This month I’m working on two new writing projects concurrently. The first is a space adventure for a project where I was invited to submit a piece for consideration. The other will be my February eBook.
I’ve been doing some character sketches and world building notes for the space adventure, which has a western tilt. The working title is Belle Starr, which is the name of the ship. Here’s the thumbnail sketch I’m starting from:
In the future, interstellar travel is possible by hopscotching through a pocket dimension. A man on the run hires a coyote pilot to take him off-world. However, traveling through the pocket universe conscious both requires and results in mental instability. The official transports are piloted by A.I., and coyote pilots piggyback on the portals of the official transport. But the pilots are all nuts, and usually get crazier the more they navigate the void.
I started out with the even sketchier idea of “pony express in space.” I’ve always found the pony express fascinating. Mostly orphans, or at the very least, people with nothing to lose, performing what’s become the most mundane job on earth (mailman) under wildly dangerous conditions. Once I realized that transporting a person, rather than mail, held more dramatic possibilities, I then had two character roles to start with: the passenger and the pilot.
I have a friend who kindly volunteered her name, as she most typically mistypes it. A lengthy conversation on Facebook, involving space cowboys named Maurice, resulted in a pilot named Shaen Morris, captain of the caravel-class ship Belle Starr.
Other bits and pieces of plot are coming to me in various ways, and I’m making note of them so as to not forget. I’m now at the point where I have enough little details, and the character sketches and world building notes have created enough flavor, that I can write the outline.
Once I finish the outline, I’ll start drafting.
This is the first story I’ve written a chaotic good hero. If you’re not familiar with role playing games, alignment describes a character’s most basic moral and ethical philosophy. The two axes run from lawful to chaotic, and from good to evil, with neutral in both axes. A chaotic good character does what he or she believes is morally right, but has no regard for law, order and government. Robin Hood and V for Vendetta are examples of chaotic good characters.
Figuring out a character’s alignment is a good way to help determine what choices and actions are in-character and out-of-character as you’re writing. Even if you are an outliner, there’s always a certain amount of discovery writing involved in the actual draft. Sometimes characters do behave oddly, but you as the author should always know when they’re doing what they usually do, and when they are behaving in a way that’s strange (at least for them.) A chaotic good character will seem unpredictable to the lawful characters around her–and often the readers. That can make for a fun and challenging experience.
I’m really starting to enjoy working on this project now. I hope others end up enjoying the finished result.