Mar 01 2012

Nightwire’s Review Forum

Published by at 10:22 am under Review Forums

NW writes:

“I’ve been gestating a concept for my steampunk-superhero novel, Ghost In The Machine. It is set in a Constructed World plagued with individuals who suffer from a mental condition called Tinker’s Syndrome (or Mad Scientist’s Disease).

 

My protagonist, a young Tinker named Matthew Bartholomew Grayson, is a sophomore at the University of Cogsworth (think Unseen University for mad scientists). He is the son of Maxwell Grayson, a renowned toymaker (for being the only one of his craft to include a self-destruct mechanism in his toys).

 

Matthew’s alter-ego is the Gremlin of Cogsworth. He has some sort of mind-link to a dead gremlin, which effectively causes him to share his mind between two bodies (the human one and the gremlin one). He is able to jump conciousness between two bodies at will, yet he cannot control both at one. So whenever he uses one body, the other one is basically dead.

43 responses so far

43 Responses to “Nightwire’s Review Forum”

  1. B. McKenzieon 07 Mar 2012 at 10:24 am

    “I just cannot come up with a solid way for Matthew to gain his power.” Well, he’s a mad scientist, right?

    –It was a mad science experiment gone wrong–a mostly innocent experiment gets interrupted or goes awry in some way (perhaps because of a lightning storm, sabotage, squirrel interference, a freakish impurity in the coal supply, or some other unexpected condition).

    –It was a mad science experiment gone right (the gremlin outcome was the intended result). Maybe they were doing research trying to figure out if humans could remotely control machines by sharing their mind with the machine. Well, that may or may not have panned out yet, but they have figured out how to share a human’s mind with a gremlin. A dying, particularly crazy scientist might rush this sort of research because he’s trying to figure out how to implant his consciousness in an automaton or some other vessel before his body gives out. But, if the research isn’t well-developed yet, he might want to test it on an intern/lab-assistant first.

    –He was experimenting with Forces Beyond Human Comprehension. Gremlins are like the personification of the limits of human science, right? It’d be thematically fitting if he were doing some sort of dangerous experiment and the gremlin got in the way at exactly the wrong moment.



    I find your concept interesting–you had me at “Unseen University for mad scientists.” Sounds very promising. What are the main character’s personality and/or distinguishing traits like?

  2. Nightwireon 07 Mar 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thanks a lot for your feedback, B.Mac! I find all of your suggestions very tempting, I think I may have to take some consideration. But I’m currently leaning towards the “scientific experiment goes haywire” route, ’cause I think it would be more thematically appropriate to my story.

    Now, to expand on my main protagonist:
    Matthew Grayson is a creative genius. Growing up in his father’s workshop, he developed a fondness for intricate machinary and mechanisms at a young age. He believes that every toy has a soul and it deserves to be treated with love. Matthew is one of nature’s engineers: he has the tendency to concoct obscenely elaborate solutions to very simple problems. He values curiosity, creativity and imagination above all else.

    Matthew’s biggest flaw is that he is a very impulsive person. When confronted with a problem, he always jumps head-on to it without any kind of clear goal in mind. This trait does have a positive side: it makes him very good at improvising, especially in situations where time matters the most. But sometimes, it bites him in the arse hard.

    Matthew is generally a likable lad. He gets along well with people, and everyone finds it very hard to dislike him because he’s just so damn enthusiastic about everything he says. People who knows Matthew often see him as a teenager with the soul of an excited nine-year-old.

    I hope this helps you have a general idea of what my MC is like. I will expand on his alter-ego and the University later. I have to go to bed now.

  3. B. McKenzieon 07 Mar 2012 at 10:42 am

    Hmm. I think it might help to give him something that most other genius characters don’t have. Some examples that come to mind:
    –Tony Stark is hyper-charismatic.
    –Hannibal Lecter is a super white-collar cannibal.
    –Charlie Gordon (the protagonist of Flowers for Algernon) goes from mentally damaged to hyper-genius and I really like what Daniel Keyes did with his social isolation.
    –Ozymandias and Sherlock Holmes both have a believable mix of extreme confidence in their mental abilities and a heightened awareness of their limitations.
    –Batman is bizarrely charming but almost completely asocial.
    –Dexter Morgan’s complex internal struggles are one of the main reasons that he maintains likability even though he’s a serial killer.



    “Matthew is generally a likable lad. He gets along well with people, and everyone finds it very hard to dislike him because he’s just so damn enthusiastic about everything he says.” Could I recommend making him a bit less generically nice? For example, maybe play up his enthusiasm so much it generates conflict and/or clouds his judgment. If other people see him as having the soul of a nine year old, maybe that leads to conflict in situations that call for maturity and/or caution.

