We often talk about our writing in general, but we never show off our writing skills in Authors Answer. Well, since I am on my way to Canada soon, let’s find out how we describe the trip.
Question 73 – Jay Dee is moving to Canada in less than a week. In the voice of one of your characters, how would they describe a nine hour flight from Japan to Canada?
Drake sighed and nudged Geoffrey to get his attention.
“I’m bored,” he complained.
“Have another drink,” Geoffrey suggested, looking up from his book.
“I’ve tried drinking,” Drake said patiently. “It didn’t work. You know that alcohol alone could never intoxicate me. I considered propositioning one of the stewardesses, but I was never one for quickies, and I only have seven hours left on this flight, after all.”
“You know, I have trouble telling when you’re joking.”
“I’m not joking. I have seven hours left to kill on this absurd trip. Why did I ever agree to this in the first place?”
“You were the one who wanted to see Japan.”
“Yes, but I assumed you’d agree to teleport there, not box me into this primitive contraption.”
“You didn’t have to ride along with me.”
“I wouldn’t have if I’d realized it was going to take so damn long.”
Geoffrey just shook his head and resumed reading.
“You know,” Drake said slyly. “I do have a few hours to kill.”
“What?” Geoffrey asked, looking up, alarmed.
Drake didn’t answer. He was eyeing an obnoxious inebriated man in the expensive suit, with bad intentions.
Osrith stared at the steel construct, impressed with the metalwork, but skeptical it could even leave the ground, let alone fly thousands of leagues through the air.
“You’re not getting me on that thing, I don’t care how you say it works.”
Vaujn shrugged. “The Dacadians used to have airships. I’ve seen the plans, read a little about them. Same basic idea, here. Thrust pushes air against the wing surface, and that provides the lift to bring the beast airborne. Just like a bird.” The underkin scratched his beard, reconsidering. “Maybe more like a dragon.”
Osrith was largely unimpressed with his companion’s assurances. “Yeah. Well, I’m not like to climb into a dragon, either,” he responded.
“The Dacadians used some sort of aulden artifact to provide the necessary energy to lift their ships. These shiny birds seem to rely less on magic and more on some advanced physience. Those artifices on the underside of the wings, I think.”
Osrith laughed. “Even better. An airship contrived from the Forbidden Arts. If we don’t die horrible deaths inside the damned contraption, we’ll be executed for surviving.”
“Do you want to see this hockey thing with the sticks and the fighting on ice, or not?” Vaujn asked. “Because if you do, then Kassakan says we need to take off on this thing and go to the Great White North.”
“To the Great White North, yes. That’s what she said.”
“Not sure I want to see this hockey-fight that bad.”
“They serve free ale onboard.”
“One free ale ain’t gonna – ”
“No. Free ale for the whole trip. You sit in a little seat by a window and they bring as much as you can stomach. Seven bells from here to there, she says, so that’s a cask or two, I’d imagine. Each.”
“Gods,” Osrith whispered reverently. “What are we waiting for?”
“Barber, it was very strange,” Kira said. “I’ve never been farther above the ground than a horse’s back, and they said we were flying at thirty-thousand meters. And fast, too. I could see nothing below us except clouds for a time, and then the ocean. I was not so much scared as…confused. Everything here is so different.”
Never mind the f*cking breakfast, just give me a scotch! ~ George Anderson.
“I’d barely known what was going on getting on the plane, but once it rose into the air, it didn’t take long to get used to it. I do not say that was a good thing. Here I was, flying for the first time, and bored less than a tenth of the way into the journey. The view out the window was featureless, and unlike the ship we’d taken going the other way, none of our fellow passengers were inclined to socialize with strangers. So I wound up talking to Alice for hours, and in the end my first trip in a plane was little different from my first trip in a car, aside from being so long I had no energy at the end.”
My scifi character would say: Great Geva this is the slowest form of transportation that humans could possibly conceive of. Who has time to sit in one place for nine hours when they could take a high speed transport and be there in one, or get an implant and be there in less than a minute?
Note: the character who is speaking comes from a parallel world in which modern technology simply does not exist.
Note #2: I suspect that this wasn’t really the intention of the question, but I felt the easiest way for my character to “describe” the flight was to simply write a short little scene in which he is the narrator. I hope that’s okay!)
“Jacob…Jacob, are you okay?”
Victoria was giving me a very odd look, and as I worked desperately to extract my fingers from around the arms of my seat, I couldn’t really blame her. I was certain that all the blood had drained out of my face during the airplane’s departure. Victoria had assured me that there was nothing to this “flying” thing, but from the moment the airplane sprang to life I’d been struggling not to scream.
“Did your ears pop?” she was asking, a bit of a smile on her face.
