With so much information at our disposal don’t forget to use it when writing your novel. Think of research as a necessary step when planning out your novel. Even if you are writing a romantic comedy there’s always research to be done!
You can crack open a book, head to google or even go out on an experience when it comes to research. Even if you are writing about going on a hot air balloon and you’ve done it before, look up the history of the hot air balloon or some fun facts, you never know when you can incorporate it into your writing. And just redoing that experience and going on a hot air balloon again you can open your eyes to how you want it to play in your novel.
Don’t underestimate the power of research even if you think you know enough for your writing. It can open an avenue you didn’t even know was there!
One of the authors we work with, Mimi Matthews does hours of research on historical fashion alone before finishing a novel. Have a look here!
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!
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!
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.
We’ve talked about multiple POVs and the importance of treating them with love; each character is a distinct person who has a unique personality worth sharing with the world. We’ve talked about havingtoo many characters and working on who to cut from the cast; we know so many authors who have created beautiful narratives with more than two characters as their MCs…but sometimes it’s not done well.
Taking things in a different direction but still referring to multiple POVs, characters, and consistency…let’s talk about your choice in writing style (if you’re taking the route we are going to be starting a conversation for.)
Being a head hopper is fun! As the writer, you get to explore different minds and see your plot unfold in your tale through the lens of diverse brains. Sometimes, you explore a single mind for one chapter, then switch to a new persona in the next. You can even write from a completely unbiased point of view…
Okay, you already know what we’re seguing into:your narrator.
It’s crucial to keep your narrating style consistent. Flopping between third omniscient to subjective/limited to objective to first person…all because it makes sense in the moment of the scene? No. Our brains hurt simply thinking about that. It’s a heavy example but it’s worth mentioning the most extreme of cases to get your editing eye trained on your work and howyou’re choosing to narrate.
The question then becomes: Am I doing this?
If you are, you should further ask yourself which POV/narrator comes off the strongest of all. Whichever one it is: choose it. Stick with it. Rewrites are a pain but the goal, if this pertains to you, is to get the work recognized as worth for publication, so it’s worth the extra time…and love!
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.
It’s common in the writing community to have more than one pair of eyes editing your work. Some editors catch certain details, whether it’s proofing, copy editing, structural editing, or developmental edits. But what if you haven’t gotten too far into your writing career and you don’t have a team behind you quite yet? We have another option and idea for you: A WRITING GROUP.
Sounds very old school, maybe something you thought only existed on TV or in slice-of-life movies, but they’re very real and sometimesverynecessary in a writer’s career. You’ll get the similar appeal from an editing team towards your writing, but a tad bit nicer and less cut-dry. A group will provide the outside perspective you need to help tie up the loose ends you may have missed. If your group (or partner) chooses meet-up times, it’ll boost your accountability with your writing and improve your relationship with your ability to write. Last but not least, you’ll get unconditional support from your peers, which you might need on those days you aren’t feeling confident.
A step beyond that: you’ll find friends. Friends who will love and support you (and your writing career but let’s get back to the sentiments), to push you in the right direction.
Recently, we’ve been seeing the writing community discuss the anxieties pertaining to writing minority characters. A lot of authors and writers tread these waters lightly. At the end of the day, when one person writes a race that isn’t their own, it can easily be turned against them. We want to remind that: it is possible to write another race. You shouldn’t feel discouraged!
Don’t ever forget: people are diverse. Not only in skin color but in personal experience. Not one experience will ever be the same. Your character’s bio should have the “deep and complex” experience which helps them grow throughout the duration of the plot. This can easily be influenced by location, demographic, how their family dynamic is built…all those details. Every writer knows this but here’s a friendly reminder…do your research.
One of the biggest concerns is encouraging stereotypes. For anyone, stereotypes in books alter the reality of how we see other races. Take the jokes and heavily controversial bits that you’ve heard out of your writing. Instead, apply the research you’ve done to your racially-diverse characters.
Keep in mind: you’re not going to please everyone. People will not like your character because it doesn’t reflect their exact life experience. People won’t like the textbook relation of your character to the audience. Your character is your character; they’re an extension of you and your work. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
We have been talking about a lot of world-building lately. We see it as a very vital part of writing, especially when it comes to creating your own world. The detail behind your creation should resonate with your reader, and describe a place they will be sucked into. Some of our authors at HRM gave us a look into their ways of building and we thought it would be nice to share with a writer who hasn’t quite gotten the grasp of piecing together their fictional world.
I have my system (basically pages and pages of journal entries attempting to consider every element of the society as it goes across books), but a streamlined version would probably be a bit more coherent. 😉
I have a notebook for each novel/series and write all of my little world intricacies down. Most of the world-building I layer in after the first draft. Touch, sights, social differences, currency, sayings, speech patterns, etc. I try and make the world-building almost unnoticeable.
I use a single Scrivener project for a whole series, so all my notes are in there. Before I start writing, I gather up enough to make me feel like I know the place well enough to live in it for a few books, and then add/revise as I go along. Everything from the magic system to what they eat. Also maps. So many maps.
Writing is already tough as it is, but the thought of character development or simple character creation makes it all the more harder. What happens if you, the writer, want to create and develop a main character who is of the opposite sex or gender?
As humans raised in a society where the social construct revolves around binary gender identification (so, male or female), we tend to think we have the other side figured out. Writing the opposite gender can bump the difficulty of your novel-writing up to 100. Personally, I applaud trans or androgynous characters because although I said our society currently revolves around binary gender IDing, the world is slowly changing and becoming more accepting of such. Why do we have to choose to be one gender, Social Construct? HUH?
Instead of going on about gender identity for a whole blog post, I’m here to try and help you writers out there understand the gender identity of your characters and how to portray them properly without offending anyone. I’m only focusing on men writing female characters and women writing male characters today!
Dudes writing dudettes?Always remember, if diving into the female POV, make sure she has a personality. Girls are people, too. People who have personalities as well experiences which shape them into who they are.
Beyond her INSANElyaverage looks is a deeply complex and developed being, she’s starts to become a person. Not that cardboard cut-out character who is tasteless and has no real meaning to the story.
A few key points about writing a girl:
Girls are empathetic, which is what heightens their emotions.
A girl usually wants to know that someone cares for her, which is why she wants to hang out with her SO all of the time or it seems like she’s always with her friends.
Looking into things is a girl’s MO. Girls do ask each other what they should wear to go out on a date, or what to say to someone.
For a bit more detail into those things I mentioned and a bit more, see this blog. The author of this blog really describes the nitty gritty details of the points she finds most noticeable in a female character, particularly in their POV.
Moving on!Dudettes who are writing their hunk of burning love…remember, he’s not real. He can’t be Mr. Perfect. If dudes can’t write women up to be super warriors with gigantic breasts and long legs, there should be no reason to write up a six pack with bulging muscles. Not every guy is tall, dark, and handsome.
Following the same rule earlier, give this guy his own unique personality. After that, you can add some good looking qualities, then the flaws. Make sure the guy is as realistic as possible because if you’re trying to reel in male readers…you’re not going to get it by stabbing his ego (just like a guy could do to a female reader’s self-confidence).
Want some key points here, too?
Feelings. Women tend to think men don’t have them but they’re most certainly wrong. Men have feelings. They’re just bottled up, until they’re ready to blow.
Want to evoke raw emotion? Mess with his brain.
If you’re main character is talking to his friends or his love interest, make sure he’s blunt and to the point. He’s not beating around the bush. He wants what he wants, so he’s going to get it.
That same blog from earlier also did a peek into how to write a guy’s POV, featuring a friend. It’s pretty interesting and worth the read!
“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention.”