I am a fan of the 1970's version of the Tomorrow People television series. Despite people criticizing the acting, I saw through many of the series flaws and really resonated with some of the ideas in it. In many ways, if some of the ideas had been developed a good bit further, I think someone could have made a blockbuster movie. I was further inspired by the book "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. I became so inspired, that I wrote a four part serial novel. This novel is not fan fiction of the original series but a completely separate story line. The story has some of the same flavors and themes of the series but is completely distinctive. So if you read it expecting to be another episode of the Tomorrow people, you will be disappointed. But if you are looking for a book series with some of the same feel and similar gadgets, then my serial is for you. The serial I have written blends fantasy and science fiction adding a much greater dimension to the story. If this description has made you curious, then I suggest you click the link and visit The Children of Sophista Book Series.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Character Ty Actually Created Himself

I wanted to write an article describing how Ty came about. In that article, I would tell you how I watched this or read that and then added great stuff to create a wonderful character. Sorry, I can't. Ty created himself, literally. When I write, I am watching the novel in my head, like a TV show. It runs like a simulation. It's similar to that video game, Sim City, where you place people, plants, houses, necessary parts of a city, etc., and then you let the simulation run and see who has children and who dies a horrible death, who starves, you get the picture. The simulation of the book takes on a life of it's own. I'm along for the ride. I literally don't know where things are going to end up any more than the reader.

So as my volunteer editor was reading along the early stream of the novel, she told me, "Wow, you have a plot hole here. What happened to this guy?" "Uh, I don't know.."

So I bent the simulation. I forceably changed it's course. When you change the simulation's course and force it to go where it wasn't going, then you get what I call "an artifact". An artifact is a character that is created because without the character, the logical consistency and integrity of the novel is threatened. So when I changed the course of the simulation, out popped Ty. Who's this guy? Oh well, let it ride. I'll just let things unfold.

One of the early drafts of the novel was read by a gifted kid who was finishing up 6th grade at the time. As he reviewed part of there story, he told me, "Wow, Ty is cool. He is this smart philosophical character yet I wonder if he will 'turn to the dark side with some hidden powers'."

Hmm, really? I didn't write any of that. But now that you mention it... I restarted the simulation and put in the changed the setup. Pretty dangerous stuff because you could end up with a totally different story. So I removed the constraints on Ty and specified that Ty could bend the story however he wanted to. And what happened was amazing. The fairies literally constructed Ty. He became a major character in the initial and final novel installments. The character that was born right before my eyes: a kid born with telepathy and other talents but who does not understand what he is. Neither does his dad though his dad gives him lots of love and support. Ty becomes the very symbol of innocence, love, and power -- the power most of all to alter people's minds. If you didn't love before Ty met you, you will afterward. And if you are a creator of hate and disharmony, the shocking, dark side of Ty might do unspeakable things to you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Constructing Stefan in The Children of Sophista

I knew that before taking off on writing a long series such as I hope the Children of Sophista will be, I needed to create a main character that I could truly fall in love with. The first problem was determining what I like. Sometimes it is very difficult to be honest with yourself. The easiest way to see what you like in a character is to find one you like in something else and analyze carefully what you like about that character. So I chose two characters to analyze. The first one is Stephen in the 1970's Tomorrow People television series.

I actually got forced into analyzing Stephen when people asked me why I liked the Tomorrow People series (a number of people did not). One draw to me was the Stephen character. In Stephen, you had a boy who started out with special powers yet was vulnerable. He was a boy that held great promise for the future but today, must be protected and helped to develop his talents. And most important, he displayed unquestioning empathy for those around him. He had a big heart.

The British culture seems to pride itself on raising boys to be self reliant from a very early age. It can seem quite harsh to an American looking in from the outside. Yet this is what made Stephen stand out, a caring person surrounded by competing harsh boys. And when he was faced with those harsh boys, he didn't cower or pound them in a show of brute force. He used skill to prevail. For example, even though he was a strong pacifist, he was also an expert in saber duals. It also was interesting in particular in the saber dual episode that the series had a strong teen anti-drinking plank. As Stephen said when being criticized for not taking a drink, paraphrased, "you drink a glass of whiskey and I'll drink a glass of water. Then let's go to the gym and battle with sabers. I'll use my left hand, and we shall see who wins."

One of the problems with constructing Stefan from just Stephen was that although my imagination thought Stephen was a strong person, some people would recognize him as just being a weak and wimpy character. Stefan would also need some "punch" to avoid being tagged that way. When one thinks of a boy with intellect, feelings and punch, who comes to mind? Ender in Ender's game. So as Stefan grew and evolved, he becomes more like Ender: A deeply intellectual and feeling boy that has a dark side. His dark side ensured that even though he would never attack or start a battle, when attacked, he would leap to fight and made sure not only to win the battle, but to so totally devastate the attacker that the attacker could never fight again. The rules of civilization were very important to Ender right up until someone attacked him. Then there was only one rule: total commitment with no rules until the battle or war was won. Total ruthlessness. It was the magic of the character. He was a sensitive, passive, abused. But when there was no choice, he was a butcher.

So I mixed these two characters and then I stirred in a little unique spice. Stefan is an artist and a teacher of passiveness and cooperation. Stefan's total war had strong limits. He would respond strongly. But he would respond in a way that did the most emotional not physical devastation to the enemy. His goal was to try to change the mind of the enemy to never attack again. He demonstrated what he could do if he was destructive. His demonstrations were frightful. But he made sure that the enemy had no need to destroy him, that they would just respect him.

This conflict of power yet vulnerability makes Stefan a fascinating character. He can destroy whole planets with a single thought. Yet, he has trouble coming to grips with what he is. He is just a young teen who wants to sit somewhere quietly working on his art and being loved by people.