Why Sci-fi?

Why Science Fiction?


“Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible.” Rod Sterling

I love to read—and watch—both science fiction and fantasy, but when it comes to writing, I find myself consistently drawn to science fiction. Even ideas that start as fantasy often get taken over by technology or space travel or aliens.
What makes science fiction so fun? The improbable made possible. The things that sound exciting or intriguing or frightening or far-out-there, told in a way that makes us believe it could one day happen, maybe even to us. As enjoyable as fantasy is, this is one element it lacks. (Although I’m still holding out hope for my Hogwarts letter…)


Science fiction is a broad and complex genre that can include many elements, but here are some that I find most intriguing that you might consider when writing.

Technology

I love to think about how advanced technology might go wrong. Stories are about problems, so if an invention works perfectly, it’s far less interesting than if characters have to deal with unintended side effects. The more advanced the technology, the greater the possibility for terrible consequences.

It’s also fun to consider how an invention would affect every area of life. A transporter would make traveling the world much easier, but what would it do to warfare? How would criminals use it? How would change an average person’s life?

Society

The fun thing about science fiction is, you can imagine a future going whichever direction you want it to as long as there’s a reason. Think about common elements of daily living—school, transportation, entertainment, fashion. How they might change in the future or with new technologies?
For a while, people thought virtual school was the way of the future. And even though that’s what many are experiencing now, it’s hard to tell if the method will stick or people will celebrate a return to in-person school. Fashion comes and goes in cycles. What if your futuristic society decides Victorian dress or Roman togas make sense?


Themes/Humanity

People remain the same regardless of technology or location. With science fiction, especially when the world seems improbable or humans dwell among the stars, it’s extra important to ground the reader with characters who want relatable goals and feel the same emotions we all experience.


Outer Space

Science fiction doesn’t have to be set on a space ship or another planet—Earth-based settings can be just as interesting, whether they’re set in the present or the future. But I’ve always been fascinated by the wonders of the galaxy, by how much is out there that we’ve barely begin to see. And since we know so little, it’s a fertile ground for your imagination to run wild. Unique planets, strange aliens, unknown phenomena…make the improbable seem possible, and take readers to a new world!

What do you love about science fiction?

Becky Dean, signing off.

Author Interview: Hope Bolinger & Alyssa Roat

Pen Friends ~ When these lovely authors shared their blurb and cover with me, I loved the concept and was eager to share it! Who doesn’t love a good hero-villain story? Come meet co-authors, Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat, as they share about DEAR HERO releasing September 28th.

SP: Hello Ladies, so happy to have you on the Spinning Pen! So, how did this story, DEAR HERO, come about? How did you decide to co-author it?

H: Most of that summer was pretty fuzzy, so I don’t know if I can remember the exact circumstances. But it all started when Alyssa and I created parody YA twitter accounts to make fun of YA tropes. She was a cliche YA villain, I, a cliche YA hero. My friend back home was also on a lot of dating apps, and I’d read a novel that was a series of letters between two people dating. The idea sort of all just clicked: what if there was an app, like Tinder, that matched you with your nemesis in the superhero world? We took the idea and ran from there. 

A: Once we had the idea, co-authoring was a no-brainer. We’ve co-written shorter pieces and articles before, so we knew we work together well.

SP: Co-authoring must be an interesting process–can you tell us a bit about your process? How long did it take you to write DEAR HERO as a team? Any obstacles?

H: So yeah, we didn’t do the typical co-authoring process with this. Basically, we hopped on a Google doc and each took on the personality of different characters. I was the hero, she was the villain (and we playacted other characters who later pop up like an 80-year-old henchman who is a dragon and a theatre-nerd/frat boy sidekick). We’d spot-check each other as we went for consistencies and had a skeletal outline we were following in terms of plot. The “obstacles” if we could call them that were that we never expected what the other person would write. We had to roll with the punches to get to our plot destination points whilst balancing two different visions for the book. But I think we worked together really well.

A: Confession time: we wrote the first draft in nine days. We were having so much fun we just couldn’t stop. (A lot of edits came afterward, don’t worry.) Basically, it was nine days of fingers flying, grinning in a room by myself at Hope’s quips, and trying to remember that oh yeah, I do have jobs to do as well.

