Tag Archive: 1882

Excelsior is (ever) up!

With this post, I’d like to talk a little bit about how I come up with each entry.  I’ve got a very scientific process, which just so happens to be identical to an unscientific, random, sounds O.K. to me process.

First, I start thinking about where the post needs to go.  In some cases, I have a definite goal in mind, as with Episode one, where I needed to introduce Edmond and Sean, I needed to establish that it was the civil war, and I needed to establish that Edmond had been wounded.  With this episode, I needed a reason for Edmond and Sean to take the Crusade.

So I worked this issue over in my mind, thinking of different ways that they could find the ship and acquire it and how that would show their respective characters.  First I thought that they could buy it, as blockade runner/smuggler’s ships could be confiscated by the union and sold.  This seemed plausible, if a little strange.  The problem was that it was boring.  Hero doesn’t escape concentration camp/ Death star/ villain’s laser beam installation by running to a used car dealer and haggling a bit.

I then thought that perhaps the ship might have looters on it, and that Edmond and Sean could convince/intimidate/pay them to help.  I also thought that perhaps the former Captain could have paid folks to guard his ship, and that Edmond and Sean could bribe them or something.

None of these situations properly fit the characters.  They didn’t tell the story I wanted to tell.  Then I got the idea of a bomb planted on the ship.  It is conceivable that the union would burn ships as they came through, and conceivable that one might fail.  The bomb would keep folks away from the ship, and give a chance for Edmond and Sean to show how awesome ships are (by being all ZOMG AWESOME SHIPPPP) and also show their character by either being wary or excited about the bomb.

So, once I’ve thought the story section through, I write it all out by hand on paper.  Paper lets me write over stuff, cross out old ideas, write synonyms next to each other, and most importantly it feels better to get my ideas out and to look over once I’m done.  When the first draft is done, I read it over, and then rewrite it completely.  Then I might show the drafts to an awesome lady who tells me the best aspects of both drafts.  Once that is done, I type up the entry online, show it to her again, fix any minor errors, and post it!

A lot of work is done haphazardly, with notes in my notebook for plans for future posts.  The disorganization fits my style, and allows me to be creative with my stories.  I listen to music while I write sometimes, and write during class sometimes.  Usually the thinking bit takes three days to a week, the writing two to three days, the editing an hour or so.  A lot of time elements of the story are being chewed over in the back of my mind.

That is how the magic happens!


Trapped is up!

So, with the schematic that went up last time, I wanted to include something else (something better!) for the next post.  I need to get a player for the media file, but there is a Morse code message behind the link in the story.  If you want the full story, you’ll have to translate it.  The short story is that Abraham Lincoln survived the assassination attempt.  This is going to mean some important things for the US, but we’ll have to see how much it will affect our characters.  You’ll notice in the story that I almost get our folks into a fight.  This is I must admit a temptation for me, as I am much better at writing fight sequences than conversation.  Thats why I want this story to have really well developed characters and such, is so that it wont feel as flat as some of the other things I’ve written.

Which is why the next post (on this blog) will be about plot, and how I write each piece.  I hope that you might find it interesting and useful to see how I come up with and refine my ideas.

Another important point is that as you can no doubt tell, this is a learning experience for me.  Both blogs look ok, but nothing as pretty as some other folk have got.  There are some things that I (hopefully) am good at, such as writing and story design, but there are other things that I’m not good at, such as putting all this in a good package online.  I’m trying to bridge the gap with some things, by putting the schematics and the telegram on the blog.  But its going to take a lot of spit and polish to make it all shine.  I hope the story is interesting enough to hold one’s attention while the other aspects improve.

Look for the next story post soon!


News Telegram

“Its over!” Sean burst into the sun room of the plantation, the whole of which had been converted into a hospital.  Edmond and a half a dozen other convalescents looked up from their breakfasts to tee the young officer waving a telegram over his head.

Edmond rose and poured Sean a cup of coffee so he could join in the round of toasts.  The telegram rapidly went from hand to hand, its simple message read and reread.

“How did it happen?  What were the terms?  When can we leave?”  Edmond asked as they sat at a small table.

“You know Captain, information I learn in the union telegraph office is secret.”

