Starship Operators

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Today I’d like to discuss a series I stumbled upon called Starship Operators. I found it after doing a Google search on science fiction anime with female protagonists. It is an interesting piece of anime that I will go in depth over. First off the main character is a girl named Shinon and this is what she looks like:

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It starts off with the battleship emerging from FTL and she’s on the bridge alerting the Captain that everything checks out. As a Cadet, she’s nearly finished with her courses and will be graduating soon. The Captain proceeds to tell her: “I’ve always found your voice to be soothing, Shinon. It’s like listening to a digital recording.” He then goes on to basically insult her and tell the girl she’d make a miserable secretary.

A aggressive Kingdom attacks her home world and the government surrenders without fighting back. The senior officers abandon ship-per orders from the conquerors-leaving Shinon and the cadets behind. From there things get interesting. The Cadets decide to fight back but they need to own the ship, so they make a deal with the Galactic Network to air themselves as a reality show.  I won’t give the rest of the plot away but Shinon isn’t your typical female lead. She’s conflicted, confused by emotion and a more realistic portrayal than most are.

The series also plays fair, for the most part, with physics. Lasers aren’t seen until they strike-which is what would happen in real life.  It also has ship battles taking hours before they fight due to the large distances involved-as would real life.

So, in a nutshell, if you want a science fiction anime that plays fairly nice with physics and has a different type of protagonist, then this is for you.

 

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Description in a Novel

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Another post I see a lot when cruising the various boards is “What is too much description?” While description is necessary to a novel, it also slows down you pace. So, when you’re writing your novel and you go ahead and write two pages of description, ask yourself: Is this necessary?

The key is to give them just enough description to be drawn into the story, but not enough to keep them from using their imagination. Now, I can hear what you’re saying. “But..but..what about showing versus telling?” While you want to mix showing AND telling into your novel, there’s no point in taking a page to describe a room. It get’s boring to a reader and also slows your story down to a crawl. There’s a quote, believe it or not given his writing, from King on this:

“In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing

A big problem, and one I too had to overcome, is being in love with your own words. Too many writers don’t want to cut down their description “because it won’t show the world to the reader.” If you feel that you need to give them every little tidbit then you’re insulting your reader!!! They aren’t so stupid that they can’t piece together the information you left out! Have a little faith in them. Second, when I hear folks say: “I just finished my first novel and it’s 300k words long,” I know they’re in love with their words. Unless you’re trying to write War and Peace, no novel needs to be that long-especially if you’re a new writer.

Also, and you can’t skip this step, description isn’t something that you just learn how to do. Only by reading great novels, learning from them, and writing your own work will you improve in the situation. I’ll leave you with one last quote from King:

“Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing

Happy writing and good luck!

How To Make Your Character More Likable

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As I cruised the forums, I found a post that’s ongoing about how to make a character likable. It caused me to shake my head. Characters are people. What makes a person likable? Well here goes:

1. Personality

2. Flaws

3. Mindset

4. Actions

These are the same that allow us to differentiate between people we like and those we don’t like. And, in my opinion, we’re all assholes, it’s just whether we get along with them. There’s a great quote on that subject in Die Hard 2: Die Harder:

John McClane: Guess I was wrong about you. You’re not such an asshole after all.

Grant: Oh, you were right. I’m just your kind of asshole.

That sums us up as people. Each of us are arrogant (some more than others), calculating, self-centered, and insecure. It’s those qualities that not only differentiate each of us from others, but it’s also the thing that makes us human.

How many times have you read a novel and found the character to be flat and wooden or a straight up Mary Sue? It really turns you off to the book doesn’t it? That’s because the writer didn’t take time to develop the character and make them real. Now that doesn’t mean you need to give every ounce of back story either. Stephen King had a good quote on that:

“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing

The best way to make a likable character is to give them some quality that people can relate to. Even the ‘loner’ character can cause the reader to root for him or her. So, to put things in a nutshell, it’s making real, breathing characters. If you have a hard time doing that, than look at the people around you. What makes them who they are? How do they act? What do they believe in?

A likable character comes from another element writers need to do: be observant.

Happy writing.