Where do these ideas come from anyway? In the case of The Lightstream Chronicles, it has been a circuitous route. At the earliest stages of the project, before there was a cohesive alignment with design fiction, the story was bits and pieces, a piece of dialog, a sketch, or an idea. There were also numerous influences absorbed over the years from a host of movies and books, but not in the way that mimics one or the other, more like interesting stuff duly noted and filed away to be expanded on someday.
But science fiction is tough to write. When you write science fiction you will inevitably be criticized for being too much like ______. Then there are the naysayers that insist anything that is derivative of any part of anything else is no longer an original idea. Of course, if you follow that logic we would have dismissed as derivative the pursuit of a better wheel design after Fred Flintstone.
Many science fiction writers have lamented that the rate at which technology changes can make their ideas obsolete before a book goes to publication. Furthermore, what are now considered science fiction tropes, are probably that way for a reason: some technological advancements, like robots, seem inevitable. When you are writing about something far in the future, you expect that we will have conquered some problems and further complicated others.
More recently, themes were influenced by the forecasts and speculations of a number of futurist writers including Michio Kaku, Thomas Frey, Ray Kurzweil, Aubrey de Grey, and Vernor Vinge, and from an extensive survey of emerging technologies in the areas of energy, medicine, computing, artificial intelligence, transportation, and nanotechnology.
Now all of this would probably still be churning around inside my head if not for the need to complete my thesis and the graphic novel project inside of three years. Hence, I needed to find a way to write this thing. Unfortunately, there are no classes at OSU for writing a comic book/graphic novel script. The screenplay, however, is a close cousin. Not because every graphic novel in the universe is ending up as a movie, but because a screenplay is really two things: what the characters say, and what the audience sees; pretty much the content of a graphic novel script. Fortunately such a course exists at OSU and conveniently, the product is a finished screenplay and a built-in deadline. It took a little rule-bending, since the class assignment was to write a screenplay for a short film — 30 pages or so — and mine timed out at 87 pages. But my instructor was most accommodating. I selected the freeware Celtx, to write the script, got an A in the class, and using a nice little feature in the software, I was able to convert it to something like a graphic novel structure. There was a still considerable page and panel readjustment but the software did offer designations for balloons and captions.
Things came together in surprising order. But then, why did I doubt?
The web comic was another tangent entirely. And you can read up on that in a previous post.