Turner and Lun (The Passage of Ingenuity) [Drama][Sci-Fi][Romance (?)]

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Turner and Lun (The Passage of Ingenuity) [Drama][Sci-Fi][Romance (?)]

#1 Post by arachni42 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:31 am

I've been hashing out an idea recently and would be interested in any thoughts, questions, or critique. The working title is The Passage of Ingenuity. I'm planning to do this for NaNoRenO.

This is the summary (endings included):

The characters are Turner, a 15-year-old boy (the player), and Lun, a 14-year-old girl. It's told in the first person from the POV of Turner. They live in a small, ordinary village in a fantasy-like setting. They are childhood acquaintances who were never close, but lately she's been pestering him to go with her to explore some ancestral ruins. There are numerous ruins around, but exploring them can be dangerous (there are tall, unstable structures), and they've been void of any valuable materials for hundreds of years. But Lun is insistent on going.

Lun is a lively, eccentric girl. She loves to make inventions, but although her creativity was encouraged when she was a child, she is coming to see that everyone considers them impractical and useless. And it's true. She invents something like movable type, but it takes longer to use than simply writing something. (And you don't have much need to replicate writing, anyway.) And she invents a time lock (a locking mechanism that won't open until a certain amount of time has elapsed), but the delay is rather short. What use does that have? She likes to make maps, but she hasn't travelled far; there are no places she maps out that people don't already know their way around. She is beginning to feel not so special anymore, not in the real world.

Turner, in contrast to Lun, is a pragmatist. He is not focused on possibilities but on the present moment. Like her, he has a curious mind, but he prefers hobbies like people-watching. Yet, her enthusiasm can be contagious. He is not a self-insert protagonist, but the player will have dialog choices.

The player can be more or less encouraging (appreciating her creativity) or discouraging (focusing on practicality). The choices don't have an immediate effect other than small dialog differences, but they will determine the outcome later.

I was thinking of allowing the player to decide whether he goes to the ruins with her at all; if he doesn't, it's a dead end (she doesn't come back), but I'm not sure that serves any purpose.

The ruins turn out to be what we'd recognize as remnants of modern day buildings. This setting is ~1000 years in the future, after humanity was nearly wiped out by a giant asteroid the struck the Earth. Not only were most people killed, but the infrastructure was destroyed. Although the asteroid was seen coming decades ahead of time, nothing could be done to stop it. People had time to prepare. But this was not a process that went smoothly. Resources needed to be rationed, decisions made about who would get to go underground. On top of that there was the problem of how to reestablish a sustainable ecosystem afterwards, and how to rebuild. Some people were very interested in preserving human knowledge (even if it meant fewer lives would be saved), and others were much more concerned with survival.

The story of how all that went is the proverbial "story for another day;" in this story we learn about it indirectly.

Those interested in preserving technology built underground caches of resources. However, they were subject to looting and sabotage both before and after the asteroid hit. Turner and Lun discover one of these caches.

It was a vault that had been locked with a time lock, although by the time it unlocked it had been buried and forgotten. Inside, there is a set of switches that activates an electrical generator. The place lights up, and it's packed with all kinds of modern technology. There are instructions written largely in pictograms. Lun is ecstatic. It is truly a gift from the ancestors! Turner is pretty amazed himself, although he is more reserved about it.

They decide not to tell anyone else about the cache for a little while -- they want to explore their discovery on their own first. They return every day for several days. Each day has a new scene where we see them make a new discovery and react to it. Every day Turner finds the place a little more interesting. It stokes his interest in history. Everything in the vault has a story -- why it's there, what arguments might have been had over including it, what difficulties there might have been in getting it there, and so forth. He is also starting to appreciate Lun's inventions more. As impractical as they might have seemed, when ideas like that were really developed, they led to amazing technology.

Meanwhile, every day Lun is a little less spirited. She spent her life so far trying to invent new things, only to find that not only has everything been invented, but it's been done 1000% better. She's dedicated herself to exploring things, only to find everything's already been explored. Everything she might have dreamed of has been unceremoniously handed to her. The final breaking point comes when she finds a map of the world. She doesn't know what it is at first, but when she figures it out, she's devastated.

They talk about it. That's where the story branches into three possible responses depending on choices made earlier. I want each one to feel complete.

1. If Turner focused on practicality...

He is sympathetic. But he tells her to think about how *useful* this stuff is. The problem with her own inventions was that they weren't refined; creativity by itself is not enough to have value in the real world. She agrees that this is true. He says with this technology, though, they wouldn't even have to do the work of figuring it out. This is the opposite of what she wants! And it only reaffirms what she already concluded. Wanting to cheer her up, he comes up with the suggestion that she take these ideas and see if she can invent the same thing, like as like a personal challenge. The idea sounds reasonable to him. But she becomes more upset with the suggestion. She resigns herself to the reality that there's nothing new to be made.

Ultimately they remain acquaintances but never become close.