Edmond raised his eyebrows.

“Top secret.”  Sean smiled.

“How did it happen?” Edmond asked as he pushed sugar and cream toward the Lieutenant’s cup.  “What were the terms?” Edmond pushed pushed a plate of toast and jam to Sean’s side of the table.  “And…” Edmond pushed a plate of bacon across the linen tablecloth.  “When can we go home?”

“Well, sir, the answers are supposed to be secret, but I’m certain the former owner of this plantation was also supposed to give his hogs over to feed the army.”

Sean explained between mouthfuls that a month or more worth of news had come in when the telegraph lines were repaired.  The war had ended when Lee’s army had tried to flee Richmond, and Grant had chased him to Appomattox.  Lincoln had come out with a number of executive orders planning the reconstruction of the south, and congress had agreed to fund them.  Sean had been picking up speed, both in his telling and his eating, so by the time he got to the bacon:

“Troops’re in Virginia and th’ Carolinas, restoring order for construction crews and I heard that they-”

“Slow down Sean!  You’re not on a deadline.”  Edmond laughed as he carefully poured some milk with his new left hand.

“Actually sir, I am.  I’ve been given my discharge papers, the old staff at the telegraph office are expected to be replaced next week.  I thought that you and I might try to catch a train… and the last one out leaves at five.”  Sean looked slightly sheepish as he finished the rushed speech.

“I’ll gather my things.  Where is the train headed, Richmond? ”

“Most of the lines are cut, sir.  We can only get to Savannah or Charleston.”

“Neither of those is exactly a northern direction” Edmond laughed.  “But perhaps we can catch a ship from there.”

The two gathered their things and packed them into a stagecoach.  It was eleven by the time they left, and a long journey into the city proper.  If they could not catch the train, then they would have to find lodgings in the city.  The ticket counter was quiet, a lone teller was talking quietly to a couple of men at the edge of the counter.

“Good evening.  I would like to purchase two tickets to Charleston.”

“For the five o’ Clock?”  The teller asked, looking Edmond up and down.

“Indeed.  How much will tickets be?”

“Ten thousand dollars.”  His tone was flat and level.  It might have been a joke, he might have been about to smile and say that the train was not coming, or that the price was actually four dollars and fifty cents.  He might have, were it not for the sneer and the loaded revolver under the counter that was just touching his fingers.

Sean sucked in his breath to yell, but Edmond saw movement out of the corner of his eye and spoke first.

“Why do you give this offense sir?”  Edmond tried to sound calm.

“There are two ways for a Yankee to leave Atlanta.  One is ten thousand dollars, the other is painful and free.”

“What do you mean by that?”  His officer’s sword was in his pack, his revolver had been destroyed in the blast that took his arm and leg.  That left him barehanded against at least three.  Sean was a large man, and ready to fight, but Edmond could see the long shadows of the two men behind them.

“Walking , certainly Captain.”  The man grinned, showing his teeth.

Edmond heard the sound of an approaching train.

Replacements is up!

The best laid plans of mice and men…  Replacements was supposed to be a short, easy post.  Well, don’t worry, I’m still technically on time, and I’m already hard at work on the next post.  Shout out to themodernselkie for helping me (a lot!) with the photoshopping on the image you see in the story.

I got a comment asking how the world in my story differs from ours.  To a large extent, it hasn’t differed, yet.  It isn’t until the civil war, mid-1800’s that differences start showing up.  The equipment our hero has just recieved should make it clear that technology is in some ways more advanced.  The main result of this is that many fewer people died in the civil war from disease.  The racially motivated hatred we saw in Fever Dreams shows that not everything was better.  But, by mentioning the prosthetic arm and leg, I’ve opened a whole new can of worms, a few things about them:

Firstly, Edmond is not Iron man. The prosthetic foot functions, for the purpose of the story, exactly like a foot.  The prosthetic arm and hand have some limitations, Edmond can straighten his arm, but it can not bend any further than a 70 degree angle or so, where a regular arm can get down to 30 degrees.  His wrist, as mentioned in the story, can not move up, down, left, right, or any combination thereof.  However, the one advantage is that his wrist can rotate continually, all the way around and back again.  Otherwise, his arm is like a regular arm, no superhuman strength or anything strange.

