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Current word count as of 7/7/2018
I got through a very tedious bit today. I'm excited about that. This next scene should be much more fun to write.
Synopsis and Setting
In a future where most of the human population now lives outside of the earth’s atmosphere, most of the earth itself is a slum. Capital cities and spaceports remain shining examples of the glory of humankind, but at large the earth is rife with fugitives and violence. The Intercontinental Investigation and Enforcement Bureau, often called the IEB, investigates crime and pursues fugitives across national borders.
The sub-departments have been recently reworked following a number of transfers, retirements, and discharges. A new group will come to know each other and work together to track down some of earth’s worst criminals.
The protagonist Harris Nash Brunson interacts with his companions and forms partnerships. Deciding who to partner with, when, and for what are to be a large aspect of the story. The story begins at the end of an important case.
During a “debriefing scene” the reader has the opportunity to review his or her companions and influence Nash’s strengths and weaknesses. Each character has their own story arcs that can be explored in different ways, changing the outcome of their individual paths, and also the story at large. The department has the opportunity to capture several fugitives while their individual developments take place.
Genre and Theme
Strictly, this isn't much of a science fiction. The setting should feel very modern, with some sci-fi trappings. This story isn't about technology, or its effects, except to the extent at which people are products of their environment. "Nature vs Nurture," the concept framed that way has always seemed simplistic and misleading. Precluding an answer to one or the other is a sort of reasoning that halts any productive dialogue on the subject. The answer was clearly "both" - "Nature and Nurture." Even so, that wasn't a complete view. "Both" needed to become "Both And."
Discussing human behavior without considering agency is preposterous. Our capacity for decision making and individualism is key. Individuals and relationships bring stories to life. After the narrative ends, these characters persist. I have attempted to emphasize the impact of choices on individuals for over 6 years as a tabletop Game Master. Sitting at a my table players are often focussed on dice, exp, and winning more than the fate of "extras."
CYOAs are uniquely well suited for narratives emphasizing agency and relationships. No matter how well our intentions and genuine our efforts, not all things will end as we want. We have our opportune of influence, but each person has their own set of pressures to contend with, and ultimately their own independent choice. We can't even rely on people to be consistent with their internal motivations. We are incredibly complex creatures that never manage to find that pretty bow to tie up all our little problems with. If this story doesn't strike readers as a sort of Noir tale, then I have failed in an aspect of my intentions.
While there is much more to tell, for now I’ll give a breakdown of each characters identifying information as the bureau would list it. First I’ll provide a description of how to interpret that data.
IEB Academy Examinations focus on six sets
The written Examination focuses on Official Policy, Procedure, Best practice, Public Relations, and Intercontinental Law.
Weapon Proficiency is a comprehensive test of firearm application under various conditions ranges, and number of targets, testing for accuracy, precision, and efficiency.
Close Quarters Combat is physical combat including strikes with hands, elbows, knees, etc. grappling, as well as weapon disarming and bludgeoning instrument defense.
The Practical Exam is a series of consecutive live action simulations designed to demonstrate field proficiencies and serve as a definitive pressure test.
The Exit Interview is a comprehensive verbal examination of all other sets, with expectations of insightful reflection on one’s own weaknesses and strengths, and to test flexibility of knowledge and comprehension in non-traditional circumstances.
Many agencies use comparable programs, the scores range from 100 to 800, but rarely exceed more than 700. 350 to 400 is considered a fairly average score, but totally unacceptable for any world class agency. Any Score below 500 is below expected values, and generally any composite score less than 600 is considered failure. All currently active agents were recently re-evaluated, creating openings for a host of new highly qualified young candidates.
