I used to want to be a truck driver
But I wanted to do it in space, not on the Earth.
Of course I didn’t exactly think of it in those terms. I thought in terms of exploring, discovering, meeting aliens and trading with them. High on the list of my favorite books were Andre Norton’s Solar Queen novels. But I eventually realized that the parts I most enjoyed were those that were planet side. In between, you’ve got long trips in a small tin box that you have to keep in repair, fueled, and going the right direction.
I was crushed. Nope, no career as a Free Trader for me. Yes, I was still very young when I realized that it wasn’t the trip, it was the destination that I wanted. And then I had to admit that I wasn’t ever going to get to explore any real planets either.
But what about Fiction?
Readers want both. The journey and the destination. As a writer, you have to do your best to give it to them.
And they don’t want it easy, either. They want the main character to have to work for it. There must be a trip, whether physical, mental, emotional, or social. There should be a destination in mind. This could be a place, a person, a state of mind. Or money. “I want to be rich” is a perfectly good destination.
But I write mostly science fiction with a few fantasy elements thrown in. Spaceships, time machines, and dimensional portals.
If the vehicle’s a space ship, the MC has to earn a place in the crew/ build, repair, find or steal the spaceship itself/buy a ticket/stowaway or otherwise have a bit of trouble getting started. Well, OK. I’ll admit to have read books where the MC was already settled in place. That just means he’s about to get very _un_settled.
Once the MC’s aboard, the real trouble starts. A problem with the ship? An attack from outside? An unexpected encounter with a natural phenomena? The hero solves it, only to realize that he’s caused another problem.
Now there can be any number of try/fail sequences, both on the trip, and possibly even the grand finale, the biggest fight, at the destination.
And then, the wrap up. The settling in, in the new place (even if it’s metaphorical, and mostly a matter of emotional maturation) Or the return home. Or the decision to venture onward.
This works in most genres. My characters in one book figure out how to travel across dimensions to parallel Earths. In a later book, the new set of young characters have to earn a place in the Directorate to gain access to the trans-dimensional gates, train to join teams that explore extinct civilizations or protect a scientific expedition to study dinosaurs.
_Getting there_ is a part of the story.
Then you can have more adventures, more try/fail sequences. Until the final battle. Then you get home, more or less intact. Changed. Hopefully improved.
It’s all part of the trip.
Can you see your story as a trip? Is your story the getting there, or is the destination where most of the story takes place?
And, shameless promotion . . . hmm, how about a couple of short stories?