Breaking Down Sci-Fi

Note: Although we are focusing primarily on the genre of science fiction, most, if not all, points mentioned in this post can be applied to other genres in writing!


  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek
  • Octavia Butler
  • George Orwell

These are only a few names known in the realm of science fiction (sci-fi from here on out.) Our own worlds have broadened because someone took the time to travel to the futuristic unknown rather than entering a fantasy world. But what are some key components to writing sci-fi? Let’s get talking!

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Like any other creative writing project, planning and mapping out your story is crucial and necessarily before you dive into your tale. Not only for plot purposes but you always need to question: “how will this affect that?” You know, the usual. Depending on your sci-fi story, you’ll get the opportunity to create even further. For example, settings are new, language is different than what we know on our planet, races vary even more so than skin color…there are so many details to account for! We always recommend doing research into other novels within your genre range. Take it a step further and watch shows and movies. It’ll help further stimulate your creativity.

Something to help you indulge in your research is looking into scientific journals, new discoveries by labs or space teams, etc. This can influence your story in any way you want it to. Shaping your universe with new discoveries and current-world situations. Not only that but you’re expanding your own knowledge. what a way to kill two birds with one stone!

Our last point we’d like to highlight pertains to another question you can ask yourself. What if…? Utilizing the knowledge in the journals you find and articles you read, you can mix this with the creative details you’ve mapped out thus far. Apply your ‘what if’ question and add more depth to your story, add a new element, or a new plot line. Whatever the case may be, you’re adding something to the story by asking what if.

So what if…you start writing now?

Language 101

We can all agree: languages are fun to write, sometimes. Other times, they’re difficult to work with. There are a variety of languages, accents, dialects, and so on we have to keep track of while writing our dialogue. There is a way to write them effectively, so let’s talk about it!

The readers of this day and age don’t typically take a liking to phonetic spelling. It may not be the route to take if you want to build an audience. These readers may not want the challenge in reading non-standard English. The real downfall is how much time they’re going to spend deciphering what the characters are trying to say without diving into the deeper meaning.

Any language can relate…no one speaks their language the same way. This is where dialect plays a huge role into how language is spoken and can be portrayed in writing. When anyone learns a language in grade school, they aren’t learning the different dialects of the language…but one can learn through native speakers in certain areas. Depending on region and ethnicity, everyone speaks differently. Utilizing modern language with minor change to the dialect and phonetic spelling here and there will improve the quality of your story. This is only important if communication between your characters is a central point in your story. Most characters interact with others – but sometimes the language in which they speak…speaks volumes for the story.

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Some important bits to remember when writing in other languages or dialects are diction, syntax, and idioms. All of these key components help the conversations between your characters become unique to them. Even if things sound strange to you, it may be best to detach your experiences from that of your characters speech.

Always remember: you want your characters to come off as unique through dialogue, especially if you want your reader to be able to distinguish who’s speaking. We also want less boring and more relatable characters so you have to find the perfect balance!

The Cannibal Monster

This is one of the last two areas of the world we are traveling too. So, let’s venture into the deep woods of the Americas to start the beginning of the final countdown!


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WendigoAlgonquian Tribes

Cannibalistic beastly humanoid, possibly once human.

  • This creature is aligned with murder, insatiable, and cultural taboos against “normal” behavior. They’re also associated with the winter, the north, coldness, famine, and starvation.
  • The Wendigo is bigger than a human, and whenever it feeds on human flesh, it grows! It never gains weight and will always appear thin. They’re always hungry so watch out!!
  • There’s also an explanation as to why they may have been human once before turning into the Wendigo. When they were human, they may have been incredibly greedy. Or if the human was in contact with Wendigos for too long, they would become one.
  • Powers include: mimicking human voices, possession, controlling weather, manipulation of darkness (sunset), control of forest creatures, healing, and incredible strength and speed.
  • Believe it or not, there is a psychological disorder called the Wendigo Psychosis. People diagnosed crave human flesh even though they have access to normal food sources.

Jumping Through Time

A story can include one of two things: flashbacks or skipping to the future. We don’t think recommending the two is a great idea but if executed cohesively…sure! Why not! Let’s discuss.

Sometimes, writing flashbacks can help a story flesh itself out. Readers understand the plot better, the character better, ANYTHING! But what happens when a flashback becomes more than a flash back? Meaning, what happens when a brief moment takes up a whole chapter? Is that acceptable? There isn’t any reason why it shouldn’t be acceptable – other than not being written properly. Make sure flashbacks are quick and easy. They’re meant to be memories triggered by people or items or occurrences surrounding the character or plot. Here’s an idea: it doesn’t necessarily have to be written in the perspective where the character is brought back to a moment in time…but rather, induces a feeling, an image flashed in the character’s thoughts. Something like that.

