Story Jam 1 – Chapter 3

In last week’s post I created life! (Of sorts) This week, I’ll draw up the rest of the world, ready for building a story in. Read on to find out in what sort of a place our characters will be living.

So here we are at week three of Abb and Bee’s story. I really enjoyed writing last week’s post about the little creatures that the whole story is based on, but there was one thing I didn’t do – name them! Lets, for now, call the little tiny ones ‘Cee’ and the slightly bigger ones ‘Dee’. I know, I know, they’re lazy names but labeling things with a working title makes it easier to change them in the future; you don’t get caught up in preconceived notions of what a name means that thing is and isn’t.

So, this week’s post is all about what a society based entirely on using these creatures as a power-source. For the Cee and Dee to be a real cornerstone of this society, I’ll need to really think about what they are, first. Let’s quickly review last week’s conclusions:

  • The Cee are small and fast but offer a weaker voltage. Appliances based on them are portable, but tend to require frequent battery changes with sustained use, as the Cee’s lifespan is short. Battery-life can recover quickly with periods of inactivity though. Cee-power is relatively cheap.
  • The Dee are larger and slower but offer a stronger voltage. Appliances based on them tend to be perpetually plugged into the main grid, or require recharging from the main grid as the regeneration rate of the Dee is so slow that it negates battery use. The Dee have a longer lifespan though, making them useful for vehicles and machinery. Dee-power is more expensive.

Power Generation
Straight off the bat I can see that this would mean for a world that is less polluted: if power generation is more similar to real-world farming than real-world power generations, then the society would have built up around more of an industry of cultivation than generation. The world would be cleaner for it, as the industry could feasibly be self-sustaining. If the power generation industry was self-sustaining, could than then mean that there would be less political conflicts? Once there was a ‘plant’ installed (no pun intended) that generated the Cee or Dee, their own breeding would generate more creatures; as long as their habitat and food-source was maintained, there wouldn’t be much call for any of the resources the power-generation industry needs in real-life, meaning for less disputes over ownership etc.

In fact, that could be something incorporated into the story to give it an extra edge; Abb’s company are one of the few trying to synthesize the Cee and Dee together. Other companies and countries are starting to discover the power generating potential of fossil fuels, leading to disputes and conflicts. If there was a heavily reported war going on in the story’s background noise, it could add extra weight and stress to Abb’s experimentation: even though it wouldn’t need to be expressed explicitly, there could be subtextual implications that a successful synthesis could offer a powersource that saves the world from extended resource-hungry wars.

Ok, so there’s two things that can and probably should be added into the story-world’s culture:

  • Abb’s company are working in conjunction, or perhaps funded by a large Cee/Dee cultivation company. A visit to the plant and an exploration of the way Cee and Dee are cultivated should be incorporated into the story organically.
  • There should be heavy news reporting of the early stages of a war somewhere in the world. It’s remarkable in the story because it’s the first war that is happening over natural resources.
  • It could be fun to have a character who represents the ideals of the resource-hungry companies appear in the story. Perhaps they could even be an antagonist of sorts. Maybe this could be incorporated into the Cee/Dee cultivation-plant visit? This character could either be someone present at the meeting to act as a counterpoint to Abb’s company when talking to the cultivation-company’s funding body, or it could even be the chief board member of the funding body.

    I’m leaning more towards that second option there, though perhaps there could be two characters that represent this burgeoning viewpoint. The chief board member could be on the fence: they understand that if the synthesis project worked, it would revolutionise power production and supercharge the company’s profits beyond imagination by their holding of the patents; the likelihood of its success is miniscule though. The second option is to stop funding the synthesis project and put that funding into a prospecting venture – it could lead to profits, though far less than the potential the synthesis project offers, and is almost assured to generate that income, but is less ethical. Abb’s project-leader would represent the synthesis project, and the prospecting project could be represented by another board-member.

    I’m now seeing this scene as something of a turning point in the story – possibly the crisis at the end of the second act. That profits-driven business could also be counterpoised with the ‘wonderment’ of the Cee and Dee when Abb and her project manager go looking around the cultivation plant in the beginning of the third-act.

I did also just think that this conflict between the synthesis project and the prospecting project could be highlighted by Abb being pregnant. It wouldn’t need to be explicitly stated, but one of the things that could be weighing so heavily on Abb would be the sense that if she failed to synthesize the Cee and Dee together and the prospecting project went forward, her child would be born into a world underpinned with war and unclean energy. Again, this could be illustrated with news broadcasts and perhaps studies that she sees when at the cultivation plant (for example a test generator that splutters and spews out smoke, juxtaposed with the tubes of gently glowing Cee and Dee), rather than be said in dialogue.

There’s one other point with this resource-prospecting I should explore before moving on: it could go down the path of being very preachy about the evils of fossil-fuels and anything which relies so heavily on thinly-veiled statements like that always seem to be a little contrived to me. I think it would be good to have it as an element of the story – it would certainly serve to add narrative weight to the success of the synthesis project – but perhaps keep the focus on the benefits and intrigue of the Cee and Dee, as well as have the funding body mainly interested in the higher potential for profits that it offers.

Societal Technology
I’m still not sure what sort of time period this story should be set. As the technology runs on Cee and Dee, it perhaps wouldn’t be identical to what we know of technology that has come about in the past couple of centuries, and especially not in the last couple of decades.

