Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Writing Science Fiction That Sells in twelve steps

Ben Bova's 'The Art of Writing Science Fiction That Sells'

It teaches me immediately so many things which I want to share. Twelve points in particular of Mr Bova's work strike me as rich and relevant, and for your enlightenment here they are:

1. The term 'Sci-Fi' refers to TV series and films, often disparagingly.

2. Do not try to explain how the machinery words; just show what it does. Early SF invented weird explanations to the science we use now, and appear antiquated as a result.

3. Extraneous elements that need to be made relevant or discarded are: dazzling aspects of the story that do add value, aspects of the character than are not germinal to the conflict, style.

4. Space Operas, in the form of simplistic good v evil dramas, disappeared from writing in the 60s but are the mainstay of Hollywood today.

5. Conflict arises from the mind, not the action. Plot movement is not physical motion. A story moves when a character (and thus the reader) makes a new discovery. Action happens as the character gets into position for the discovery, then enacts physically his reponses to the revelation.

6. The bad guy thinks he's the hero; get rid of naughty type bad guys.

7. A plot is a mechanism in the readers mind for manufacturing suddenness.

8. The essence of plot is to do this: tie the protagonist to a chair and put a bomb at his feet from the very first paragraph of the story, Bova: "And make sure the bomb's clock ticks loudly."

9. Enact the characters thoughts and feelings on the big screen; characters realise their stories in a larger-than-life way in order to interest the reader.

10. Generally a writer earns more money per hour of work by writing novels than by writing short fiction.

11. Keep a Desk Book that contains sections on all aspects of the novel and the research.

12. There are three kinds of research: personal experience, other peoples' experience, and library research. I will particularly explore the first two forms of this as we proceed in new posts, because they are sets of skills requiring practice and focus.

So that's it! My learning from Sir Bova.


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