SP: What was your favorite part about writing this book? Which character surprised you most?

H: I think what surprised me was how fun it was to write. I kept saying, “We shouldn’t be allowed to have this much fun writing.” I think the speed of writing the book in 9 days (don’t worry, we edited it a TON afterwards) caught me by surprise. We’d originally planned to write the thing in 60 days. 

A: My favorite part was waiting to see what hilarious thing Hope would come up with next. We had a loose outline, but lots of room for imagination. Honestly, all of the characters surprised me—I didn’t expect to fall in love with them so much! I knew the book was going to be funny, but I didn’t expect how much I would feel for the characters and how much we would watch them grow. And of course, there’s that plot twist that neither one of us saw coming!

SP: Writing tips–how do you stay focused? What is your revision process?

H: I usually don’t personally have a problem with focus. I often call a version of myself “beast Hope” where I’ll forget to eat or sleep because I’m so absorbed with the project. As for the revision process, it did look a little different for this project. Alyssa and I edited each other as we went and edited the document after numerous times. We had some betas give it a read and give their thoughts. The publisher and us also went back and forth a lot to make sure we caught lots of typos and inconsistencies. 

A: The problem is UN-focusing, haha! Hyper-focused Alyssa comes out with big projects like this and forgets to do important things like eat food. As for revising, it was really nice having someone clean up behind me in real time as I typed, and I did the same thing for Hope. Then we did broad revisions and a couple copy edits. I’m the nitpicky one to a fault, so I did a couple rounds of proofreading as well.

SP: Who is one author that influenced your writing?

H: I’ve been told John Green, which I think is high praise. His snark but also ability to pull no punches does often seep into my writing.

A: For this book, I think Rick Riordan had a lot of influence on tone. Plenty of snark and silliness, but with deeper character emotions and themes as well.

SP: Launching during COVID 19 must be an interesting experience- in which ways have you seen positive things come of it?

H: It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for online events. I usually do about 20 speaking engagements per year, but because of COVID, that has doubled for 2020. I do miss in-person events because they’re so personal, however. 

A: It definitely turned a lot of my marketing plans on their head, but in some ways it’s given us more opportunities. Since I have dysautonomia/POTS, traveling and speaking puts a lot of strain on my body. Being able to attend conferences and events from home has meant I’m able to do much more without any fainting adventures!

SP: Now, to lighten things up! 

Are Hope and Alyssa…

Plotter/pantster? 

H: This is actually funny because we’re complete opposites. I’m a plotter. I remember telling Alyssa, “This is the most pantsing I’ve done for a manuscript.” And she said, “This is the most plotting I’ve done,” when we talked about Dear Hero. 

A: Poor Hope. My writing style gives her secondhand stress. I pants everything and usually have no idea what’s going to happen next.

Last book you devoured ?

H: The Thing about Jellyfish. I’m getting into middle grade now. Absolutely beautiful book. 

A: I just finished A Conjuring of Light, the final book in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic, a series I really should have read a long time agoCan you see how the two of us ended up writing a contemporary speculative novel? I devour anything spec fic/ fantasy, and Hope loves her contemporary fiction.

Current dream vacation spot?

H: Probably a secluded forest or some obscure national park. I’m convinced I’m half-fairy. Alyssa will probably agree. 

A: If Hope is a fairy, I’m the kooky old lady who lives in the woods. I’d like to be in a secluded cottage where I can write to my heart’s content. But barring that, I’m always down for a trip to London.

Something always in your fridge? 

H: Cookie dough. Always. 

A: Cheese!

Would you rather be a professional: Space-X Rocket Scientist? Spy? Food Critic? Paleontologist? OR?

H: PALEONTOLOGIST! I’ve been obsessed with dinosaurs since I was four. I once corrected a docent at a museum, when I was six, when she got her Dino facts wrong.

A: Maybe this is why Hope and I are such good friends. I was obsessed with dinos as a kid, and I may have missed my calling as a paleontologist. 

Any recent fictional crushes?

H: Oh gosh, LOL, I always go for the bad boys: Loki, Bullseye from Netflix’s Daredevil (not so much in the comics … he’s a little more psychopathic in those) and Zuko. And can I really be honest if I don’t put Darcy in here? Again, I’m like a cinnamon roll, so I’m not sure why I’m going for these dudes. 

