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story Outpost 217

Alcove Audio Okay, here's Chapter One of the first draft of Outpost 217. Please feel free to rip it and me to shreds; I'm a big boy... And you can post it all right here, I'm won't embarrassed. (Has anyone ever noticed that's very close to Bare Assed?)

The dialog is my biggest worry. Does it sound natural? I try speaking it aloud, but........

Just a note to you actual military types and aficionados - Yes, I know it's BARCAP, Barrier Combat Air Patrol. But there is no air in outer space, so I changed it to BARCOP, Barrier Combat Outer Patrol. In later chapters I do similar things, such as CVG, Commander Void Group because, again, there is no air. Oh, and there is a CAG, Commander Atmosphere Group, for the commander of the specialists who dive in and out of atmosphere for planetary attacks. I still have a lot to do further refining my military nomenclature to adapt to my universe.

And I like "Void" better than "Space."

As Admiral Redstone would say, "Come on son, give it to me with the bark on."

And just for fun, try to put your elbow in your ear. 🙂 If you deign to read this, you'll get it.
Just read your first chapter... Couldn't reply in the other thread since it's now closed... LOL. I think this has potential and it's well written. There's really nothing to rip it apart about especially since it's a first draft. About the only thing that stuck out at me personally was the use of the words, "look, looks, looked" Fine for a first draft but like in screenwriting? In a subsequent pass, I would find the PERFECT ACTION VERB for words like these.

Since I was in the Navy for 21 years? The dialogue works for the most part. I don't want to split hairs because again, this is a first draft but on a subsequent pass for dialogue later on down the line? You could add a little military branch slang in there to give it even more of an authentic feel.

You're also gonna need a lot of commas... But again? This is the stuff of rewrites.

Last but not least but I feel worth mentioning since you brought up the dialogue? Just remember, even in the military, on-the-job dialogue is perfect when there's subordinates who are NOT part of an inner circle or team. When the team is alone? That dialogue lightens up a bit but not 100% especially if a lower-ranked character says something as if he or she is on the same level as the ranking officer. In other words, the ranking officer lightens up around his personal troops but they stay in character and often, their dialogue is more on-the-nose.

I think this is a great start though. Good luck with it!
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Yesterday I fleshed out a section that's been in my head for a while. I thought that it would be nice to finally let that character out, get her out of my head and onto "paper," make her real, if you understand what I mean. I created a character to give her some incidental information and suddenly realized he's the perfect "foil" for her. So now I've got the two of them and their relationship running through my head! Blazes!

After that I moved on to being a god and creating my universe. When you're a god you have an awful lot of things to keep organized, don't you? You've got to know who everybody is and why they do things and how they'll react to everything around them. You have to keep the rules of your universe consistent. When you build/create things in your universe or situations occur they have to follow those rules. When things are this far along your universe needs a history, even if it's just a tiny piece of a galaxy. 12,000 years is a lot of history, not to mention the preceding 15 or so billion years. Being a god is hard work.

I wrote out descriptions of how and why things are. Almost lists of short word bursts, about all different aspects of my universe - technology, history - bouncing around as things took on more consistency, fleshing out the details. My glossary/dictionary is going to expand hugely, as will my slanguage.

So, as it's already late and I haven't visited Outpost 217 yet today. I'll think I'll watch a movie.

Peace from the void,

Uncle Bob
So here we are again.

More snow today and more shoveling. It was light and fluffy so not too bad.

Yesterday I just couldn't seem to get myself in gear. I bounced around and finally got into a groove, so I took on that section that's been plaguing me. At least the ideas are there in a somewhat cohesive form now.

I have begun to realize a couple of things. I've been including "biographies" when I introduce my characters. I think that this has been more for me so they can become "real" to me. I deleted the biography in one section and - boom - it works just fine without it! With a little rewriting to stitch things back together properly, of course. And about 700 words disappear (well, they have a strike-through for now). So I've started a "biography book" with such items. Now that the characters have a personal history, in future chapters the character can drop bits and pieces in conversations. The reader doesn't have to know it all; only I do. But I have to; I'm god of my universe, after all.

Another thing that I'm seeing is the need to "interweave" the various character/stories a bit more, although that will be easier once I've finished the "set-up." Once we know all of the who-what-when-why of Outpost 217, we start putting the band together, rehearsing, and then we take it on the road. (Put together mission teams, do intelligence gathering, mission specific training, get out to the battle front, win the war.)

So I'm at a little over 40,000 words (including strike-throughs) on the book itself. There are over 60 names in my personnel file, with big lumps of name ideas tacked on the end. I might be changing some character names... Maybe.... There's about 9,000 words of general information - histories, how/why technology works, etc. And over 150 definitions in my Glossary. This is getting complicated!

