Tags:
  1. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    North Carolina

    Stalling on Chapter 1 (Kinda Long)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Antaus, Jul 4, 2020.

    I wrote this because of another similar thread on here and having the same problem myself. I can give a pretty fair amount of information regarding the setting though.

    Main Character

    Victor

    He's 28 at the start of the story. Victor has a super-genius level IQ in the 300 range. I know it seems outrageous but there is a reason for this abnormal IQ revealed later in the story. He's smart enough to create his own tech when needed, which leaves Silicon Valley in the dust, has no job but he is quite wealthy. Having earned his 3rd PhD by the age of 20 he works as an independent contractor for the military. Makes millions off cutting edge weapon designs.

    He's also callous, self-centered, has an ego to make his IQ and is amoral as he sees himself being above the constraints of a narrow-minded society. The only people he's not a jerk to are his mother and little sister because he cares a lot about both of them. He's also been the legal guardian of his little sister since she was 6. At the start of the story he's also working on creating a new microprocessor with the ultimate goal of designing an android with a true AI, the likes of which we see in movies. Data, Bishop, etc. He's primary areas of interest are robotics and astronomy.

    Secondary Characters

    April

    Victor's little sister who's 14 at the start of the story. She's something of a scatter-brain and in a lot of ways a normal teenager. She's obsessed with fashion, social-media, money, sex and not sure what she wants to do with her life. Has an IQ around the 110 range, so just a tad above average. The not normal aspects of this young girl are an untreated bio-polar disorder, she's either little miss innocent or the 'Princess of Darkness' as her brother calls her. She refuses to medicate stating this is how nature made her.

    She's also extremely dangerous, their father, who died a few months before she was born, was an army ranger. He turned Victor into a second-hand ranger teaching him everything he knew to help survive in the world. Victor in turn did the same with April. Though only five-feet tall and weighing about 95 lbs, she's extremely dangerous with both small arms and knives. Serves a few roles, comic relief, combat support, even pointing out things the others overlook.

    Karin

    The mother of both Victor and April, 41 at the start of the story. She's one of three managing partners in the successful Hawthorn, Lane, and Xu law firm as a criminal defense lawyer. Usually a very cold and professional woman, not uncaring toward her children, but grew up being taught one didn't whine about emotions. As such she's not good at talking about her own nor does she typically care to. She does counsel and advise her children when they need it. Serves largely in a matriarchal support role and obviously good with legal matters.

    Vivica

    A female android sent 10 years into the past by a future version of Victor, about 3 months old at the start of the story. All of her memories prior to being sent back in time were wiped and she was left with the sole directive of finding and protecting Victor in the past, but from what even she doesn't know. One of the mysteries revealed at a later date. Modelled vaguely off the T-X from the third Terminator movie she's a walking war machine designed for extreme combat and equipped with on-board weapons. She isn't just a dumb machine driven by directives though.

    During the story she shows things like curiosity, gratitude, thoughts about her own future. Very much a being that blurs the line between AI and sentience. In a lot of ways she's very child-like, with almost no understanding of human culture or social norms. Victor has to very quickly teach her the solution of every threat is not lethal force, though he's more concerned about drawing attention than saving people. Doesn't display emotions. Serves the role of the outsider trying to understand humanity.

    My Problem

    I'm having issues with finding a middle ground between really boring beginning, and not wanting to start off with an action scene out of Kill Bill. The rest of the story is already roughly plotted out, and I know where it's going, but the start is just either blah, or bang, pow, boom. I've rewritten it several times to no avail. Also of note is that Vivica and Karin aren't part of chapter 1, it's just Victor and April to start with.

    I also know this sounds a lot like a Terminator plot and I won't deny it is an inspiration, however there's not a second android out to get Victor or a super AI in the future trying to wipe out humanity. The end of the first story actually sets up the sequel which leaves Earth behind and becomes a story more akin to Star Trek/Star Wars with aliens, star ships, exploring space, and so on.
     
  2. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2019
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    USA
    Uh, maybe it could open like the first Iron Man movie? Some terrorist group that the military is fighting tries to car bomb him or something. That way you get a sense of danger without an over-the-top action set piece.
     
    Xoic likes this.
  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    12,711
    Likes Received:
    13,790
    Location:
    Way, way out there
    ^ Halfway through the description for Victor I was thinking "So, he's like Tony Stark?"
     