Weight: 132 lbs
Eye Color: Light Blue
Hair Color: Blonde/Wavy
IEB Academy Scores Composite 676 out of 800
Written Examination 765
Weapon Proficiency 694
Physical Fitness 527
Close Quarters Combat 659
Practical Exam 697
Exit Interview 716
Specialty: Computation, Technical, and Software Engineering
Weight: 156 lbs
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black/Receding
IEB Academy Scores Composite 600 out of 800
Written Examination 711
Weapon Proficiency 560
Physical Fitness 463
Close Quarters Combat 519
Practical Exam 577
Exit Interview 770
Specialty: Logician, Profiler
Weight: 164 lbs
IEB Academy Scores Composite 661 out of 800
Written Examination 684
Weapon Proficiency 640
Physical Fitness 700
Close Quarters Combat 784
Practical Exam 688
Exit Interview 470
Specialty: Handwriting Analyst, Incident Recreation
Weight: 185 lbs
Hair: Platinum Blonde/Short
IEB Academy Scores Composite 652 out of 800
Written Examination 545
Weapon Proficiency 616
Physical Fitness 772
Close Quarters Combat 673
Practical Exam 606
Exit Interview 701
Specialty: Interrogation and Interview
Weight” 110 lbs
IEB Academy Scores Composite 659 out of 800
Written Examination 715
Weapon Proficiency 670
Physical Fitness 612
Close Quarters Combat 523
Practical Exam 648
Exit Interview 789
Specialty: Narcotics Expertise, Linguist
Weight: 150 lbs
Eyes: Light Brown/Green
Hair: Dark Brown/Thick
IEB Academy Scores Composite 592 out of 800
Written Examination 632
Weapon Proficiency 792
Physical Fitness 499
Close Quarters Combat 520
Practical Exam 459
Exit Interview 650
Specialty: Evidence Collection, Some Forensic Analysis
Weight: 170 lbs
IEB Academy Scores Composite 681 out of 800
Written Examination 594
Weapon Proficiency 765
Physical Fitness 562
Close Quarters Combat 754
Practical Exam 770
Exit Interview 643
Speciality: Instruction, practical generalist
Weight: 161 lbs
Hair: Black/worn short
IEB Academy Scores Composite ??? out of 800
Written Examination ???
Weapon Proficiency ???
Physical Fitness ???
Close Quarters Combat ???
Practical Exam ???
Exit Interview ???
I'm not planning to do very much scripting at all. There will be a few variables that track Nash's abilities and state of mind/body, and those will be used to open or restrict links on pages. There will be variables that track relationship strength and type and those will have the same function. Something subtle I'd like to do is have it change the exact text of the page, especially in conversations.
I love circumstance and inference. I find the extensive use of computers for solving cases on television these days dull. Many older shows were more interested in wit. My father is an investigator in his own right. His very occasional openness about cases has probably inspired me more than I can say.
That's the idea. The IEB has some expensive high tech toys, but earth isn't a sprawling supercity with checkpoints and cameras everywhere. Old fashioned detective work is a must.
Quick comment on this...I was wrong about the scripting.
You had me at 'most of the Earth itself is a slum'. I'm a sucker for grounded and gritty stories, and like Mizal said this is kind of a 'sci-fi but not really' kind of thing. Can't wait to see how this pans out.
I'll post a snippet from an early page:
One of those machines comes to a stop. It's black and white with three fins. The ground it sets down upon is gravel, and the air all around is gray from the dirt and dust kicked up so suddenly. From outside the spreading cloud the sound of the cockpit raising is heard, then the sound of two climbing out.
"I told you we should have parked this in town and rented a conventional vehicle," says one man with a slow resonant voice.
"What kind of shit fuck place still has gravel roads!" replies the other man. His voice is low and rough.
"You tell me, old man. I haven't been able to tell you a thing all week," answers the first man.
Both men are coughing, their shoes shift the gravel step after step. The cloud stretches far down the road and the wind is pushing it forward, slowly billowing it into a mass. As it rolls along, the men walk briskly with it. There is a quick sound, perhaps that of striking a match. Two dark gray silhouettes appear in the rolling gray cloud, both tall, but one taller than the other, the shorter wearing a hat. The taller, older man carries on in a rough cough,
"Son of a bitch! this dust if fucking killing me."
He's wearing a black suit, which now appears dark gray. At his hip, a large silver revolver with a red varnished grip. In his mouth, a lit cigarette, the smoke from which disappears into the dust.
"Yeah, sounds like it," says Nash emerging from the cloud.
Nash's suit was already gray. As was his hat. He's much younger than the other man, who's slicked back hair has just a hair more black than gray.
Oh man, I love this already. Keep it up.
To be honest with you. I didn't give which person to write the story in a moment's thought. I immediately started writing in third. Its odd because when DMing I describe things in the first person to players pretty often.
I write in manic spurts usually. It's either like juicing a rock, or turning on a faucet with me. I'd rather balance out. I've been making progress towards that end lately.
Buffing Dustin, probably reworking both Josette and Jessica. Might nerf Cutter. Also, Sherona is having her name changed to Sharon.
