Welcome to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Writing Sci-fi, about things that have never happened, usually in a place that doesn’t even exist can be hard work.
Surprisingly, you need a lot of research to write about the future, and of course (unless you are a time traveller) you have no practical experiences to base your scenes on. It’s all guesswork. Sure, you can be guided by things that you’ve done but that’s about it.
When it comes to describing spaceships and galactic life, I can use my knowledge of shipping and trade on Earth to make it realistic. And despite not having a military career, I’ve been shot at (twice as it happens; once was a M.I.G. 19), so I can describe how that feels. It’s not like you might think.
As for the rest? I just have to wing it. Fortunately, there is a lot that we can rely on in the future. We will still be human, wherever in the galaxy we might end up. We will still be at the mercy of all our human vices and emotions; I don’t suppose that they will have changed that much.
For me, the hardest things to write are the scenes where I have to kill a character. It leaves me in a real state, with as much emotion sloshing around as there would be if I was killing a real person. Apart from the fact that I’m not by nature a violent person; I think it’s because, to me, they are real people. Which might not be as weird as it sounds. I’ve created the character, given them a life, a voice and a job to do. It might only be a small job in the overall scheme of the book, perhaps it was just a prompt to keep the plot moving, but it was important, and they did it without questioning why. By way of gratitude, I then bumped them off!
To ease my conscience, I’ve tried other ways of getting them out of the story. I’ve sent them away, forgotten them or glossed over what happened to them after a certain point. But it was never the same, they would sneak back into my thoughts, demand to come back into the story or even ask for a story of their own (the cheek!).
In the end, you have to bite the bullet (so to speak) and just get it over with, but that doesn’t mean that you have to enjoy it.
In my space opera Myra,
there’s a particularly unpleasant character, an untrustworthy petty criminal. He’s after our hero’s love interest, she flirts with him even though she doesn’t like him. For the plot to work, I needed to get my good guys and bad guys together; I used him to do it, with the promise of a reward if he did. But it all goes wrong, the gangsters do what gangsters do and he paid the price. Although he’s not a person you could warm to, I still felt for him, the way I used him wasn’t very nice. His end was painful.
Danno was released and he raced over to him. “See, Mr Van, I got them here, just like I said.” He grovelled, washing his hands with invisible soap.
“Thank you, Danno,” said Van. “You can go now.”
Danno stood his ground. “But, Mr Van,” he whined, “we had a deal.”
“Deal?” said Van dismissively. “I don’t recall any sort of deal.”
“But you said I could have the girl if I told you when they turned up, that’s why I called you when I knew they were coming. She actually took notice of me after years of treating me like I was some sort of fool.”
It seemed like Myra had set a train in motion. The colour drained from her face as the reality sank in. She gasped and gripped my hand. Van had crossed the room and was standing beside us, leaving Danno by the door.
He turned to Myra, a sly grin on his face. “Well, were you, my dear,” he inquired, “interested?”
Myra shuddered. “Not in a million years!” she exclaimed. Van turned back to Danno who was squirming. “There you are then,” he said.
Danno’s shoulders slumped. “But she said… I thought…” he moved towards Myra and the henchmen tensed.
Van waved his hand dismissively and they relaxed. “Very well then,” he said, “if you want her so badly, come and get her.”
Danno kept walking towards Myra, who moved behind me and Rixon; Van calmly took a pistol from his belt and shot him twice in the stomach, the noise echoed around the empty room. Danno took a step back with the force of the bullets, a mystified expression on his face. He coughed, the effort making him wince. He put his hand to his stomach and lifted it to his face. It was red with blood from the stain that was spreading across his shirt.
The effort of raising his hand was suddenly too much for him and it fell back to his side. Blood dripped to the floor; in the shocked silence the splashes sounding as loud as the gunshots had been. Sighing, Danno dropped to his knees, pushing his hands in front of him to steady himself. As his strength faded, he slumped to the ground, the blood forming a pool around his body.
Van replaced the smoking pistol in his belt and turned back to us. We were all stunned by the casual way he had done it. Myra was sobbing.
“He would not have made you very happy, my dear,” he said in that peculiar whisper of his, “whereas I will.”
I’m welling up just reading it back, even though I wrote it more than four years ago. I can see it if I close my eyes, the empty bar, the shocked expressions, even the drifting smoke. And I can feel Myra’s pain; when she realises that it was partly her fault, if she hadn’t flirted with him for a laugh, it would never have happened. Not only that; all that’s about to transpire is down to her.
That’s the trouble with us authors, we don’t just feel our own, real-life emotions. We have a whole back catalogue full of our characters pain to feel as well.
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I’ll be back on Thursday with another Showcase post, featuring an Indie Author with something to say. Please click the links to see the other great blogs on this hop.