C. G. McGinn


Ramblings about Books and Writing

Filtering by Tag: dream

Researching Settings in the Desert

What began as research on a new character turned into an all day binge researching session on a somewhat major setting in the story. This setting has only been referred to by other characters, but the reader has not been there yet.

I guess this place is different from other settings in the story because it is based on a real location in the real world, while everywhere else is made up.

I spent the day on Google Earth and the Internet, lost somewhere in the Nevada wilderness. I was looking into the Nevada National Security Site (N2S2). There's a huge facility out there and this was one of the main locations where they tested nuclear weapons back in the '60s. I really wanted to keep true to what is actually out there because I think it makes for a stronger story. Anyone can conjure up a secret lair in the heart of an active volcano. But if that lair were built on the foundation (both literal and figurative), of an actual mountain used to store nuclear waste, it makes for a much more compelling setting, in my humble opinion. 

I've been marking up Google Earth with various pushpins and paths, trying to put together not just a base of operations, but a very large section of map that will be used both now and it future stories in this particular series. There's a lot of ground to cover and I almost wish Google Earth had more friendly tools for doodling all over their maps. A desert wilderness in Nevada might appear flat in boring. But when you add the nuclear mountain repository, research facilities, test sites,  airfields, army bases, Area 51, and a closed town built specifically to house the government employees and their families, you end up with a story in and of itself.

"They're waiting for you Gordon...In the test chamber."

An Age Old Excuse

Everyone will say that their reason for not doing something, or for something that usually happens not happening, has something to do with the time of year. The Holiday Season is a great scapegoat for justified slackery.

And I for one embrace this useful excuse for why I haven't written or blogged as regularly as I'd have liked.

In all honesty, with Thanksgiving happening so late, Christmas 2013 has unexpectedly fallen upon me in the same way that the tsunami fell on Tea Leoni and her dad in the movie 'Deep Impact.' The only difference being, I'm not dead...but I still have a great deal of Christmas shopping to do, so I think we can all agree that Tea Leoni came out the winner in all this.

I've discovered that I'm the type of person who will avoid things that I do not understand until I absolutely can't avoid it any longer. Somehow I push through it, it all gets done despite it not happening in a timely manner. I think I'm there right now with the story. Right now the antagonist is this abstract idea. It's not tangible. The "villain" is very 2-dimensional. Right now he pretty much sucks at this job of being a villain. I keep going back to this idea that maybe his lack of substance is the point. Maybe he is supposed to be this obvious 2D antagonist in order to distract the protagonists and the reader from the true antagonist. Right now I have a puppet, and I'm toying with the idea of keeping him that way or killing it all together. 

Two new characters entered from stage-left. One is big and the other is tiny.

I have a Christmas party to go to tonight and I'd like to be able to say in a somewhat bragging tone, that I spent the day writing and that I've really begun to shape the story. Not sure if that'll happen yet but we shall see. 


The Cult of Sound

So I've been writing pretty heavily on this short story that I hope sell to my small audience. My hope is that they love it, tell all their friends, who in turn will buy my story, and so on and so forth. Then you all would read my blog and ask, nay, demand more stories. And it will be at that point that I will make the transition from free man to slave. 

Now, about that short story. What I've written so far is strictly discovery writing. I learned a lot about one of my main characters. Most of what has been written will probably be used in the main novel.

The short story that I've decided to write is going to be about The Cult of Sound, a seemingly passive religious group that is nothing but accepting of others in tune with the natural harmony of life. They're sort of tame for out-there religions. More singing naked around trees in the forest, than drinking animal blood and sacrificing virgins. 

The cult will of course have motives other than perfect pitch and being one with the sound of the universe, and that's where our protagonists come it. Right now I have a list of 7. I'm probably going to shrink that down to 3, maybe 4 key players. My intention is to introduce these characters now, so that when it comes time for the novel, readers will see these characters as familiar faces. And if these characters from the short story happened to reference characters that will turned up in the novel, it could have a nice effect for both character and reader. 

So yeah, 3-4 mains. 

