Control: Writing Action Sci-Fi
I, Dalton Lewis, wrote another novel. I do that. I worked like crazy to throw my entire self, everything that I am, onto the page and give it to the audience. This one’s a giant space battle. Giant robots fight giant aliens. I decided that giant robots fighting giant aliens would be the coolest, most fun thing that I could write. It would be a blast of fresh air after the pretentious American Delusions.
I created a group of teenagers to pilot the mechs. Devon Blanken is the lead teenager that the reader is supposed to project themselves onto — imagining themselves as him, trying to save Mars from an alien attack…and he’s rebellious and ignores stupid rules. He punches the valedictorian for cheating at schoolwork. He’s a track star who runs like the wind but never made it as a football player. I’ve had enough football players in my stories. I needed a track star.
Camden Rikards, the governor’s son, wants to be president — of the United States of America. New Chicago is a Martian state inside America. Camden suffers from brutal depression, not believing that he will succeed at anything, and believes that his goals may never happen. He has antidepressants that he hates taking. He wants to pilot mechs but expects the worst to happen.
Yukiko Sadayu feels enraged all the time. She is supposed to be a nice, kind, giving Japanese girl. She feels anger and passion that she isn’t supposed to feel. She rebels against the people who want her to be subservient and do what society expects her to do. She instead does what she wants to do — pilot giant mechs into combat and face off against a diabolical threat close to home.
Lily Rikards, the governor’s daughter, is a beautiful, conservative eighteen year-old. She wants to do the right thing and negotiate peace with the aliens if at all possible. She hates fighting and violence and wants to avoid it. Devon immediately falls in love with her.
Bud and Mick are best friends who round out the group. They are jocks and bullies who fight to have the most experiences that they can have — live life to the fullest types who may or may not be reliable soldiers.
Other characters? Micah Nomann and Avadici Almos are unpopular, mentally ill young men who are given invitations to join the Overmind. They have very different reactions to those invitations. I like to compare and contrast the characters’ decisions and the consequences of those decisions.
I have read a lot of sci-fi military novels in the Warhammer universe and that helped me to write an effective novel. In order to write a genre it helps to read a lot of books in that genre.
I had a general idea of where the novel would go — not a perfect outline but some notion of a direction to head. I had an idea that aliens had to show up, we had to develop some characters, and then we had to build into an initial huge battle — around a third of the way into the story. We needed to learn to like the characters and care about them before finding them in a fight.
The characters need arcs and problems. Devon has ADD and loves Lily and doesn’t trust the authorities to handle the war correctly. Lily hates war and wants to find a peaceful solution to the problem. Camden is depressed and certain that he will lose. Yukiko is enraged and abused by her brother. These arcs develop characters and allow the story to progress from beginning to middle to end.
I tried to write a good, fun adventure story with this one. I did include some irony and symbolism — it’s about conformity — but I also tried to relax and have fun with it. I hope you can have fun reading it.
Thanks, and take care, friends.