19 September 2013, Writing Ideas - Writing Science Fiction, part 50 and Cultural Shaping and Relevance
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.
I am writing about the extrapolation of science and technology to be able to write science fiction. I made the point that it is almost meaningless to try to fully extrapolate a universe (world) that is 10,000 years in the future (and maybe 1,000 years in the future) without applying some cultural and technological shaping.
By shaping the cultures of your science fiction universe, you can shape the science and technology that is extrapolated. Here is how I culturally shaped the universe of The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox to make the 10,000 year extrapolation work.
The problem with science fiction that is not culturally shaped is that there is always a great chance that the future will turn it into "dated." Much of our classical science fiction from the 1950s and 1960s is "dated." Some of this science fiction is dead. That means it is so dated it has no credibility. That's when it becomes a classic and no one reads it.
I mentioned two science fiction novelist whom I admire yesterday: Jack Vance for culture and Brunner for technology. I'll mention a couple of more great science fiction authors who have classic status without being "dated." Andre Norton and Frank Herbert are also science fiction novelists whose writing is classic without being dated. Notice I don't mention many of the "greats" of science fiction, because honestly much of their writing is dated.
The key characteristic of these writers whose works are not "dated" is their ability to culturally or technologically shape their writing. In the case of Andre Norton and Jack Vance, the cultures they developed were enveloped by the technology. Technology was secondary to the culture and the writing. The theme required the future, but they build cultures and populated the cultures with properly extrapolated technology. In general, fully culturally shaped technology results in what the market calls space opera or less hard science fiction. I'll discuss this more, tomorrow.
Also remember, I'm trying to show you and give you examples of how to write a science fiction theme statement and turn it into a plot.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: