Let's Rock the Scifi Narrative

by , Monday October 2, 2017
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Let's Rock the Scifi Narrative

Return the Scifi Genre from the Overrated Cemetery

Pointers & other ideas to write a different kind of scifi story...

 

 

Before we get right into the juicy part of this crazy idea for a blog post, let’s take a minute and make sure that we distinguish between ‘sci-fi’ and ‘fantasy,’ mostly because there are a lot of books both published and not that blur the line between the two by mixing fantastical elements like magical creatures or even magic itself with technology.

 

Science fiction, as Merriam-Webster tells us, is “fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component...

 

Fantasy, instead, has been a term that took on diverse meanings throughout the centuries. The “[s]ense of "whimsical notion, illusion" is pre-1400, followed by that of "fantastic imagination," which is first attested in the 1530s. A "day-dream based on desires" is the understanding from 1926 and early use in English included fantasie, phantasy, etc.

 

 

That being said, let’s get out of our comfort zone with this genre:

 

Base your story entirely in an alien world.

Forget about the human protagonist; this writing strategy is too easy, an instrument to make a plethora of comparisons between the alien world and our own. Let’s get rid of this idea.

 

Forget about making your alien characters (or some of them) know about Earth. Again, that is too easy. Think about this from our perspective: we don’t know about other worlds, so why should these aliens know about ours? The protagonist of a lot of sci-fi stories never knows about this planet they’re forced on\stumble upon\crash on, so let’s make our aliens ignorant of our existence, shall we?

 

But then where would the comparison be? you’d ask with indignation ;)

 

That's the point: you shake up the overused narrative by employing the exact same strategy, only in reverse; you swap places\characters. This is an exercise to make you get out of your comfort zone and create a world where things are nothing like on Earth or everything is similar, but with a major difference (and let that be your plot-twist!)

 

Unemploy those English idioms...

Another detail you need to watch out for is using English idiomatic expressions in your story. If you want to fully pull your reader into this alien world, change every expression that sends your thoughts towards earth.

 

Anything like: a penny for your thoughts, the ball is in your court, beat around the bush, cry over spilt milk, etc.

 

Make up names for places, customs, or clothes in your story - it's much more fun and you'd be surprised how original you can be.

 

Use other stories to warm up!

Use one of the stories/characters from your favorite scifi books. Take scenes or objects from them and create another story. Or rewrite the ending entirely. Make use of this to exercise for your original story. Learn the literary devices\strategies those published scifi authors use so that you can have a better grasp on what to look for and what to change once you get down to writing.

 

These are just some ways you can shake up the narrative. I’m sure you can think of other, more brilliant ideas though...

 

Count on it.

Finally, if you have trouble getting to the finish line with your stories in general, set up a wordcount. Visualize the main points in your plot, even if it’s not your way of doing things, just try this new approach for the sake of it. It might stick to you, it might not, but at least you’ll know what works with you. It’ll save you time and energy spent on stressing about the story if you can visualize an ending; don’t worry too much if you won’t end up with that ending. It’s better to have a vague idea (if not the scene already written) rather than fumble around when you get close to it. So start small, make it 500 words and see where that gets you; then set a higher wordcount.

 

Thank you to DeeundDrang for writing this blog post :)

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