As I’m building Mesh, I remembered that I promised to use the ‘Pixar Rules of Storytelling.‘ I went back and started filling these out as though I was doing an essay exam and the results have been surprising. Let me share with you the results of that exercise. I’ll post these from time to time to help you understand where I’m coming from as this novel comes together.
So what’s the answer to this question? For me, it goes like this:
I started writing this story because I wanted to prove I could write new science fiction that would appeal to other people. I also wanted to tell a story like the ones that had given me so much joy when I was younger. I wanted to explore ideas like being brave, discovering your own power, reconnecting with your parents and banding together to change the world. I also want to tell a story where kids can feel special.
So as I said before:
- People matter.
- Stories matter.
- Storytellers must hone their craft if they want to matter.
I’m not saying I’m the best storyteller in the world, I’m just saying that this is the process I’m following to be the best storyteller I can be. Perhaps this will help inform you in something you’re working on, or you may have a suggestion that’s helpful for me. Thanks in advance for being awesome.
Maybe you’re like me and you read the story of David Hahn, the kid who built a nuclear reactor in his mother’s shed and Taylor Wilson, the boy genius famous for building his own fusion reactor. Their stories inspire me as I write Mesh, because I think of the budding geniuses we currently have languishing in public school, waiting for their shot at changing the world.
Science isn’t just about nuclear energy, though. There are thousands, literally thousands, of directions that a geeky, science-minded kid can go in. Invent a better battery? You’ve just changed the world! Invent a better way to diagnose cancer? You’ve just changed the world! Think of a better way to clean up an oil spill? You’ve just changed the world! Sometimes the best ideas come from kids, because they’re curious enough to wonder and brave enough to try. As this article points out, gifted kids need support, so I want to imagine a world where some brainy kids do get supported, and what happens after that.
Writing Mesh is about being inspired. I hope you find some inspiration in your work, too.
So now, let’s talk about Mesh …
I haven’t released many details yet but I can give you a brief synopsis while I polish the novel:
Mesh is ‘Fight Club’ meets ‘Stranger Things’: a YA sci-fi story about Zeke, a charismatic and slightly anarchic teen who changes the world when he invents an entirely new Internet, completely outside of adult control. With the help of his best friend Roman and their science teacher, Mr. Howard, the boys begin a project for their high school service hours, and discover that they can create an uncontrolled information network using old hardware that nobody wants anymore. Mr. Howard’s technical guidance and historical knowledge of counter-culture give them the help they need to bring the Mesh to life. With new mesh networks coming to life all over America, the government seeks the ‘mysterious hackers’ who give kids unshackled access to information and community. It’s a race against time for Zeke and Roman to complete the Mesh, get an ‘A’ for their project and then disappear before it all comes crashing down.
I’ll be talking more about Mesh and its evolution, because there are a number of exciting components that will appear to sci-fi readers across the entire community spectrum. I’m also drawing from a number of writing, sci-fi and technology influences. One of those influences is Simon Stalenhag:
Like most of you, I’m a huge fan of his work. His sweeping, evocative vistas are epic in their scope and contain enough texture to fill entire universes. So as he describes this gritty, split-knuckle future from his vantage point in Sweden, I can’t help but draw upon his imagination as I write Mesh. I want to make sure that the universe I’m creating is as much fun as the universes he makes.
More details shortly …