Top Score Break Down
Written Examination: (Jessica, Josette, Trevor)
Weapon Proficiency: (Dustin, Cutter, Josette)
Physical Fitness: (James, Sharon, Cutter)
Close Quarters Combat: (Sharon, Cutter, James)
Practical Exam: (Cutter, Josette, Sharon)
Exit Interview: (Jessica, Trevor, Josette)
When viewing their comparisons this way I'm not as bothered by the disparity between Composite scores, but I'll still be tweaking this. I hope people are willing to read a good amount before there are any choices...because I'm not going to shoehorn any in.
Update 6/23 Morning
On my end I've reworked everyone now. I've made my decisions on and completed research for all key side characters I'm working in a notebook so my word count isn't up to date, but should shoot later today.
Today I aim to complete all stared objectives and add about 2500 words to my total. I have the day off.
Prologue (Complete in Alpha)
Side Character Analysis
Initial Concept 8/8*
Complex Breakdown 8/8*
Character Arc Summary 8/8*
Character Arc Outline 7/8*
Chapter 1 On the Bad End (In progress)
Chapter 2 Characteristic of Characteristics (General Concept)
Chapter 3 The Juggling Act (The Original End to this Story When I First Conceived It)
Chapter 4 The End of Night and (Well that's up to you)
Epilogues (Totally unplanned at this time)
This snippet got orphaned a couple days ago because I changed directions somewhat. On the off chance that it never makes its way back into the story, I'll post it here.
There are two people looking down into a ditch on the side of the road. Nothing but countryside for miles and one straight blacktop road. One is a woman and the other is a man. Both are tall, both are wearing dark blue suits with red ties. A perimeter of Zero-Machines cast blue and red shades over everything.
There are others busying themselves nearby, taking pictures, or carefully combing about in the grass. Of the two, the woman is taller by an inch. She stands at 6'2". She has straight black hair, it hangs down just past her shoulders. The man has short blond hair and blue eyes. They are both looking down with, arms crossed, leaning towards each other, the rising sun painting it's daily masterpiece behind them. It's almost symmetrical.
"Well, I've figured it out," Julian says calmly, pronouncing every word distinctly.
"Figured what out?" Sharon glances over towards James, who slowly gestures a halfhearted point down into the ditch.
"That...that's how I want to go." His expression is serious, but there's a mischievous look in his eyes.
At the bottom of the ditch is a human corpse, skinned, swollen and covered in puss. Sharon rolls her eyes, her whole body moves slightly as part of the gesture. She squats to get a closer look.
"Julian, Why aren't there any bugs crawling on this body yet?"
Wow. I gotta say, that's amazing dialogue/non-verbal communication. Very captivating!
Some of the sentences before the dialogue seem too matter-of-fact/declarative though?... In particular, the following:
"One is a woman and the other is a man. Both are tall, both are wearing dark blue suits with red ties."....
"Of the two, the woman is taller by an inch. She stands at 6'2". She has straight black hair, it hangs down just past her shoulders. The man has short blond hair and blue eyes."
Is there a reason those sentences aren't more ornate (like your part about the sun, which was beautiful)? Perhaps just because its first draft-ish/a deleted scene?
When I'm looking at a black page after a scene shift I often begin with facts. It's like I'm drawing a penciled outline first. No color, no texture, but as the scene slowly becomes real in my mind I go back as the colorist, I begin finding meanings between the relationships of things and the world takes a breath. That's what it feels like.
In a final draft I would go back and beautify some of those matter-of-fact sequences, but in cases I like them. I write with flourish a lot. Sometimes while I'm rereading things I like the contrast and simplicity.
I'll also use this post to quickly say, I spent six hours last night planning and researching for my characters. In word count I am dramatically behind now. I need to haul ass to finish.
What I meant by contrast was 'just the facts' statements aside more poetically leaning descriptions.
It might make it's way into the story in one way or another. These characters are certainly not being cut. This was originally plotted as their intro, but it ended up out of place.
Completely unrelated, but it's a little embarrassing to find myself opening up basic articles about how to use the advanced editor. I haven't used it in more than three years and it shows. I keep opening up prompts and not remembering how to accomplish what I was about to do. I didn't even remember how to make a variable today.
Today it's bad news. I'm only at 9.5K. I wanted to be at 15K by the end of the week, and that's seeming very unlikely.
I worked the deleted scene back in.
I should be reaching a point where the writing will be far quicker. In my set up I needed to be very technical and such, but I should be hitting a straight away soon. I really can't think of a reason I'm not writing more than 800 words a day.