    The_Joker likes this.
  4. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    79
    Since the first chapter is centered around Victor and April, what you emphasize one of the elements about these two characters that you've already described above? Maybe April is having an episode and Victor has to deal with it. Though, that might moreso be something you want to lead up towards since the first chapter is about first impressions.
    Another suggestion would be showing Victor in the middle of his work or even a conference call, if he has those. That way, you can show his intelligence and his career. And, you can also show his arrogance through how he addresses others in the meeting. Then, in the middle of it, you might have April cut in with a problem of her own. This problem can be connected to one of her interests that you've mentioned. This scene can then show the relationship between them and give some insight into both characters.

    These are only suggestions. Overall, I would say that you should keep in mind that first chapters are about first impressions and giving your reader the layout of your story like the genre, establishing who your characters are, etc. I wish you luck in your writing.
     
    Steve Rivers and The_Joker like this.
  5. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2020
    Messages:
    571
    Likes Received:
    582
    Location:
    not a pro, yet very curious
    When reading the description about Victor, that superhero with the red armor--ironman?--just popped in my mind ... strong, and I casually watched the trailer and half the movie (probably less), and yet ironman's character was striking like that (for the good or the bad). *How* we tell stories makes the difference, of course, but I would recommend giving Victor a personal trait that substantially sets him apart from ironman. As a disclaimer, I might be totally wrong and got the ironman character wrong and cannot see how Victor is obviously different. In that case, disregard this message. :brb:
     
    making tracks likes this.
  6. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Victor isn't like Ironman, though I can see how that comparison is reasonable in retrospect. He's mostly a recluse and shut-in who doesn't like to socialize and only designs for the government when he needs the money. He does make a lot of his own tech, but he doesn't have his own tower or anything like that, mostly outsources actual tech production to other companies and compartmentalizes it through multiple contractors to keep people from seeing the whole picture. As of the start of the story he only has a specialized quantum computer be that's all he needs. The microprocessor is still a virtual construct in progress.
     
  7. acermapleb

    acermapleb Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2020
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    40
    Oof yes! This is so hard!

    I agree very much with what the user Andy. Just Andy had to say. Can you start with a daily life scene?

    One workshop leader once told me that an excellent way to start a novel is to show a character's daily life. That way you can give us a glimpse into MC's world without actually having to explain anything.

    What this would do for you is strike a balance. It's an "action" scene in the sense that things are happening and pieces are moving and interactions are changing, but it's chill and calm enough that we aren't overwhelmed. If you'll forgive a contrived metaphor, we are getting used to the water: we're not drowning in a tidal wave, but we're also not just tiptoeing along the sandy shore.

    So.

    1. Show April sneaking into Victor's room in the morning and a cute sibling bond, with April pestering Victor because she wants to know all about what he does at his job and what he's working on. This way we get the Victor/April relationship and the Victor/work/brainpower aspect.

    2. Show Victor working with Vivica. This would demonstrate his brainpower and also introduce a primary character. Plus, based on what Victor tells Vivica, we could get a glimpse into Victor's home life.

    3. Show Victor desperately trying to convince April to take her medication. This would show us April's bipolarism and stubbornness and some family dynamics. Maybe the medicine could even be something Victor designed, or he is explaining it in a ridiculously scientific manner, demonstrating his intelligence.

    4. Show Victor, with a soft spot, inventing something really cool that April would love, to help soothe her and get a smile out of her.

    #1 and #4 are my favorites, but then I'm a teen girl with a little sister and a really soft spot for cuddly wholesome sibling dynamics.

    I always think that starting a story/novella/novel/whatever is the hardest part. How, when, and where do you just begin? But it sounds like you've got a great story idea and some foundations.

    And if all else fails, just remember: the first scene in the book can be the last scene you write. Chronology is not a requirement for a first draft.
     
  8. Antaus

    Antaus Active Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Lmao, maybe I should have explained their relationship a little better, but those are good exercises none the less. Just for fun I'll post one with these two so you can see a bit of how they are together.

    Scenario #1

    “Hey Vic, you awake? Hey bro, pssssst, pssssst.” One weary eyelid cracked opened to see April leaning on the side of the bed, her bright blue eyes staring down at him with that innocent look she so often had. The long blond hair and angelic face did little to curb the desire to toss her out a window and this was reflected as a single eyebrow, the other buried in his pillow, drew itself down and further toward the top of his nose.

