5 August 2013, Writing Ideas - Writing Science Fiction, part 5 Showing
Announcement: My novels Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness are about to be published. I write this blog about 2 months prior to its publication. I just heard that the proofs will be here soon--likely before the end of the week. My publisher also wants to put the entire set of novels based on Aegypt on contract--that's 5 more novels for 8 total. They also want to put my other novels on contract. The release schedule should be one novel every 2 months. I'll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don't confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
Last time, I established that the choice of the use of science fiction to put
forward a theme is a cognizant choice by an author--or it should be. This is
similar to the choice of the use of first, second, or third person in writing.
Because I think this is an important topic, and I haven't written about it
before, I'll mention it before I transition to my main subject. An author
should choose the point of view of the novel based on the main character of the
novel. Usually, the third person (he, she) is appropriate for characters and
novels about normal people or where the focus of the novel is not about a
certain person's eyewitness view of events. On the other hand, if the focus of
a novel is a special person or a special person's specific eyewitness view,
then a first person (I) point of view is appropriate. I begin with a first
person point of view in my novel The End of Honor, http://www.theendofhonor.com/. The
main character is Lyral Neuterra, she dies in the first page of the book, and
the rest of the first half of the novel is a recollected view of the events that
led to her death. At that point the novel switches to third person and
concludes sans Lyral (she's dead). The reason I wrote the novel like this is
that I was trying some advanced techniques with my series The Chronicles of
the Dragon and the Fox, http://www.dragonandfox.com/. I chose
to make Lyral and her story the main focus of the novel. This worked well
because she was a critically important character and the entire work revolved
around her and the revenge her death caused. She was the telic (beginning
and end) cause of the plot. She was one of the most important persons in the
universe and the created world of the Dragon and the Fox. This made the use of
the first person until her ultimate death very appropriate. In the novel, you saw the world
revealed through the eyes of Lyral and this gave you the ability to understand
both the horror of her death (a loss of honor) and the horror of the revenge (a
loss of honor) made in her name. Thus, in The End of Honor, I used the
first person as an intentional means to draw your eye to Lyral and keep it
there. Your world was her world, and so you saw the world from her point of view. This is where the
use of showing in revealing the scientific background of the novel becomes the
subject point. Her view was your view; therefore, when she says this:
was the Duke of Neuterra’s eldest daughter, his only daughter, his only child.
He and his dame, my mother, could not bear another child. Though they tried,
their vitality was gone, and the Codes of the Noble Accords forbade them from
any artificial means of increasing their fertility.
They were stuck with me,
and the only hope for our House was an alliance marriage. With this in mind, my
father groomed me to attract the attention of another great House, one that
would willingly accept the Duchy and the name. With the approval of the
Landsritters, the Emperor would be forced to accept the new House Neuterra
descended through me.
I was well prepared to fill this position. I was made
to be a Princess. I was educated to be a scientist of political solutions and
ventures—an advisor, steward, mother, ruler, lover, and I was all of these and
more. My heritage and intelligence allowed me to excel in these studies as if I
was truly born to them, which I was. But I was not the Princess my Father hoped
I would be."
We begin to understand the focus of her world. You had no
idea about The Codes. Now you know a little. You didn't know about Lyral's
problem, now you begin to see them. The undergirding of the issues and the
science of this world become clear. Later, in one of my favorite scenes, she
"He was kind to the last. “My lady, I’m at your service. Until
you decide, I am obliged to you.”
In spite of my tears, I turned.
He looked directly at me. “Yes, obliged.” He took off the sash
that marked his rank as an Imperial Prince and thrust it at me.
Unconsciously, I put my hands behind my back. “You wouldn’t dare.”
dare, and I have.” He thrust the sash toward me again.
“No, I can’t accept
that. You put yourself under my complete authority. How can you justify placing
your very self under my control? Already, you intend to reveal your plans in
their entirety to me.”
“I pray they would become your plans also, and you
would safeguard them and my honor just as I would.”
“You know I can’t make
“...but you will protect my interests. Don’t shame me, Lady
Lyral, take my oblige. I will protect you and your House. I will be yours until
you decide my honor and my arms no longer defend you.”
I know he could see
the tears that glistened on my cheeks, but he took no notice of them. I didn’t
want to soften to his proposal. I wasn’t sure where I stood, but I could not
lightly dismiss the offer of oblige, especially from the son of the Emperor. I
reached gingerly for the sash, and he relinquished it with a look of relief. I
curtsied to him and backed away."
The concept of "oblige" might have been
foreign to you before, but now through Lyral's eyes you should have some
understanding. This "oblige" isn't a science fiction concept. It is an
Anglo-Saxon concept that later we recognize as the chivalric idea of a woman or
man carrying a token of honor for their knight or lady. In this exchange we see
the deeper overtones of what "oblige" means to the inhabitants of the universe
of the Dragon and the Fox.
So, I gave you examples. Perhaps not the best
examples, but ones I thought might begin to show how to bring the evidence of
culture and scientific background into your science fiction writing. Plus I
wove into it an explanation on how to choose the point of view of your novel
(tricky, tricky). I'll try to put some more examples together next time.
For more information, you can visit my author site www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com, www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.