By Richard C.
“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.”
NaNoWriMo may have come to a close, but that’s all the more reason for writers to retain momentum. Did you submit to the library’s self-publishing contest or hear about Write out of this World? Maybe you’ve considered the Potlatch Convention or the Clarion West Workshop. Writers write, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. Here’s some library help especially for you aspiring SF and Fantasy writers.
Conversations with Octavia Butler
Give this one a try before diving into the resources specifically on writing advice and developing ideas. Octavia Butler was not only a multiple award winning SF author, but her interviews reveal much about what the experience of writing SF is like. In a 1980 interview, hear about her frustrations as a young writer as well as issues of identity and authorship you probably can’t get anywhere else. In another, hear about how she became the first SF writer to win a MacArthur Genius Grant and why she first started a writing career. In my favorite one she shares her thinking on portraying aliens in SF…
But what happens to our “aliens” as the telescopes peer and rovers roam further and further away? My favorite alien was the inscrutable oceanic substance in Stanislaw Lem‘s book Solaris, but how authors devise their alien ideas seems equally mysterious. To help, the book Aliens and Alien Societies is a writer’s guide to body shape, language, basic astrophysics and space travel. It suggests having a good basis for science in your SF to make your writing, yes indeed, more believable.
I was thoroughly surprised by the premise of I Have This Nifty Idea, which has outlines of SF and Fantasy novels authors actually used to market their work. Now Write! will challenge you, not merely with chapters on world building and plot hooks, but with short writing exercises to jolt and excite you as 2014 gives way. One good exercise: write an opening paragraph with short, staccato lines. Then write the same paragraph using run-ons. Reverse the process and write another. Try it out!
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy prompts you with similar considerations. Do you want to employ the use of “hyperspace” or “generation ships” or maybe “time dilation” in getting your characters moving? Should you start writing the minute you get an idea, or let it ripen before connecting it with other ideas to make a compelling pitch?
Speaking of pitches, already have a story written and preparing yourself for the jungle of publishing? Here’s your guide to all things getting published. Explore the various markets and venues. Finds tips on how to pitch your writing to literary agents. LITERARY MARKET PLACE is another great resource. More directory than guide, LMP includes a section on SF and Fantasy worth perusing. While the newest copies don’t circulate, look up what you need and remember that many branches keep last year’s copy for taking home. And if in the marketing and self-promotion work you find yourself needing new motivation, consider this:
The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past past them into the impossible.
—Arthur C. Clarke