I forced myself to nod, but the painful pop that had seemed to split my head in two was the last thing on my mind right now. I was too busy staring out the tiny window as the world beneath us got smaller and smaller and clouds began to appear. Without wanting to, I began to imagine that we would just keep rising and rising until we reached the stars and disappeared among the heavens.
“Jacob, seriously,” Victoria whispered in my ear. “Just calm down and breathe. I know it’s strange to you, but I promise we’re perfectly safe, and it’ll only take nine hours for us to get from Japan to Canada.”
I felt my fingers clenching around the armrests again. Nine hours. Nine hours to get from one side of the planet to the other. It’s like some kind of black magic.
“Excuse me, Sir?” asked the airplane lady who had leaned in from the aisle. She held a silver can in one hand and was offering it out to me with a friendly smile. “Would you like to purchase an alcoholic beverage?”
“Dear gods, yes.”
I, 5 year old Timmy (and my favoritest bunny, Barnaby) would love it. But prolly after a little while I would get tired and hungry. Hope you brought some coloring books. Or maybe my tablet so I can play some games. I love “Dumb Ways to Die” and “Zoo Train”. You’ll prolly want to me sleep, but I’ll fight it because naps are for babies. I’ll get tired and eventually fall asleep for a little while anyway. And airplane food is gross!
Considering my protagonist is an earth-oriented pseudo-shaman, I think he’d be curled up in the footwell of the seats, not daring to look out the window. Meanwhile my antagonist (a sorcerer) would be complaining about the in-flight movie and slyly commenting on such potential dangers as a lightning storm or on-board fire in order to further traumatize the protagonist.
In the words of Dexter McMahon: “So let me get this straight. You expect us to sit in this airplane for nine hours as it travels over land and sea. We’ll be thousands of miles in the air. And all you’re giving me is this flimsy belt to keep me in the chair? Can I get a parachute? How about some rum?”
Sol, my “title” character, would find it irritating. “Si’ in a single spot f’ nine hours – tch. Curious eyes ’round ‘ere. Wonder wha’ they’d show me…” he’d say. and proceed to question passengers about their dark pasts and questionable futures for shits and giggles.
Paolo Fernandes relating his experience to his wife: “I couldn’t believe how slow it was. Flying through the air all the way across the Pacific is so inefficient and time consuming. I was hoping for a suborbital flight. But what did I get? An old jet from the beginning of last century. The food wasn’t very good, but at least the entertainment was interesting. I love those classic movies.”
How about you?
How would you describe a flight across the Pacific in the voice of a character you created?
8 thoughts on “Authors Answer 73 – A Flight Across the Pacific”
Reblogged this on On the Edge of Enlightenment and commented:
It’s probably a good thing that these people aren’t all on the same flight.
Oh, you have no idea… 🙂
Reblogged this on North of Andover and commented:
Really, you need to read this one: interesting and entertaining story fragments from various authors about how their characters would react to a long airplane flight.
Reblogged this on and commented:
We all create different characters and different worlds, but what if all those characters were taking a flight across the Pacific ocean? That’s the question we’re wondering about this week on Authors Answer!
I hadn’t intended to write anything for this, but then something presented itself, so…
“Turbulence,” he said, just loudly enough to be heard by the people sitting closest to him.
Thirty seconds later, the plane lurched once, twice, and then settled into more-or-less steady shaking.
That’s when the light came on overhead, and a woman made the standard ‘experiencing a little turbulence, nothing to worry about’ announcement.
“We didn’t have to do it this way, you know,” one of his companions complained.
He shrugged. “I find it rather relaxing, letting someone else handle the, ah, travel arrangements.”
“Sure you do.”
“Well, maybe it makes me feel normal.”
“Hate to break it to you, Jon, but the ‘normal’ ship flew without you a loooong time ago.”
That’s when the plane decided to change from more-or-less steady shaking to a jerky side-to-side shudder.
“Could be worse,” said another of his companions. “Remember the last time we did this, with that folk dance troupe practicing in the aisle the whole way? What a bunch of weirdos.”
(This is where I stop. Wrote more, but I decided that naming any of his companions would be, at the least, possible plot spoilers for the far future. Also, one of the aforementioned companions has already had a scene and is trying to make Really Bad movie-title puns about it, and I don’t approve of that sort of thing happening in my brain.)
Puns are fun, though. And for the record, I enjoy turbulence.
Turbulence doesn’t bother me, but being surrounded by dozens of people having mild panic attacks because they’re convinced the plane is about to plummet from the sky… Not fun. On the other hand, I was able to use that aspect of the experience when writing one of the early scenes for “that novel.”
We had quite a bit of turbulence last week, and everyone was calm.