A strong antagonist within the cult. Not sure how I'm going to handle that yet either. I've got a few ideas, but nothing solid, and hopefully not cliche. I think I'd like to explore the notion about the 'cult of personality'. It would be easy to use examples like Charles Manson, and David Koresh to explain both the cult aspects, and their individual charisma that drew people not only to follow them, but to like and trust them. Presidential candidates possess the same sort of charisma found in cult leaders and psychopaths. It's how they win elections every 4-8 years. There's something dark and magical within these men who possess the power to get you to believe what they believe. Even more strange, is when they instill on you their agenda and when confronted with a differing view, their supporters will turn from normal, questioning citizens, to rabid zealots, foot soldiers marching the campaign trail. Cult leaders and politicians do not being with evil intentions. Power corrupts. Attention from the masses breeds a lust for more. The extremes that one can take suddenly becomes limitless. And in both cases, politician/cult leader, they have their devotees. Their supporters who will shut down and discredit the opposition, spread their leader's truth, and commune in circles of like-minded robots. In the beginning, both the president and cult leader are loved by many. But this popularity will dwindle when the unpopular war is not ended, when campaign promises are broken, prison camp are not closed down, and families are butchered by unmanned drone strikes while the president plays golf. The cult leader find that his charismatic hold will only work on some many for so long before people begin asking questions that he cannot answer. Outside elements, like a joint AFT/FBI raid on the cult compound can end a moment and it's people in fire and bombs.   

And other cult leaders, like Jim Jones would have a highly devout inner circle at the read, to systematically kill every member of the cult under the guise of entering Heaven by drinking poison Kool-Aide. 

Even a terrible president has it better than a cult leader. Perhaps the number of followers has something to do with where such people fly or fall. A small hivemind can only spin their beliefs so many ways before the message gets stale. Presidential group-speak, forms a much more organized hivemind who can twist presidential credibility and actions through so many iterations that the machine can keep moving and sharking long after someone else has the seat behind the Resolute Desk. 

The cult of personality. I think this cult is going to have Bill Clinton as their leader. Everyone loves Bill Clinton. He was banging a woman half his age (good on him) and then lied about it to everyone. But Bill Clinton can do no wrong and thanks to how American politics is ruled, Bill Clinton will always be Bill Clinton. 

But lets pretend that Bill Clinton, Cult leader of the Saxophone Blowers Job-a-thon Order of the Secret Beret wasn't in American politics. But instead he was a religious leader who enjoyed a sweet beat and mellow sounds and maybe passed the bud around while he hummed a little tune. And everyone loved him for being so awesome. 

Now let's pretend that Rasta-Bill decided to use his divine power of attraction and his ability to drop dem phat beats for evil. What if his endgame was to enslave not just one race of people, but all people under the banners of his cult? 

And here we have a rough sketch of my short story's antagonist. He's the guy at the party who, by the end of the night will be everyone's best friend. Hes' well liked, intelligent, and quick with a joke. 

His taste for power cannot be sated. He wants everyone to share the same song in his life. He'll make this a reality within the Dream. 

Who could stop such a man? 

I've got that part covered. And thanks to this blog, I think I have a strong antagonist as well. 



Nailed it!

I've never been one for outlines. But I think I just started one in it's absolute most basic form. Here it is:

I. Title: "Working Title about a Dream World that has a much Better Title than this Current One"

II. Prologue ("Five Years" and "Coffee Shop" will appear in this section in some form)

III. Book 1 - Betrayal (This will be the present)

IV. Book 2 - How it used to be (This take place in the past, it leads up to Betrayal)

V. Book 3 - Resolution (This is a continuation of Book 1 and will wrap things up, for better or worse).

So why not make Book 2, Book 1, and Book 1 Book 2? Not sure. Maybe the finished product will be in that order. Or some other order. Maybe there's a Book 4. Who knows. But I think it would be best to establish the main conflict right out of the gate and then fill in the rich history of all the characters later.

Story Update and Theorycraft

I'm going to be digging through a lot of older material that I've had for the purposes of growing mold and collecting dust. I'm going to start going over these pieces, publishing them here and seeing what works for the current project on dreams.

I've started with a short little title called Outer Heaven. I think this was originally going to be straight-up fan fiction for The Matrix. But I'm going to retcon it into fitting with the dream story. What begins as the description of the interior of what can only be a hovercraft, left in the context of the Matrix universe, will be 'modified' to fit the current dream theme.

How will this be done?