Skipping ahead in time is also a way to get the story moving along. Readers don’t need all filler details and a story doesn’t deserve that either! A few months can pass in the story in a matter of words, as long as the reader is caught up with the characters and ongoings in their world, what else is needed? Questions should never be left unanswered, too. If they are, there better be good reason for it. Did something happen prior to the time hop that wasn’t resolved during the time not mentioned? Well, it better come full circle because then the reader will not be happy (they’ll scream, “PLOT HOLE, PLOT HOLE!” and write a whole review about how the plot hole ruined the story for them.)

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So, now that we’ve lectured about time and the relationship it has with your story – let’s build a time machine and have some fun!

Ragnarok

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FenrirScandinavia

“Monstrous wolf destined to devour the world.”

Basic Facts:

  • Fenrir is the son of Loki and the giantess, Angrboda.
  • This huge wolf was chained up because the gods knew how powerful he was. He was only going to break free when Ragnarok occurred, which is Doomsday. And no, we’re not going to start talking about the Marvel movies.
  • Fenrir has made more appearances in modern culture than people realize, mainly references in video games but has made an appearance or two in movies and on TV.
  • He’s a father! He has two sons: Skoll (meaning ‘treachery’) and Hati (meaning ‘he who hates’ or ‘enemy’) with the giantess, Hyrrokkin. Though this is just an assumption. Also, like father like son.
  • His other name is “Fenris.”

 

The Bubble Has Burst

We’re talking about the creative bubble bursting. If it has, this may be a bad sign. PSA: this is not okay.

In the situation where your creativity has run dry, we have a few kind words to send your way. Take a step away from your computer, notebooks, or brainstorming station. It’s time for you to recharge your creative energy in hopes of coming back with a bang.

Creative spurts or waves…they come and go. That doesn’t mean you have to exhaust your brain and learn to hate what you once loved.

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An Eternal Flame

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Phoenix | Greece

“Fire bird that eternally regenerates from its own ashes.”

Basic Facts:

  • There are many different tales which reveal the life expectancy of the phoenix before it is reborn…one being a span of 500 years.
  • The phoenix was considered a royal bird because it had been associated with a place called Phoenicia. Phoenicia was known for producing a rich purple dye which was deemed expensive and used exclusively for the upper class.
  • When we think of the phoenix, we think vibrant colors associate with the sun. In truth, the phoenix has never been described in great detail in original folklore.
  • Phoenix is Greek for ‘crimson’ or ‘purple.’
  • The modern adaptation of the phoenix make claims that the tears of the bird can heal and if they’re nearby, lying doesn’t occur.

Fighting Game For Writers!

We are big advocates for demolishing writer’s block. We’ve talked about a variety of methods, websites, and apps to use against a writer’s worst nightmare. Here is a new one for you: Fighter’s Block.

So, after playing around with the online app for a few levels, I can officially declare this as a fun way to defeat writer’s block. There’s only a select amount of characters you can choose from and there’s only one enemy unlocked but there are little details in the structure and immersion of the game which makes it worthwhile.

Let’s break it down!

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Cute pixel sprites go up against each other in a game that challenges you to write, write, write before your character’s health reaches zero. You start off by choosing your hero (you can choose between Red or Karen, Quin is locked until you reach level 11) and your word goal for that particular level. Once you click fight, the battle has begun.

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You’ll notice the health bar of your character slowly (or quickly) diminishing if you’re not typing. As you write, the character’s health is regenerated and the enemy’s lowers.

To add more flair to your experience, you can customize your fighting background and writing difficulty to challenge yourself. The theme can be changed to different color schemes that can better your playing/writing experience. With the opponent you can easily change its speed and attack which works against you as you’re writing.

Your writing space can also be customized. From font to the display of your text box, this game is perfect for any writer looking for new ways to get back into the swing of things.

A Different Hunt

Instead of being a creature of malice, this week we are diving into a human-turned-keeper. Keep reading to find out some interesting facts!


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Herne the HunterEngland

“The antlered spirit of a hanged man that guards Windsor Forest.”

Basic Facts:

  • Truth be told…Herne was probably based off of a real keeper of the forest.
  • Story goes: the hunter made a pact with the Devil, forcing him to be doomed to hunt forever.
  • He rides at night, mostly but is found during storms.
  • Herne is said to wear horns, rattle chains, blast trees and cattle BUT…is not commonly seen by mortals.
  • Our beloved hunter had an oak tree, which is rumored to be where he haunted most of the time, was torn down…but Queen Victoria came to the rescue and replaced it with another oak.

Building Your World

*We had to repost this blog, yay for technical difficulties!*

Hello dear subscribers!

A couple of months ago, one of our authors wrote a eye-opening article on world-building and fantasy. As a preface: it is not particularly about the physical world-building, our author focuses more on the concept of sexual intercourse and the relationship it has with fantasy. Since I’m not trying to spoil anything for you, go read it for yourself!

Beware: there are spoilers for his novels in this article. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Check out his debut novel here.