One character that changed a lot as I wrote the story was Bipasha. I wanted a strong female character for the Hero to fall for. I figured it to be an “exotic” sort, one that was a hard-headed business person, creating tension between the somewhat idealistic and fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Hero and a very practical business manager. Well, that didn’t quite work out as planned, either.
The basic character was “smart, educated, beautiful, business-minded, practical.” I figured there’s be friction of several sorts, and it could be put into tension, much like Inara and Mal in Firefly – both good people, just totally different types. Their difference is typified by their parting on the liner: he’s carrying everything he owns in a duffle, by himself, she doesn’t carry her own bags (just does not do that). But as I wrote, the friction between her and Helton seemed to continue, and with Allonia there… But then my editor said Bipasha came off sounding bitchy, just a whiny princess. I realized that Helton was fundamentally a working-class guy, something of a dreamer, but mostly a hands-on doer, and the friction was because Bipasha had her sights in life aimed high, and found his low-brow flippancy frustratingly unserious, and she’s serious (stamp foot!). She comes from a comfortably well-off family, and had expected to take the business world by storm, meeting a wealthy mister-right quickly, and do wonderful things in short order simply because she was bright, beautiful, educated, and had a good head for business. Sort of like the unrealistically high expectations many recent college grads have today.
She was frustrated doing drone-work for her (other) uncle. If she was doing the exact same thing (lining of jobs and cargo, logistics, etc), aboard a nice, large, cushy starliner, with a large crew of nice, educated, handsome young men, that she’s doing aboard Taj, except with dollar amounts that were a hundred times the size, she’d be in heaven. But her sky-high expectations crashed to ground, and she had a terrible time coming to grips with the interesting and exciting duties, but on a type of ship she just never pictured herself doing anything but laughing at, let alone working on. She finds herself falling for a lowly sergeant, a field soldier, not some snappy-uniformed officer with a regular schedule, in an out-of-the-way planet on a ancient ship with a captain that is a good guy, but just not serious enough.
So the tension was there, but it was mostly within her, and so it came out as comic relief, because Helton was essentially passing her by (Allonia, right?), and Bipasha’s is unused to not being taken seriously and sought after. It’s not that she really means him ill, it’s just that she can’t believe someone so seemingly unserious can not only have something real to offer, and have some actual depth of personality, but can actually be doing something significant. She finds herself in the seeder side of the world she’s got no experience with, and didn’t expect to be in, and is only just starting to come to terms with the fact that in many ways she’s the least useful member of the crew by the end of the story.
So what had started out being written as the primary love-interest of the Hero turned out to be just one of a large cast.