One of the decisions I made when I decided to write my science fiction story titled Islandia: The Lost Colony was to ground my stories on science and make sure that, as a hard science fiction novel, I went to great lengths to ensure the science is both valid and plausible.
A thousand years ago, people used the term magic to describe something which they couldn’t explain. Science gradually explained most of these mysteries and today we ScFi writers are left with a choice -- create new science-based magic or rely on non-science based fantasy.
Writing realistically about possible future science is hard work; the author must convince the reader of the validity of the science principle being portrayed. This means thorough and complete research must be done on what is currently possible in addition providing a valid projection into the future. When done well, there is little friction for the reader, allowing them to easily slip into a new world of possibilities. When done poorly, the reader is constantly distracted by the implausibility of what the writer is portraying as future fact. The best examples of doing it correctly that I've seen are the works of Arthur C. Clarke. In the mid-twentieth century, his future science-based stories became the blue print for NASA’s space program.
Compare this to science fantasy. Here, anything goes. There are no science restrictions and the author is free to explore any universe he or she desires. It’s a temping route to take, because it eliminates the need to make the story elements scenically possible.
I frequently shop at Half-Priced Book Stores, and based only on what I see on the shelves, most of the stories are fantasy based.
Maybe I’ll give it a whirl one of these days.
Very few novels are born fully fleshed before the first word is written. You can outline all you want, and some will find this very helpful, but in the moment, the writing becomes an organic, evolutionary process that is triggered by events in the story or something a character might say.
A number of aspiring writers have asked me how I got started writing. I've now written twelve books totaling a million words and they wonder what the secret is. The truth is, when I wrote The Rembrandt BOMB in 2009, it was my first book and I knew nothing of writing...
Readers have asked me how I develop a story after I have come up with the original plot idea. I must confess that I do not give a lot of thought to every little nuance or detail about the story until I start writing. The best way I can describe how my stories develop is like driving in a fog.
When I start out, I see the sign on the side of the road that says, “Chicago, 300 miles,” but I can only see the road ahead clearly for the next hundred yards. I may or may not end up in Chicago, but I know where I’m going for the next one hundred yards.
One of my more successful books has been my science fiction series about Jonathon McKinnah, a young man on Earth’s fifteenth colony world, Islandia. The series began in 2009 and has expanded for the last eight years. At the suggestion of my editor, I have recently begun to rewrite the series to correct some of the errors new authors make (Islandia was my second book) and to add some exciting new elements to the original story.