Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two Months of "One Story Per Week"

Michael Salsbury
I've been writing one story per week now for two months.  That doesn't sound like a lot until you actually start doing it.  The rhythm I seem to be in now is that I write most of the story on Monday night, typically ending near 1:30am Tuesday, and then immediately post it.  There's no real time to re-think the story, revise it, or even re-read it.  I'm sure the story quality suffers a bit for that.  But my goal wasn't to "perfect" a story a week, just to write one.  At some point I will go back and revise these, but that's not today.

What's been interesting so far is that I've been able to come up with an idea each week.

Sometimes I get just a mental image of a character.  That's how "Golden" went.  I got this image of a really hairy, psychotic-looking human-like creature, then realized he was kind of what I'd imagine a villain to have for minions (as opposed to the cute little yellow guys in Despicable Me).  Then I started imagining what life must be like for that villain, having to feed, house, train, referee, and generally cope with having a fleet of these creatures under his roof.  He would probably be spending more time and energy maintaining them, and his own sanity, than carrying out grand plots and schemes.

The Week 7 story "Legacies" had been in my head for a while.  We're used to sci-fi stories with captains like Kirk and Picard, who seemed to relish the tasks of command and leadership.  I wondered what it might be like to have a starship captain who didn't really want to sit in the big chair. So I brainstormed around that for a while.  It seemed like it might be even better if he was not only uninterested in being the captain, but also ready to leave the service completely.  Giving him a desire to have a legacy (children) would bolster that.  Making him the last of his family line would enhance it further.  Then putting him in a situation where his legacy (and his life) was threatened by the legacy of an entire civilization would cause him to have to make a decision. Does he destroy someone else's legacy to preserve his own?

Week 6 was inspired by the late, great Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series of books about a cocky interstellar criminal who gets pulled into a secret crime-fighting organization.  I always felt Harrison's character was a bit too cocky, and that the endings were a bit too "deus ex machina" to suit me (especially the last few books).  I wanted to see if I could do better.  The jury's out on that.

Weeks 4 and 5 were inspired by the original Star Trek episode The Changeling in which an Earth space probe and an alien space probe with great power become damaged.  The two probes repair one another and create a new probe that threatens to destroy the Enterprise.  I have been brainstorming The Alliance for Sentient Lifeforms series for a while, and wondered how my crew might cope with a similar threat.  I wanted my threat to have a more human face and a less obvious lethal nature, so I imagined an android getting reprogrammed by another robot or device. The other device would overwrite part of the android's brain and (unknowingly) make it lethal to humans.  I needed a way for my crew to meet the android and bring it aboard.  I turned out that "B story" became its own "A story" and the android story spilled into week 5.

I've been getting generally positive feedback about the stories so far, and am appreciative of that. Still, I'm trying to step up my game and do better in the weeks to come.

Thanks for visiting the site, reading the stories, and sharing your feedback!

About the Author

Michael Salsbury / Author & Editor

In his day job, Michael Salsbury helps administer over 1,800 Windows desktop computers for a Central Ohio non-profit. When he's not working, he's writing, blogging, podcasting, home brewing, or playing "warm furniture" to his two Bengal cats.