Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Screen. Part 2

Last week was the beginning and like all beginnings, it can be terribly tempting to get to the end. Of course getting there too quickly rids one of the experience of the journey and these entries are very much about the journey.

Put another way, in the words of Bill Cosby: I told you that story to tell you this one…

As much as I talk about going back to the well of ideas and as much as I refer to techniques and tricks I’ve learnt over the years; the fact is that ideas come to you as far as you’re willing to come to them. And the way they travel can be by quite different routes. Boiled down to its simplest slogan “Inspiration isn’t a one-way street”.

I mention that because of the way I had to go about getting this idea to work for me. It didn’t arrive fully formed. I had Pulp, Western and Airships and absolutely nothing to connect them. And the connection is what’s important. Otherwise you’ve got an abomination lurching around in a loose semblance of life and players keep torches and pitchforks right next to their dice bags.

Or so I’ve learnt.

2007 to 2008 presented a number of opportunities for personal development courses– to learn how best I work and why. I won’t bore you with most of the details except to say that I’m an extrovert personality type with high scores in visual and kinesthetic learning and practically zero in auditory learning. How does that relate? It means that I’m working at my best when I ask myself a question in a form I can read, such as entries like this. I can see/read the problem and the brain engages to debate an answer. Also, the very act of typing fires up the brain’s connections, so often I end up with the answer just as I’ve finished typing the question. Awareness of how I work and why has been particularly useful in both this and work life, and I’ll take you through what ended up happening:

First Step: Open a Notepad file on the desktop.

Second Step: Start writing the basic thoughts.

Third Step: Write down everything that occurs as a result of what’s on the screen. Like mastubatory word-association (That’ll be what you’ll remember from this entry)

So it looked like this:

Steampunk Western:
Big Kablooey Guns
Mechanical Horses and other things
New Inventions
How would the space race go if it were set in the Wild West???
Regulators on Rocket Ranches
Working on mining steel and other things to power it.
Sabotage from other countries
Like Klondike Gold Rush but for iron!
Ballooned to upper atmosphere, then some sort of propulsion…

At this point I hit a wall. All of this was sounding good but there wasn’t the flash of inspiration yet. What would make space launch different in the Wild West? Remembering that Jules Verne and HG Wells experimented with this type of idea, I decide to see how they did it and then use it for my own devices. Remember, ‘Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright’.

It was while reading the wiki entry for Journey to the Moon that the term Space Gun first entered my brain. And that was it. Not a spark, but a lightning strike fired into the corpus callosum and jump-starting imagination and logic hemispheres of the brain into perfect working harmony. How was the West won? Guns! What would win the space race? Guns! Who were the best people then to win America the Universe? Gunsmiths!

Airships docking on flatbed plateaus got shoved aside and an image of a giant cannon dominating a flat desert plain, with a town/settlement living in it’s shadow is what appeared instead.

I had the idea. Now I had to see whether it would work as a role-play hook. Which will be the topic of the next entry…



  1. Imagine the fucking powder keg that thing’ll need.

    Then imagine that powder keg being drawn by a team of oxen

    Or being hauled by a team of dirigibles

    I’m also seeing …
    The name Colt Apollo
    The black-Stetson-wearing villain quick-drawing a pair of hand-held rocket launchers
    Clockwork Ninjas
    Dang, someone’s already coined the word Voidnaut
    Archetypical crazy fire&brimstone preacher calling damnation on those fixin’ to shoot the Kingdom’o’Heaven out of the darned sky

    • All your ideas are belong to me…

      Particularly “Colt Apollo”! In my life I couldn’t have come up with a cooler name than that.

      Now need to think about whether that applies to a man, a model of gun, the Colt’s version of the Space Gun…

      Also, while I’ll use Cog-Rustlers, I think that also means that there are Cog-Wranglers. Like Cowboys who travel to places to help out with cattle, only mechanics who help out with machinery.

      Clockworkers is the other idea I’m floating…

  2. I know what you’re thinking- “Did he release six pressure valves or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But, being this is a high pressure cannon, the most powerful steamgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

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