2. If Turner didn't have a specific focus or was a mix...

He reaches out to her with compassion. Maybe she isn't particularly special in the grand scheme of things. But they've formed a bond through this experience, and he has come to like her quite a lot. She is special to him. He appreciates her not for what inventions she can come up with, but for her mind. For her way of engaging in life. She has shown him that there's an inherent joy in discovery even if it doesn't amount to anything.

It is unknown what their relationship will be in the future, or where they will go from here with the newfound technology, but they look forward to the journey.

3. If Turner focused on creativity...

He emphatically rejects her line of thinking. Gaining this technology is not the end, but the beginning. Especially for her. She is not only useful, but necessary to build the future. Maybe her past inventions didn't really amount to anything, but those were just the training wheels for the real challenges ahead. People aren't going to be able to just start using this technology; it needs to be understood and integrated. More than that, he believes she will build upon it, creating things more interesting and useful than she ever had the power to do before. And he would feel honored to be by her side.

They've become close, and they know that no matter what's been done before, they will make something new with it.

---

Out of the three, the first has been the hardest for me to develop. My original concept was something along the lines of "childhood wonder lost" in favor of accepting the limits of the real world. Maybe some sense vs. sensibility themes. But I don't really think being down-to-earth is a bad thing, and couldn't really think of what would actually be lost! I realized that nothing would be changed between the characters if he simply talked about how practical the technology is (which she already would agree to).

So now the concept is that he makes a mistake. He takes a step forward in understanding where she is coming from, thinking about the act of inventing things and not just the invention itself. However, his suggestion is also saying that there really is nothing new to be done, that the most she has to look forward to is re-inventing things. It's also something of a compromise on his part, not something he's fully convinced of deep down, although he believes it to be reasonable. (It's more like he took a half-step forward.)

I'd welcome any thoughts.

I'm also a little torn on how much time to spend on the setting. This idea started as just a speculation about how things might go if so much of humanity and its infrastructure was wiped out. But it's only when I imagined these characters and finding a treasure that gave the seeds of a story. The story is about them, not about the setting. That being said, the setting is still a challenge. Even if there is not a lot of detail about it, I want to suggest depth. I've been reading stuff about why certain things were invented when. I'm still pretty lost on what exactly "day to day life" is, though. I think I could use a history buff, haha. But I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions, whether it's about specifics or just about how to give an illusion of depth.

I put a question mark to the romance tag because it's not explicitly romantic, but they do form a bond, whatever the nature of it is.

Edit: I've come up with a title: The Passage of Ingenuity. It has a double meaning in that it can refer to the physical vault with the technology. But it also references Lun's initial conclusion about the cache -- that her opportunity for ingenuity has passed.
Last edited by arachni42 on Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Turner and Lun [Drama][Sci-Fi][Romance (?)]

#2 Post by Zelan » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:00 pm

This is a cool idea, I'd definitely read this VN if you made it.

Rgarding your 'dead end,' if it doesn't add anything to the story, I would say don't include it. There are a lot of people who see no point to endings like that, especially when it's pretty predictable that a certain choice will lead to that end. Plus, if you end up doing this for NaNo, you're going to be under a huge time constraint. You don't want to be adding anything unnecessary until the basic project is complete.

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Re: Turner and Lun [Drama][Sci-Fi][Romance (?)]

#3 Post by arachni42 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:04 pm

Zelan wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:00 pm
This is a cool idea, I'd definitely read this VN if you made it.

Rgarding your 'dead end,' if it doesn't add anything to the story, I would say don't include it. There are a lot of people who see no point to endings like that, especially when it's pretty predictable that a certain choice will lead to that end. Plus, if you end up doing this for NaNo, you're going to be under a huge time constraint. You don't want to be adding anything unnecessary until the basic project is complete.
Thanks for you interest/comments. I agree about the dead end; it would be pointless. And I think I will do NaNo this year; it's been a long time and why not. :)
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Re: Turner and Lun [Drama][Sci-Fi][Romance (?)]

#4 Post by Nay » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:08 am

Hello, this story really piques my interest ^^
It reminds me a little of "The City of Ember" which is a young adult's book, except focusing more on the relationship of the two characters. I believe there's also a movie if you'd like to check it out, as it provides some good ideas about potential post-apocalypse, as well as the day-to-day after. The endings of your story sound really solid. If you have the time, I also think it'd be neat to have a little epilogue/ CG screen of what kind of world Lun would help invent in the good/true ending.

I think the details of the setting are actually not too important, when delving into worldbuilding it can go on forever, but with the short story you're trying to tell I think it'd be good enough just to get a grasp of the parts of the world that are relevant to Turner and Lun's journey. :D So things like culture and politics of your world might not be as relevant as the infrastructure or the technological details.

I'd definitely read it! :3 It sounds like a good story.

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Re: Turner and Lun [Drama][Sci-Fi][Romance (?)]

#5 Post by arachni42 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:00 pm

Hey Nay, thanks for your feedback! I'll check out that book sometime. I'm glad the endings sound solid; I've tried to give them extra attention. Now I just need to make sure the middle turns out okay. ;p

It does seem like worldbuilding could be a bottomless pit. I'll take your advice and focus on the most relevant stuff. ^_^
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