Sunday, July 27, 2008

GothNoWriMo--- the spookier writing month

For fans of NaNoWriMo and the other WriMos: now there is GothNoWriMo, Gothic Novel Writing Month in October. Gotta love that!

Science Fiction as Fantasy

Science fiction, we often believe, is realistic fiction projected on to the future, while fantasy is the home of unrealism, mind-speaking horses, and men magically transformed to cats.

But science fiction is also considered to be a sub-set of the fantasy genre. The difference between science fiction and other types of fantasy is that the fantastic elements are seen as yet-unknown forms of science. One example of this is faster-than-light travel. In the current state of science, it is considered that FTL travel is impossible. We might someday discover some other science that gets around it, but until that happens, a spaceship that can travel faster than light is as fantastical as Harry Potter's magic wand.

In fantasy fiction, magic cannot simply solve every problem. There is the price of magic--- it may require years of training, or exotic ingredients, or energy from the wizard's body.

One must use the 'magic' in science fiction--- the future science--- in the same way. It must not easily solve all our hero's problems or there is no story. For example, it may be nifty to have a matter transporter device. But you must consider what the costs of using it are. Does it use up loads of energy --- the amount needed to power a spaceship or a city? Or does it have limited range? Is it subject to interference from various sources? Is it liable to kill you on a bad day? A matter transporter device that works for the hero sometimes but not all the time is a great way to get him into dramatic trouble and leave him to fight his own way out.

A Writing Exercise: Re-imagine a favorite fantasy novel as science fiction. For example, Frodo has, not a magic ring, but a weapon of mass destruction that must be disposed of. The Ring-wraiths are men with computer chips in their heads, controlling their behavior and enabling them to track Frodo. Swords and arrows are replaced by blasters and stun-guns.

Or: re-imagine a science fiction story as traditional fantasy: in the movie Gattaca, the genetic engineering is done by wizards, and the main character uses black-market magical devices to be able to pose as a 'Valid'.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Storytoolz--- stuff for writers

I was working today on Holly Lisle's 'Create a Professional Plot Outline free e-course, and that's where I discovered a link to Storytoolz.

If you are stuck with your JulNoWriMo novel or any other writing project, look at Storytoolz and you may find something to help. They have progress meters (good motivating tool), readability analysis, story idea generator and conflict generator.
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