Mistakes in writing science fiction. - Page 2


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Thread: Mistakes in writing science fiction.

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Pearson View Post
    So, what if you have no technology or a world to build? Can you still have a story?
    I'll probably return with a better answer than now in a few days (in 2 days or less if I am not lazy to pick up this book about writing a science fiction story at the post office). There are many genres of science fiction and I bought a book that has the genres listed (such as soft and hard science fiction one category being mutants that I recall). I say for the most part, showing conflict is a way of not telling what the technology does. In world building we create a fantastical world and launches us into the action of the story because of the conflicts in the world. I was given this criticism since I was explaining the technology too much I think imo. The editors gave that advice.l like the advice since had needed to create a fantastical world when I needed more conflict that wasn't "delivered in emotional dialogue". Maybe I was a tad melodramatic. World building the conflict in the setting would have made it much better.

    To your answer you need to take in mind the subgenre. Some are more difficult to write. Some are easier. But I don't know the answer. Let's take in soft science fiction. The left hand of darkness is something I read that has an alien civilization based on the Eskimos. It uses no technology for that but anthropology. It was a feminist novel literary novel that touched upon feminist issues. Le guin had someone in the family who was an anthropologist. She was a sociologist herself. That helped her world build. Like I said in a few days or as little as today I could probably find a good answer to your question.

    I'd imagine you'd have to work hard to make sure your work is more salable. I am no expert. The editors know more than me. I hope this answers your question since I agreed with them. I had no world building in that story so you know I had a story it just wasn't salable.
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  2. #12
    Hi Glassy,
    from my personal perspective, a lot of books I read should never have been published. And some of the stuff I read on WF is much better. I'm not the editor of any magazine or have anything to do with publishing so what do I know?

    Look at it this way, each editor is different, and each has their off days. Any chance of publication depends on more odds than the lottery. But you have to play to stand a chance.

    Good luck

  3. #13
    Great advice. I'm thinking of making a science fiction series but I dont know where to start with world building. Im not used to big projects I've only wrote short stories so far. I guess Ill start with this tip. I cant wait to get my book published with a hardcover someday. Thanks for sharing!
    Last edited by cpena; February 25th, 2020 at 05:11 PM.

  4. #14
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is getting caught up in the genre. There are so many subgenre under the science fiction umbrella that it's very easy to become overwhelmed when you start out writing. I myself started out trying to write science fiction and became to fixated on just what genre my story was. It soon for to the point that it was an amalgamation of hard/soft Science Fiction, mixed with post apocalyptic, new age western, science fantasy and a smidgen of paranormal romance thrown into the mix. So for me I would say figure out your genre first and foremost before you even try to commit own to paper.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

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  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Rojack79 View Post
    I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is getting caught up in the genre. There are so many subgenre under the science fiction umbrella that it's very easy to become overwhelmed when you start out writing. I myself started out trying to write science fiction and became to fixated on just what genre my story was. It soon for to the point that it was an amalgamation of hard/soft Science Fiction, mixed with post apocalyptic, new age western, science fantasy and a smidgen of paranormal romance thrown into the mix. So for me I would say figure out your genre first and foremost before you even try to commit own to paper.
    My editor tells me that science fiction is a genre that can contain elements of everything else. It can have romance, espionage, politics, adventure, thriller, crime, philosophy, fantasy, horror, and even historical. It can be for YA, MG, and pretty much every age group. SciFi is especially good at looking at current events (Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Atlas Shrugged) without overly polarizing the audience.

    IMO SciFi is more malleable than most because it's actually more of a world than a typical genre, and in that world anything can happen.

    To the OP: Just plan out your work as best you can, then start writing. Don't worry about perfection, just get it down, then look for holes and landmines later. I don't know about anyone else, but I've never written a sentence only once.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Theglasshouse View Post
    Whatever the technology of your story it should be an integral part of your worldbuilding. In a rejection I got from a magazine I won't disclose they told me this.

    So yes, world building is the technological world in conflict. That's what a lot of us forget. But it's also educational, but not to belabor the last point remember this.
    You mentioned a rejection from a magazine, so I'm guessing you are primarily considering short fiction...

    I've dabbled in other-world stuff in 2 of my published stories but I have to say, I never really scratched the surface to what I would call 'world building'. What I have done, always, is consider the aspects of this other world that I feel enhance the stories. In my cases, it really came down to creating a setting and context for the story but at no point did I go into the details of how any of it worked.

