Archive for the Fiction Writing Category

Full Retreat

Posted in Fiction Writing on July 7, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Expletive deleted!

I hadn’t written about this yet, because I was so morose, angry, and embarrassed about this that I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  But, alas, I must.

The thumb drive on which most of my more recent work had been saved got up and walked away at school the week before last.  By which I mean to say, some asshole stole it.  With luck he, she, or it has the Guinea pig-like intelligence that so many of the college’s students exhibit (one of them did ask me how to spell “career” during the English assessment, after all) and doesn’t know what to do with the stolen data, provided it was even seen.  It was more likely blanked off the drive the moment someone ferreted it off to a secure computer.  That being one which was not in my line of sight.

So, I’m back to what I had on my home PC, which is not inconsiderable.  It’s just not where I was.

Motherfucker.

Advancing Forward

Posted in Fiction Writing on June 4, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Because if you’re not moving forward, it’s not called advancing.

So, I’m still gradually inching in the right direction on my writing.  The problem with inching is that you run the risk of stalling out.

So what have I done?  I’ve determined the central convention of the story, the fact that the primary protagonist is a member of a group of eleven very special people.  I’ve even created some snappy Easter eggs just for the almost-dozen.  I’ve also created an Excel spreadsheet to determine travel times and make my life easier in finding how long trips will take.  I plug in a few numbers (the distance traveled, the maximum speed of the craft, how efficient its acceleration is) and presto, it pops out a response I can use to establish an accurate timeline.

Also, I like messing about with Microsoft Excel.

What does all this mean?  Frankly, not very much.  Until a story crystallizes out of it, it’s just so much pointless ideas.  But at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Easter Eggs

Posted in Fiction Writing on May 25, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Easter eggs.  They’re where it’s at.

In working on this bit of writing I’ve decided to insert a bunch of these to make it a bit more interesting for the informed reader.  Besides which, it’ll allow me to add depth to the story; at least, it’ll allow me to add the illusion of depth.  I’ll be keeping a list of the eggs I drop into the story so that when I die someone can find my notes and everyone can remark on how terribly clever I was.

Thus far I’ve got but one juicy egg.  The main character of my story, and his cohorts, happen to be part of a numbered list.  They’re an odd bunch, these folks, so I’ve decided to do some odd things with them.  In this case, each member of the group will have characteristics based on what their number happens to mean in numerology.  Not that there’s anything terribly mystical within the story I’m writing, but I think it’ll be an interesting gem in the case that someone deeply involved in numerology happens to read my story.  I’ll probably send free copies to fortunetellers.

More gems will get dropped in there, I promise.  Each one a multicoloured wonder.

The Ultimate Democracy

Posted in Fiction Writing on May 23, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Spectacular!

I’ve found an old piece of work that I haven’t touched in an age.  The original draft that I had was submitted to a publisher, but not accepted.  Well, the three or so chapters I have so far.  It’s a bit hard-edged and graphic, but with a little work I can expand its scope and maybe take some of the more obscenely biological descriptions out.  It could be a good read, if I work it out properly.

The advantage to this is that I have a core idea, and that it fits within the framework of the themes I’ve discussed earlier in this section.  Being somewhat paranoid with my written word, it’s unlikely I’m going to post too much detail about it here, but we’ll see.  Hopefully I go a little feverish with it, because that’s when I do my best writing.

Time to brew some coffee and stack some smokes.  Winning!

Consistency

Posted in Fiction Writing on May 17, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Another important part of writing a piece of work is making a coherent concept of the fictional universe in which you wish to couch your themes.  If the technologies, politics, and culture are not cohesive, the story will not be believable in any way.  Often times in science fiction you write things that are quite fantastical, but they become believable because of their internal consistency.  Frank Herbert’s masterpiece series, Dune, is a prime example of this.

