I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m stuck on a scene involving Mallory and his Dad, but I’ve realized the problem runs deeper than that. The multiverse, while wild and crazy and neat in my mind, has not been developed enough to make the reader keen on Mallory leaving home to explore it.
I need to show the world(s), or at least offer a taste, right up front. And to do that, I think I’d better quit flying by the seat of my pants/memory, sit my ass down and write a universe whitepaper I can work from. The last time I did this was way the hell back in Ministry of Confusion. A few of the islands in Starboard were whitepapered but most got tossed along the way.
What you do is you hammer out the major locales, their traits, what makes them different, what makes them the same, what their defining gimmick is, and so on. You lay out the whole damn universe in overview detail. Leave room to fill in new worlds or new ideas, yes, but get a good compendium going of material to pick from. Worlds. Television shows. Cultural artifacts. Multiversal standards of law. Homeworlds for the major characters. And so on. Then you work the tech tree; what’s the difference between a Video Network Set 1.0 and 3.11? Can they do instant messaging or audio? What’s the difference between the headphones Mallory uses in the teaser and a full audio streaming rig? How does RealWare contract out content, what are the upgrade paths, how does this tie into the Multiverse at large economically? Where are the docks for the houses kept and what worlds are specifically designed to serve Transients?
Basically it’s a hell of a lot of work. I might design the whitepaper, then move on to SN10. I want to get this RIGHT on the first try; see my latest post for an example of what happens when you start off on the wrong foot.
I want to make a multiverse that captivates. Something that’s a twisted, horrible parody of the world we live in while drawing out the more beautifully surreal elements. Something that can be as wild and on the fly as Hitchhiker’s Guide or as well defined as Robert Jordan or Robert Asprin. I need to build the damn world before I start running with it.
You may notice I’m doing a lot to hype up UE. I just got the latest Transmetropolitan trade paperback and I have some Spider Jerusalem running in my veins so I’ll be pretty damn blatantly honest about that. I want to drum up interest and hype, to keep an audience that’s used to Slayers fics where Zelgadis has sex with Xelloss and Ranma stories where he gets splashed with water and knocked into orbit at least eight times in the first three pages. I’m in original stories here and I can’t coast on star power; I’ve gotta make something compelling in its own right. Use the core audience I’ve developed as the launchpad, work them into a frothing rage and turn them loose on the raw meat of Unreal Estate. Righteous.