About the Hetch Epic...
I started a 'short' story back in Hugi #16 with a simple, unique idea; begin an (hopefully) exciting story and then invite other authors to continue it, to write a chapter or two for each Hugi issue. Adok liked the idea and so The WakeUp Call was born.
How to start?
It is my first story (and after recently reading the first 2 chapters this is pretty obvious, but thankfully things have improved, I hope ;)). Like most stories it is all about conflict between two sides. You can take the evil-twin and good-twin idea as being a really good example of the conflict idea. A story bounces one character's ideology against the other and either have the good guy win, or dare to be different and reject the normal Hollywood happy ending. I have tried to resist putting too much 'special-effects' padding into the story and instead try to walk a fine line between the boring real-life stuff and the action-packed sequences.
I would say the hardest part was starting the story. It needs to capture a reader's imagination and quickly give them some 'What happens next..' moments so that they want to continue reading to find out. The character names are reasonably important, but unlike many other writers I did not spend days or weeks researching strange names or creating a long detailed history of each person. In fact it wasn't until JKL asked about contributing a chapter or two that some details were actually written down.
Once the main character's occuption was thought up it was clear what the story would be about (delivering the mysterious case), so Hetch is a courier taking an unknown cargo to some unknown person in exchange for a modest amout of credits. To make the story more interesting I decided to make Hetch a rookie courier, a newbie who would make plenty of mistakes but also be blessed with some beginner's luck. And yes, there is plenty of bad luck too. Like the original ad-hoc nature of the story most of the characters never make any long term plans, they prefer to live minute by minute using their skills to conquer challenges as they appear. For Hetch this is slightly less true, he has a plan (to deliver the case) so like other stories obstacles are placed in his path to make his final goal more worthwhile, without these hinderances the story would be very short indeed. It would be like watching the Tour-de-France without the stoopid crowds jumping in front of bikes or those crazy motorbike camera crews pumping black smoke into each cyclist's lungs...
Yes, there are funky metal gadgets and shiny toys for the characters to play around with, but they are normally common place things which any near future society would have. I've tried to resist the normal James Bond style 'a pen turns into a helicopter' kind of objects because it both makes the characters seem TOO indestructable and wouldn't fit in with the rest of the story (remember Hetch is a poor newbie on his first real courier assignment).
There are lots of scanner-type objects and tools which are easy to hide because they are illegal. I guess in the future data-piracy will become hugely important, especially to the vast global networks and consortiums. Most of the people who have data which is important enough to steal are rich enough to be ripped off every once in a blue moon.
Many of the characters have implants or have been treated using bio-tech. This is due to the overcrowding of the vast city, the sprawlling network of interconnected buildings, transportation lanes and industrial works. The wide spread nature of bio-tech is also due to the horrendous effects of pollution in the air, water and land. And of course there are plenty of other man-made problems which affect the inhabitants. Crime is another investor in bio-tech, the 'swipe-freaks' are gangs, or individuals, who kidnap, drug and steal body parts from live donors for some high powered, very rich citizen. The need for bio-tech is everywhere, to replace stolen body parts or simply to work that little bit faster than those around them.
The king of the rats, Mewco, was an ex mercenary type who loved to control his employees through illegal means. He saw people as 'human resource' something to make him more money. His number of connections throughout the underworld was only beaten by his slimy reputation and vast stores of military hardware. He is a real low-life who has his fingers into every known illegal activity known to man. He had many enemies but managed to keep most of them at arm's length before ensnaring them into one of his money making schemes. Mewco was Hetch's boss until his body was discovered by Hetch in an appartment at the Eldora tower.
I would like to thank Seven for his great feedback concerning the Hetch story. He has, together with JKL, pointed out some of the 'quirks' in the story and made me question certain events and the motives behind each character's behaviour. Simply without Seven's first feedback The WakeUp Call would have ended at chapter 1.03 or 1.04 - so please thank him for convincing myself to continue writing. Also thanks for JKL for his nice 'Complications' chapter and for all the great discussions concerning the Hetch epic....
So Seven, JKL and Hetch fans...
I hope you enjoy chapter 1.09 and 1.10!
Thanks again for the feedback!