When I started toying with the idea of writing a full length story, I considered picking back up an abandoned (or at least neglected) storyline that I had begun last year. Ultimately, I decided not to, but from that story, I chose to follow the pattern of making my main character a “common” person. I did not want my “protagonist” to be someone of privilege, or even have an especially comfortable life, I don’t think it very plausible or relatable to write like that, nor even to follow common tropes related to a traditional protagonist at all.
Kepler, as a character, and her career, evolved after contemplating what life might be like in a travel hub in the future. Once I had made the assumption that there would be no faster-than-light technology available, but still interstellar travel, different aspects became plausible. Namely, industries revolving around “slow” travel, and the repercussions that would emerge.
Once I had set up the setting of her world, at least within the station, I set upon trying to explain how humanity would have gotten to that point in development. The time spans are vast mainly due to the lengthy sidereal (real time) travel times that ships would require to travel to and from our own system, and develop cultures that would create enough, and provide enough people to trade and exchange people. When I thought about how humanity’s spread would have begun, I chose to set the instigators as Romanian (given that’s where I live now—write what you know), and a relatively obvious technological world power (China).
Much of the plot line fell into place after that, though the one sticking point of writing hard(ish) science fiction is that one must use explainable technology. After positing that a certain system was too far away from their original system to make sub-light travel possible, I had to come up with a [plausible] explanation as to how. So I was confronted with two issues: first, that the story was veering away from hard science, and second, it’s really hard to not borrow from more established science fiction stories.
One thing that I find tiresome in some of the science fiction stories I read is over-borrowing from more popular series (Star Trek, Halo, etc.). I understand why an author does this sometimes—for the sake of furthering the plot instead of dragging-on about some largely irrelevant technology—but it can still be sloppy.
So I decided to come up with something largely original (though still a sometimes-used description) form of travel, and to make that technology part of the plot. I won’t go into it here for the sake of spoiling it if you haven’t read it yet.
Overall, instead of adding in sweeping space battles and dramatic rescues like many of the (admittedly entertaining) books I enjoy reading, I wanted to focus on the socio-political and economic ramifications of [what happens in the story]. This may seem less exciting than alien abductions and space pirates flinging asteroids, but to me, it seems more plausible given human nature.
One author told me to remember: “The setting and time of your story may change, but human nature remains the same.”
I hope that this piques your interest to read Envoy, or if you already have, to help explain some of my thought processes while writing it.