25 Feb 2016

Bronya and Morwenna - Commentary

Title: The Erotic Adventures of Bronya and Morwenna – Case 1
Year: 2011
Main Characters: Bronya Maestas and Morwenna Sunee
Current Status: Incomplete

Once again, a year skipped.  In 2010, I wrote By the Numbers, completing it.  For 2011, I decided to try something different, in both setting and tone.  In previous works, both for NaNoWriMo and others, I kept winding up with a woman with a crush on another.  Most of the time, it was unintentional.  With Bronya and Morwenna, I started with the couple.

The only details that were kept from the original concept for the story were that Morwenna and Bronya were mages and they were lovers.  The story was going to be a swords-and-sorcery fantasy; the ladies disagreed.  Bronya wanted to keep her swords, but Morwenna wanted something faster than a horse.  Moving the idea to the modern era would lead to comparisons to By the Numbers, at least in my head, and I didn't want to repeat myself by using someone else's setting.  I looked at moving the setting much further into the future, to when travel between worlds on starliners was common place; in short, something like a space opera.  Bronya and Morwenna agreed.  By going with a space opera, I could just handwave the magic, accepting it as known without having to work out precisely how magic and science stood side-by-side.

With the genre settled, the specifics of the setting started coming together.  I took inspiration from Traveller and the careers available in the game.  Morwenna and Bronya can't be created with the system as written, though.  I left many details alone until I needed them, like names of planets and how the faster-than-light drive works*.  I worked out a rough plot with beats I wanted to hit, and then wrote from there.

The tiff that the leads have doesn't last for long, just long enough to provide some early conflict.  Morwenna and Bronya have some communication issues still to work out; they've been together for some time, but are still discovering aspects about each other.  Bronya has some issues from her past that interfere with her relationship with Morwenna.  These issues, once I realized she had them, let me figure out just who the antagonist of the story is.  Unfortunately, I didn't get far enough to bring her in.

Ambassador Woon's name came from a challenge that the Ottawa NaNo group had.  "Mr. Ian Woon" is an anagram of NaNoWriMo; working the name in meant getting a sticker.  During my two years as municipal liaison for Ottawa, I discovered the power of using stickers to motivate writers.  People rose to the challenges provided just to get the sticker for them.  Stickers were also given for hitting key milestones while writing, like every 5000 words written.  I dropped in Mr. Ian Woon when I discovered I needed a name I wasn't prepared for.  Mr. Ian Woon became an ambassador.

The names of the planets weren't so easy to get.  Most are just syllables put together.  The Commonwealth - that's the only name I used, to avoid having to get into further background - is a star-spanning collection of allied worlds.  Again, this was inspired by Traveller's Third Imperium, but without any details added**.  Worlds were self-governing, similar to the British Commonwealth of today.  The names of the space stations were the names of game designers how had passed away, Nigel Findley and Gary Gygax.

As much as I didn't want to get into how the faster-than-light travel worked, I did wind up putting some thought into what to call it.  I went with "cerning", naming the travel after CERN.  At the time of writing, CERN thought it had discovered a particle that travelled faster than light.  If true, that would give hope to finding a way to break the light barrier.  Today, I'd use some sort of gravitational wave technobabble instead, leading to FTL travel being called "hyper-surfing".

The magic, though, I had worked out prior to writing, back when the story was still a swords-and-sorcery fantasy.  I didn't have the full details, just that each mage was an elementalist, Earth, Air, Fire, or Water.  Morwenna was always a Fire mage; she insisted.  I thought about having Bronya be a Water mage, Fire's opposing element, but decided against it.  Instead, Bronya is an Air mage, allowing her to work beside Morwenna without cancelling each other out.  A Water mage does appear over the next chapter, and there is an Earth mage lurking about.

Once again, I list the story as incomplete.  At the end of November 2011, I had gone as far as I could without knowing just what happened to Rachel.  Bronya and Morwenna did their investigating, but I was just starting to realize that the antagonist was someone from Bronya's past and had to work out just how to get the story from the investigation to the reveal.  I didn't have an end in mind when I started, which is never a good idea.  Without an end, there's no way to know what the path should be to get there.

Tomorrow, the NaNo retrospective continues with The Devil You Know.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, a look at remaking The Last Starfighter.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Casting the Runes.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* How does it work?  The navigator works out the course and the pilot points the ship in the proper direction before pressing a button.  As far as Bronya and Morwenna are concerned, it's like using a microwave.  The pilot and navigator know what they're doing, but they're off-screen.
** In an unrelated aside, I've been working on an alternate setting for Traveller, using three-dimensional star mapping instead of the game's two-dimensional hex grid, calling it the Terran Commonwealth.  I may have the details I could have used in 2011 done in several months.

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