Published: Aug 9, 2017 12:00:00 PM

jupiter-ascending-ships 0.pngAfter debating character motivations for our free books to read online in the prior series installment, I want to shift attention to the novel's potential character interaction tropes.

We know our primary protagonist is tasked with co-existing alongside what is in most regards the protagonist of a young-adult dystopian novel, complete with caste-system rules and high school allegories. But we're faced with a question: is the "experienced person has to transport important other person" trope played out? What's the gender balance in that? If the protagonist is a man and the invincible, shouldn't-be-possible recruit is a woman, is that bad?

It depends on context and character motivations within the environment...

Generic tropes only suck when we let them lead us.

Not everything needs a gimmick.

Sidestepping gimmicks is a principle of Ghost Little's free books to read online. If it begins feeling like a gimmick, the author ought to be smart enough to notice and zig instead of zag. With this also being a free book to read online, I can also lean on the reader community for feedback. I like preparing traditional stories with such delicacy you can hardly look away, or steering so hard into the gimmick-skid that the reader forgets what to expect. In either case, my eyes are open.

This brings us to the "Why?" behind the society in Suns Go Dark. We've established a system of sustained life with the sun-factory and the cycle of Emperors dying and being reborn. The question now: why is the Emperor always found among the young urchins, our teenager YA do-gooders.

Perhaps of greater interest, why are the reborn Emperors continuing the cycle? Why does society perpetuate itself? Now we get to ask questions: is there a secret to the operation?

Well, man, now we're kicking over a really big barrel of "why?" questions about rules in our own real-life society. That means we're onto something.

On a grand level in Suns Go Dark, if we're talking about cycles, and our setting is space, we brush against "why life?" ideas. On a galactic scale, isn't life just a fizzy chemical reaction spreading across a planet's surface? Therefore, the Emperor's constant return is a drive to contain life. A base to life's acid. A closed fist to the constant fusion and combustion of a sun. An entire perpetuating sun-farm.

Good villains scheme to postpone death as we know it.

The sun-farm creates the urchins and the Emperors to maintain itself. The machine wants to keep moving. The energy wants to keep on burning.

This was when I understood the thrust of Ghost Little's free books to read online. Every world in every novel that our protagonists run up against is clinging to life, hoping to postpone death.

The Emperor is the sun farm exacting control over its own caretakers. Maybe not literally, but it wants to keep exploding and living, even if to onlookers it's just a very complex chemical reaction. It was built to produce an environment where its system will be self-sustaining, and the semi-regular reincarnation of its ruler is that control.

This means our antagonist, if we call the potentially-false Emperor an antagonist (discovered down on the planet this time), is the embodiment of a chemical reaction, what are our good guys? The bad guys are such a big, alien thing that we don't even know how to fight it.

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Rewind back to our Protagonist(s). We want it to be a necessity that they clash with our antagonist. We want people to be afraid of what will happen when they meet, and yet they must meet.

The conflict isn't personal, so it must be ideological. This, too, echoed into the other free books to read online on this very site: there aren't many true-EVIL antagonists.

So many questions:

  • But what is a strong enough propulsion to go against an ego-driven, godly caretaker?
  • Well, what if our Protagonist urchin-sidekick is indeed the real Emperor?
  • What does that gradual discovery mean?
  • What if she's a she?
  • What if Emperors aren't supposed to be ladies?
  • What if there are actually two Emperors this time, within the rules of the story?
  • Does that make it more interesting? Less? Predictable? Generic?
  • Obvious?

It was at this point that I understood the story needed two main protagonists.

In the next segment, I work out how to make a story with two uniquely-motivated protagonists.

Read it >>

-- Alex Crumb
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