    I see the very concept of world building as this big sinkhole-type orifice. It's extremely tempting to go all out and start designing technology, languages, civilizations, whatever but unless these things are RELEVANT to the STORY it's really no different than any other shit writing. There's no functional difference between steaming off on a tangent regarding magic systems and writing two paragraphs of meaningless description about the shape of breasts or the taste of donuts. That is to say, either something matters or it doesn't. Something matters when it adds substance to the story. There is no 'world-building', or shouldn't be. There is only backdrop to character.

    If your interest is in designing worlds, there are actually ways to explore that. But Asimov's probably isn't going to green-light you just because you're good at describing a map or economic system. This isn't why [most] people read, is it? As far as being educational, I read non-fiction for that. I feel like the moment a writer believes they have a mandate to educate the dumb masses rather than simply make them think (these are two different concepts), they're probably going to lose sight of what matters.
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  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    You mentioned a rejection from a magazine, so I'm guessing you are primarily considering short fiction...

    I've dabbled in other-world stuff in 2 of my published stories but I have to say, I never really scratched the surface to what I would call 'world building'. What I have done, always, is consider the aspects of this other world that I feel enhance the stories. In my cases, it really came down to creating a setting and context for the story but at no point did I go into the details of how any of it worked.

    I see the very concept of world building as this big sinkhole-type orifice. It's extremely tempting to go all out and start designing technology, languages, civilizations, whatever but unless these things are RELEVANT to the STORY it's really no different than any other shit writing. There's no functional difference between steaming off on a tangent regarding magic systems and writing two paragraphs of meaningless description about the shape of breasts or the taste of donuts. That is to say, either something matters or it doesn't. Something matters when it adds substance to the story. There is no 'world-building', or shouldn't be. There is only backdrop to character.

    If your interest is in designing worlds, there are actually ways to explore that. But Asimov's probably isn't going to green-light you just because you're good at describing a map or economic system. This isn't why [most] people read, is it? As far as being educational, I read non-fiction for that. I feel like the moment a writer believes they have a mandate to educate the dumb masses rather than simply make them think (these are two different concepts), they're probably going to lose sight of what matters.
    Yes I am a short story writer primarily. My goal is to get enough credits to one day start writing a novel with an english major under. The magazine that rejected me was not a character centered magazine. I might as well mention the magazine. The editorial guidelines of sci-phi journal are different.

    The flaw in my manuscript probably has to do with the technology being discussed or explained. That's the problem I think you are referring too. Sure show the world building in action and don't tell if you can. I agree with you there. Bonus points for saying show dont tell if you did refer to that in your post in this thread.

    As for description, I am not sure what to make of that post. But world building is not necessarily description always. The one I prefer adds tension. I would write my stories differently. For example one of the devices uses gold. Why not create a world where people are afraid of having gold. Then show and not tell that. What would the consequences of that mean? It's up to the writer. To imagine. Science fiction is full of what ifs. What if gold became scarce? What if gold changed history for the better? Because gold will have future uses in nano-technology? Will it revolutionize the world? What if new sources of gold were found? And this became the conflict of the story? Which became like a story like the ones about the Gold Rush?

    What is World-Building Science Fiction?World-Building is both its own sub-genre and a term used in the writing world to describe the task of creating a complete fictional world. World-building is a huge part of all Science Fiction (and Fantasy) stories

    World-building is a big task that involves more than just describing setting--although this is important. World-building describes how the world works, and aspects like these are important:

    Biology, specifically of alien races

    History and timelines

    Politics and religion

    Civilization's development

    Technological development and its consequences

    Setting (i.e. ecology, geology, astronomy, architecture, populations)

    Cultures.

    Stories within the World-Building sub-genre tend to be quite expansive. To a degree, all science fiction requires a certain level of world building; indeed, all speculative fiction requires world building to create something different than the ordinary. However, if a book is categorized in the World-Building subgenre, then extra emphasis is given to building a completely new world, with the rules often highly divorced from "reality." Often a huge level of detail filling out the "new world" is given.

    Readers will notice the level of research done by the writer to create the fictional world. Usually, the worlds are unusual. Alien races and an evolved humanity that is nearly unrecognizable tend to populate these worlds.

    Other Features of World-Building SF
    Level of Real Science
    Typically High. Science is a key component of world-building because it establishes the physics of the world (how the world works) and its level of technological development.

    Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
    Typically High. World-Building develops entire societies and cultures so there is plenty of room for social commentary.

    Level of Characterization
    Typically Low. A hard example of the World-Building sub-genre will have relatively low characterization because of its focus on creating the world.

    Level of Plot Complexity
    Typically Low. World-Building tends to have lengthy descriptions and this pulls the reader away from the plot.

    Level of Violence
    Variable. Violence may be a component of a world, but it may not be.

