How I Made the Biggest Mistake of the Speculative Writer

So, I have a great idea for a series. The year is 2080 and America is no longer the world’s great superpower. In a treaty with China, which refinanced the national debt, America was required to change its budgeting practices, so its national debt stopped growing and the Chinese government could have a stable and reliable source of interest income. The Chinese have ventured space, setting up mines on the Moon, Mars, and Moons of Jupiter using forced labor.

Meanwhile, back in America, the tax rates are absurd with the average American paying 75% of their income in taxes, with top rates hitting 90%.  Bart Braddock is the only American spaceship Captain and earns money primarily by flying supplies to college university research facilities which are required to hire an American to fly their supplies in, if an American ship is available.

Enter Captain Wong, an American-born man who renounced his U.S. Citizenship to get all the benefits of Chinese citizenships. However, Wong wanted to pay the much lower Chinese Tax Rate, so he would be able to save money for his grand adventure-a trip into deep space to establish a new colony away from the hard tyranny of the Chinese government and the soft tyranny American government. Wong wants to recruit Braddock to be his first mate, so that he can recruit Christians to serve on the ship.

It’s an interesting concept. However, when I sat down to write the story, I ran into problem in my wife’s review of the story. The question came down to this, “Who is Captain Braddock?” and why should readers care about our hero?

I’d made the ultimate mistake of science fiction and fantasy writers. I fell in love with the concept and forgot to get a grasp of the characters.  The only thing I think I knew coming into the initial scene was that Captain Braddock loved clam chowder. Somehow, that’s not enough to base a story on.

I also have to confess I may have made another mistake that’s common to all  Christian fiction, an that is making my non-Christian characters more interesting and compelling. Captain Wong is the revolutionary genius who has hatched a plan to re-establish liberty in another galaxy. Captain Braddock–well, he likes sea food and he’s a Christian. It seems to me that many of us authors suffer under the belief that becoming a Christian sucks all of the life and vigor from a person, so they are little more than dull, flat, and limited. In many stories that lead up to a character’s conversion as the end, there’s a suggestion that conversion ends the character’s ability to interesting and compelling.

So, I have quite a quandry to work myself out of. But at least I know I’m in it.