I'm working on a short story with serious intent to write a good story. I'm experienced with non-fiction, so I know how to string a few words together to present a coherent thought. But as long as I can remember, I've aspired to write Science Fiction but have never written a complete story (well, other than vignettes as a young kid). My weakness is plot and story line. So, I'd like to discuss ideas as I come up with something. I had an idea for a "gimmick" or "concept" for a hard SF story, but my muse did not supply a story to take place in that "world". My first thoughts are that I need some mystery and suspense, so I'm thinking that someone "vanishes". The main character gets caught up in things and gets to the bottom of it. Next loop of the reasoning process is that this mystery plot should be tied in with the main concept of the fictional world. It's not some random story that just happens to take place here, but could only take place here and is even a direct consequence of here existing! So, with trepidations of giving away too much, let me spill a little of the SF World I have in mind. This is in the near future, with human minds being transferred to computer hardware upon the person's death. It is still early in the technology, so social upheavals are a given. The people can then live on in virtual environments. A person in a virtual environment can't "die" in the ordinary way, but suppose her "brain box" in the data center can be stolen or destroyed. The people in this particular virtual world "afterlife" are involved with further developing the technology, and studying the mind itself and the meaning of "self" and "consciousness". So what's a possible motive? Clearly social change brings a lot of motives. One character remarks that this project might be the last great fortune left to be made, so money/power might be a motive. Maybe the antagonist wants to stop it, or maybe wants to own it for himself? And there should be a good reason why it's mysterious at all, rather than just a bombing or something. Perhaps those more practiced in this type of fiction (SF or not) can help me brainstorm on this. Thanks!