To raise awareness of the QWF’s new Literary Prize for Young Writers (ages 16-24), we’re asking people to share online the first characters they remember creating using #writeyoung.
The first I remember creating were a ragtag bunch of space cowboys for a series I never got around to writing called Planet of Sound. As a kid, I knew I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t know what to write about. So, I borrowed heavily from movies, TV shows and music. I got the idea for Planet of Sound from an original Star Trek episode called “A Piece of the Action,” where the crew of the Enterprise stumble upon an alien planet whose culture has been heavily influenced by a book left behind by a Starfeet officer. The book, Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, became a kind of a guidebook to life and the entire planet’s population began to act like gangsters.
I liked the idea of a society being contaminated by books, TV and music, so I thought I would do the same for Planet of Sound. In my story, a convoy of 73 people from five different planets stumble upon an abandoned Earth. The only thing left behind are the relics of our culture, and they are quickly consumed by my characters. So much so, that they abandon their exploratory mission and decide to live by the tenets of these relics on the planet below.
The first character I created was a man who called himself Gun. He was a modern cowboy from the planet Dax, and he had electric blue hair, a fluorescent water pistol (they were non-violent cowboys) and spurs on the back of his Doc Martens boots. Rounding out his crew (who were called the Strangers) were Custard (his best friend), Vixen (his love interest), Karl (her dog), Bev (addicted to Pez), Spherehead (a brute whose gun shot confetti) and Tigr (the driver). The gang travelled in a van that had robotic horses in the back that they could fly. Their mission: to party!
Next, I created a gang for them to butt heads with. These were space pirates who sailed the sky in a vessel that looked like a pirate ship. At the helm was Pox (who had a rooster on her shoulder, instead of a parrot), Weasel (the lookout), Webra (who had a bedazzled eye-patch) and Earthworm (who wore a blue beard).
And that wasn’t all! There was also a royal gang (who played the roles of king, queen, knight and jester), monsters (who role played in Halloween costumes) and beachers (who surfed and played volleyball). And there were bad guys too: authoritarian figures who studied fascist handbooks and dressed like state police. They wanted to bring everyone back to their home planets and created a swarm of robotic space sharks that would attack the cowboys and pirates.
It was a lot, I know. And it’s all over the place and there are crazy plot holes (I only wrote 30 pages), but I had so much fun creating this universe that these 73 lived in. It was probably the first time I used my imagination in a concrete way. And even though I didn’t know how to tell the story, how to develop their characters or build a plot, I still loved spending time with these characters who existed only in my head. And it was here I discovered the thrill and power of creativity.
So, in celebration of their potential, QWF has created the Literary Prize for Young Writers. Are you one? Do you know someone who is? Deadline to submit is June 15. Read more about it here.
And what about you? Who’s the first character you remember creating? Share it online using #writeyoung.