m currently reading a recent SciFi tale, The Outback Stars, by Sandra McDonald. Yes, it’s part of a series (or so I figure, given the main character’s backstory) (or maybe not – I just checked and nothing is listed) but I’m not mired trying to imagine what took place before. Everything is pretty certain so it stands alone. That’s good. Nothing like coming in on the second act and not know who anyone is (or that Chekhov’s gun is sitting on the mantelpiece). Yes, a good read so far – watch for the review in a week or so.
But it got me thinking – the ships in this tale are gigantic, cities for the most part with “towers” added on, all fulla cargo and colonists. And this made me think of a game a friend and I wrote, Solar Trader, available HERE. Same thing on a smaller scale – freighters haul “pods” across the solar system, the ships not much more than a bridge, engine, landing gear. The pods being self-contained and interchangeable. Quick loads, quick unloads.
So that’s the idea. A spaceship is the vehicle that does the transporting. The cargo and passengers are contained in “towers” or “pods”.
I’m sure that you’ll agree that when colonies were founded in the new world, the colonists didn’t sit down to build ships to transport their tobacco and furs back to the homeland. They didn’t muck in the woods and laboriously cut down trees, fussing them into planks, into frameworks, doing all that just to ship a cargo home. No, they’d wait for the next ship and fill its cargo hold with their goods. Why expend a great deal of labor on something that already exists and can service you? Focus on the goods to ship, not the method of shipment.
Writing is like this. Too often, writers think they are reinventing what a book is. In 999,999 times out of a million (and I’m generous here) they are not. They are relying on one of the seven known plot types. Nothing new under the sun. Rather than thinking that their book is unique, they should focus more on its actual cargo. To wit:
Are the words expressive and imaginative and metaphoric?
Are the characters suitable (and perhaps exotic) for the story?
Is the situation interesting enough for the reader to follow?
As a writer, you should be focused on the detail of your tale, maintaining a uniform air and pace for the tale you tell. Don’t think about taking the literary world by storm or coming up with the Great American Novel. Decide what it is you are going to write, how you are going to write it (voice, pace, tone, etc) and write it.
The ships, in the form of plots, publishing avenues and physical form (paper vs ereaders) – all that is done and out there. You just have to have the best possible cargo to ship.
>>>I’VE GOT SEVERAL CARGOS (I.E. BOOKS) OF MY OWN, LOOKING FOR CAPTAINS TO TRANSPORT THEM. AND YOU’LL HAVE A PLEASANT JOURNEY WITH THESE. SO RUN DOWN THIS LINK AND SEE WHAT WE’VE GOT IN OUR WAREHOUSE!<<<