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    So You Want to Write Science Fiction

    Because this is the Writer of All Trades column, I thought it might be good to explore another genre: Science Fiction! The genre has been around for about 200 years and has its spurts of extreme popularity but it holds its own the rest of the time. Sci-Fi fans are loyal to the point of fanaticism. If they pick up on your book, it becomes a movie and then a legend. There are conferences and costumes and endless character analysis.

    If you're considering writing in this genre, there are several questions you should ask yourself:

    • Do you know the difference between sci-fi and fantasy?
    • Do you think you can write in such a way that makes the unbelievable believable?
    • Do you have a fresh idea (or at least a fresh approach to an old idea)?

    The difference between fantasy and sci fi is that fantasy involves magic. Sci fi is based (at least loosely) on scientific fact. You can have sword play in sci fi (ala Star Wars). You can have mystery and romance within the sci fi premise but the story usually involves aliens, space, scientific theory or future exploration of society. Sci fi can have paranormal activity (telepathy, telekinesis, seeing other universes) but no magic (use of spells, incantations, spirits). It's a fine line, so if you're in doubt, read a good sci fi novel.

    Making a reader believe they are in another time or place and that fantastic (though Logical) things are happening, requires a wonderful imagination tempered with some storytelling skills that make the extraordinary seem like stepping outside your own door. Jules Verne wrote stories so believable that men built plans to create his inventions in real life.

    Editors tell us that there are no new ideas but writers have to be able to write ideas that seem new. In a genre as widely written and well read as sci fi that may seem a challenge yet writers come out every year with fantastic new tales that mesmerize and create new generations of sci fi readers. Really this consideration applies to all writers but because sci fi is so specific, it might apply even more to this genre.

    You don't have to be a scientist to write sci fi although scientists and theorists have written some great books. Anne McCaffrey's Dragon books are sci fi but they didn't require anything more than an active imagination and a love of detail. Another world, peopled by humans who live with dragons is possible, and that's what makes science fiction!

    Some books to read to research the genre:

    • Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    • Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land
    • Dick Claassen: ta'Sara's Gift

    Copyright © 2001 Joyce Lavene

    Joyce Lavene, who writes with her husband/partner Jim, is the author of 40 novels including an award winning mystery series and a romance nominated for the Frankfurt EBook Award for 2000. She's also been published in sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. When she isn't writing, Joyce paints in watercolors and is a practicing herbalist. She and her husband are graphic artists who have created many book covers and professional photographers. They are currently working on five separate series of novels, each for a different publishing house! Joyce is active with RWA and The Mystery Writers of America. She lives and works in North Carolina, USA, with her three children and two grandchildren. She and her husband welcome their readers to their homepage:

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

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