  4. Nightwireon 07 Mar 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for your advice. I assure you that I do not intend him to be generically nice. It’s just that I’ve noticed a trend for super-genius characters to be condescending assholes, and I don’t want to tread on the same road.

    As you said, I am going to play up his immaturity/impulsiveness. While it is true that Matthew usually leaves a good first impression on people, the more you spend time with him, the more you notice that he has the tendency be a tad oblivious to others’ emotion due to being too immersed into whatever catches his interest at the moment. Sometimes, he can be detached from reality for his own good.

  5. Nightwireon 07 Mar 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Oh, and he’s also a compulsive hoarder. This is a remnant of his childhood practice of picking up any junk he found interesting because he wanted to make a “big and impressive machine. I haven’t figured out what it’s for yet, but it’s definitely going to be big and impressive”.

  6. gurion omegaon 15 Mar 2012 at 1:42 pm

    The part of matthew creating something but not knowing what exactly seems a bit distracting from the plot. Evaluate what exactly this project is doing for him plotwize. How long has he been doing since the start of the novel or before?

  7. gurion omegaon 15 Mar 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Other than that the premise seems very original. Keep it up!

  8. Nightwireon 16 Mar 2012 at 2:48 am

    Thanks for the kind words! 🙂

    “The part of matthew creating something but not knowing what exactly seems a bit distracting from the plot. Evaluate what exactly this project is doing for him plotwize. How long has he been doing since the start of the novel or before?”

    It is just intended to be a quirk, but I figure it may bear more significance to the plot. Matthew got the practice of hoarding random stuff as a child, but as he grew up, it became an obstinate habit. So he cannot help but pick up any junk of remotely interest to him because “it might be useful someday”.

    In fact, I based a large chunk of Matthew’s personality on my high school physics teacher. He’s a very unorganized person, and he’s got a knack for making interesting contraptions from things others throw away. That’s why he’s my hero.

  9. Nightwireon 16 Mar 2012 at 9:12 am

    Now, on the Gremlin of Cogsworth:

    * Appearance: Matthew’s other body is a small and repulsive goblin-like creature with nasty-looking fangs and claws. The creature is usually donning an ill-fitting labcoat of an indeterminable color (though on closer inspection one can conclude that it might be white), a metal helmet and a pair of goggles.

    * Powers and abilities: Being an agile and stealthy creature, the Gremlin can penetrate complex mechanical systems, find their vunerable spots and destroy them from the inside. He also has access to limited technopathy.

    * Enemies: The Gremlin’s main opponent is Labyrinth (still looking for a better name), a secret society of mad scientists wishing to spark a world war. However, his nemesis is the Glitch, a mysterious malevolent entity who has the ability to possess and corrupt mechanical systems, causing to do things they’re not supposed to do. One of the main objectives of the story is that the Gremlin must discover the true nature of the Glitch, what its ultimate goal is, and what connection does it have with the extinction of gremlinkind.

    Other notable villains include:
    – Doctor Amoeba (Johann Kroppler): a microbiologist with shape-shifting power. He’s an anti-villain, only searching to use his work for betterment of mankind, but his good intention comes to conflict with the extremely unorthodox methods he uses.
    – Gizmo (Timothy Dawson): a psychopathic half man, half gremlin. Have an extensive grudge against the Gremlin. Despite being completely insane, he’s a complete joke of a villain.

  10. Nightwireon 18 Mar 2012 at 9:40 am

    Ever since his first encounter whith the Glitch, Matthew Grayson has taken hold of the belief that there is no bad Tinker, only ones who are corrupt by their own contraptions’ potential for evil and perversion.
    Hence, the Gremlin mostly operates as sort of a pest within the University’s campus, sabotaging and destroying those machines and devices that he deems particularly dangerous or otherwise poorly thought-out (you know how mad scientists are with doomsday devices…), and he has succesfully thwarted many mad scientists’ schemes.

    At first, no one in Cogsworth pays sufficient attention to the increasing number of things going haywire (things going haywire is to be expected of any large body of Tinkers). “A gremlin did it” is the oldest excuse in the book, since gremlins have long been extinct and thought of as a myth.

    But after recent discoveries of teethmarks on destroyed gears, and sightings of a strange creature, it has been agreed that there is a gremlin lurking within the University of Cogsworth. Dubbed the Gremlin of Cogsworth, the Cogsworth Gearmuncher, etc. by the press, the creature is officially declared a vermin by the Chancellor and thus must be hunted down and taken to research.