Reaching the arbitrary minimum isn't even the problem. I honestly have no clue how many words its going to take to write this story. That's what I'm concerned about.
I'll aim to post another snippet Friday. I like doing that, keeps me motivated.
Keep at it, bro! Your start was still auspicious. Time for an auspicious noon. ;)
Puh, Noon doesn't happen yet. Dew is still on the grass and low hanging leaves.
At this time I'm at 11.4k
I've written a combined 2.6k today and yesterday. I'll think of a snippet to post sometime soon.
- Sunday, July 1: Update #2 on story progress and any issues in the writing process
I'm not as far as I want to be, but who is? Also, I alright wrote this once and the power went out like it did last time. So this is going to be short.
I completed a draft of the prologue, which is quite long at 5k words. I'll shorten it my moving setting defining information to other sections of the story as I progress. During the edit phase, once I know what the prologue really looks like, I'll smother it in on page variable tricks. The prologue also contains the "character creation" segment.
I'm about 1/5 the way through the main story, just an estimation really. I'm 1/6 of the way through 4/8 of the side arcs. This seems kinda doom and gloom until I consider how much time I spent in research and planning. I've also been picking up a bit of speed. I'm feeling confident now that I look at it. I've even already edited half the second chapter.
60k words does not a story make. My story will not suddenly be done at 60k. I need to start thinking about how to get maximum story per words, rather than maximum words per hour. Direction and planning. I need to reference back to my end goals more often and write towards them rather than word count. That's a weakness due to my experience as a writer. As a DM all I have to do is set the scene, resolution happens out loud, in the open. I lose control of the main characters after that. Here I have to guide them.
800 words a day minimum, with exceptions when need be. More important I have to succeed as working towards a goal. "I'm going to complete this scene today" instead of, "I need to hit 800 words today"
30th of June: 888 words. A nice start to the new commitment.
Sunday, July 15: Update #3 on story progress and what you like most about your story so far
What do I like best? Probably my side characters, the enthusiasm of my early access editor, and the constant questioning of my personal idea dart board.
I've had a couple side characters come to life in my head now, so it makes writing easier and more fun. I'll be cutting a branch I was planning to write, because I think that plot might be better served as an entirely separate story, Hopefully that cut will let me deepen individual character arcs.
My early access reader oatmealshenanigans whipped through my presented snippets and gave valuable feedback on tone and painted pages red on typos. I didn't ask for that second part, that was to come later!
I've got a pal I've told the premise to and discussed the characters in depth with. She assails me with questions daily. Her enthusiasm has been most welcome.
I haven't typed anything in a while. I've filled up half a composition notebook though, and will soon spend many hours typing away. I'm well over 20K now, but have no dependable idea by how much.
Story progress: I've gone through a drought. I was very consistent for the first month, but fell off about two weeks ago. I'm about to be in serious trouble.
Most difficult: Maintaining focus, not only on writing in general, but on what I want the story itself to be. My initial pitch is proving so far off from what I am actually going to produce.
I'll hit word minimum, but I won't be happy with the state of the story itself, unless my ability to progress improves. I need to succeed on making early and ultimately linear choices cause different outcomes, the ends must reflect these choices in a sensible way, and I must preserve my original intent, a story emphasizing possible outcomes for the side characters.
Sunday, August 26: Update #5 on story progress and how you've managed to stay motivated
Story progress: HAHAHAHA
I've lost that. Maybe I can salvage it, maybe not. Maybe with the deadline towering overhead I can find my strength here in the final hour. What I end up with though, will be much different than what I sought to create.
Motivation was mostly a pattern of doing. Changes in schedule broke that pattern and I'll have to reestablish it if I'm going to have a chance. I won't quit, and I'll end up with something.
Well, I'm actually very happy with segments of what I have. Still no word of word count, but it'll be well over the minimum, even after I cut out a bunch of content I won't have time to work in. I'll need a few days to stitch this Frankenstein's Monster together, as scenes that were intended to link events just won't be there.
While no one would be upset by having till the end of the month, we aren't going to get that. I'll have something that can stand up, no guarantees about its being able to run.
I'm really glad I've been working towards this, because as soon as its over I've got something else I want to work on, and this has been quite the learning experience on how to go about it.
Congrats! Happy to proofread/give you notes if you need them. Impressive that you were able to write so much. Good luck in the contest!