Futuristic Vehicles by Diane Burton

Posted on Dec 19, 2013 by   8 Comments | Posted in Blog · Uncategorized

When I grew up in the Detroit-area, every adult I knew worked in the auto industry. They either made cars or made the parts for the cars. Maybe that’s why Detroiters love their cars. I sure do. I love the sleekness of the Corvette, but practicality (and budget) dictates a Chevy.

So when I began writing futuristic novels one of the things I had to figure out was transportation. What kind of vehicle would my heroine have? I need to consider her temperament and her job. In my science fiction romance The Pilot, my heroine is very proud and won’t take charity. As a runaway teen, she indentured herself to a mechanic to survive. After her servitude was finished, she continued to work for him until she could pay for a broken-down cargo hauler, repairing it on her own time. Her ship isn’t glamorous, but it’s functional. On the other hand, the hero came from a wealthy family. His ship is a sleek, top-of-the-line “muscle” ship.

Describing futuristic vehicles takes a bit of imagination. Sure, you can use what you’ve seen in movies or what you’ve read in other sci-fi books. But you don’t want to just copy. You want to make those vehicles your own.

Start with your setting. Does your story take place entirely in space or on land? Or a combination? What’s the culture? Is this a sophisticated society that has a long history of space mobility or one where space travel is in its infancy? If your story takes place on land, consider the same questions.

Consider function. What’s the purpose of the vehicle, besides getting from one place to another? Does the vehicle carry passengers or freight? Is it used for exploration? Or is it a military vehicle? How many people can the ship carry? Does it carry armament? Does it have Faster Than Light (FTL) drive?

My imagination only goes so farso I have to look for pictures that will give me a jumping off point. For each book, I Google stock photo sites or search on Pinterest for spaceships. Thanks to Linnea Sinclair’s yahoogroup, here are some
Sites for starship schematics:

Star Trek Voyager Schematics
Klingon Bird of Prey
Star Trek Ship blueprints


Once you have the particulars of your ship in mind, it helps to sketch it out. You need to be as familiar with the vehicle as the characters who ride in it. As with many things in your story, you—the author—must know more than the reader. Just as you wouldn’t “dump” the hero’s backstory in the first chapter, you don’t want to bore the reader with a detailed description of the vehicle. Use a light hand and treat the vehicle the way you would a car, motorcycle, or airplane. The reader will get the picture through the characters’ eyes and actions.

Happy travels!

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched series,she is the author of The Pilot, the first book in a series about strong women on the frontier of space. One Red Shoe is her first romantic suspense. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books
visit Diane’s WEBSITE


8 Responses to "Futuristic Vehicles by Diane Burton"

  1. Comment by Cathryn Cade
    December 19, 2013 5:09 pm


    Well said! I wonder now how many features of favorite cars show up in my space vehicles.

    I think I rely as you and other writers do, on the fabulous research done by the big TV and movie writers. I also include features from luxury jets in my char personal craft. Those private cabins and sleeping quarters, you know!

    Thanks for including the site link for more research.

    Cathryn Cade

  2. Comment by Diane Burton
    December 19, 2013 6:32 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Cathryn. Yes, I’ve used cabins in luxury jets and yachts for ideas for the interiors of some space vehicles. Luxury is luxury no matter what time period. 🙂

  3. Comment by Carol A. Strickland
    December 19, 2013 8:03 pm

    I have a novel coming up that takes place in a gigantic space station. When I get a chance to work on it again (I hope this will be soon), I’ve decided to draw a schematic and try to figure out how heavy things will be on the different levels. Then I’ve got to review that string theory book to recall how the propulsion systems function on the ships visiting that station. Whew.

  4. Comment by Diane Burton
    December 19, 2013 10:13 pm

    It sounds like you have a handle on how to work out the details, Carol. Good luck!

  5. Comment by Melissa Keir
    December 19, 2013 10:52 pm

    I love cars and always have. Honestly, I thought we’d have flying cars by now. It’s frustrating that we don’t. 🙁 Come on.. let’s get that going!

    I love the blog and the details which are so important. Thanks for sharing the links.

  6. Comment by Diane Burton
    December 20, 2013 3:13 am

    Wouldn’t flying cars be great? Esp. during rush hour. 🙂 Thanks, Melissa.

  7. Comment by Laura Aulenbacher
    December 21, 2013 7:49 pm

    Hello everyone,
    Newbie here. We do have flying cars, but we don’t have the infrastructure to use flying cars on a daily basis. I read a couple of articles two or three years ago about the prototypes having been invented. Alas, that would sure help me as well as cars that drive themselves. I am 50 minutes from work everyday. I love being on a site where we all have different out of this world premises that we are working on.

    • Comment by Diane Burton
      December 22, 2013 10:29 pm

      My husband & I have often joked that we should engage auto-pilot because our car knows the way to [xxx] since we drove there so often. One of these days…

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