A: My biggest crush will always be Captain America. Always.

Favorite childhood book?  

H: You know, it just depends. For a while it was Harry Potter, but I think I’m edging more toward Percy Jackson now. 

A: This is a cruel question. I thought I was supposed to be the villain. I can’t even pick a favorite childhood genre. I loved everything from Hattie Big Sky to Redwall to A Wrinkle in Time. 

SP: Thanks so much for sharing with us, ladies! Congratulations on your book!

Be sure to connect with Hope and Alyssa:

You can find Hope on most social media @hopebolinger 

And Alyssa is @alyssawrote:

Website: https://alyssawrote.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alyssawrote

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/alyssawrote/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/alyssawrote/

Signing off,

Nova McBee, author of Calculated & 2020 PitchWars Mentor!

The Final Frontier: Starting Your Sci-fi

Pen Friends ~ We are starting a series of posts on tips and how to write each genre- Fantasy, Contemporary, Sci-fi, Action-Adventure, and more. This Month is all about WRITING SCI-FI! 

First post of the Writing Sci-fi series:

Where do you start when you want to write a science fiction story? Just as with any story, you need to have an idea of your plot, your characters, their world and the struggle they’re going to face.

Plot Structure:

If you begin with a basic plot in mind, how are you going to structure your story? Is it going to be a straightforward and linear, or will you use frequent flashbacks?

You could insert official reports or journal entries to open a window into other perspectives. Or you could even jump around in the timeline – though this is tricky to keep track of – unless there’s a very plot-specific reason for it, I would caution against this.

Or perhaps you like to start with at your characters, and let the majority of the plot evolve with them.   Continue reading

Author Interview: Shannon Dittemore

Pen Friends ~ I’m super excited to have YA Author Shannon Dittemore on the blog today talking about her upcoming book, WINTER, WHITE, AND WICKED, which is just my kind of book and fell in love with the moment I saw the cover and read the blurb. See below!

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SP: Hi Shannon! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey? 

Thank you so much for having me! I’m excited. SO! My journey. I think probably the best place to start is this: I’m not a debut author. A lot of folks out there are thinking that WINTER, WHITE AND WICKED will be my first published book, but that’s not true at all. 

My first book came out in 2012 with Thomas Nelson fiction. By the time August of 2013 came around, I had three books on the shelf, ANGEL EYES, BROKEN WINGS, and DARK HALO. As a writer, I’ve grown a ton since these were published, but I love these stories and I’m so glad they’re a part of who I am.

I started writing my first novel as a young mom. My son was four and my daughter was three months old and I missed being creative. I had a background in theatre and I really wanted to go back, but I found myself unwilling to give up my nights and weekends. I didn’t want to be away from my little family, so in a moment of frustration I found myself telling God, “I just wish I could tell stories from home!” 

And then it dawned on me that I could.

Writing wasn’t new to me. I’d always fiddled with it, but as a mom I think I’d picked up a valuable trait that made sitting in a chair and writing an entire book possible. Patience. I was learning to be patient with myself and the process, and while waiting isn’t my favorite, the ability to do so has come in handy. 

winterSP: WINTER, WHITE & WICKED will come out with Amulet Books in October 2020. 

Here is a blurb: 

Mad Max: Fury Road meets Frozen in this striking YA fantasy Continue reading

Author Interview: Suzanne Park

Pen Friends~ Hopefully this interview finds you well and safe during this crazy season. Many of my author friend’s book launches and book release’s have understandably been cancelled and/or have gone virtual. Let’s try to support them as much as we can during this time! SO…

It’s my pleasure to introduce today’s debut YA (& adult) author, my friend and fellow Pitchwars 16′ alum, Suzzane Park! Sadly, her time in Seattle (where I am based) was also cancelled, but that won’t stop us from celebrating her and her upcoming YA book, The Perfect Escape!

spark

SP: Hi Suzanne! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, can you tell us a bit about you and your writing journey? 

I was a kid who loved reading, but was limited by the types of books we had at our school library and public library system. I grew up in a small suburb in Tennessee with underfunded schools and libraries, so you can imagine how limited the selection of books were for a curious Korean-American girl! Continue reading