Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

11

Sometimes for me, when growing the setting first, I find it generates new characters, details and interactions that lead to a story organically growing out of the exercise. There are many ways to start putting a story together and very few are right or wrong. Still… Pros A cure for writer’s block; if you want to write but don’t know where to begin, ...


10

It's actually totally easy. Just let your characters interact with their environment in a natrual way. Here's a real world example, showing different systems of paying the fare for a public bus: Out of breath from running to the bus stop, John was still struggling with the ticket machine when the bus approached around the corner. (Konstanz, Germany) ...


9

I think you're confusing motives and details. You mentioned people from 500 years ago being very different from us. What concerns do we share over the centuries? Survival basics: food, shelter, clothing. There really wasn't a "middle class" in 1513, but you could argue there was a merchant class, so a Genovese trader could be worried whether his next ...


8

Why do we really connect with a character anyway? It's not because they're human - not neccessarily, although it helps. But why do animated films work? Why does an audience care if Nemo finds his Dad, or if Ratatouille becomes a chef? They're animated animals, right? A reader or viewer will always emphasize and sympathize with any human or ...


8

When I look at historic and literary sources from the past 3000 years, from the epics of Homer to the present day, I cannot find any fundamental differences between the people that have lived then and those that live today, at least none that are greater than intercultural, class or gender differences among the present populace. We are all driven by the same ...


7

This beginning does not grip me. Indeed it puts me off. For three reasons: I've had quite enough of books beginning with some dystopian teenage initiation rite. The claim that "this is the day" is completely vague and unexciting. And after the third unfamiliar concept (Booster, Emergence, Divide, Purgatory) I'm completely bored and ready to close the book. ...


7

Introducing some kind of mystery is a common technique for hooking a reader's interest, but by itself it feels like teasing: the writer knows something but won't share it with the reader yet. So no, this does not entice me; it annoys me, makes me feel manipulated because your narrator is being deliberately coy. Try combining it with another technique: engage ...


7

If you can do it in the story, and the story will not lose on it, do it. If this would hurt the story, do it in prologue. There are a few reasonable tipping points: BORING. If the elements of the world would not add to the story. It would be lengthy and tedious. Do a quick info dump and be done with it as painlessly as possible. No room for good ...


7

One of the noblest quests of science fiction is to attempt to create a convincing alien. Most of the ones we find, even in good quality science fiction, are mere variations of human beings. Yet stories, even entire novels, have certainly been written in which no human being appears. Trying to understand alien beings is an important metaphor for the crucial ...


7

One of the big mistakes I've seen in some people's writing is that they focus on wanting to show the reader that "Hey, I've thought about these things and they are really important!" when they aren't. If you're story is going to be about physicists or chemists or other scientists dealing with the particular periodic table elements, then I can understand ...


6

Well, part of the answer is in your question. If you don't want all the technical information, and the explanations of why things are, just skip to the last section, then look for explanation as needed. Let's go over individual parts. The novel was written in 1992 First, the year 1992. In 1992, information was rather limited. There was no way to ...


6

Some of the choice of words depends on the desired feel of the story. The reader might be an invisible observer of this alien world with a fellow human guide explaining various details. This expert may be a tourist or have a more scientific bent (e.g., sociological, biological, or physical/chemical). With such a feel, wording would be more human-oriented ...


5

Some cultural changes over the past century or five have been very deep, and some have been shallow. It’s much easier for women to get divorced; that’s a deep change. They often announce those divorces on Facebook; that’s a shallow change. (The growth of social media in general is a deep change, but this particular use of those media is shallow.) For ...


5

Locus Magazine has an annual poll, dating back into the 1970s. You can search Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database (http://sffrd.library.tamu.edu) using the subject term "Polls and Surveys" for other sources. The database is not full-text, so you will have to obtain the material from libraries.


5

Absolutely. CJ Cherryh's stock-in-trade is advanced sophisticated nonhuman species, and showing how humans flail around when meeting them. Foreigner (15 books and counting) Human among atevi The Faded Sun trilogy Human among mri The Chanur Saga Human among kif And those are just the ones I've read. The woman is more prolific than Asimov. And she's ...


