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Generating Science Fiction Stories

Filofax and Notebooks

The act of creativity has been a subject that fascinates me. I have always been a creative woman, I can not stop creating things any more than I can stop breathing. It is a major part of my life and shapes who I am. When the desire to write burst within me in 2010, a single character demanded that I start to write his story. More characters in the story followed and together all these people have become a steampunk science fiction series that I will one day publish. Yet, a single series does not an author make. From time to time, I have been asked to contribute a story to an anthology or a magazine and I found myself frozen, unable to write a word or meet a deadline. I was forced to let these opportunities go without submitting a single word.

Outline The Problem

I became determined to overcome my science fiction writer’s block. While I have published memoir shorts and a regency romance, I consider myself to be a science fiction and fantasy author. I am well versed in the genre having read most of the classics from Robert A. Heinlein, Issac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, to a range of women science fiction authors such as Vonda McIntyre, Andre Norton, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. This has allowed me to become familiar with the genre tropes and style of the “golden age” of the 1950s and 1960s when science fiction gained its footing in popular culture. Yet, how to generate science fiction ideas for myself eluded me.

My first thought to solve the problem was to listen to other authors in the genre and get an idea of how they developed their ideas. I attended convention panels with Vernon Vinge, Todd McCaffery, Greg Benford, David Brin and other famous authors to glean how they came up with material that gained them Hugo and Nebula awards. Over time, I realized that each of these authors had a system to store ideas for themselves related to science fiction. Every author had a different way of obtaining these core ideas. Some had buddies who worked at JPL or NASA, others were scientists themselves with years of training in their chosen field. They attended science conferences or read journals about the world of technology today, took these raw facts and concepts, pushing the ideas into the future and giving it a literary twist.

The Past Through Tomorrow

Being a collector of fountain pens and notebooks, I had read how people in the past had kept journals known as “commonplace books”. This was a compilation of ideas and information that the author thought relevant. It was popular with the thinkers of 15th century England and eventually became a scholarly tool adopted by major universities. I liked the concept of the commonplace book and wondered if I could apply it to my science fiction idea generating problem.

To find the basic facts to form ideas from, I signed up for free science journals on a variety of subjects. I joined science fiction clubs and listened to what concepts intrigued the readers.

My paper notebook failed.

There is such a barrage of information in the journals, many fields are expanding their knowledge at speeds that make it difficult to keep up with, that copying the information by hand became overwhelming. I switched to using Evernote and set up folders where I could cut and paste various science-based articles that I thought might have a possible idea to base a story on. Using this collation method proved to be easier to maintain and slowly, I began to have folders of possible science-based​ concepts to write about.

Sharpening The Tools

Although I was generating facts to draw on, I was still having trouble generating science fiction stories except for my Opus Magnus. An author friend of mine suggested that instead of writing short stories, I should try poetry. The form was short and wouldn’t take up as much time to write. I had also taken an online writing course put out by the University of Iowa where one of the lessons said that to practice scene building, try writing haiku first. Haiku was about describing a single moment in time, which are the building blocks of stories.

This is where my love of Scifaiku was born. The poems are only three lines long and I can do them in batches. I would start with facts from my commonplace folders in Evernote and then apply an emotion, setting and time to them. It worked. I began to assemble science fiction poems and much to my surprise, people seemed to like them.

In September of 2015, one of my online writing communities held a writing challenge. Write one flash fiction story a day for the entire month. If I did the challenge to the end, I would have thirty flash fictions to show for it. I decided to try. I would focus all my creative energy on writing science fiction or fantasy and see where it led me. As it turned out, writing with a group of authors gave me the support I needed to complete the challenge. Not all the stories I wrote are good enough to submit, but a number of them were good enough to either send out as a flash fiction or to expand into a longer and better story in the future.

I have followed up with doing two more challenges in 2016. For the first time, I have a backlog of science fiction and fantasy stories to draw on. What is more, I seem to be able to create new characters and plots without the strain that I used to feel. This practice has sharpened my skillset.

Last Word

Today, short stories and poetry come to me more easily. I have established a method of generating science fiction stories that works for me. As time passes, my files grow richer with more science-based concepts to draw from. I hope that by outlining my creative process this gives you ideas on how to be more creative in your own writing.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another day of No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links! Being a science fiction and fantasy author, I was looking at articles that pertain to my favorite genre. Be sure to check out the one about China’s Science Fiction Awards if you haven’t heard of it yet. As usual, io9 is on top of things all things sci-fi! There are also plenty of general writing articles to keep you busy this week. Until the next one, enjoy!

Read science fiction – Our global crisis simulator

How to Harness the Dark Side of Your Impact Character

The Chinese Government is Setting Up Its Own Major Science Fiction Award

Making Fiction Come Alive! Using the Senses for Maximum Impact

New Report States the Obvious: Indie Authors a Threat to Legacy Publishers

How to Write Like the Buddha

A Messy, Liberating Guide to Journal Writing

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Revision and Copyediting

Book Pirates—ARRGH! Have Pirates Stolen your Book or Blog?

The Truth About Natural-Born Talent

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksMonday’s are my favorite blogging days. It is when I get to share my wanderings on the web as I read up on topics to expand my knowledge of writing and how to be an author in this ever changing platform landscape. This week the articles cover thoughts on general writing, poetry, reading more books, and a nice one from Writer Unboxed about what makes your fiction literary that I personally found to be a unique outlook.

8 Necessary Tips for How to Write Child Characters

Self-published authors may be no worse off than the rest of us

How to Write Mind-Blowing Plot Twists—Twisting is NOT Twerking

Indie Authors Are Responsible for the US eBook Decline

This Unique New Bookstore Is Filled With Optical Illusions

Consumers believe they have more rights than they really do in digital media

Here’s my secret weapon: I read

How to write REAL dialogue? Listen up!

What Makes Fiction Literary: Scenes Versus Postcards

Boston’s Sidewalk Poetry Can Only Be Seen When it Rains

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksIt is always a pleasure to bring my favorite articles of the week to you every Monday. This week’s writer’s links are a grab bag of topics from fountain pens, to using Scrivener, general grammar tips and how to use Wattpad to highlight your writing. Go grab yourself a nice cuppa tea or coffee and indulge. I hope you like them.

An Introduction to Nib Customization

Using Scrivener to Store Your Research & Notes

Voice vs. Grammar

All About Google+ for Writers

The One Thing Successful People Do that Sets Them Apart

HOW TO MAKE THE CREATIVE MAGIC OF STEVE JOBS’ REALITY DISTORTION FIELD WORK FOR YOU

Robert Jordan: America’s Tolkien

What Are The Rules on Mixing Viewpoints?

HOW TO GET MORE WATTPAD READS

6 Tips for How to Organize Your Novel’s Edits

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome to another Monday of Writer’s Links here on No Wasted Ink. My reading was roaming in several directions this time around, but I found articles about writing, poetry, and creativity that should prove to be interesting. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Six Rules that Keep Critique Partnerships Golden

Standardizing the Singularity

The future of publishing is in the hands of indie writers.

Invention of the Backspace Key

Want to Be an Amazing Writer? Read Like One

Poetic WordClouds: These are the most common words in Poetry

Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away

20 Quotes By Carl Jung To Understand Yourself

Tips for Writers Setting Up Their Workspace

Five Signs Your Story Is Sexist – Against Men