Archive for category Repurposing
Second: The “old gamers” among you might recognize the piece as the cover art for the 2nd Ed Forgotten Realms supplement of the same name (hence the extra space above and below the central image – for the branding placements).
Now: Let’s look JUST at the image… there are four characters in play. Who are they? What is their relationship?
Consider the two in shadows for a moment. Are they working as a team? Willingly or by force? Does the human know the others? Does the beast know them and have a score to settle (or is it working under other nefarious orders)?
About the “victims”: What is their connection? What is their background that they are actually listening – what are they being told/offered/asked for?
Let’s consider this in the context of a larger story: would this serve as an inciting incident to bigger things? A mid-to-late story event? Perhaps a final, brazen attempt by the beast to claim victory (why else attempt something in broad daylight)?) What events might lead to this encounter, then unfold from it?
Now, develop and write.
What is this place – an ancient school? Library? Holy site? Is it part of a larger city complex or off by itself? What about the culture that would build such a structure…why is the central hall that large? What is the blue glow from the windows – sunlight, or something else?
The lone figure in the middle – is the person arriving, or defending? Assuming the person is a defender, why is the POV person going there? Assuming an arrival, what are they looking for? Why are they there? Are they truly alone, or are there other figures, unseen, deeper inside the building?
Consider the above. Is it a castle? A church? Perhaps a school? How was it built – was magic involved?
What would it be like for a person arriving for the first time?
What would it be like if the bridges collapsed/were destroyed? Is arrival by water even an option? Look at the small protruding cliff – is it possible to gain access that way? What sort of structure might be underneath all that water?
What would happen if someone wanted to find out? Why would they want to find out? What kind of person would want to find out?
I like the idea of BFOs/BDOs, depending on what parlance you might want to use [Big Dumb Object… you might be able to guess the “F” version…]. The allocation of resources, the idea that a society would labor so long to develop and construct something (never mind the leaps in technology that could happen WHILE said thing is being built)…what happens when said object is discovered?
Consider the above: What is it? A ginormous hollowed out rock floating through space – or maybe a manufactured cylindrical structure – where the above image is of their…dock? Are all of those structures ships moored to the inside of the cylinder, or actual fixed structures? The arriving ship… is it part of the fleet/related to the moored vessels, or a new arrival? Friend, or foe? What is the purpose of the BDO – a generational ship? A space station? A colony?
Consider, again, the ships (or just a ship, if you want to keep it simple) – do they dock? Pass through (depending on the BDOs design)? Assuming a docking pattern, does everyone stay aboard until secured, or does a small unit [assault team] deploy while in transit?
What’s inside the BDO? “People” [assume ‘sentient race’ if not necessarily humanoid], or is it abandoned? If abandoned, is it empty or a literal ghost town [could it be UF if it’s in a space station? Hmmm…]?
What does it suggest to you? Now, what backstory could build to this moment, and who is the person that gets stuck doing the grunt work of whatever’s planned?
If you played AD&D in the late 80s and through much of the 90s, you probably started at the above image at the start and end of every session… It was the cover of the PHB, after all, by Jeff Easley.
But, let’s try to look past the memories and the association, and focus on the image.
Who is the central figure? Who is the one trailing? Are they allies, or opponents? Consider who is the POV [the one being threatened by the sword]… what is that relationship to the other two? [Why the threatening? Why the horse chase? Who is trying to get away – the POV, or the man/men on horseback?]
While the above image is (obviously) easily used for a fantasy, consider how it could be made to fit into a SF mold.
What happened to set up this moment, and what happens as the rider(s) thunder past?
Growing up, I was a gamer. I use the past tense simply because I currently have neither the available time nor the flexibility of schedule to consider resuming activities. The last time I actively played anything more than a few round of Magic: The Gathering was before the turn of the century (ouch!)… However, with three boys, I imagine there will be opportunities to re-enter the arena… To that end, among some of the images I will be sprinkling in among the weekly Story Prompts will be some classic images from my gaming days. Quite often, the best ones evoked a story all their own.
Conflict makes for story… Here we have the woman with the pistol, and the man (?) on the left, with a sword. Note their posture. She’s cocky, not afraid of him. His could easily be underscored with, “Seriously?” They obviously know each other in some way – which is what makes a story stronger. It naturally raises the narrative stakes when it’s revealed that the hero and the villain had some long-ago connection (see the 1989 Tim Burton Batman, for example, where it’s posited that the Joker is the one that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents, which sets up the inevitable final showdown).
Which brings up back to the above image: How do they know each other? What is their relationship like? Is this the moment when they divide, following their own paths, or a moment when they are forced back together? Perhaps they don’t know each other (initially), and this is their meet-cute – and they then have to work together… To what end? What are their skills, and what would they need to tackle?
Now develop that…
You find yourself coming to awareness, the above being the first things you see.
How did you get there? (Hike in for camping? Teleported in? Jumping [think multiverse/alternate world]? Some sort of crash? Something else…?)
Why are you there? (Vacation? Recon? Running from…something or someone? Something seemingly random**? Something else…?)
What’s you backstory/context? (Soldier? Scientist? Weekend-warrior outdoorsman? Something else…?)
Now, what happens next?
* This will be a repeating idea, but with different images, because it can be fun. For an example of a story that essentially STARTS this way, read Andy Weir’s The Martian. The movie, while excellent, does Hollywood things to the sequence of events, so read the original for this.
** Weird genetic things come to mind, where it seems random at the time, but gets explained at some point during the grand scheme of events. Outlander, or Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes series for example.
Judging from the greenery, it’s obvious that a lot of time has passed since whatever this one was has been used… but that begs the question – what was this? Some sort of communications array? A base for a Space Elevator? It seems to be in the middle of an abandoned settlement (or do you see them surrounding structures as simply rock structures)? Or is it part of a launchpad with remains of a crashed ship?
Now look closely, at the bottom left corner, near the lip of the crater (on that sunlit gray panel). Two arrivals… Who are they? What brings them to this place? Are they surprised at what they find, or are they used to it? Even if they’re used to seeing it (from a distance, etc), is it their first time venturing this close? Is their arrival a good thing, or are they nervous? What’s in or around the place? How do they get in? Wait…look there, just left of center… Is that a rope bridge?
What happens next?
Looking past to semi-obvious Celtic/Viking elements, let’s consider the three people in the above image: Who are they? The person in white – a lone defender? A lone survivor? A conquering wizard? The poor, unlucky bastard sent out as bait for parlay? The greeter, welcoming the arrivals to the afterlife?
Likewise the arrivals on the left: Returning home? Lost travelers, seeking shelter? The (likewise) poor souls sent as bait for parlay? Recently departed warriors arriving at the next spiritual plane.
I like that one… Let’s consider the afterlife idea for a moment… what if they don’t want to be there – they want to return? What if it’s not where they were supposed to go…maybe they were pulled to another space, recruited for something. Are they the first to be selected? The ones that finally succeed…or that see through the plans to something else. Are these two people clansmen/somehow positively connected, or were the opponents in life, possibly responsible for each others deathblows. What if the (potentially nefarious) plans involve pitting the two against each other, maybe until they discover the shadiness, and grudgingly start working together…
Now, what if it’s not so much an “afterlife” but a dimensional shift…not necessarily vikings, but alien species. A “First Contact” or “Testing Humanity/[Other Species]” scenario, perhaps? Or something else entirely?