, oddly serene, seemingly a little naive, happy to ‘walk by faith and not by sight’. What would this person’s name be? I’d like a name that’s bordering on Muslim. In Ender’s Game, this character might’ve been Alai. Scrolling through a list of names, I quite like Afra. Maybe Ofra. Or Nawal, or Nawar. Salwa. Something a little bit subtle like that. But the character can’t be precisely Muslim, that would be a little too on the nose. They’re a little continental – I’m hearing words like Sufi and Rumi, even though I don’t really know those things / people very well.
Okay, we have a bunch of characters. What are the possible conflicts? Very often in stories the conflict is something that rises quite dramatically. Even in Harry Potter, in the first book, Voldemort has technically returned. There was an age of darkness before the start of the book, and we’re returning to it. In Mass Effect, it’s a routine mission and you find out that the end of the galaxy is pending. Something similar with Ender’s Game and the Contact wars. Star Trek was a series, and so we had a character just sort of… show up.
Okay, pause. I don’t actually need to get around to writing some major conflict driven novel from the get go. It’s tempting to go, oh yeah, this is my first novel, all done! But it would be much, much more sensible to write short stories. And short stories can be “star trek like”, or anime like – they don’t need to follow some epic existential risk type scenario; they can be filler episodes. And yeah maybe I should think about this like I’m writing for a TV show, or a weekly Medium series or something like that… something like Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles maybe? The Callie Chronicles? I don’t have to write everything around these same few characters. But I could start with one for each of them, and then see what crops up in each of those short stories. Or chapters, rather. A book is made up of chapters, and each chapter is supposed to be a near-standalone reading experience.
It’s very tempting to sort of sit down and write elaborate biographies for each character… but I’m pretty sure that that would be a bad idea, somehow. Rather I need to think of interesting situations to put them into. What would they be good at? What would they be bad at? What are they happy about, proud of, embarrassed by? And is there a different set of questions I should be asking each character? This is the interesting part where I get to figure out what my process is for making these characters more precise. They’re already sort of ‘in the ether’, having perhaps coalesced from the source material in my mind. And now I have to get to know them. I might be able to ask one to introduce herself to me, I might have to interrogate another. I might have to spy on one. I might have to chat up another. Each character will probably have a preferred context, a natural element. And it will be interesting to throw them out of it. I should apply the Pixar Storytelling rules / filter to come up with something interesting.p

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