    All the sub-genres! World-building is a significant part of all Sci Fi--some stories may focus on the building more than others, but all sub-genres at some point need to construct the story's world.

    World-Building Science Fiction isn't for you if...
    “If you don't like Speculative Fiction. World-building is a part of all speculative stories--Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror--so if you cannot become engrossed in the construction of a fictional world, World-Building and thus all Speculative Fiction is not for you.
    https://bestsciencefictionbooks.com/...ce-fiction.php

    Of course, I am not saying you are wrong or saying you said something different than you intended or meant. I am guessing at what you meant in your post here. Readers and writers have their own expectations of what good world building isn't in my case. Also, I don't want to say you said something without knowing what you truly meant by what you said (not for example saying what you probably meant when you wrote the post by misinterpreting.)

    I think we have different opinions. I think world building can add to a story conflict. How about Fahrenheit by ray bradbury? Or 1984?

    Does it happen to be a short story mistake to world build? I'm curious how do it correctly and this is why I created this thread.

    Don't feel offended by a different opinion. My own is different as you can plainly see. The importance is about the discussion at hand. Not who holds the right or wrong opinion. IMO its relative. One person says one thing while another person says another thing like the above quote.

    Every genre has its limitations. World building can take away some characterization from science fiction. But science IMO without world building is possible but nowadays many of the classics have it. Magazines demand world building in short stories. The big writers such as Issac Asimov, and Campell and others noted for world building such as Ursula K. Le Guin means we have to imitate them (the world for world is forest or the left hand of darkness for instance). In fantasy and science magazine I have seen many stories with worldbuilding both fantasy and science fiction.

    Yes to character! But saying don't write world building into your stories doesn't make sense to me. Just my opinion. Make room for both qualities in science fiction.

    The editor who said to world build which was my tip in the first page is saying something I cannot ignore. That I must write it that way.

    But characterization is something they ignore (according to some critics).

    As for me I want both but that leads to a longer story in my case (personal preference). Maybe there are some mistakes to avoid in world building.

    Societal conflicts and man versus technology dominate in science fiction stories. I say you can still make a good character versus character story. That is we must focus on characterization.

    I applaud you for your insights, which some things I will agree with. Such as why not make it a character versus character, or character versus the self.

    World building gets a bad reputation for that.

    They say early science fiction has no characterization.

    So the takeaway point is nowadays characterization is present in science fiction as is world building. Asimov magazine demands both.

    In my case I want to rewrite that story with maybe for richer or poor character that wants the gold but gets destroyed by pursuing it. Or any variant of it. The emphasis on character in today's stories I am not ignoring.

    As for what is meant for characterization that is another thing I want to talk about. What does it mean when a character experiences change? Usually they are more than 2 dimensional. It's difficult to create a round character in science fiction, which is e.m. forester said is what makes literary fiction. I read aspects of a novel. He was a critic and writer and labeled science fiction as prophecy fiction in aspects of a novel.

    Science fiction and literary fiction being the same thing is being challenged nowadays as genre. Because of academics. Apparently you need to know some literary theory for critics. Me I just write for magazines and the general public.

    With time things change, nothing stays the same forever.

    BTW I had no world-building in that story. Which had a lot of dialogue. To give you some subcontext I listened to a video brandon sandersons video on how to open a story. I understand. You must devise a scene that sets the tone. Description and world-building is static and not engaging.

    I understand a character projects worry introduced in a scene. Interacting with a setting where bad things happen that worry the reader is the sort of effective opening.

    Opening with world-building cannot be ideal. But opening with character is if this makes sense. Since characters are given more importance. Bad things happening to characters that cause a reaction perhaps. Bad things happening to other characters creates plot. That is why it is so desireable. It creates a way to make the reader care. The video had to do with plotting. By making promises you make plot possible. Say there is a dog is kidnapped. A promise it will be is that it will be returned to its owner.

    But let's say more bad things happen. Such as this is the character reacts this is a revenge. Since the other character's pet died unexpectedly at a young age.

    And so on.

    Promise:
    Every promise is inherent on the premise and is key to plotting (since you promise things that will happen). Discovery writing can cause effects of what needs to happen to make a character react in a certain way if I am not mistaken.

    Change:
    Making things change is part of plotting. They become aware of somthing happening for example. I am actully watching the videos since I feel I am learning a lot and to provide context to this topic. It's a key part of plotting such as promises.

    Fufill promises: but in a satisfying way. This goes for endings and middles. Or beginnings.

    As an author, you have control of your story. In terms of plot, that means you have control over:

    Pacing (time)

    The promise(s) you make

    Great (character) moments

    The sequence of events

    What’s happening to your character(s)
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; Yesterday at 05:33 AM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

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