Time for another book recipe! This time I’ll be looking at space opera. Grab your laser sword and let’s get started!
- The Chosen One
- An assorted band of noble heroes. Choose your own flavours from any of the following:
- The wise old sage
- The gullible, bumbling innocent
- Space princess
- A loveable rogue who may or may not betray you later on
- Team mascot
- The Most Evil Villain Ever
- Several unnecessary planets
- Space war
- A sweeping, epic romance
- Vats full of DRAMA
- The Most Evil Villain Ever is threatening the galaxy. Oh no! If only there was a hero who could stop them!
- Enter the Chosen One, who almost never twigs that they’ve actually been chosen. They sit around doing nothing much important until…
- …the band of noble heroes arrive! The Chosen One dithers, but eventually gets in their spaceship.
- Time to dodge the villain’s henchmen and deliver some exposition! Bonus points if you can do so mid-laser battle.
- Kickstart the romance. There is a spark but alas, they cannot be together because reasons.
- Go to a different planet. Make sure your readers get a look at how weird it is.
- The Chosen One is doing pretty well! Have a little skirmish with some of the baddies so we can see how far they’ve come.
- But uh-oh, the villain has found out about them! Time for a sinister monologue.
- Go to another planet which is different from the other one. Don’t worry, it’s still weird.
- A trap!
- Kill off your wise old sage. It’s nothing personal, this is just what always happens to fictional mentors.
- Go to a different but still weird planet to do some soul-searching and maybe have a training montage.
- The romance is getting interesting! If only those pesky reasons weren’t in the way.
- But then A BETRAYAL! The Chosen One barely escapes, but everyone else is captured. Captured, not dead, because even villains know you don’t kill off the hostages when we’re heading for the third act.
- The Chosen One flails a bit, but decides to accept their destiny. Time for THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN.
- Enter the villain’s lair (on a different and creepy planet). You won’t get shot when you walk in; the villain’s passed around the memo about the third act.
- Confront the Most Evil Villain Ever. Everyone else is tied up and dangling over a pit of lava, probably, but you’ve still got time for a chat. Get ready for a deep, dark secret to be revealed, but don’t take it to heart – we’ve got to wrap things up.
- The villain presents you with an impossible choice: save your friends or thwart their evil plans. Oh no! HOW CAN YOU CHOOSE???
- You don’t. The Chosen One uses their powers, saves their friends, thwarts the villain’s plan, and hits the button which says ‘Disassemble Evil Empire’. The romance is resolved and everyone goes home for tea and medals.
THE END. Serve in SPAAAAAAAACE.
- Don’t forget the ‘opera’ part of the equation. Singing is optional but all your plots, characters and backstory should be needlessly melodramatic.
- Stuck on the planets? Don’t bother making them all as geographically and biologically diverse as Earth, that would take ages! Just pick a thing and make a planet of it, like so: ‘ice planet’, ‘bug planet’, ‘cheese planet’, etc.
- Don’t worry about explaining how stuff actually works. We’re here for spaceships and laser battles, not for physics.
- Aliens are great for background characters, but never include them in your main group of heroes. How will your readers be able to tell if they’re good or evil if they’re slimy?
- Forbidden romances are your new best friends. But don’t make them too forbidden. No-one’s going to want to read about a romance between a beautiful space princess and a giant floating nostril.
- Don’t forget your future prefixes: ‘cyber-’, ‘holo-’, and ‘laser-’. Put them everywhere.
- Only your villain and background aliens really need to have weird names. Alice and Bob are fine names for your band of heroes, but no-one will take the Dark Lord Billy seriously.
And here’s one I made earlier…
The moon of Frostilia glittered like a diamond. From her vantage point in the cockpit, Rin could see the vast blue surface of the planet. Below, the infamous trull-beasts would be stalking out of their snowy caves, searching for mukda fish in the nitrogen lakes and eating anyone foolish enough to disturb them. Not that they would. They had enough to contend with, what with Lord Qryk’akjuk’s spies.
Then, it exploded.
“Well that’s just great,” snapped Kai Aban. “Now how will we get paid? Gage, check the holo-stabilisers.”
Gage Sparx adjusted his goggles, tripped, picked himself up and went to check a thing that beeped and flashed. It was very important. “Cyber-drive capacity is at fifteen percent, Captain.”
Kai swore. “Fix it!”
Rin tore herself away from the glittery bits of planet. “I don’t understand,” she said, “who could do such a thing?”
“That’s the kind of thing we’re up against, kid,” Kai said, poking at the holo-dashboard. Something beeped, but in a bad way. “These guys ain’t playing around.”
“I got that, they just blew up a planet.”
Kai glared at her. “Leave the sarcasm to the professionals, kid. You just concentrate on your training.”
Gage fiddled about with some wires. There was a spark, a bang, and he went flying across the ship. Rin ignored him and sat down in a huff.
“But I don’t understand,” she said. “How in all the galaxy could I be the one to defeat Lord Qryk’akjuk? Three days ago I was just a simple miner on my home planet of Quarri-27. Then, suddenly, Lord Qryk’akjuk’s troops invaded the mining colony, imprisoned my childhood sweetheart and told us all that unless we revealed the location of the –”
“Yes, we know,” yelled Gage over the buzz of a power saw, “we were there.”
Rin ignored him and put a dramatic hand to her forehead. “– and suddenly I began to glow, and felt a strange magnetic kind of feeling, and also I levitated off the ground for a little while. But surely that can’t mean –”
There was a puff of smoke. Kai flipped a switch and it snapped off. “Yeah, we know,” he growled, “we saw.”
“– and now, I find myself at the centre of a galactic intrigue, caught between the mysterious Princess Ashara and the evil Lord Qryk’akjuk, with nary a soul I can trust, and I don’t know when I shall see my childhood sweetheart again but I swear, my love, I shall return!”
She finished, dramatically gesturing at the ceiling.
“It’s no good, Kai,” Gage said, “we need supplies. Our laser-ports are at thirteen point four.”
Kai smacked the dashboard and swore again, because he was a maverick. “We’re going to have to make a pit stop. What’s the closest space-port?”
Gage pulled up the holo-map. “Formaggio? No, wait, Ellenidor. But we’d have to pass through the Brugdefsel Asteroid Belt. It’s risky, Kai.”
Kai grinned. “Risky is my middle name.”
“No it’s not,” said Gage, “it’s Roger.”
“Well I’m going to change it to Risky and then you’ll have to shut up, won’t you?”
Rin glared at them both. “Have you been listening to a word I said?”
“Oh, sure,” Kai lied, while Gage hid behind a cyber-spanner. “You raised some really good points.”
Rin beamed. “Great! I wanted to get your advice on something, though. As you know, growing up I was always an outsider. I never knew my father, who all said mysteriously disappeared the night I was born and has never been discussed since. But just last week, I found a secret stash of –”
Kai put the spaceship in gear and drove off. He would have to try very, very hard not to aim straight for the asteroids.
My full book-cookbook can be found here. Let me know what you’d like me to look at next – and as always, take this recipe with a pinch of salt.