So, I’ve begun piecing together some basic fundamental “laws” of the universe in which I intend to write.  Thus far I am very barely into it, with only the effects and repercussions of long-distance STL travel being down on paper.  It’s important to do this, however, because many of the things that are involved in such travel are also involved in other aspects of the universe.  Suspended animation, for instance.  How is it done?  How do the people recover from it?  Another would be the effects of long periods in a zero gravity environment.  What kind of things will it do to the human body?  These two tie together with a third concept: medical technology.  If you follow, you’ll see that ideas are interrelated, and internal consistency will make or break the story.  Hundreds of pages of notes, here I come!

On the plus side, keeping a record of notes such as these will not only allow me internal consistency in the thread of the story I am writing, but in any other stories based on the same conceptual universe.  The rules can be changed; humans may discover a method for FTL travel, as an example.  I will need the original notes to be fully aware of how that changes the way travel works.  Not only that, but I can then place commentary couched in dialogue between characters to highlight the differences, all while remaining entirely consistent within the body of work.

And I do mean work.  Damn, this is going to be a lot of notes.

Gravitas of Lemma

Posted in Fiction Writing on May 10, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

Or the Importance of Themes.

Science fiction, like all writing, is based on the exploration of overarching themes.  Science fiction differs only in the presentation of these themes, often using fantastical technologies to emphasize the effect of the theme the author wishes to discuss.  The Forever War by Joe Haldeman is a good example, wherein the author utilizes the effects of sub-light interstellar travel to place an emphasis on the dehumanizing nature of war.  Or you can just read it and enjoy a good military sci-fi story.  It’s your call.

So, that being said, I’m always trying to develop a new idea.  They seldom seem to get off the scraps of paper I scribble them on.  Maybe this one will; who knows?  I, like Haldeman, have decided to look into the types of dissociation that can come to the fore when long-distance, “slow” travel is undertaken.  Linking the problems that can arise from miscommunication, the dissociation that so many of us suffer with today, and how technology impacts communication in a modern society may provide a common thread, a grand overarching theme composed of smaller conceptual participants.  Or it could produce a load of Emo crap that no one wants to read.  I guess we’ll have to see.

I always invite comments, and I’ll especially do so within the context of this section.  Tell me what you think.

Does miscommunication ever mess up your life?  How?  How about feeling disconnected from the world.  Does it ever happen to you?  How do you feel technology has affected interpersonal relationships?  At the end of the day, how do you feel about these things?  Finally, do you have ideas of other themes I can explore?

The Trouble With Imagination

Posted in Fiction Writing on May 4, 2011 by Sardonic Pariah

How much of it is actually mine, and how much of it is recycled ideas I’ve picked up in my past?  How many of my ideas actually belong to someone else?

Anyone who’s ever tried to write something has run into this wall; how hard it is to climb depends, I suppose, on your scruples.  And how well you can camouflage what you’ve borrowed.  If you’ve got a moral backbone, the ideas you’ve lifted never make it to an actual first draft.  They disappear into the notes, never to be seen again.

Case in point.  I once was working on developing an admittedly sub-par storyline.  It basically involved a lot of violence and superiority complexes.  Hence it’s eventual, and permanent, disappearance.  At this point, it remains only in my memory.  However, it did feature a glorified super-railgun, a massive ship-mounted weapon that gave my storyline humans the edge in their circle of “friends.”  The technical details of the fictional item in question aside, it was a large-bore weapon that did away with potential electronic interference by firing a cylindrical slug that weighed about as much as a loaded transport truck, across vast distances of space.  With a slug so large accelerated to an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, this thing was a literal planet-killer.  I called it the Mass Accelerator Cannon (because it was a cannon that accelerated mass), or MAC.

Thing is, when you look through the annals of science fiction, such a weapon is a fairly common occurrence.  In fact, they featured heavily in the television series Babylon 5, which I was a fan of.  Such weapons have also been featured in the Halo game series, even so far as using the same acronym, though I believe the game utilized it after I have already given up on the idea.

So, the question becomes, I suppose: given that science fiction is generally a discussion of futuristic technologies and social norms, and how these can be interconnected, how much does it matter if some details are the same, given that they can lead to widely differing opinions on the whole?  Further, should one consider the technologies as the inherent story, or simply a vehicle to explain potential societal norms and what the author thinks of them?

The huge chances of me being sued for copyright infringement notwithstanding.