  11. Nightwireon 18 Mar 2012 at 9:53 am

    The usage of his power has imposed on the protagonist a subtle shift of character: while he’s always had a mischievous streak, this trait becomes more pronounced whenever Matthew uses the gremlin body. His antics as the Gremlin become more and more malicious in both thought and action, and he has to work constantly to exert control over his own destructive nature. Since Matthew is an aspiring toymaker and engineer, his desires to construct and to deconstruct often come to conflict with each other.

    However, being the Gremlin does have its perk: Matthew Grayson is exposed to a whole new perspective of how things operate, and he has developed a more analytical mindset.

  12. Nightwireon 18 Mar 2012 at 11:31 pm

    True to form, The Mind Is The Plaything Of The Body. Being a gremlin has a very negative effect on your psyche.

    Much like how William Shakespeare “wussy-fied” the fairy folks in his play “A Midnight Summer’s Dream”, in my world, thanks to the success of one Mister Sponty Quackgrass’ children book, “Ghost In The Machine”, the image of gremlins to the average folk has been redefined into a race of jolly, if slightly mischievous and clueless, little goblins. In truth, they are not. Gremlins are nasty, nasty creature. As recorded in mythology, gremlins were psychopathic pyromaniacs who gave no qualm whatsoever in murdering humans and causing an irreversible level of property damage just to satisfy their neverending curiosity. They just wanted to take things apart and play with the “beautiful sparks”.

    Matthew Grayson, as with the case of many children, grew up with Sponty Quackgrass’ work. Therefore, the, for lack of a better term, “Disneyfied” version of gremlins is rooted in his thought. As a result, he is shocked and horrified to discover that an actual gremlin is a much different creature than the one that has lived in his imagination.

  13. Nightwireon 25 Mar 2012 at 8:38 am

    I am still currently working on the world-building stuff. I’m more of an world-builder . I just want my works to have an internal consistency. My belief is that, if you’ve created an intriguing enough, then the opportunity for good stories shall be endless.
    My (admittedly very hard to reach) ambition is to make a sci-fi version of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I just love how he systematically makes fun of fantasy tropes and cliches, and I would like to do the same to the science fiction genre.
    I’m have plans for several other stories set in different parts of my constructed world:
    – Lobotomia theme: Lobotomia is a parody of Transylvania/Germany. The main character will be Baron Isaak “The Necromancer” von Skalpellstrom; along with his associates: a borderline sociopathic grave-robber, a neurotic maker of music boxes and a homunculus.
    – Cypher theme: set in the Nadelland Commonwealth (a pastiche of the Soviet Union). The main characters are a couple of brilliant crytalanalysts working for the Gremlingrad (heh) Intelligence Agency. They have been given the impossible task of cracking the Rätsel, a new type of cypher that the Lobotomians have created, and inadvertantly gets themselves involved in a crazy web of political intrigue. This is intended to be a parody of espionage thriller in general.
    – Alchemy theme: this takes place roughly 300 years before the “present” continuity. It follows the misadventures of the greedy alchemist Christopher Abacus, who is recorded in history for having sold his soul to the King of Gremlins in exchange for the Philosopher’s Stone (so yeah, he’s a parody of Faust) and Friedrich von Uberwatt, an eccentric Lobotomian inventor ( a parody of Leonard da Vinci). This theme will serve as some sort of prequel to all the other themes).

  14. Crescon 25 Mar 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Funny that you mention Discworld, as it is a fantasy version of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. You idea is very different though and there is room for it.

    As for your character Matthew, maybe consider a trait similar to Hajime Kindiachi, from the manga. While Hajime is very bright, he’s a terrible student, so his family and people who don’t know him well thinks he’s a simpleton. Yet he can be arrogant because he sees the world differently. This comes out more as he is exposed to the gremlin.

    I really like the idea of his villains being mad scientists, fighting bad science with good science.

  15. Nightwireon 26 Mar 2012 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for the comment, Cresc!

    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorites too. Douglas Adams made fun of space adventure-type stories; while I’m intend to do the same to the mad scientist archetype. I have an unhealthy obsession with mad scienctist characters. XD

    I’m not really good at writing Book Dumb characters, perhaps because in real life I’m a book smart but socially awkward person. 😛

    I think Matthew Grayson’s character is quite similar to a non-evil Doctor Steel. He’s an intelligent and well-meaning guy, but childish, quirky and a little unhinged at times.

  16. Nightwireon 26 Mar 2012 at 12:48 am

    Now on to the supporting characters!

    Matthew will have a large and diverse cast of supporting characters, which mostly consists of his schoolmates, the boys of Batterbridge Campus and the girls of Stringbelle Campus. They will have their own subplots interconnecting with the Gremlin’s misadventures.

    One of my pet peeves in popular fiction is the Nerd/Smart Guy stereotype: that guy is a nerd! He’s good at maths, he builds robots and he play chess, etc.! I hate this so much I want to destroy that stupid conceptions of smart people.