Secondly, please suspend your disbelief about parts of this.  While the arm works mechanically pretty well, the way he controls it is something I glaze over.  Apart from this spot, you shouldn’t have to suspend your disbelief much, so bear with me and enjoy the story.

The story is going to heat up even more!  To get the full effect for next time, you might want to brush up a little on your code!

Fever dreams is up!

I started the story with Edmond being wounded in order that I could have this flashback sequence (aided by morphine use) follow it.  In this section we learn more about Edmond.  He seems to have served a while on airships in the war (held aloft by hot air), but he is also a Quaker.  While there have only been a few things that make it clear that this isn’t quite our history, there haven’t been any major changes yet.  There also haven’t been too many things to make it clear that this is a steampunk world.  With some of the exposition in the bag, we should be able to see more of the world next post.

But, about steampunk!  One of the things that I’ve been looking at doing in addition to this story is cosplaying (dressing up as) a character from this world.  I’m planning on doing that both for a realistic photo, and for a costume I can wear at the Steampunk world’s fair. In order to do the realistic one, I’m putting togeather a period outfit for Edmond shortly after the war, circa 1870.  At this point he’s got a bit more cowboy than soldier, but I’m still debating whether wool pants or blue jeans would be more suitable.  He’ll be wearing a flannel shirt and either a cowboy hat or a wool cap (everyone wore hats back then).  The coolest part of the outfit will be the colt single action army replica and the loop belts though!

The most important part of the costume will actually happen after the photo is taken.  The next post on the 1882 blog will be schematics/sketches of my character’s new arm and leg.  The steam powered prosthetics function (mostly) like the originals, and what I would like to do is photoshop in the arm design on the photo.  If anyone knows photoshop and would like to work with me on it, please let me know!

Plenty of folks are also interested in steampunk-ing nerf guns.  I’ve been looking at the above examples, and I’m going to try to do the same.  I’ve already modded mine a little bit, but I’ll be repainting them and putting gears and stuff on them as well!  I’ve got some advice as to which guns to get for what, because some of the action types lend themselves to Steampunk (the maverick from Nerf, and the Doubleshot, from buzz bee), others to Dieselpunk (The Vulcan from Nerf and the Tommy 20 from Buzz bee) and some to more of a cyberpunk time period (The CS 35 from Nerf, and the Clip blaster 10 from Buzz bee).

I try to keep my posts short and readable, so I’ll be talking about the nerf modification more as a companion to the schematic post coming up next.

Reveille is up!

The story starts with the main character waking from a long time unconscious.  There are a number of reasons to begin at this point.  Firstly, at this point in his life, Edmond is going through major changes, and through his response to change we can learn a lot about him, and hopefully become attached to him too.  More importantly for the audience, this lets us answer questions like “where am I?” without it coming off as super cheesy.

I tried to queue the audience in as much as possible to where they are and what is going on.  The title, the colors, the location, everything should at least let folks know that something military is going on.  The fact that they are in a destroyed Atlanta, and that one of them is wearing blue wool should hopefully suggest the end of the civil war.

This starting place also gives us much to look forward to, as well as an opportunity for the characters to look back, grounding the audience in time.  We’ll have more on that in future posts.

Jim groom commented on my last post and asked me what I’ve got to post, well, the first issue of the story, and this explanatory post are out, but in giving you this, I’m also going to be giving you an explanation as to why you don’t get to see everything right now.  This blog is about how I’m doing the story I’m doing at my other blog, so it would make sense to upload all the junk I did as preliminary character design stuff.  However, if I start telling you right now when Edmond was born, how old he is, what exact date it is, what


then I wont be doing a service to the story over here.  So…. I will post character back stories, schematics, drawings, and other things relating to how I designed the characters, but only after those things wont be horrible spoilers.

Don’t be sad though, next post should include scanned schematics and Steampunk Nerf guns!

The next post on 1882 will be soon as well.  My plan was for one post per week per blog, but I want to get a bit ahead of the game in the start here.  I will also be making both blogs look better soon.  Head over to http://www.sanguinus.net/1882 and read the start of the story!