A Bartender’s Guide to Science Fiction

Jade Kerrion and I are both science fiction writers–she shared some hints on how to make a success out of writing your science fiction novels. Take it away, Jade!

A Bartender’s Guide to Science Fiction

Hey there, readers. This is Science Fiction. Fantasy’s had a secret crush on me for years. I think she just likes my recipe for high-octane adventure. I’ll share it with you too, and you can embark on an intergalactic 50,000 word NaNoWriMo escapade:

• 1 (6 ounce) can of science fiction mixed with the best elements of other genres
When you think of science fiction, does 2001: A Space Odyssey come to mind? (Speaking of which, does anyone feel even remotely cheated that it’s 2011 and we’re nowhere near the technology depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Clearly the people of Earth have been slacking off.)

Space opera is the typical poster child for science fiction, but science fiction is defined most simply as a story based on futuristic science and technology. As long as you’re not using the magic of pointy-eared elves to power your spaceship’s hyper-drive, you’re probably writing science fiction.

In science fiction, you can usually find a way to have your cake and eat it too. Science fiction is so much more than space opera. The entertainment industry is full of cross-genre science fiction. Do you like westerns? Check out Firefly or Cowboys & Aliens for space western drama. Want to write science fiction but can’t bring yourself to give up a good sword fight? Ever heard of Star Wars? Still like your dinosaurs? Combine the past with the future through a Journey to the Center of the Earth. Do you love superheroes? Meet Clark Kent, also known as Superman.

Be daring. Mix and match. In science fiction, there’s always a good chance you can find a way to make it all work out.
• 2 fluid ounces of research
Do you want the good news or the bad news? The bad news? Well, the bad news is that science is at least half of the equation. That means you need some kind of scientific basis for the elements in your novel. The good news? You don’t need a PhD in astrophysics to successfully integrate science into your novel. The better news? You can adjust the amount of science needed to your comfort level.
Hard science fiction is highly technical and very detailed. Once hard science fiction authors finish describing how a hyper-drive works, you’re convinced that they’re actually building one in their garage. Soft science fiction allows you to gloss over most of the details and focus on just telling the story. It usually works best with worlds not too different from the one in which we live, or with terms that most people tend to understand from popular fiction, like hyper-drive.
Either way, do your research. With so much easily accessible via the Internet, there’s no reason to not have enough information to build a reasonably logical foundation for a soft science fiction novel.
Need inspiration? Check out the TED talks (http://www.TED.com). Reality can actually be stranger than fiction. You’ll be amazed at the advances science is making in fields ranging from astrophysics to nanotechnology.
• 6 fluid ounces of consistency
You’ve cherry-picked the best elements of other genres to include in your science fiction novel. You’ve got great scientific concepts to incorporate.
Now what?
Set the rules and be consistent. You’re creating a new world with new rules. Readers are investing time in understanding how it works. Consistency is the key to keeping them immersed in the world.
1. Fill blender with empty pages. Pour in science fiction mix, research and consistency. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

Now, fire up that hyper-drive. Go write that science fiction novel!

Jade Kerrion is a Science Fiction author. GENESIS, the first book in her DOUBLE HELIX series, written during the 2010 NaNoWriMo, placed second in the 2011 Royal Palm Literary Awards, Science Fiction (unpublished) category. Her website is located at http://www.jadekerrion.com

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  1. By Setting a record | Jade Kerrion on December 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    [...] A Bartender’s Guide to Science Fiction, hosted by Clan Elves of the Bitterroot [...]

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