Does the Stork bring me plots?

Aleyne Desert


This month’s topic: Topic: In designing your plots what do you rely on most: personal
experience, imagination, or research?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought in the weeks since we decided on this topic, trying to tease out just where my plot ideas came from. In order to keep this investigation to a reasonable size < grin> I decided to concentrate on the four science fiction novels in my Novels of Aleyne series.

As in all science fiction, the world in which the novels take place came from my imagination, but it came from both the Plot Fairy and my own personal experience. The novels take place on a military base. The main characters in two of the novels, Brad from Broken Bonds and Rob from Rob’s Rebellion are army officers. The main characters of the other two, Keth from Relocated and Martin from Geek Games, are adolescent boys. The setting I used is an army base  a desert environment. In Broken Bonds, the legal system takes on a major role, as does computer hacking in Geek Games. Many of the important secondary characters in the series are either army officers, writers, artists, or musicians.  These are all elements with which I am personally familiar or which I was able to research in order to get enough information to fill out the plot.

First, the desert and the army. My father, an attorney, served in World War II and entertained my sister and me with many stories when we were growing up. My father was a Judge Advocate General — basically, the army equivalent of a district attorney.  He told a story about a Black sergeant who was prosecuted for going AWOL to a bar that was 100 yards off the base. None of the White officers who were with him were brought up on charges. This story haunted me, and a secondary character, Johnny Dragon, is a Black sergeant who is imprisoned by the military for the same charge and who befriends Brad, my main character.

My middle son also spent eight years in the army where he served as a captain in military intelligence. He spent two tours of duty in Iraq. I shamelessly picked his brains when I was writing Rob’s Rebellion because military procedure plays an important role.

Among the other subjects I researched in the course of writing the series were Native American mythology (Brad’s ancestry is Native American), yoga and meditation, the procedures used when someone is charged with a crime,  the International Court, glass blowing and ceramics.

I can’t help feeling that in spite of the major roll imagination plays in my plot building, it is shored up by my research and my personal experience.

Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Diane Bator
Connie Vines
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin L Courtright

5 thoughts on “Does the Stork bring me plots?

  1. Rhobin

    Yes, science fiction takes a lot of imagination! Luckily readers can still identify with the characters dilemmas and your research does help, after all there is a good reason for the word science in science fiction.


  2. Skye-writer

    Having a brain to pick is an excellent source. I’m currently writing a mystery with a law enforcement protagonist and am so very fortunate to have a female detective on the local sheriff’s detective squad who answers all the questions that crop as I write. Having a son or sibling is great for learning how soldiers experience their settings. My brother served in the Årmy in Vietnam (and for an additional 15 years after) and his experiences and willingness to share some of the more difficult parts were not just suggestive for plot but for getting the ambiance right in The Candidate and Healing a Hero.


  3. annestenhouse

    Hi Margaret, having been to the opening play at our wonderful rep this week, I was so interested in your post. The play, Solaris, is based on Stanislaw Lem’s novel and written by David Greig. As you describe, sci fi is such an intense fusion of plot and research, but nonetheless needs great characterisation. i was captivated by how Greig’s characters, scientists, were straightforward people but also needed imagination to make the leap into another world order. Difficult stuff! Well done you. anne


  4. okwriter

    As with Rhobin’s post, I find your process for writing science fiction interesting, And I like how you use your personal stories and experience and blend them into science fiction. Beverley



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