5

Get down inside the character's head and focus on sensory details. Write what the character sees, hears, smells, feels, tastes. Write what he thinks about those sensory details. Pay particular attention to any details that the character has an opinion about.


5

“Drake? Hey, wake up.” My eyes opened to someone standing over me. She had steel gray eyes and long, black hair that fell to her side. She was young and beautiful yet, she gave off a mature vibe. “Oh, welcome home Grace.” I said, yawning. Brandon Sanderson did this time and again in The Alloy of Law and it drove me crazy; My eyes ...


5

Short version: Carefully. Long Version: It is definitely true that any kind of fantasy/sci if setting that departs in its construction significantly from the shabby parade of commitment phobic half-truths we call reality will require some explanation to, and understanding from, that most ferociously temperamental creature known as the reader. The best ...


4

Consider general problems/trends/concepts instead of specific realizations/models, then think up techs that resolve/accentuate the general ideas you started with. Techs here don't have to be electronic. Anything that has a clear method/blueprint is a tech to me. So, a government, a math theorem, a tablet, a pen and a paper, a template of anything, a human ...


4

Human names are often extremley alien. Think of bushman names with click sound. Or think of French names and how unhappy your French teacher was with your desperate attempts at pronouncing them correctly. It is not the strangeness and unpronouncability of a name that make it non-human. So there is no reason to attempt that. You are not writing for ...


4

No matter how different science fiction characters are from humans – whether they be extraterrestrials, artificial intelligences, or a far future species evolved from Homo sapiens – they must be relevant to readers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that readers identify with those characters, only that those characters “say” something about humanity that the ...


4

No. We're floating in void. It might be a mars colony or a soviet siberian town, or a suburb in colonial Brasil, or the last human city of postapocalyptic Earth, I just can't picture the place, nor the characters. I still don't know the narrator's gender. It's an uncomfortable void and instead of trying to get into the minds of characters I'm grasping at ...


4

Between the second and third paragraph is an idefinite stretch of time where your character sleeps and nothing happens. Even if you don't explicitly count the seconds in your writing, that time with nothing happening is still there in the mind of the reader, creating a false start for them. Don't begin your novel with telling your readers that nothing is ...


4

For now, write to amuse yourself. It might also amuse other people, but that's not something to worry about now.


4

You don't actually have to care much about hard-core physics. If your sci-fi world is set in another universe entirely (Star Wars and the Force), you needn't even bother about following the periodic table or conventional physics. After all, the Force isn't even something the Jedi (in their Universe) can explain completely. It's okay to create imaginary ...


4

This is one of those instances where understanding the history of things matters. If you're building a science-fantasy world with the equivalent of modern chemistry, have some fictional elements with distinct properties, and have any concern at all for the periodic table, you really only have four choices: Make the new element something strange and apart, ...


4

You can publish them yourself. If you do that, you retain all of the rights to the stories and the book. That way, nobody can get the rights to the book and throw them away. To publish an ebook, you can make an epub file and distribute it through Kindle, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, and other places. They won't steal it. They want to sell it for ...


3

Ceiling. It's amazing how much and how little one can tell about their environment from observing the little piece of ceiling above their head. It's the first thing you see as you open your eyes (while sleeping on your back), and combining with Dale's answer, will give a clear and obvious sense of difference: while you can hear birds that weren't there, or ...


3

I'm always a bit surprised by this question. My first impulse is to ask: Don't you read the type of book you want to write?!? You should remember how the world was introduced in those books, and how you reacted to that. Personally, I never read prologues, interludes and similar detours from the main plot. My recommendation is: Just write your story. ...


3

You may be interested in Brandon Sanderson's lecture series on writing long form fantasy and science fiction: https://www.youtube.com/user/WriteAboutDragons/videos This is an excellent series on the practical craft of writing and particularly about what you asked about, writing about what is alien to the reader. He talks at one point about the dangers of ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible