Headline:Splashy Openings
Date:Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Posted By:Plaid Hatter Games

I'm following the suggestion I heard in a writing podcast to read a chapter of an existing book in the style I'm seeking to emulate. I picked up (and dusted off) my copies of Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Stanisław Lem's Solaris.

One thing that struck me was that both first chapters involve the main character blasting off from orbit, having a few minutes of time to muse about life the Universe and Everything, and then having to hit the ground running. They also feature bits of technical jargon flavoring the sights, sounds, and smells. Both novels are written in the first person. And both novels were brilliant at hooking me as a teenager.

This ties back to the "inciting incident" that writing coaches will tell you that good drama needs. Though in Starship Troopers, the inciting incident actually comes in Chapter 2 with the main character (Johnny Rico) enlists in the Mobile Infantry. The first chapter is mainly a prologue to understand where the character is going to end up, if you follow his tale through school.

In both cases, that "quiet time" waiting for the inevitable landing is a great spot to slap in a lot of exposition.

For Iliad-07, I was originally thinking the opening scene could by a Graduation. The character is stuck on stage while the master of ceremonies drones on and on. The player will have a lot of time to think, provide exposition about his fidgety classmates, express feelings about the adults in the room, and express worries about the future.

But there is no interaction there. What if, we have gotten past all of that. What if our character starts the story in a moving track. Not blasting... but sauntering in a golf cart. So I give you... a possible opening for the story...


You are driving a cart through the streets of a residence level. Your worldly goods are
(somewhat) neatly packed in the cargo bed. In this part of the ship, the vehicle limits
itself to a walking pace for safety, but it sure beats lugging your stuff around by hand.

You've been waiting for this moment for months. You are just a few bends away from
your new apartment. Your own place. Nobody telling you that you are up too early or out
too late. You can walk over to the cafeteria to grab lunch any old time you want. You can
have people over. Hell, you can have people over for the night. Independent living.

You arrive at where you think the housing block should be. An identical cart to
yours parked out in front. You park yours behind it. You hop out and verify you are at
the right address. A-170-314. Home sweet home.

Before you start lugging things in you decide to take a quick peek at your unit. A
wave of the freeder, and you are inside the outer door. A short hallway takes you to the
central courtyard, and from there you can see all of the units in this cell. But while
there are many units, Unit I is yours. And yours alone.

The door on Unit H is ajar, and you can see a trundler loaded with boxes parked outside.

I figure we could start with the story:

The door on Unit H is ajar, and you can see a trundler loaded with boxes parked outside.

Or... perhaps some exposition dump...