    Matthew’s friends, the student of Cogsworth, are all aspiring Mad Scientists. But each one will have his/her distinct personality, talent and weakness. With a cast full of mad scientists, you can develop them in different ways without resorting to banal stereotypes!

  17. B. McKenzieon 26 Mar 2012 at 1:30 pm

    There’s one person I know–who’s 6’8” and a very good basketball player–who has destroyed me at chess every time we’ve played. He’s not a stereotypical geek in any way, but he has won a few Chicago-wide chess tournaments.

  18. crescon 26 Mar 2012 at 4:45 pm

    This is sounding (in a good way) like a steam punk Harry Potter. I love the idea of a school of mad scientists.

  19. Nightwireon 27 Mar 2012 at 4:43 am

    When I was still in high school, most of the popular students are nerds.

    OK, so here’s some important supporting characters (I’m still working on fleshing them out):

    -Nicholas (haven’t come up with a good last name for him yet): Matthew’s roomate and one of his two best friends. He’s the only one who knows about Matthew being the Gremlin. Often trusted with the task of looking over Matthew’s human body while the Gremlin’s out wreaking havocs. Due to his sheltered childhood at an orphanage, Nicholas is quite a shy and unassuming person, a “wet blanket” if you will. He often ends up becoming the reluctant accomplice in many of Matthew’s cray antics. Nicholas has a pretty unhealthy psyche, as he often freaks out into a nervous wreck whenever knee-deep in a dire situation. His mathematical genius will prove to be very useful in assisting with the Gremlin’s work. Also, it seems like the Glitch is having its eye on him…

    -William Warden: Head Student of the Batterbridge Campus and Matthew’s other best friend. Being most level-headed of the trio, he often acts as a stern older brother to Matthew and Nicholas. He’s the Harry Osborne to Matthew’s Peter Parker. William is the only son of Lord Warden, one of the most powerful man in Cogsworth. Growing up behind his overbearing father’s shadow, he endeavors to prove to everyone else that he’s not a spineless parasite who uses one’s wealthy family’s influence for his own gain. Acting as the prefect of Batterbridge Campus (often regarded the most unruly bunch), he works hard to bring discipline to his boorish classmates”. William is a very lawful, methodical and organized person. He enjoys sampling and categorizing bugs and plants. He shares a rivalry with Charles Byton II, the Head Student of Clayhill Campus and a bona-fide spoiled brat.

    – Simon Ratberry: the self-proclaimed “clown” of Batterbridge. Simon has some sort of inflatable likability: people often laugh and clap approvingly whenever he cracks a joke or plays a prank, but otherwise they try their best to avoid him if possible. Being the son of a coal worker, he has a natural disdain for authority, especially rigid ones like William.

  20. crescon 27 Mar 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I would like to see a Draco Malfoyish rival. Have some nerd-gangs grouping around different schools of thought. The elite could be the “Red-Ties” and dress accordingly.

  21. Nightwireon 27 Mar 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Why, of course! 🙂

    William’s rival, Charles Byton II, is going to be such a character. However, I absolutely hate the cartoonishly evil bully type with no discernable reason for opposing the protagnists, so he will have some redeeming qualities. His rivalry with William mostly stems from clashing lifestyles and ideologies. Young Byton is a supporter of the “clockwork universe” school of thought, while William is a pioneer in Darwinish theories.
    And despite being rivals, they have some sort of odd friendship going on.

    What do you think of my characters thus far?

  22. Nightwireon 27 Mar 2012 at 11:43 pm

    There’s plenty of drama and intrigue within the scientific community for me to exploit. >:)

    And now, I present to you the girls of Stringbelle Campus!

    – Karen Ratberry: Simon’s twin sister. An apprentice dressmaker with a penchant for experimenting with exotic (and possibly lethal) material and needlessly compicated (and also possibly lethal) accessories. For example, a typical ball gown by Karen will be made of a water-and-dog-turd-proof material and contain two spoon holders, puffed-up sleeves that can shoot smoke bombs (in case anyone tries something cheeky) and a corset double as an emergency water source.

    Karen share his brother’s black-and-white world view, though more pragmatic and not as Chaotic Stupid. She’s a firm believer in justice and class equality. Karen is actually the vigilante Crimson Knight, by ways of modifying a rusty old suit of armor into a hydrolic exoskeleton (that’s when her dressmaking skill comes in handy).