So that's the word from Outpost 217.

Well, it certainly has been an interesting ten days or so.

Two snow storms with lots of shoveling, we got some pipes replaced, and had some problems with our heat.

My daughter moved in at Drexel January 17. The dorms are set up in "pods" that have four 2-person rooms with a common area. With Covid there has been only one student to a room. The "pod" doesn't have to wear masks in the common area, but otherwise Drexel is pretty strict. One of her room mates was, uh, doing things she was not supposed to be doing, and has tested Covid positive. So my daughter had to pack up all her stuff less than a month after she got there and move into an isolation building; room-mate is in "positive" building. She will continue her on-line classes in isolation mode.

My wife and I really want to be there for her, but all we have are phones and zoom. It really makes me want to kick something, but all I need is a broken toe right now.

But I can go to -217 and lose myself.

Well, not really, I was a bit distracted. So I played "editor" for a while, not being up to creating something new. I've got strike-throughs all over the place now.

I hope this comes out right...

When things are written currently or historically there is already a universe the audience understands.

My newest "issue/realization" is that I know all about my universe but my audience doesn't. My long "biographies/history lessons" are the descriptions of my universe to my audience - including myself as I work this whole thing through. I get the feeling that when the Sirius Sector, it's history and it's people are "real" to me I'll be able to rewrite from that "omniscient" perspective. As I continue to evolve my universe my dialog has become more natural (I hope!) as my glossary, histories and familiarity with my characters has grown.

So one of the puzzle pieces is to make the world real through the characters. Last Friday (#21) I introduced a character and ended up creating another character for her to interact with. Their relationship will allow me to explore/explain one of the "conceits" of my universe rather than explain it with a dry lesson. That realization decided me "Yes" on a relationship I wasn't sure about, so now two "history lessons" become dialog between two of my characters.

So there'll be a lot of rewriting to do once I've the whole foundation laid down solid.

I'm going to try to get some work done.

Wow, it's been a while since I last posted.

I think that I have most of my ensemble together. I've got histories for all of the important characters, and enough background for the secondary characters. I know them much better now and can write that way (I hope!). I can see that a lot of rewriting and rearranging is coming. I'm actually starting to do that, just to see how it works, or if it works at all. It's probably going to involve some rearranging of my thinking as well, I suppose.

The next phases of the story are an intelligence war and an actual war.

So now I have to make up some bad guys.

I already have the framework for my "evil empire." But I thought that I could get away with staying on one side of the playing field. I've always enjoyed stories where the adversary is an unknown except in general terms. But that's not going to work here. I will probably save myself a lot of history lessons and long dialogs by having "bad guys" do it for me in a short, concise way. I have also realized that by "knowing" the bad guys I will (again, hopefully) be able to ramp up the tension more, rather than pulling a mission on a faceless opponent.

But now I have to give my evil empire some actual structure and history. I need to create a small ensemble of baddies. I need places for my bad guys to do and say things.

It almost feels like I have to start all over again. That's okay, but now I have to go back and do more research. Oh, well......

So that's the news from Outpost 217. Back to work.


Uncle Bob
Wow! It's been another whole week since I last posted. Maybe I should post more as I think my way through things. That was kind of the point, wasn't it.

So, to get the news out of the way... Earlier in the week I had a 5" to 6" of snow to shovel and about an inch the next day. My daughter is out of quarantine at school and is settling back into her room. Otherwise it's my daily routine until I start to write.

My current thinking is that the "evil empire" can be told through three characters. They don't have to be "important" in the hierarchy of the empire or have much backstory, although one will need access to those in fairly high positions. I can also make them role-players in the intelligence and "real" wars.

The current "project" is how I'm going to conduct my "intelligence war." I've been doing more reading, listening and watching lately than writing.

When I am writing I'm closing up shop on Outpost 217 (temporarily). I can't seem to find the happy medium between a bit too quick or taking too long. Well, the ideas are there, and I can edit later.

I've been wondering if I should start the story earlier. I've already decided (for the moment, anyway) to open with an historical excerpt as a prologue. It conveys a lot of technical/historical in about 1,600 words and sets up how and why Outposts were constructed. Rather than starting with Redstone entering the station perhaps the other characters getting to the station should come first. Here comes one of those "killing your darlings" moments. What's nice in the digital age is you can go back to the original in seconds, so I'm going to give that a shot and see what happens. Now that I've finally got the band together it's time to do some arrangements start rehearsals. It will also allow me to introduce my characters in the "empire." I've need to know them a little bit so I can use them later. So I've just a bit more writing to do and then I'm going to start shuffling things around.

