Monday, 22 March 2010


In mooching around the internet this week I found this article on top tips for writers. As well as some useful tips and tricks, it also started off with some questions which could be used as the basis for a story. One of them was: What if a young girl could start fires with her mind?
I think I might use that as a prompt...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Character profiles: Dr Connor Rivers

Name: Connor Rivers
Age: 45-55

Senior doctor, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Serious, intelligent and with a weakness for a good whisky.
Dr Rivers sat upright studying a hand held computer pad. He looked worried, but he often did when he had patients, thinking through every possible complication and treatment.
Inspiration & character creation: Dr Rivers was one of those characters that was necessary to create for reality's sake but didn't have a fleshed out character when I started writing. I knew it would be likely that people would need a doctor on a several-month-long interplanetary trip, but I wasn't sure how much he'd get involved with the rest of the story.

Of course, after Pilar Perez got ill, he became more central to the story, providing background information and eventually turning into something of a sounding board for Dak. He also seemed to be quite fatherly towards Anna, which was a nice development.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Character profiles: Anna Smythe

Name: Dr Anna Smythe
Age: 25

Trainee doctor, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Quiet and caring, Anna is a thoroughly nice person. She can be quite shy in large groups but she makes friends easily.

Misc: Not long out of medical school, Anna is working on the Crazy Horse to get experience in the field. She is eager to learn and very competant at what she does.
Although she is fully qualified she very rarely introduces herself as 'Dr Smythe', although she has been known to take refuge in her professional standing if she feels unsure or nervous in a situation.
She seems to be comfortable on board the MF Crazy Horse, although at first glance it would appear to be a station entirely unsuited to her character. Much of that seems to be down to Dr Rivers, who treats her with an almost fatherly manner.
“Mr Perez? It’s Anna Smythe. Are you alright?”
“Señorita Smythe?” Carlos went to the door and put his head against the cool metal. “My wife – is she...?”
“She’s doing just fine,” Anna replied. “I just thought you’d like to know Dr Rivers says she’s stable, though he doesn’t think she’ll be waking up before we reach Mars.”
Carlos breathed a sigh of relief. “Then... Can I see her?” he asked.
There was a pause before Anna answered. “I’m sorry, I can’t let you in to see her. Not without someone else to watch you. Captain’s orders, sorry.”
“But she is alright?” Carlos asked again.
“She still needs to get to the proper hospital facilities on Mars, but don’t worry, she’s fine at the moment,” the trainee doctor reassured him.
“Thank you, Señorita. And you will take good care of her?” he asked.
“I will, I promise,” Anna answered seriously.

Inspiration & character creation: Anna is in some ways a character who is still in development. Because I made her quiet and shy, she hasn't featured prominently in the story so far, and when she has it's been mostly professional.
Her inspiration was the traditional English rose - pale complexion, blonde hair, beautiful, refined and intelligent. I really don't know what path her character will take as the story progresses, but I like that. She's very much a predictable, stable character, whereas most of the other people in the story are liable to lose tempers, make rash decisions and get into arguements. In that way she provides the backbone and in some ways the conscience of the story, although the last thing I want is for her to become goody-goody.
In some ways she could be likened to KayLee in Firefly, but in other ways she's a very different character.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Goals for the next few months

Submission deadlines and themes I'd like to meet:
  • Two 500 word flash fictions on the theme of sci-fi and fantasy
  • Up to 5,000 words on the theme 'End of the Rainbow'
  • 2,500-5,000 words about werewolves
  • 3,500-6,000 words on the theme 'Zero Gravity: Adventures in Deep Space'
  • 1,500-15,000 words on the theme 'Whodunnit Halloween'
  • Up to 7,000 words about the exploration and colonisation of outer space and the solar system
  • At least 3,000 words of sci-fi set off-Earth
Don't know how I'll get on with this, but it's good to have something to work towards.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Character profiles: Shanran Dak

Name: Shanran Dak
Age: 45

Captain, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Grumpy, stubborn, smart as hell and very determined.

Misc: The captain of the MF Crazy Horse isn't always an easy man to get along with. He's conscientious about completing a job, but always wants to do it on his own terms. Because of this he doesn't get on well with people in authority, which can occasionally get him into hat water, and isn't shy of telling people exactly what he thinks.
If he's given options he will always look for the one which will benefit his ship and crew the most.
He trusts very few people, and even among his own crew there are few that he completely trusts all the time. Jackson Brown is probably his closest friend, although he has also been known to enjoy a drink with Dr Rivers and John Park. His loudly professed opinion of women in general is that they cause trouble, but despite this he carries two women on his crew, perhaps suggesting that his bark is worse than his bite?
“Major, what the hell are these orders about?” Dak snapped, taking the seat as Macintyre closed the office door and leaned against the doorframe. “You want me to carry passengers on our next run? Are you out of your fricking mind? You know we don’t have the facilities to do that, not to mention the inclination.”


“He won’t change his mind,” Macintyre stated, folding his arms as he watched John finish transmitting Keller’s schematics to the stranded ship.

“How do you know unless you try?” Keller countered.

Macintyre laughed and shook his head. “I’ve been working with Dak for long enough now to know a hopeless cause when I see one. Even if he thought he was wrong – which he doesn’t by the way – then you’d be hard pushed to get him to admit it. Trying to change his mind’s nearly impossible.”

Inspiration & character creation: It was fun coming up with the character of the captain. He started out as an idea for a first officer on a much more classy ship than Crazy Horse - think more Enterprise than Serenity. Something wasn't quite right about him in that position though, so Macintyre became first officer and Dak got a promotion.
His character was partly inspired by Joss Wheden's Firefly character Malcolm Reynolds, but I also liked the idea of having a grumpy captain and the challenge of trying to make him sympathetic and likeable. I hope I've succeeded!
His ethnicity is a mystery, even to me, but his name seemed more Indian-feeling than western. I'm probably going to get complaints from Indian people about that now, so sorry in advance, but if you think I'm wrong just remember that this is the 22nd century and Keller is a made-up western name...