I've had insomnia for a long time- going back to my childhood. My mind spins and moves and keeps me up chewing over things that have been simmering below the surface. Not important things, mind you. Just... things. Like- What happened to the Anasazi, and where did they go? Their ruins are everywhere and haunting. Could it happen to us? What about Mars? Wouldn't it be more practical to build in the canyons of Mars than domes? Less area to cover, plus vertical cities might be cool. You could use the canyon floor for public spaces (Not unlike the Anazasi, now that I think about it.) You know, its a shame they cancelled the Concord. It really was ahead of its time. I could easily see that turning into a scramjet service someday.
The list of topics and tangential hypothetical scenarios go on and on. As I got older and had a kid, I'm usually so tired I just collapse. I don't even dream a lot anymore, but when I do they're real and weird and stressful. Not as much fun as my former flights of fancy at all.
Fortunately for me, I have a pretty good imagination- As those of you that know me know- SO I rarely have issues coming up with ideas. Not always good ideas, but ideas none the less. A lot of these have to do with world building.
Lets start with my own two minute world building drill.
Close your eyes and look at your feet. What are you wearing? Boots? Shoes? Sandals? barefoot?
Once you have the footwear in mind, what do they look like? Are they new or worn? Dusty or blood splattered? If there's dust on them, what color? Do they fit well and are they uncomfortable?
Now that you know what your footwear looks like, look at the one square foot around your feet. What are you standing on? Is it grass? Soil? Concrete? Rock? A bedspread or bathroom tile? What condition is it in? Clean? Dirty? Is there more of the same colored dust or more blood? Crushed vegetation?
Once you know what the one square foot around you looks like, look straight up in front of you. What's there? Is it a worn fencepost? A dresser? An ATM? An alien artifact? If it's a person, what are they wearing and how does it correlate to yours clothing? Speaking of your clothing, what are you wearing? Does it fit with what started at your shoes?
From here, you can do a full slow circle, only describing what's within arms reach in front of you. As you turn fill in the gaps. "Oh, there's a window. Is it day or night? Is the window broken? Is it clean or dirty? Are you in a building or outside?
Lets walk through this.
I close my eyes tight and look down, trying to remember. After a moment, I open them. The worn tips of my boots, scuffed and dirty, stand out. Had I really had them that long? Seems like just yesterday they were new....And how is there so much blood on the left one? I don't... Oh wait. I do remember. My eyes shift focus to the rock, with a fine layer of coarse sand on it. There's more blood. It's clumping in the sand and making a dark, sticky mess. Man, there's a lot of it. I wonder where it came from.
Looking up, I see him. He's slumped against the rock right in front of me. He's dressed like I am- Roughly. His coarse linen shirt is stained dark with blood and he's not moving. His butternut brown pants are worn; I can see the patch jobs, and his boots are in even worse shape than mine. A long skinny rifle lies next to him, the hammer down, clearly empty. I look to his left. There's another man, again in butternut brown, this one facedown. The back of his head is a dark, sodden mess.
With a shudder I avert my eyes, and look down again and realize that there's a pistol in my hand, the barrel still warm. The acrid smell of smoke and sickly sweet smell of blood filter into my nostrils. I stare at the pistol for a long moment, not understanding, then look at the men, and then back down. My dark blue trousers are sticky with blood now too. I wobble a little on my feet and reach out a hand to steady myself on the rock. It's hot, but I need the support so I grimace and lean anyway. I'm so tired and so very thirsty.
"Corporal. Here. Let me help you." A voice speaks, as if from a far off distance.
A strong set of arms catches me just as my legs give away. The voice speaks again. "Here. Drink." A canteen is pushed between my lips, and the water is the most glorious thing I've ever tasted in my life.
The man's voice again. "They're calling this 'The Devil's Den." There was a pause, punctuated only by an unholy moaning; The sound of men and horses in anguish, dying. It reminded me of the depictions of hell our pastor used to terrify us with. There's a distant rumble interspersed with sharp crackling, as of thunder with a hailstorm beating on corn, but I know that it's not thunder. It's men and our sins raining shot and death from the skies.
I nod to my savior, and try to find the strength to speak, but all I can do is nod, and mutter. "Aye. Devils indeed."
There's the 'Boots' method of creating a world. I didn't set out for it to be what it ended up being- I WANTED to be a Western. But you can see how the scene starts at the boots and moves out and around to fill in the world. It ended ups being a lot darker than I thought too. That's the way it goes! If you guys are interested, swing over to The Command Post on Facebook , and we can have guided "Boots" exercises or just converse about world building. I'm always up for that. See you in the next section!