    – Valeria Voltoff: a Lobotomian who is the Head Girl of Stringbelle. Being used to taking care of her five younger brothers back home makes Valeria an overtly burdened person; and when it comes to upholding the university rules, she’s even more vicious and nasty than William. Her preferred method of intimidation to to yell with enough intensity and persistence that the subject has no choice but to make in. It works with her unruly brothers, so why not?
    However, she’s otherwise a soft-spoken girl, especially to her friends. Can be a tad arrogant when it comes to academic prowess.
    Ironically enough, Nicholas harbors a huge crush on her.

    – Charlotte Byton: daughter of Sir Charles Byton, the inventor of the Analytical Apparatus, and young sister of Charles Byton II (the Bytons are not a particularly creative bunch when it comes to names). She plays a large part in the development of her father’s creation, particularly with the algorithms. Charlotte suffers from some kind of brain tumor, making her unable to walk and confined to a wheel chair. Charlotte is the onlooker of many depressing episodes within her family, especially after the death of her mother. Despite all this, she persists to keep her sunny, romantic and adventurous disposition. She has a love for the outdoors, which is rather ironic given her role as the world’s very first computer scientist. 😛

    (I created Charlotte as an amalgam of Ada Lovelace and Stephen Hawking)

  23. Revengelon 30 Mar 2012 at 9:20 am

    Cross-posted here since it makes more sense:

    Re: Karen – she sounds like an interesting person to read about. Between the hyper-preparedness which my border on paranoia and her drive for justice I can anticipate a number of entertaining – and perhaps thought provoking – situations. I’m not seeing any red flags so far – maybe I need to read more.

    Re: Valeria – for whatever reason she seems the most real to me. This may be because of the professors I deal with in my profession or it may be because she reminds me of a couple people I know (both of whom are women) but she just feels like a natural fit to me. I would try to be sure not to make the swing from ‘soft spoken lady’ to ‘intense yelling intimidator’ too dramatic a contrast. Is she soft spoken and reserved or is she soft spoken and ‘sweet’? The first one works for me, the second one is less palatable.

    Re: Charlotte – I initially thought Professor X (likely a reflex action) but then after reading it I thought of a big sister/mother archetype. I don’t see issues with the concept other than possibly the oft-used ‘mother’ aspect. My wife & I were just talking about that last night actually – she gets annoyed when female characters are presented as “being a mother is the best that they can be/do/makes them more powerful” – so that’s something to watch.

    To expand on the point Dr. Mrs. – In harry Potter Belatrix is battling Hermione & Ginny…and the two witches can’t seem to do squat against Belatrix even though (in the opinion of Dr. Mrs.) H & G should have no reason to fail. But when someone gets hurt ‘Mommy Grainger’ suddenly can put the smackdown on Belatrix. Why? Because she’s a mother and that makes her all powerful…at least that’s my wife’s take on it.

    Hope that helps…and I hope I did not offend!

    Revengel

  24. Nightwireon 30 Mar 2012 at 9:41 am

    Thanks for the kind words, Revengel! I’m glad you like my characters.

    – I have just rewatched Pixar’s The Incredibles, and it dawned on me that I’ve unwittingly make Karen an Edna Mode-like character: fashion-concious (she’s a dressmaker after all) but more concerned with practicality than flashiness. But hey, Edna Mode is awesome!

    – Valeria: Indeed her personality is based on a number of people I know in high school. “Is she soft spoken and reserved or is she soft spoken and ‘sweet’? ” She’s more like the first type, though I don’t think ‘reserved’ is the right word for her. As the Head Girl of Stringbelle, she obviously needs to be somewhat extroverted. Although her personality is more ‘Extrovert/Task-oriented’ than ‘Extrovert/People-oriented’.

    – Charlotte: I don’t think she’s the ‘mother’ type- that role belongs to Valeria, because she’s the overbearing and responsible one. Charlotte is more like the ‘heart’/’little sister’ of the trio, as she’s the most emotionally charged. Unable to make peace with her emotionally negligent family, she turns to her friends for love and acceptance. Charlotte values friendship, that’s why you can count on her to be a sweet and affectionate companion. I just hope nobody thinks she is too “weak”, because she’s genuinely a resourceful and energetic person.

  25. Nightwireon 30 Mar 2012 at 9:54 am

    Concerning the Harry Potter conversation- I think every mother (and father) has the capacity to become a fearsome Mama Bear if they see their child is in mortal danger. So perhaps it’s not so unbelievable (and quite a good character moment too). 🙂

  26. Revengelon 30 Mar 2012 at 10:31 am

    I personally agree on the Mama Bear observation. I feel these are solid character moments when done correctly.

    What I suspect Dr. Mrs. was reacting to was that H & G were unable to do something when they (in theory) could/should have. Personally I’m totally fine with scenes like that because of the basic drive for preservation of the species that we all have.

    🙂

    Back to Valeria for a second…so she’s a bit extroverted but is normally soft spoken. Can you expound on that?

