Over the past few Tuesdays, Emily provided some tools and resources for writing an MG/YA mystery, and I was so impressed (seriously, check it out if you missed it, starting here) that I thought I'd try something similar. I'm writing a science fiction story, so maybe I could do SciFi Central? Only I'm afraid I'm nowhere as organized as Emily. This is my first full-length sci-fi work, and I'm learning as I go. So I'm presenting what I'm learning as SciFi Kaos.
Just like with mysteries, a science fiction story requires a considerable amount of up-front planning before you get to start writing. And even before you start planning, I'd recommend asking yourself these three questions about your sci-fi idea:
1. Who is your audience? It's a good idea to know that about any novel, sure. But books like Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson opened my eyes to the fact that I could write science fiction for teen girls. I can do that, really? Awesome!!
2. What is your time period? Sci-fi can be set in the future, but it can also be set in the present. Think of The Stand by Stephen King. That worldwide plague or asteroid hitting the Moon could happen this afternoon, y'all.
3. What is your "What if" idea? There's something interesting you that makes you want to write a science fiction story, and it can probably be phrased as a "What if" question. What if corporations took over space travel for profit? (The movie Aliens.) What if people could be turned into hologram copies and something went wrong? (The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson.) What if people whose bodies failed in old age could live in virtual reality? (Otherland by Tad Williams.)
Once you've figured out your What If question, that will tell you what nonfiction to read: stuff on space travel, holograms, or virtual reality. That would be the next step. Before you start outlining, you'll have to know if your ideas are practical. After all, science fiction should be a story that could actually happen.
That's what makes it fun. It could happen. A good science fiction story should be a way to see things we take for granted in a new way.
Try not to get too hung up on the asteroid hitting the Moon, though. That probably won't happen this afternoon. Probably.
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages