This blog is a collection of things that work for me for my writing. No more, no less. While I’m publishing them in the hopes that they may help other authors, I make absolutely no promises, as the first thing I learned was that there is no magic formula for writing. The best you get are guidelines and even those are fuzzy. So, here’s a series of things I do to write.
The first thing I do consistently is research. According to Jaime Paglia in the forward to Hollyweird Science:
In developing [Eureka,] a show about a town of scientific geniuses, we quickly realized one very important thing: we were not scientific geniuses. This proved challenging. We knew the science had to be grounded if the audience was going to buy into the concept of the series (not unlike a certain show [The Six Million Dollar Man] I had loved as a kid). We wanted the sci-fi element of the show to be a catalyst for the character drama, not the drama itself. The Sci Fi (now Syfy) Channel executives asked us to create a series bible covering the dos and don’ts of the show (Grazier and Cass VIII).
This is how I start my stories, even though I write for reading as opposed to screen or theater. Let’s take my current project, a novel by the name Hints of a Whisper. This is both a murder mystery that stands on its own right, and is a route into the “Whisper System” series. Depending on how it goes, I may continue “Hints” as a series of mysteries that (mostly) take place on Horizon Station. So, I have a working guide for the Whisper System covering how much “science fiction” I apply. Here are some example rules for the Whisper System universe:
- FTL travel is common. There are two variants:
- First is a variant of hyperspace. This is similar to a jump drive, as it’s a tunnel of space that’s compressed between two points.
- The second variant is used for shorter hops, which is called a “distortion drive”. The theory is that the distortion drive creates a pocket of space of just a bit bigger than the ship and moves the space instead of the ship. This allows near light speed travel without relativistic effects.
- Humans behave like humans do. This means that crimes are common, including murder, slavery, narcotics, assault, robbery, theft, and even prejudice. This is not a warm and fluffy future, but it’s not dystopian either. People are generally good, but sometimes bad people do bad things, especially in large communities.
- Genetic engineering was common place to create a so-called “artificial life form”, also known as “anthropomorphs” or simply “morphs” who were specifically designed by manipulating animal DNA to make an artificial intelligence with the sole purpose of colonizing worlds. Specifically, they go out to establish worlds for humans to colonize. Many specialized morphs were created for labor, military, and other uses as well.
By establishing these rules early and keeping them consistent, you help reinforce your reader’s suspension of disbelief. This goes for all speculative fiction, not just science fiction. When you write fantasy, you create your rules for magic (or whatever your equivalent is).
Grazier, Kevin R. and Stephen Cass. Hollyweird Science: From Quantum Quirks to the Multiverse. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2015.
Robin. Eureka: how a series finale is supposed to be. 18 July 2012. 3 April 2017. <http://www.fangirlconfessions.com/2012/07/eureka-how-a-series-finale-is-supposed-to-be-done/>.