And that's it from Outpost 217.


Uncle Bob
Wow! That's confusing!

I spent an evening rearranging the story, putting it into actual time sequence rather than opening "with a bang" when Redstone arrives at Outpost 217. It becomes a very different story. It will require me to rewrite the "how we all got to -217" almost completely as real time rather than remembrances. It does provide some opportunities for replacing a number of things that previously had strikethroughs, but the decision I now have to make is "which way do I want to tell the story." I get the feeling that it will end up a longer book, however; not that I'm any sort of judge at this point.

I had gotten up to about 55,000 words, then "slashed and burned" as I rearranged. That got me down to under 40,000 words. It's back up to about 45,000 words at this point as I rewrite the opening. The issue is that it's over 15,000 words until we arrive at Outpost 217. I'll have to think about that one.

My next "chore" is to start work on my antagonists and "pawns." I'm figuring on one "active" baddie, several "informational" baddies (maybe one 'turncoat') and one brainwashed pawn to fill us in on what's happening on the other side of the fence and to help build the suspense. I really need to map out my intelligence and military campaign strategies so I can figure out how to screw things up for the good guys, which will tell me the who/what/when/where/why of baddies I need. But before I can do that, I need some very serious assistance with my actual star map (I would like to use actual star systems). Then I need to research more intelligence and military info. Trying to base everything in "reality" even though it's far into the future, does take up a lot of time. So much work to do!


So real life has decided to knock on the door again. More plumbing work plus other odds and ends interfering with my daily flow. Not unexpected, but annoying none the less. I do need to take a little time off to regain my perspective, so maybe it's a good thing.

And that's the news from Outpost 217.


Uncle Bob
Just running through it all...

I could just whack out 10,000 words that are mostly character histories. Another conundrum; the personal histories are interesting (at least in my opinion), but are they really necessary? Does the reader really need to know all of this? It does give a lot of insight into the characters, but...

I'm going to err on the side of "show, don't tell" for now, and start out with how some of the characters got to Outpost 217, interspersed with introductions to other characters.

I have a "Rashomon" type of thing going at the moment.

One character gives a bare-bones description of what happened at Outpost 217.
A second gives his perspective.
An Intel analyst gives a factual narration of what actually happened.
The Intel analyst gives her interpretation of why it happened.

I think can get rid of my second character giving his perspective. That's all he was really there for in the first place, although he did give a lot of other background information. I could possibly transfer much of that background info to other characters. But we do get to know Redstone better...

Back and forth, round and round, decisions, decisions, decisions.

I think that I'll stick with research tonight, and maybe even tomorrow as well; try coming back fresh.


Uncle Bob
I have just hit a major, HUGE problem. If I'm not careful, I'll be getting huge.

When I'm working on audio projects I don't eat while I'm working. The noise when I'm chewing prevents me from hearing clearly. However, I spend a lot of time just thinking when I write. I'm not listening to anything external, so I can munch on things. Just recently I noticed that my weight has been going up a bit; just a couple of pounds, but I worked awfully hard to get back to my optimum weight. Damn! Now I have to figure out something else to do when I'm thinking.

More research tonight, and maybe I'll work on my bad guys a little bit.

We had a beautiful day today, low 50's; I aired out the basement and the studio. Much better.
I've been doing a lot of research and background writing for my "evil empire" the last few days. It's another world building. My "problem" is finding terms for the culture that are different yet still familiar, without resorting to the standard clichés. It's definitely a challenge.

I've also been working on the new sequencing, starting earlier. Rather than shortening things it's making them longer, at least so far. I'm trying to go from one character to the next in time sequence so I'm not repeating things. I'm starting with DY, pick up with JM, then moving on to KB. In concept it neatly gets four of my characters to Outpost 217, but stitching it together in sequential order requires some additions, and like I said, the whole idea was to shorten things.

It's the scope of the whole thing that's a bit daunting. I'm used to producing five minute songs or audio posting 90 minute features. Well, I guess I'll figure it out.

And that's the latest from Outpost 217.


Uncle Bob
The real world has come crashing in, so I'm not getting as much writing and research time in as I would like.

I have been world building my "evil empire;" basic political structure, history, etc. I am having trouble with my baddies. Looks like I'll have to do some serious background stories so they can be more relatable for myself.

I have gotten rid of one character who wasn't going anywhere. A "replacement" in a completely different place is coming along slowly. Not sure where that one is going yet, either, although she is already interacting with another established character. However, my new character needed a few more "walk-on" characters with whom to interact. I keep trying to trim things down and they keep expanding. Well, there's an awful lot of people in a universe, and being god my universe I have to create all those people.

