You’d think someone who spent the better part of his adult life in uniform, full and part-time, would be able to invent futuristic military organizations, nomenclature and stuff from scratch at a moment’s notice. Not really. For Like Stars in Heaven I’ve had to create a human military organization for a society that – not to reveal any spoilers – hasn’t had a normal past. The story needs it to be just off-kilter enough so that the reader feels there’s a substantive difference between Dunmoore’s Navy and that organization, which meant coming up with, among others, if not an entirely new rank structure, then new rank names which would have been derived from said society’s own history.
It took me a few days. I scanned the plethora of fictional rank names filling the internet, historical names from classical antiquity, medieval times and from Earth societies through out the ages. Inventing rank names in English that actually make sense and are not some sort of gibberish (Grand Moff, anyone? sounds vaguely x-rated…) or something that sounds dramatically wrong (Senior Ninjasniperleader just doesn’t cut it!) sent me to look somewhere rather unexpected, but, keeping my story in mind, not necessarily inappropriate. I’ll leave it at that for now, but it’s been a frustrating couple of days and it had to come to a head today because I was at that point in the tale where I needed to either have my nomenclature sorted or use conventional terms which would make things seem wrong to me even as I was writing.
Yeah, imagination can be hard, even if it’s inventing something related to a field in which I’ve been active for many years. It’s so much easier to fall back into familiar patterns and thereby miss the chance at something different and potentially richer, more substantive. I suppose that could be applied to life in general, which is something I’ve been reflecting on lately as I try to come up with a new routine that doesn’t involve getting to the office circa 7AM, sorting through emails and placating angry clients, demanding bosses and all the rest of the corporate drama. It’s still a work in progress, but being able to go to the driving range and loosen up that golf swing on a weekday morning makes for a nice part of my new routine, whatever it’ll end up being.
I’m still on track to get my editor’s comments on Fatal Blade by the end of the month and the work on Like Stars in Heaven is picking up nicely, now that I’ve overcome a few idiosyncrasies (i.e. writer’s block and general laziness). I should hit the halfway mark of Dunmoore’s third adventure by the time I have to get back to Zack Decker’s latest outing for the next round of polishing.