  27. Nightwireon 30 Mar 2012 at 10:43 am

    Well, I think being soft-spoken is exclusive to extroverts or introverts. In Valeria’s case, she only acts like a typical girl towards her friends, the people she trusts the most; so I don’t think that would violate her character.

    I think Valeria fits squarely into the Choleric archetype of the Four Temperament Ensemble (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FourTemperamentEnsemble): “Extroverted and task-oriented. Exhibits leadership, dominance, ambition, charisma, passion. But also shows narrow-mindedness, obsession, and a Hair-Trigger Temper. Likes to be independent and have control over others; could be a Bad Boss if in charge.” Heh.

  28. crescon 21 Apr 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Hey Nightwire! So wha’ts been going on with your book lately?

  29. Nightwireon 21 Apr 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Hi there buddy! Glad to hear you’re still alive and well! 🙂

    I’ve managed to come up with a workable plot outline for “Ghost In The Machine”. Everything is good to go, though I am a little wary, since English is not my first language, so I’m afraid I cannot compete with you guys. Things I did in my mother tongue are okay, but I still have got a lot to learn if I endeavor to master the English language. But hey, practice is where it’s at.

    _ _ _

    My head is full of ideas these days, and it’s hard to choose the best ones to work with. Here are two of my favorite:

    – “Rudolph’s Box”: Amalie Inselgard is a music box maker from the town of Lichvohen. Life as a poor craftswoman is not easy, but she could not ask for more. Things start going barmy after Amalie gets her hand on a box containing seven Heinzelmännchen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinzelm%C3%A4nnchen). Now with the army of the Baron von Lichvohen (who wants the Heinzelmännchen for reasons of his own) on her trail, Amalie, with the help of the her newfound friends, sets on a course to uncover the dark histories of Lichvohen.

    The premise would be an amalgam of ‘The Heinzelmen of Cologne’, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ and ‘The Hobbit’. The Heinzelmen of Lichvohen disappeared for reasons unknown about 150 years ago. Amalie Inselgard and the remaining heinzelmen (one of which is obviously a gremlin. This shall serve as a running gag) have to find out whatever happened to their kind and what this has to do with the Tinkers of Lobotomia.

    I’m having the Heinzelmännchen be a race of “anti-Gremlin”. Whereas Gremlins enjoy destroying things, Heinzelmännchen indulge in building stuff. They’re natural constructors. However, since Heinzelmännchen don’t have anything resembling creativity, they cannot make stuff of their own, and so mostly revels in finishing other people’s constructs.

    – (Book with title under construction)- This will take place roughly 100 years after the “present” continuity.

    The Golden Age of Mad Science has come to an end, and Tinkers are no long prevalent. Ill-adviced misconducts in scientific researches has ceased to be fashionable, and the world is experiencing a peaceful and stable state.

    However, when the long-lost notebook of Dr. Matthew Grayson (in which there are details of the most dangerous constructions he had thwarted as the Gremlin) fell into the hand of a schoolgirl with dream of taking over the world, things ought to get exciting. Is the world about to be ushered into a new Golden Age, or is it a disaster waiting to happen?

    Despite the premise, I want this to be moderately lighthearted and intended for kids.

    What do ya think?

    _ _ _

    Oh, and how’s your work going? I cannot wait to see more of it! 🙂

  30. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:01 am

    B.Mac said:

    “–I suspect that the overlap between Karen and Simon (e.g. their similar worldviews) will make both characters feel more dispensable and less interesting. I’d recommend accentuating their differences in more substantive ways. The difference between her elaborate preparation and his impulsive improvisation is a good start, but by itself, it might not be enough. For example, Batman is extremely prepared, but he’s also cynical, he’s rough, he’s methodical, he’s ridiculously determined, etc. These traits interact in very interesting ways. For example, Hawkgirl asks him why he always carries Kryptonite (around 4 minutes into Tabula Rasa, Part 2). “Call it insurance,” he says. How might Karen’s traits interact?

    –What are some unusual decisions she might make? If you’re having trouble giving her ways to make decisions that most other characters wouldn’t make in the same situation, one possibility would be working on her other traits and/or maybe delving into why she prepares so much. E.g. maybe she hates uncertainty and, for whatever reason, has trouble counting on humans as much as gadgets/preparations that are fully within her control.

    –If Valeria is a minor character, I don’t see any substantial red flags. If she’s a more significant character, I think fleshing her out a bit more beyond just her control issues would probably help. For example, why is it that she’s soft-spoken with friends but nasty when it comes to enforcing university rules? How might her academic arrogance interact with her other traits?

