Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Traveling the stars dilemma!

I've been going great guns with my current WIP. Still fighting the characters a bit, but we've come to an understanding. But now I have a bigger problem, and one I've come across before.

Traveling from one Sector to another, throughout the universe - it all takes time! So much time, in fact, that what becomes a one-way trip that takes 2 weeks, and the return trip 2 weeks, and time in between - before you know it, two months have gone past and they're still trying to get to the major action scene. Even if they have super-duper-you-beaut-never-heard-of-before power thrusters that are faster than the speed of light... or faster than my car, anyway.

Whoa nelly! So now you have to fill the bits in-between with lots of things. Good time for relationship growth, but it needs more than just that, too. It needs action and adventure and hot se- I mean relationship growth, too.

If you're not careful, it can get mighty boring, floating out there, taking two weeks to get anywhere. Six weeks. Two months. There's only so many space pirate attacks to go around, so many settlements to call into to fuel up, etc.

This is where, when writing sci-fi/futuristic with travel to the stars and beyond, where distance is no problem, you have to rein in the trips around the galaxy if you've got a tight-knit story with constricted times for action and drama.

So how do those of you who write such things, handle it?



Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Here's my take on space travel - as a life long sci-fi fan, I just accept the fact that it takes however long it takes to get from place to place. If an author tells me it's two weeks from Vulcan to Tatooine, I believe them. If it takes two hours, I believe them. FTL flight is practically a given in sci-fi, so I don't sweat it. You can invent any kind of engines you want for your ships, or have jump gates, worm holes, hyperspace tunnels, or, if necessary, giant space faring hamsters. You can even put your charactes in hypersleep for a decade or two and wake them up when the action starts, as long as the story is kick a$$ and full of good romance, you had me at hello. ;)

MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

Oh, Jen.... I'll take the hamsters. You're too funny!

I don't spend a lot of time in space or what happened on the way. Unless they come under attack, or their light drives conk out, or something intregal to the plot happens. I set it up so the reader knows how long it takes, and bam they're there.

Also, it depends on how big a ship they're on. I have a tentative outline for a story that has a rather large star ship in it and they are going to a mission at a far outpost. The ship is so big in fact (like USS Enterprise big!) that not all members of the crew have even met each other. So, I have the hero and heroine who used to be in love on Earth, and hurt each other, suddenly thrust into each other's company again five years later. I have them getting to know each other again...then the mission. That way while the 'adventure action' isn't happening....'romantic action' is. Plus on a ship that size, somethings always bound to get exciting.

In my novella "Falling Stars" it's a space battle against an aggressive force (not pirates, though). When the heroine is injured, the hero is forced to take her to his homeworld for treatment. (Their medical knowledge is superior.) I don't say how long it takes, a few days only....but I don't even show but one or two important scenes while they're on the way there. Mostly, because in a novella I didn't have the luxury of taking the time, but I also don't see the point if there isn't something very, very specific that needs to happen during that trip.


Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Ooh, Kat, your new story sounds great. I definitely want to read that one when you write it, so hurry up! I love stories about love lost and rediscovered.

Skylar Masey said...

In TIES OF VALOR I have the heroine use the time to come to terms with all she's been through and where she stands in her life. That way I still concentrate on her character (internal conflict), but don't go off onto extra side-jaunts (external conflict).

I also don't show everything that happens during the voyage. I pick and choose the high-points, or situations that would directly impact my plotline or showcase my characters.

I like warp drives;0)

Johanna Lindsey has some fabulous examples of dealing with this issue in WARRIOR'S WOMAN and KEEPER OF THE HEART. (I know they were written way back when, but she's one of my all time favorites!)