I have semi-decided which characters I'm going to kill off. I sorta-kinda knew one of them, but I hope that the other comes as a surprise.

Well, back to Outpost 217.


Uncle Bob
Wow! It's been two whole weeks since I've updated.

Life has been... complicated. I'll just leave it at that. I have managed to write or research for an hour or two most days. I do think about Outpost 217 a lot, so perhaps that counts as well.

My military campaign is coming along. I'm having trouble finding really good star maps, as I want to use real star/planetary systems and correct distances. Their positions and those distances have a real bearing on how the campaign will be conducted logistically and tactically. The same applies to my intelligence campaign.

I'm still having trouble with my main baddie. I just can't seem to get him to gel properly. I try different positions/ranks, different locations and responsibilities, etc. I know he has to have a fairy high rank; he also has to be an "insider" of my evil empire so he (and I and the reader) have access to certain information. I'm trying to decide if he's an Erwin Rommel type ("A gallant foe worthy of our steel," as Churchill said) or perhaps Robert E. Lee (who had a horrific case of divided loyalties). Then there's the really evil, almost psychotic character. And the thousands of variations in between. I'll just have to keep plugging away at him.

That's it from Outpost 217.


Uncle Bob
Man!!! Just when I thought that life couldn't get more complicated! Well, that's real life for you! Anyway, I'm finally able to dedicate a few hours each day to writing again. It's tough. I'm a 'throw myself into it entirely' type of guy, and now I have to get back into the original mindset I had when I started. I spent a few days reading everything that I have written - including all the stuff I tossed out, my Glossary and previous drafts - just to get myself back into that frame of mind. I just hope something else doesn't come along anytime soon. Of course, having said that, something will probably land on me tomorrow. :D

I think that I am finally on the right track for my "bad guy." It took me long enough to figure it out. He would actually have been a good guy, but the circumstances of his culture, etc. have made him what he is. (Sort of like a decent citizen in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.) He bemoans the atrocities and other stupidities of his government and does his best to ameliorate them when he can without endangering himself; one of his big "flaws" is that he's ambitious. This is actually what makes him so dangerous; he's smart and, though he keeps it to himself, greatly admires his enemies and even envies them. I've written, edited and rewritten him several times already and it's finally coming together.

I've also been working on other sections as well. During the last month in - those spare few moments - I've been doing word bursts of "scenes" and in the last several days have been fleshing them out. The flaws in my main characters are also starting to emerge as well as the interpersonal relationships.

I'm to the point where I'm transitioning everyone out of Outpost 217 - yes, they'll be back there with quite a number of the other characters - but I'm still figuring out how to exit gracefully from a writing/story perspective. Splitting them up for now is (hopefully) really going to screw with their heads. For example; Sanchez was, however accidentally, however briefly, in command, and though he doesn't like being in command, it was his command, and he sort of resents having it taken away from him.

That's it for now. I'll be pounding away for the next few hours.


Uncle Bob
I'm finally able to dedicate a few hours each day to writing again. It's tough. I'm a 'throw myself into it entirely' type of guy, and now I have to get back into the original mindset I had when I started. I spent a few days reading everything that I have written - including all the stuff I tossed out, my Glossary and previous drafts - just to get myself back into that frame of mind.

As someone else who needs to really immerse themselves in what they're doing, I feel your pain! I didn't realise just how disruptive "real life" was until I agreed to do a couple of very short away-from-home contracts back in Jan-Feb, breaking my self-imposed covid lockdown. That totally broke the creative rhythm I'd just recovered ... but I learnt my lesson and have been happily turning down offers of work ever since! Although, with the sun shining this morning, the birds singing, and temperatures back into double (Celsius) digits overnight, that desperate plea to get me to spend a couple of weeks working in the Alps is tickling my ... ... ... ... No! No! I will resist! :bag:

Hope you get to stay in the groove for a good stretch.
Wow, it's been more than a month since I've updated. Seems to be a habit....

Real life has been unrelenting. However, I have managed to get about 10 or 12 hours of writing in each week. I've written thousands of words, kept maybe 500; more background information that gets condensed and/or might possibly be included later as character development.

My bad guy is finally becoming a solid character. I've started to develop a few ancillary baddies around him.

I am considering writing out a character. I like him, but I'm not sure how much he adds to the story. The issue is my transition. I can't decide if the details of the "rescue mission" to -217 is really needed, and the character is the one who facilitates the rescue mission. It comes to a bit over 6,000 words including what happens with the other characters.

So that's it for this month. Still plugging away despite everything else that's going on.


Uncle Bob