    –In the interest of clarity, I’d recommend renaming either Charles I or Charles II. At the very least, have Charles II insist on Chuck at every opportunity because he hates opening mail and finding that it’s actually [something undesirable that only his father would get]. Normally, I’d recommend against starting names with the same 2+ letters at the front, so I’d recommend changing Charlotte as well.

    –Does Charlotte have any rough edges and/or flaws? Does she ever do disagreeable things?

    –Charlotte’s in a wheel-chair. It might be worth covering the apparent discrepancy besides being nonambulatory vs. being adventurous and a fan of the outdoors.

  31. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:02 am

    … In short, Charlotte’s depressing homelife is a crucial factor in her adventurous personality. She is willing to do anything and go anywhere, as long as she doesn’t have to face her father and brother.

  32. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:04 am

    B.Mac’s comment:

    “–”I’m keeping the Bytons’ themed name, because I think it’s rather funny…” I’d recommend running this past beta readers.

    –Yes, I think you were right about me mistaking Simon & Matthew.

    –I suspect that Valeria could be distinguished more from other perfectionist characters. On the other hand, I am cautiously optimistic that Karen will feel distinct from characters that have some similar traits.

    –I’m not sure how this will turn out in the story, but right now, reading about Charlotte (especially her home-life) is depressing/enervating me. In addition to the somewhat negative reason for being adventurous (she’s fleeing from her failure of a family), it may help to give a more energetic reason as well–maybe she has some aspiration that she can’t accomplish indoors. Maybe she’s designing a computer for a particular situation or setting BUT she won’t have any grasp of the relevant variables and processes unless she’s seen the stuff in person. (Modern example: if you were coding an AI for poker, it would really help if you had experience playing poker because the social aspects of the game are hard to understand without firsthand experience).

    “Charlotte’s flaw is that she turns to her friends for love and acceptance, while turning her back on her own family (granted, her father and brother are emotionally negligent and obliviously insensitive, while she’s a very emotionally charged person)…” I’d recommend that you keep looking here. I doubt that readers will fault her for turning her back on her dysfunctional family and I suspect that most characters would act the same way in her situation*. Besides, it’d probably be helpful if she had a flaw that affected her in more ways than just her relationships with her father and brother. (Unless, perhaps, those relationships are central to the book). For example, Scott Pilgrim’s irresponsibility affects pretty much ALL of his relationships and decisions.

    *Unless, perhaps, there was some really compelling reason that readers would expect her to fight it out with them. For example, if she had a really young sibling that was being seriously affected by the fighting, but she chose to leave anyway, readers might be disappointed that she leaves. She herself might feel uneasy about the decision. But I don’t know how much drama there will be if she “turns her back” on people without actually causing a serious negative effect to anyone.

  33. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:04 am

    You’re right, Charlotte’s backstory is really depressing. Perhaps I’ve made her too much of a Woobie. Is that a bad thing?
    On the other hand, I’ve prepared a (in my opinion) pretty satisfying character arc for her, so she shall some development, and she will have a happy (well, more like bittersweet) ending in store.
    The Bytons will eventually have a significant part in the story (one of them is going to be a villain), so Charlotte’s attitude towards her family are having consequencesd. After her mother’s death, the role of the family ‘heart’ goes to Charlotte, because she’s the only one in the family to have a firm moral stance. Remember, both of the father and the brother are *mad scientists*, and without anyone to hold them back and to provide a moral support, they are guaranteed to go off the deep end. Charlotte does feel uneasy about it, and she clearly knows that her family are immersed in conducting unethical and lethal experiments, but she keeps refusing to acknowledge it.
    “In addition to the somewhat negative reason for being adventurous (she’s fleeing from her failure of a family), it may help to give a more energetic reason as well–maybe she has some aspiration that she can’t accomplish indoors. Maybe she’s designing a computer for a particular situation or setting BUT she won’t have any grasp of the relevant variables and processes unless she’s seen the stuff in person.”
    You read my mind! I am planning to give her this! Also, she also gets a good influence from her late mother. Thanks for the suggestion!

  34. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:05 am

    B.Mac’s comment:

    ““You’re right, Charlotte’s backstory is really depressing. Perhaps I’ve made her too much of a Woobie. Is that a bad thing?” I think it depends on your target audience and the tone of the work. If you’re going for a Requiem for a Dream sort of feel, it might not be an issue. It’d be hard to give an opinion as to whether it works without the actual chapters.

    “…she clearly knows that her family are immersed in conducting unethical and lethal experiments, but she keeps refusing to acknowledge it.” As far as flaws go, that sounds pretty promising. More promising than any moral responsibility she (supposedly) has for keeping her adult relatives from going off of the deep end. (If your mental stability hinges on the help you might theoretically get from your mad scientist daughter/sister, who is incidentally dealing with her own major health issues, you’re ****ed).”

