December 16, 2018

It’s been a busy several weeks for me so I’m just getting to this update now, but here goes.

So, I was wondering what to write about here and my lovely daughter suggested I do a piece on how I come up with my ideas for a story. I’ve thought about it for a few days while busy with other things and I think I’m now ready to describe the process.

In the beginning, an idea simply pops into my head. Recently I was driving the family into Toronto and I had the thought that 3D printers were a cool invention. Well, what will they be eventually applied to? Could a person be rendered into digital code and then printed off? We are just a collection of chemicals after all.

I asked my wife to remind me of the idea once we returned home – not having any place to jot that notion down – and we continued on our day.
A few days later I’ve thought about it some more and come up with some extrapolations.

The plot idea is obviously a science fiction plot. The story could take place in the present, near-future or far future. The present wouldn’t really allow me to explore some of the more outlandish ideas connected to this plot, whereas a story set in the far future would.

Then, I have to consider if the plot is a stand-alone, or can be part of an ongoing series. I only have the one science fiction series I’ve written and that’s Minx, the Interstellar Bounty Hunter. If I want to explore dystopian ideas connected to my plot then that’s the perfect vehicle for it. Minx and Dragon are immersed in a series of adventures which combine danger and sexy happenings, and something involving the digitizing of people and printing out of 3D copies would work well.

Now the question is, what extrapolations of that plot do I wish to explore. There is a question about whether or not the people subjected to the process would be true humans or androids of some type. Perhaps there’s a society of androids that think they’re human? What if the people who control this process are using it for evil purposes? People could be printed out as not so perfect duplicates…a sort of Stepford Wives plot.

What about something more subtle? Could the process be used for only good purposes and something has gone wrong? Maybe the copies aren’t perfect; sufficient flaws work their way in to lead to a societal issue? However, that sounds like a much deeper philosophical exploration than I intended for a Minx story. Her stories are meant largely to be space opera similar to a serialized adventure or peril story.

For a Minx story I require an antagonist, and one that becomes fairly evident early on in the story. That would mean that it’s likely whomever controls the process is the master villain that Minx and Dragon must defeat. Mind control would seem to be the way to go. The digitization is a way to kill those who haven’t fallen under the sway of the villain, or perhaps those who simply stand in his/her way. New people are 3D printed into being with subtle changes to their genetic code or biochemical make-up, or both. This would allow a means for the villain to control others.

Minx and Dragon could stumble onto the situation as they travel from world to world. They’re perceived as a threat and the villain has to use his slaves to get rid of them. Minx and Dragon slowly learn exactly what’s going on and eventually have their showdown with their enemy.
Voila! I guess I’ve shown my creative process through actively following it.

I know I don’t work the same way for every story. Some just come very easily. I recall a story about Robert E. Howard describing writing as if the protagonist was reciting the story to him. Sometimes it’s felt just like that to me. Other times, not so much.

Chris Kalyta