Ok so let’s work backwards and see what would be ‘possible’ with the Cee and Dee technology. I think it’s safe to say that anything working on a microchip is not yet possible. Unless… could it be? My first instinct was that because the transit of electricity is so reliant on tube diameter, there’s a limit to how small those tubes can get (as there’s a limit to how small the Cee can be bred). However, researchers would have realised that the charge can be carried down wires, so it’s probably not unfeasible that this would be attributed to things like PCBs.

This does, tangentially, propose one problem which has been bothering me though: why wouldn’t there be a central power plant of Cee and Dee, which transfers all the electricity down wires? For the theme to work, the Cee and Dee need to be accessible almost all the time, so there needs to be a reason the creatures themselves are transferred down hollow lines (note to self: perhaps these could be called capillaries, vessels or even arteries and veins? They’re effectively doing the same thing). I think the reason could be as simple as that the Cee and Dee are the things which are generating the electricity. Whereas most power-plants use some form of mechanical process to drive a turbine which in turn generates electricity, the Cee and Bee are the electricity themselves – storing and transporting a charge miles and miles is effectively denying them the natural processes they use to generate the electricity. Perhaps once the Cee and Dee are transported to source, the charge they generate can be carried around closed circuits (perhaps with PCBs fed off of Cee/Dee vessels), but they have to get to the source via moving around or else the Cee and Dee would simply die. The idea needs work for sure, but it’s good enough for now.

So, technology. I’m currently stuck between two concepts: I really like the idea of designing computers and phones based off of the Cee/Dee technology – it would be really interesting to try and designing an equivalent of our world today in this other world. However, I also really like the idea that the world is similar to the 40s and 50s, in technological terms. This could offer a little more narrative weight, in that there could be all this advanced technology which is being designed using resource-driven (read: fossil-fuel driven) generators, but which isn’t suitable for mass-market due to the fact that everything is run on Cee/Dee. It would mean that the teams pushing forward with the prospecting projects would be really keen to highlight that they would revolutionise the world by enabling all of this new technology, if only the infrastructure was put in place.

Yeah that could really work! Imagine a society where smartphones and computers were entirely possible, but people couldn’t get them without the entire world switching over to ‘generated-power’. There’d be a lot of pressure on governments and power-companies to provide this changeover, for personal and industrial usage. The wheels on this are starting to roll, too, which makes the synthesis project all the more of a last-ditch attempt at remaining with the Cee and Dee technology. Ok cool, that makes a lot of sense to me now.

Let’s make the story set in maybe the a sort of 40s/50s technological environment then, but with technology that is being developed which is more similar to today’s technology, which is still unfeasible for widespread use due to the universal use of Cee and Dee technology (a bit like if, in real-life, someone found a new type of power-source which required the worldwide scrapping of mains electricity and battery use – it just wouldn’t be possible).

Just two one more thing to explore in this post!

Historical and Cultural Significance
Here’s the ‘history’ I’ve been working on for this story: the glowing trees and rocks that were symptomatic of Cee and Dee populations were a large feature of religions and cultures wherever they were found. Over time, the stories and beliefs evolved and when cultures met, assimilated into larger and more intricate belief systems. When explorers first decided to research what made the trees and rocks glow, they were met with fierce opposition. Eventually samples were collected (I’m thinking in the equivalent of the 1600s or so) and taken back to laboratories to be studied. Over a period of about one-hundred years, the electrical potential of the Cee and Dee was discovered and people began developing small applications for them. By the mid 1750s, cultivation-plants were becoming a very real development and there was a growing use of the technology in both industry and around homes. None of this was without opposition though and sabotage was a frequent and ever-present concern.

Around the same time, researchers were discovering how power-generation (in the ways we know it in the real-world) was becoming possible, but with Cee and Dee breeding programmes becoming more sophisticated with batteries and vessels (/powerlines) being more widely used, the use of electrical-generation was more-or-less overlooked as potential for wider usage. After-all the Cee and Dee – being actual animals – were much easier to understand for the majority of the population by using more agricultural terms (this needs to be a big part of the world’s terminology, thinking about it).

Fast-forward to when the story is happening and whereas the Cee and Dee technology has become the primary source of usable power, the work started by the generated-power researchers has also come on to the point where it is beginning to threaten the Cee and Dee technology’s monopoly. Large amounts of the people who are objecting to Cee and Dee use are now voicing their support for generated power as it doesn’t ‘exploit’ the use of their religious beliefs. A few very vocal groups are actively picketing the synthesis project’s research labs. Whilst their project to synthesize the Cee and Dee remains secret (for reasons of patent secrecy), the knowledge that they are working on some form of cultivation-plant funded project is widespread. If there was some form of activist activity which uncovered the purpose of the project, that could actually lead to a good first-act call to adventure. Hm.

One more thing to consider is the way the the religious beliefs would have factored into everyday language – for example ‘Oh my god’ may not be entirely applicable. Any form of swearing or language which referred to the Cee and Dee might have to be censored or avoided in Abb’s project, or there could be one or two characters who object to its use as it elevates the creatures to something other than biological animals; it could be seen as a bit of a nuisance though, perhaps for comic effect.

Ok, I think that’s definitely enough for today! I’m pretty happy with how the story-world is slightly more fleshed out now, and I’ve got loads of ideas for the story’s structure. Next week I’ll go into ordering this into first a three-act structure and then a twelve-section treatment.

Again, thank you so much for reading, and if you liked the post, don’t forget to comment below, or catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter!

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