Two Instead of One

My heroes, who I describe as being human, want to become traders within the Cold Star Cluster, and later out in the limb of the galaxy. It is a long, slow process of education, training, and growth, of which I have shown only small critical moments.

Traders in the Cluster have to know how to deal with twenty some different peoples on other worlds. They range from one or two who are barely out of their stone ages, to three who have star travel, each using different technologies of their own invention. None of these peoples are human, though some are sort of similar. Not all are mammaloid, though all are warm-blooded, which I declare to be a necessity for developing any kind of technology beyond sticks and stones. Our octopi, for example, despite great intelligence, will never master fire.

These are not actors in rubber suits. Each of the peoples my heroes meet is an original creation — physically, culturally, psychologically, socially — based on what I know of biology and physiology. I have done my best to make them all plausible, if they are not perfectly realistic. I have modeled their societies to some extent on what I know of sociology and anthropology, but they are all their own people. 

It is this creation from scratch, making the strange worlds and peoples, and making them plausible that takes so much effort. It has nothing to do with plot or story, but with context. It is like the immense, creative effort that went into making the Death Star for Star Wars, just so that it would look like a real thing. Or like any part of Lord of the Rings. If my stories were told in my time and place, they would be easy, but perhaps not as interesting. Star Wars is, after all, a western in disguise. It is the galaxy far, far away that makes it different.

I had intended to have only one primary character (i.e. “hero”) and to tell the stories in third person from his point of view, except when I had to pull back, like a movie camera, and become a narrator. But when I am writing at my best, it is organic, and grows on its own. I refuse to be a slave to preconceptions. Sketches and outlines are tools, not straight jackets or prisons. I know writers who depend on them absolutely, and that’s what they need. My stories, being organic, grow of their own accord. It is up to me, as the writer, to make them work as readable fiction.

There was supposed to be only one viewpoint character. There turned out to be two, and that is a challenge I had not anticipated, and I will not deal with it in the conventional way.