Monday, May 17, 2010

The Absolutely Most Important Thing You Should Know About Writing a SciFi Novel

Tip of the Day: Applications are due for the Rutgers One-on-One Conference on June 15.

Here is the absolutely most important thing you should know about writing a science fiction novel.

Your brain will try to trick you. It will tell you that you can't do this. You don't know enough about physics, or chemistry, or genetics. You don't know how to world build on a grand scale--heck, you can't even give good directions to the nearest parking garage, how did you expect to world build?

What you need to know is that this is no different than the fear of failure associated with writing a picture book, or a book in verse, or a romance. This is the same fear of inadequacy every writer feels with every book. Oh, it's dressed itself up in science fiction trappings (I don't know, maybe a homemade Star Trek uniform?) but it's the same monster, you betcha.

I'm writing my first science fiction novel, and it took me a while to understand this. But after a bit (OK, a few months) I realized that I recognized this beast who told me I wasn't smart enough to make this world work. This was the same beast who told me I wouldn't ever figure out pacing. The same beast who told me I couldn't plot my way out of a paper bag. The same beast who says to me, even as I type this, "You know, Kate, maybe you only think you've gotten better at pacing, and who says you figured out how to plot your way out of a paper bag? Nobody's bought one of your novels yet, have they? And now you've decided to write something more ambitious?"

The monster of fear can only be killed by writing word after word. But whatever you're writing, if it's a new genre for you, don't let the monster fool you with tricky disguises. For goodness sake, don't let it distract you with your lack of knowledge of electronic engineering or fishing in medieval times or maritime law or iambic pentameter.

Can someone send me some fear of success to balance out my fear of failure? Wait, it doesn't work that way? Sigh. I guess it's back to sheer stubbornness and coffee.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Christina Farley said...

Such a great post! When I started thinking about writing the book that I'm writing now, I wasn't sure if I could do it either! I had every excuse in the book, but in the end, it was something I was really passionate about and actually when I started writing, knew a lot about. Go figure.

Still, I don't think I could write a sci fi! I'm totally impressed everytime I read your chapters!

DeenaML said...

Are you applying for Rutgers???

Kate Fall said...

Thanks Christy!

Yes, Deena, I think I'm going to apply. I have to get the materials together this week but it doesn't seem so bad. They only want a 3 page sample.

Lisa Schroeder said...

I'm reading a book called ART AND FEAR right now. It's really good - highly recommend it!!

I read something a long time ago (different book) that the voice telling us we don't know what we're doing, we're not smart enough, not good enough, whatever, is our ego trying to protect us. So I just tell my ego to shut up, I don't care if I fail, I do care, however, if I don't at least try.

Keep going Kate - it's a GREAT time to sell this kind of book!!!!

Anonymous said...

louis vuitton handbags holds a dimension of 11.8 x 7.1 x 4.3 inches which make Monogram Suede is enough to fit all your days essentials. Monogram Shearling is in an open top with dock clip closure, and Monogram Sude Embossed has an interior zipped pocket for added function.