  35. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:05 am

    Well, my work, like Discworld, will have a quite humorous tone but also deal with serious themes and not without drama and suspence. Hey, I’ve just come up with an idea. How about I tie Charlotte to Matthew’s origin? Byton is aware that his daughter is getting worse, and she will die sooner or later. So using the technology he has just perfected, Byton tries to find a way of transferring Charlotte’s mind into another human body. Matthew gets involved somehow and ends up having his mind fused with a gremlin.

  36. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:06 am

    B.Mac’s comment:

    “That is a possibility, although it would cast Matthew’s involvement in a different light. For example, stumbling into the path of a radioactive spider doesn’t affect anybody else in any way, but somehow stumbling into a body meant to save a dying woman could make him look like he really blew it in some way. I do like the idea that the failed experiment might be more bittersweet than just one person getting cool superpowers, though.”

  37. Nightwireon 22 Apr 2012 at 10:07 am

    What I’m having in mind is, Byton asked the university to set up a research team as a front for what he’s really doing (of course, the university was not aware of his ulterior motive). Matthew was a part of it. The research team had a vague feeling that what they were working on was not that legal or ethical, but they dared not give any question, because Byton is a very respected scientist. Matthew, with his curiosity getting the better of him, decided to dig further. He discovered that Byton is experiment with a gremlin’s brain (because gremlins are rumoured to have limited telepathy/technopathy). Of course, he could not stand witnessing that poor creature (who knows gremlins are nasty? Surprise!) being used as a guinea pig; so he tried to save it.
    But Byton, desperate to save his daughter, would not let any fool to sabotage his effort…

  38. Dagger_Dropon 15 Jul 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Is the gremlin alive or have a consciousness? If Matthew’s ability leads to him sharing a body with a gremlin that could add to some interesting conflicts. To keep with the idea that the gremlin is inanimate without Matthew maybe the experiment left the gremlin without control over his body but he can still see, hear, and feel the world around him. Since your story has a humorous tone to it could lead to some funny situations with the gremlin questioning Matthews authority.
    If you’ve ever seen the newer versions of the show Ben 10 (so what if i enjoys cartoons, don’t judge) you might know of the alien Jerry-rig. Jerry-rig is a small red devil looking creature that loves to destroy things or rig them to malfunction in extreme ways. your gremlin king of reminds me of him. If you don’t watch Ben 10 Omiverse google Jerry-rig and you might find some inspiration.

    On another note I love that someone is combine two of my favorite things, superheroes and Steampunk! (wow. I am a geek. Epiphanies like those hit you like a ton of bricks)

  39. Dagger_Dropon 15 Jul 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Is the gremlin alive/have a consciousness? If Matthew’s ability leads to him sharing a body with a gremlin that could add to some interesting conflicts. To keep with the idea that the gremlin is inanimate without Matthew maybe the experiment left the gremlin without control over his body but he can still see, hear, and feel the world around him. Since your story has a humorous tone to it could lead to some funny situations with the gremlin questioning Matthews authority.
    If you’ve ever seen the newer versions of the show Ben 10 (so what if i enjoys cartoons, don’t judge) you might know of the alien Jerry-rig. Jerry-rig is a small red devil looking creature that loves to destroy things or rig them to malfunction in extreme ways. your gremlin king of reminds me of him. If you don’t watch Ben 10 Omiverse google Jerry-rig and you might find some inspiration.

    On another note I love that someone is combine two of my favorite things, superheroes and Steampunk! (wow. I am a geek. Epiphanies like those hit you like a ton of bricks)

  40. Dagger_Dropon 15 Jul 2013 at 6:12 pm

    sorry about the double post

  41. Nightwireon 30 Jul 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Oops, sorry to respond so late. I haven’t checked my review forum for a while. Thanks a lot for the input! Glad to hear someone else like my concept!

    And yes, I do know about Jury Rigg. He does seem kind of close to what my version of gremlins look like.

    My idea is that the Gremlin is completely dead, so Matthew’s situation is basically one mind living in two bodies (a sort of reverse Jekyll-Hyde, if you will). But of course, like your protagonist the Outsider, there is a subtle personality shift whenever Matthew operates as the Gremlin, and he has to come to term with his destructive nature. I have this idea of the Gremlin gradually becoming an actual second personality, with Matthew suffering from identity crisis: is he a human or a gremlin? Thoughts?

  42. crescon 19 Feb 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Haven’t heard anything on this front in a while. Still working on the book?

  43. Nightwireon 13 Mar 2015 at 6:25 am

    Hi cresc, it’s been such a long time since I last checked back! Yes, I’m still working on it! A lot of fine details have changed though. 😀

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