Story Climax- You Were Saying?

Just posted MILK RUN chapter scene #32 titled “You Were Saying?” to my StoryOrigin Beta Reader site.  

MILK RUN is a military SciFi story about a young captain (fresh out of Space Command Training school) who must get his space battlecruiser, the USS Princeton and its top-secret cargo, the Crowbar, safely to a secluded star base.  But what he thought would be an easy “milk run’ mission turns out to challenge him as a newly minted captain of an outdated spaceship with a finicky old commander and with an enemy (the Telrachnids) that is using his ex-fiancée to defeat him, his ship and mission. 

This chapter represents the climax of the story where Captain Toby Nathanial Louis finally grows into his command and realizes that his battle with the Telrachnids is not in space but right on his bridge.

Some of the feedback from the Beta Readers centered on my use of the term “Helmswoman” instead of using that person’s name.   I used that term as part of command orders issued by Captain Louis.  Examples includes “helmswoman, one-eighth speed, angle away from the gunship to twenty thousand meters,” or “Helmswoman, all engines stop!”  Other battle command orders used in the story include:  “Weapons Officer, fire all weapons at will,” and “Weapons Officer, fire the Sand Rail Cannons at that ship.”  I don’t consider use of the term helmswoman to be derogatory as I could have easily used the term helmsman instead.   Also, for battle command orders like this, I’ve always heard the use of the person’s function instead of the person’s name.   

I kind of liken this person to the “red shirts” that you see on the original Star Trek series.    They are there to serve a ship’s function, but their backstories are not essential to the story’s movement.

Also, I got some feedback that suggested I downplay, perhaps eliminate a romantic subplot that threads through the story.    Normally, romantic scenes in military stories slow the pace down, and maybe even distract from the action.   But like it or not, romance does happen during war time.  

For MILK RUN it’s a three-way affair (it’s not what you think, so take your head out of the gutter) between Toby, his ex-fiancée, and a subsequent ex-girlfriend after the breakup.   In MILK RUN, it turns out that the enemy (the Telrachnids) have compromised Toby’s ex-fiancée and subsequent ex-girlfriend as tools against him.   That’s just two more challenges he has to overcome to accomplish his mission.   This subplot is very minor during the story’s beginning and there’s no gooey romantic scenes, just a few of the usual snarky comments that exes tend to hurl. But the relevance of these relationships become clear at the climax.  Will this technique work?   I don’t know but am having fun playing with it.

So here are two questions for you authors and readers:

  1. Do you find using the term helmswoman (or helmsman) as part of an issued command derogatory?  Or maybe I should just use the term “Helm yo” (seems like yo is becoming the new gender-neutral term) or just “Helm?”
  2. How do you use romance in your SciFi stories, or do you find this aspect distracting?

…and a third bonus question for you:

  1. Are red shirts really the safest color in Star Trek?

As always, I’m looking for more MILK RUN beta readers.  There’s plenty to review at over 30 chapter/scenes posted at my StoryOrigin site.  Want to become a Beta Reader?  Click here then click the big blue “Request Beta Copy” button. 

Meanwhile click here or the book image below and check out 

The Heisenberg Corollary- It’s a cutting-edge SciFi with bloodthirsty aliens that makes you wonder if a band of nerdy scientists can save the multiverse one dimension at a time.

Written by 

Pilot, geek, retired, happy, healthy, loves science/engineering and writing SciFi books!! 🤓

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