    “I am now you d**n pest. The hell do you want?” If there was one thing Victor hated more than just about anything it was being woken up. Until April butted in he'd been having a nice dream about young woman with red hair and a lot of curves.

    “Your computer came on, thought you might want to know cause it's doing all sorts of stuff. Even making weird noises and s**t.” To a low grumble Victor pushed up and rubbed his eyes, then tossed both legs over the side of the bed.

    “Yes, I know it is. I programmed it to run some simulations after it finished compiling all the data I entered last night.” With a powerful stretch he popped a few vertebra and pushed back the last vestiges of sleep from his mind. As a mental hierarchy began to take shape Victor's mind got to work without him and soon thoughts were swimming around in his mind about what else needed to be coded.

    Creating a microprocessor that would act as the foundation of a neural network wasn't something one did overnight. Now more than four years into the project he was, according to his own calculations, only 68% finished. After that he would have the herculean task of building the neural network. Things likely would have gone faster with help, but Victor wasn't about to outsource something like this. If the government got wind of what he was doing he had little doubt they'd yell 'national security' or something to that effect and try to take over.

    Smacking lips and scratching his lower back Victor walked toward the computer desk across the room and thought to himself, the only difference between the federal government and the mafia was that only one of them was legal. All this while still wearing only a pair of boxers. With his mind already at work Victor decided to start the day off with the breakfast of champions. Taking the pack of cigarettes and zippo lighter off the desk he lit one and looked back at April.

    “Hey Princess, get me a beer.” Despite his mind being hard at work it would have to wait. If anything Victor was a creature of habit and never started the day off well without a cigarette and a beer first thing after getting up. April disappeared down the hall and quickly returned with two ice cold long necks. Handing one off she started to twist the top off the other when it was snatched out of hand.

    “This the last one?”

    “No, there's two more.” The beer was returned and Victor twisted the top off of his own then took a long drink. “You know for someone who's supposed to be a genius you don't seem too good at counting beers.”

    “Oh piss off, my brain's still booting up.” Half a cigarette and most of a beer later he got to work seeing that all of the simulations had been a failure, which came as no surprise since the microprocessor wasn't finished. The purpose had been to test the coding and the various functions and the results were promising. Despite the failures it had taken 0.4 seconds longer than two days ago, good progress in his mind. Taking a cigarette out of the pack April lit it up and took a long drag.

    “Whatcha workin' on?” When April leaned in front of him blocking the monitor he had to resist the urge to smack her in the head. Instead she was carefully pushed out of the way.

    “It's a microprocessor that's going to act as the foundation of a neural network for an artificial intelligence. Kind of like a cerebral cortex now that I think about it.”

    “Really?” Now behind him April rested her head on his shoulder. “Gonna build you a little robo-girlfriend?”

    “More like a less annoying sister for when I ship your a*s off to boot camp.” That got a small giggle from April followed by a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

    “You're so silly, I know you'd never try to get rid of me... because I'd cut your balls off if you did.” Humming to herself as she walked out of the room, Victor glanced back briefly as that last part had brought something else to mind. Last month a boy at school had tried to force himself on April in the bathroom and quickly learned why she liked knives so much. In this case it wasn't balls that had been cut off.

    April had learned from kids as school, and then told him, even after having his manhood surgically reattached the other kids in juvenile hall were still calling him Stumpy. His own afterthoughts on the matter were that the kid had gotten off lucky. If Victor had gotten his hands on the little punk he'd have done far worse.
     
  9. acermapleb

    acermapleb Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2020
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    40
    I mean I really really like that, Antaus; feels like a good exploration of both the sibling bond and Victor's work. But then again I'm biased and it is entirely up to you. But the Victor/April dynamic feels really authentic - able to be both affectionate and exasperated at once - and I really like this. I feel like it would work as an opener because it conveys a lot without straight exposition... but that's just me.

    Best of luck!
     
  10. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    79
    I really enjoyed reading this. The sibling dynamic between Victor and April isn't stiff and awkward. Instead, it's fluid and it actually feels real. Additionally, the information you've given on Victor's project makes this all the more interesting, and I must applaud you on the amount of research you must have done. There were a few typos, but since this is almost a first draft, I wouldn't say you should worry about them so much at the moment. Just get your story down.

    Overall, this was a really cool read.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice