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14

I think you are giving into the temptation of explaining. Sometimes you don't need to know how - or at least not for sure how - just to make it believable in your world. Take your real life laptop as an example. It has thousands of microchips compacted into a single CPU but, what is a microchip? What is a diode? What is an integrated circuit? People ...


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, ...


11

Blending sci-fi and fantasy is actually quite easy, and can produce some excellent results; consider Steampunk for instance. There are definitely plenty of great examples out there of sci-fi/fantasy blending (across many media): Final Fantasy (particularity FF XII), Dishonoured, China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, The Scar and The Iron Council, Neil ...


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 does apparent technology have to actually be technology? Can't it be either mundane or magical instead, even if in our world we would call it science or tech? Strength and speed can be enhanced through medicine (and its cousin, magical potions). Hoverboards with mechanical motors/propellors/jet-packs/whatever aren't the only way to fly on a device; ...


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

If your change solves a problem that previously had no solution, there are likely people who have a stake in preserving the problem. If your change solves a problem better than some previous solution, there are people who have a stake in the old solution. If your change opens up new possibilities for people, then people don't yet know how to make the most ...


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

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

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

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

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

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 ...


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

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

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

“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 ...


4

You can always make them relics of the ancient civilisation (Morrowind), or some stuff left by travelers from another planet (Roadside Picnic). People in your world can be smart enough to use them and to understand more or less of their technology, what leads to experiments. A sidenote: I think that blending sci-fi and fantasy shouldn't be considered as a ...


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

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

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, ...


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

Legally, if you merely mention series names and if you write your own fairly-general descriptions of spaceships (eg, “the ship was an overgrown pancake, with giant tailfins grafted on”) then it will be adequate to offer the usual disclaimers that “X is a registered trademark of Y” and “This work is not a product of or affiliated with P, Q, R”. Here are ...


2

Show the guy who modified it leading a training session to teach others how to use it. Doesn't have to be a classroom setting; it could be on-the-job or in-the-field. This gives you plenty of opportunities to have the students ask the questions that the reader will want to know the answer to. A whole room full of cabbageheads, so to speak, although for good ...


2

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 ...


2

I'll ditto jwpat7 on the legal details, but I'd add, Why do you want to do this? As jwpat7 says in his last paragraph, it seems unlikely that people 500 years from now will model their starships after 21st century fiction. I'm hard pressed to think of a case where a 21st century designer of airplanes looked for descriptions of flying machines in 15th ...



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