S.E. Gilchrist: Five Things I Learned Writing Star Pirate’s Justice

Carly has one focus in her life: to return home to her terminally ill younger sister. When she learns that a Darkon traitor possesses gateway maps to Earth, she uses all her skills to track him down. But capturing the charming star pirate turns out to be trickier than she anticipated…

Volkar is determined to prove his innocence to those who drove him to a life lived on the Outer Rim, and he will overcome anyone who gets in his way. But his surprisingly sweet captor has some skills that will come in handy, so he strikes a deal: the maps for her help. Neither expect their partnership to turn into more, but as dark secrets are revealed, their lives become forfeit — and the relationship blossoming between them nothing but a starburst of happiness in the deep shadow of the sky… 


You know that wonderful sparkling moment when an idea pops into your head and you go, OMG that would make a great story! It’s quite possible it will, but I’ve found if I brainstorm my initial idea, really throw a bunch of ideas into my hat (and some are way out of the box) and mix it all up, I can come up with a stronger storyline.

Once I have my initial premise and my major characters, I like to list down 25 things that I want to happen in my story (note this doesn’t mean I’ll go with every single one of these ideas). Then, I’ll list down as many ideas I can think of that MIGHT happen using 10 as a minimum number. I’ll brainstorm all the major characters’ worst fears and their secrets and decide how I can use one or both as the major climax or turning points. For example; in this book, Carly’s worst fear is she’ll never find her way back to her ill sister. So I had the gateway maps snatched from her fingers and now out of her reach.

I did also, initially, have everyone achieve their HEA then I threw that idea out the window too.

I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide whether that was a good decision or not.


Writing spec fiction gives you the perfect excuse to spend literally days researching (in other words procrastination) if you’re not careful. There is so much fascinating material out there and all available at the press of a key. Then there are all those DVD documentaries to purchase. And did I mention the books? See-I’m addicted to research.

Speaking of which, did you know scientists are working on the feasibility of making a space elevator? Recent theories are the use of carbon nanotubes and laser technology. We could hop on the elevator and get off on a space station then board a ship to….?


Don’t get me wrong, science fiction is king. What I hate is me burbling excitedly about a new idea (well, new to me) of say, space travel only to be shot down in flames with a physics lecture by my youngest son. “That isn’t possible, mum….” And he goes on to explain why and I go, “Damit, I thought I was onto a good thing.”

It’s hard keeping up to date with recent discoveries, especially if you’re like me starting off on the hind foot with basic knowledge and with limited writing time in the first place. But what happens if you write something into your story and THEN find out it’s not feasible?

I used space stealth technology in my book, Star Pirate’s Justice. And apparently it’s technically impossible. The radiation the heat of a space ship gives off can be detected. So to make my idea more plausible I’ll spin it a little further in my next book which I’m currently writing. I’ll give my alien race the know-how to funnel this heat radiation into another dimension. And when someone points out it’s too far-fetched? Chocolate and wine sound like a good fall-back position.


I love reading an action adventure book and I’m totally addicted to sci fi TV series. Often though, I’d wonder why the writer or producer didn’t spice the story up with more romantic interests and hefty doses of spicy sex. The first story I wrote was a 50k word contemporary romance which basically had girl meets boy, falls in love, argues then has a HEA. This story had no fire, no depth and no voice. Plus it interested me about as much as shopping for groceries. (And I’m certain would have sent the world into a coma.)

I had my light bulb moment – I’d write what I love to read and watch: a sci fi romance where I could have fun, make up my own rules and make my protagonists face confronting issues. And that story, Legend Beyond the Stars, became the first in my sci fi series and my first published single title. This current release, Star Pirate’s Justice, is definitely more action orientated with slightly less emphasis on the romance. So I’m finding that with each new story I write, I’m morphing more towards an action romance type of genre. And I love it!


Not everyone is going to love your book, the baby of your heart, the story you poured over almost twenty-four hours a day and wrestled with in the sleepless stretches of the cold nights.

You’re kidding me right? How dare they criticise my characters, my story, my writing style? Don’t they realise I’m the writing guru of the world?

Okay, back to planet Earth. People are going to say, I don’t like it and sometimes not in a very nice way. My first bad review depressed me for days; I felt like a failure, that my writing sucked, that no one else would ever buy my book. I felt as if the entire world pointed its collective finger at me. I never wanted to write again. Then came the anger…what do they know anyway?

Please…time to grow a thick skin and suck down a healthy dose of reality.

Focus on the readers who do like your book and your writing style. (And yes, I do receive great reviews too.) I know some writers never read their reviews but I do; I like to see what resonated with readers, what worked and what didn’t. I read the reviews because I want to learn and improve my craft.

Because in the end, the reason I write is to entertain and whisk a reader away from everyday mundane life, if only for an hour or two.

And don’t buy a gun.


S. E. Gilchrist can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a book in her hand. Now she writes stories where her favourite words are …’what if’ and ‘where’? She lives in urban Australia and writes in the genres of futuristic/sci-fi, fantasy, pre-medieval, post-apocalyptic all with a ‘hot’ flavour and sweet, contemporary rural romances.

S. E. Gilchrist is published by Momentum Books and Escape Publishing and is an indie author.

S. E. Gilchrist: Website | Twitter

Star Pirate’s Justice: AmazonAmazon Australia | Amazon UK |  iBooksBarnes and Noble | Kobo


  • And if you have a gun, don’t buy bullets… Great post! I also agree with “dont’ go with your first idea.” However, if the second idea doesn’t work, maybe go with your first idea :)

    • Thanks John. Yeah, its possible the first idea is your instinctive gut response and sometimes that’s the best way to go. I guess if its the strongest idea than that’s the way to go.

  • Question for S.E. in regards to the characters’ fears and secrets… must they enter the story with these fears and secrets, or can they be created as a part of the story?

    I love the list advice… I live by lists for everything else, why not writing?

    • They say rules are for breaking. I certainly wouldn’t treat everything I’ve written as ‘gospel’. This method is one that works best for me. I guess if the characters enter the story already with fears or secrets or both, this is part of their backstory and for me can make their ‘issues’ stronger if they’ve been living with them for longer. I don’t see why they couldn’t be forged as part of the story line. I feel though, if so, they would need to be either resolved or confronted in some way also as part of the story line – but that’s only my opinion. This may also need to be considered in line with the book length of your story. If they already have these problems, it may be easier to meet your book length target. Just a thought.
      Thanks Beverly for dropping by and for your thought provoking question. :)

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