Mecha, Character and Mecha Characters


One of the unique challenges of writing a mech series is figuring out how to balance your mechs and your human characters.

I don't mean that in a pen and paper role-playing game way. I'm talking about balancing reader expectations and the needs of the story.

When you're writing a mech novel, be it Eastern or Western style, you know readers are showing up for the giant robots.

At the same time, human characters with identifiable motivations are needed to have a plot--unless you're going the all-A.I. route. But ontologically, I'd argue that a true A.I. would be essentially human with some unusual accidents.

The challenge is to keep the big robots involved and integral to the proceedings without letting them overshadow the characters. That's a high wire act I pull off by giving the mechs a bit of character.

If you've read Coalition Year 40, you know what I mean. The XSeeds' artificially intelligent OS's start out the same but diverge to accommodate each mech's mission profile and each pilot's fighting style. The XSeeds' individual specializations also give each one an extra bit of visual flare.

The key is to keep the tried and true formula of giving your characters motivations befitting their backgrounds and throwing some serious opposition at them. Where the mechs come in is as obstacles placed by the enemy and as means of tackling those obstacles.

For a more in-depth treatment of giant robots and characters in mech fiction, see these live streams I appeared on over the weekend. First up, I return to Geek Gab to talk mecha with Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal. Then Ben Wheeler leads a thoughtful discussion of character on Superversive SF.

If you're interested in mech fiction in general, or Combat Frame XSeed in particular, I encourage you to check out both episodes.

As you may have noticed, I'm currently running a crowdfunder for XSeed book 3. Thanks to my generous readers, this campaign is on course to be our most successful yet. Keep the momentum going, claim sweet perks like Series 3 CF trading cards, and support a writer who doesn't hate you!

NB: If you've been eyeing my editing services, this Indiegogo campaign affords you the best deal going on a novel edit. The offer also includes a marketing consult, plus all three XSeed books in digital and Book 3 in trade paperback. It counts as a non-expiring retainer, too, so you're guaranteed a slot on my editing schedule whether you submit your manuscript tomorrow, next month, or next year.

To secure this deal, simply follow the forthcoming link to Indiegogo, scroll down the list of rewards, and claim the Pro Editing perk.


  1. Alright. Gundam style mecha are normally not my scene - at all - but next week I SPLURGE, splurge I say, on the "all the ebooks" level. The interview piqued my interest.

  2. Ah, specifically the Sunday Superversive interview.

    1. I appreciate the valuable insight. It is critical for an author to know what makes a reader pull the trigger on a sale.

    2. Yeah, the hints at the various psychopathic characters kinda got me. I wouldn't have bet on that beforehand; revealed preferences?

    3. I thought that was the giant robots???

    4. Various psychopathic characters populate the Soul Cycle as well.

      At least we don't have to say, "Oh, Brian Niemeier, no!"

  3. I am sorry that I missed most of the Geek Gab podcast, and knew nothing about the Sunday Superversive until this post. Had you mad an announcement that you were going to be on them and I missed it?

    1. It was an oversight on my part. I got busy and lost track of time.