Science Fact-ion

“It’s Science Fiction, you can just make it up!”

One of the biggest assumptions and mistakes I have made is that writing Science Fiction is easier because, well, it takes place in a made up world. That means I’ve got my own sandbox to play in; I can do what I want.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy – writing, in general, never is.

The first full length novel I wrote was a Historical Fiction novel. It took hours and hours (and hours!) of research to just be able to start it. I wrote one chapter at the very beginning, and it just felt wrong. I didn’t want to approach the subject matter until I had got it right, and I felt like I already had a pretty good handle on the World Wars. Even now, after reading piles of books, there is still more that I could learn about these particular settings. As it was a World War One novel, about the trenches and conscientious objectors, I felt that it was too sensitive a subject to get any detail wrong. Sure, there’s room for artistic license. The characters I created didn’t actually exist, despite getting family names from censuses at the time, but everything else had to be right. The Liverpool Rifles couldn’t suddenly turn up at Gallipoli, because they weren’t there!

So, turn to Science Fiction and these sorts of things should be easier, right? My characters can go where-ever, and do whatever they want? Again, it’s not that easy.

Science Fiction readers are particularly attentive to detail. It’s an important part of the genre. After all, you can’t have Science Fiction without Science. If a ship goes between two planets in a matter of hours you’d better make sure you know how. I guarantee you someone will ask. Or worse, it will take someone out of the story and they’ll put your book down. As a writer, that’s the last thing you want.

I started planning my current novel thinking, ‘ack, I can sort that as I go along.’ However, the more I tried to plan and work out what was happening to the characters the more something didn’t feel right. What they were doing and how they were reacting didn’t make sense, because I didn’t yet have a sense of their world. This is a little easier in short stories, as the story world itself is usually smaller.

There are a few planets and cultures, with different factions, involved in the story and I first needed to work out how these worked. What made the humans tick? What were the aliens’ motives? If both cultures were on this planet, why? What did they eat, drink? How did their economy work.

Some of this may seem a little indulgent, but unless these places and cultures are real living, breathing things, at least in my head, then the readers won’t believe in them either. I ended up reading books about quantum physics and various other things. At least I find that stuff interesting. Writing, for me, is another way of learning, of absorbing information.

I still don’t think I’ve got everything right, and sure more will come out as I tell the story, but the chapters I’ve written are starting to feel more right, more real, as I go along.

Maybe someday you’ll be able to read it and see what I mean?

Advertisements

Musicings

Today’s blog is about music in a way. D’ya like the title? Well I thought it was clever!

When I write I’ll listen to music. It’s much more conducive to work than say, putting on the telly or even the radio. Both of those are pretty distracting. (I still have Facebook open – why I could not tell you – an evil distraction in itself) but rather than say, stick an album of my favourite band on and attempt to write, I’ll listen to a soundtrack instead. I find the problem with putting a band on is that you get stuck in the music or the lyrics. If I’m trying to write a 40k piece while singing along to some Clapton, it doesn’t quite work. I also end up doing that horrible thing where you end up writing down what people say. Regular texters will know what I mean!

Soundtracks on the other hand are great. In essence they are designed not to detract from the film or series so make excellent background music. They can also instil a feeling of epicness, which is great when you’re writing. You can really get in the mood and feel every gunshot and explosion. My most recent soundtrack(s) of choice are from the Chris Nolan Batman films. I really love Hans Zimmer’s work and it really gets me in the mood for writing. I also love the films, but that’s a story for another day!

Today I put on the soundtrack from the film Moon, on recommendation from not one but two friends. Sitting here listening to it has made me think, wow, what a film! I can’t wait to watch it again (I have it in my pile of Blu-rays that need watching…) This soundtrack really puts you in the zone, just from listening to how the music is crafted you can really feel the suspense and intrigue, the feeling of not really being sure what is happening. For those of you who haven’t watched the film, I thoroughly recommend it. It’s pretty much classic science fiction, but that isn’t a bad thing, there are some nods to and a feel of 2001 in some parts. The story is about a guy who is working on a lunar facility, waiting to finish his 3 year (I think that’s right?) shift, so that he can go home and see his family. Although, not everything is how it seems and a series of accidents starts to unravel a horrible truth. If you like suspense and intrigue then go watch this film now! Plus the soundtrack is worth listening to in it’s own right.

Oh, on another music related note. A friend of mine linked me to ‘Meco – Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk‘ on Youtube. Please, for your sake go and check it out. It’s amazing, that’s all I need to say…

It is also a music related blog because my band (Lazarus Syndrome www.lazarus-syndrome.com) are playing a gig tonight. All the way in Southport and we’re not on till 11 so I’m going to need a lot more coffee between now and then! If you’re in the area come check us out at the Fox and Goose. If not, then go find us on Facebook and give us a like!

Right, I’m off to do some proper writing! Including rewriting some rather boring Music Business lectures that I’ve been meaning to do for, hmmm maybe a year?

Then listen to the Football! Woo, yeah it’s back. Come on you Gunners!

Ahem, excuse me…thanks for reading!