Just as Ariel is still learning how to navigate the realm of dream, from a series of geographic safe havens, (the coffee shop, the park, and the crawlspace). There are others who have moved beyond these fixed points in the dream-sphere in a similar manner as those early explorers who traveled the high seas. In a tangible realm where the predictable nature of things like gravity, how things float in water, wind being used as a means of propulsion, etc. etc. etc... the means of travel is far simpler when compared to a realm, like the dream-sphere, which has a system of very flexible rules that are in a constant state of change, manipulation and, at times, utter chaos. 

I ramble like this to simply say that traveling the dream in the manner that Ariel has done, (moving from place to place by mere thought) is a simple way for a person to travel between locations within the realm, that they have been given full access to, that have been established by another dreamer. This method of travel is made possible by the creator of the dream-space. In the case of the coffee shop, the creator is Severus. Ariel is the creator of the crawlspace. The park was first created by Severus, but he has allowed others to make their own mark on a work that he originally began. Could a selfish individual build a wall around the park and prevent others from entering? Yes. But Severus, or anyone else could just as easily demolish the wall. This is because places like the coffee shop and park were designed to follow the rules established in the world outside of the dream. Where these rules end exist on the boarders of such places, which is why one can travel to and from them by thought and thought alone.

The unexplored reaches, and the places where their creators have not meant for strangers to find, are only able to be found by creating a means to explore the vast glue that holds all of these realms together. This is the outer space of the dreamworld. Where a place like the coffee shop would be considered its own planet, the stuff beyond its borders is a chaotic space that one cannot simply walk, float or swim through. 

So in order to get from Point A to Point B within the space, a mobile reality must be created. This is very similar, in theory, to how Severus created the coffee shop and its surrounding city, with the one exception being that this smaller place must be both mobile and equipped with a means to change with the ever-changing outside environment. The ship cannot simply be a structure of steel or some other solid material one would make a craft out of. It has to have the ability to change with the space around it. Such travel can be dangerous, especially to areas of space that have not yet been explored. The space changes and therefore the ship must be ready for the type of change that will occur.

For explored space, modern vessels are fitted with a Predictability Matrix, a remarkably fast computer that is able to modify the ship in order to continue to exist within space. Assuming the Matrix is functioning correctly, the person inside the ship, does not notices these changes to reality that are constantly going on outside.

Unfortunately, standard Predictability Matrix's can only account for what they know. Any new variants to the dream-space can cause the matrix to find faults and errors, which will compromise the ship and expose its occupants to the outside chaos.

Yet all is not lost. Some vessels have been fitted with a hacked version of the standard matrix known as an APM, (the 'A' is for Anticipatory. I'll let you figure out the rest). This type of matrix is able to adapt to the changes in space and create new subroutines in order to keep the ships reality consistent. However such a system is not without faults, and its major fault is that despite the APMs ability to account for new variants, the chaos outside is able to leak through the integrity of the ship. Keep in mind, that this is at a much slower rate than a ship not fitted with a APM. Therefore the occupants of this type of ship will be prone to hallucinations and anomalies that can be strange, unsettling and dangerous. For this very reason, ships that carry an APM and travel into the vast and unaccountable void of the dream-space are known as Ghost Ships, and are captained by only the bravest or insane souls.

What was added in the story section is the tale of ghost ship Outer Heaven and what has or had befallen its crew. More to be added soon.

Big News of the Week

So here is the plan. I'd really like to kick things off with a bang. Some of you may know that I have roughly 3 stories in varying stages of done-ness. These three stories, code named "Dante", "Simon", and "Somewhere" have been projects that have been simmering for years now. One day I'll finish them, but for now, I feel, they've grown stale. The story in each of them interest me, but the process of writing them does not.

So I'm going to start writing something new. I very small portion of it is currently in the WIP section of this site, titled "Five". I will be expanding upon this in a series of chapters that will focus on the characters of the piece. I see there being many characters in this story, so if I can make a concise piece that introduces the character, while giving you, the reader a taste for the universe they live in and how they interact with each other and said universe, it will probably make telling the story that much easier.  You'll already know the people.

This character study will be part of a much bigger story about dreams. The story will essentially ask the question about where dreams come from. Are they simply an elaborate manifestation of our subconscious? Or do they originate from somewhere outside of ourselves? Can my dreams connect with your dreams in the same manner that my words connect to your words in the form of email or internet chat? Or, can I interact with you in a shared dream in the same fashion as I would on a shared server, in an MMORPG?

My hope is that this interests you as much as it interests me.

More to come very soon.