Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Friday, January 27, 2012

Writing Speculative Fiction: Part III--Rules for Writing Speculative Fiction

Of course all the normal rules for good writing apply to speculative fiction (and you can read about those rules here if you like), but there are some others to consider if you want to write science fiction or fantasy--and all their myriad sub-genres.

Know Your Audience: Okay, this one applies to all writing, too. When you are writing speculative fiction, you need to understand that your audience is bright, curious and looking for something to ignite their sense of wonder. They like to figure things out for themselves rather than have it handed to them. You should not talk down to your spec-fic audience. They hate that. You have to go easy on the explanations of things or they'll get irritated and stop reading. I'll go into the handling of exposition in more detail in another post.

 Know What's Already Out There: I suppose this is true for any genre also. You need to know what's already been done in the speculative fiction world so you're not just rehashing old ideas. Of course, there are never really any new ideas, but you have to give those ideas your own fresh perspective and you can't do that unless you know what perspectives have already been done to death. Reading speculative fiction, and lots of it, is basically the only way to accomplish this.

Internal Consistency: When writing speculative fiction, you're going to create a whole new world, or perhaps it will be our world, but with a different set of rules. Your world must be consistent with itself, or your readers will hate you. Your technology must function the same way all the time. Your magic must operate by the same set of rules all the time. Your readers have to willing suspend their disbelief, and it is hard to do that if your world doesn't abide by it's own set of rules. World building will also be the topic of a near-future post.

So, any other speculative fiction rules I might have missed?

Up next: Writing Speculative Fiction: Part IV--Exposition

Read Part I--What is Speculative Fiction?
Read Part II--The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy


Tyrean Martinson said...

I don't think you missed any - I think that your world building post will probably cover anything else. I've been working with consistency in world building lately - making sure the details make sense, but trying not to over-do the detail explanations so they get boring . . . it's a balancing act.

Morgan said...

Sounds like good advice :) The last one is especially important in sci-fi and fantasy... I always hate reading a story that starts out with a promising story line until halfway through the author violates some law of magic or scientific principle they introduced. It's tragic.

Angie said...

Definitely a balancing act, Tyrean.

I know what you mean, Morgan. That is so annoying.

Thank you both for stopping by!

AstonWest said...

In addition to being consistent, I think the rules of any world you create also have to be made somewhat believable...even if they don't follow the rules of this world. This is where explanations become important. Having a world where humanoids live and breathe underwater is perfectly fine, but there needs to be some explanation of how they least in my opinion.

Angie said...

Yep. I agree, Todd. Thanks!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

These are good basic rules-- I think you do a good job with explaining them. I think it's especially important to know what's out there in spec fic, because originality is so crucial.

Angie said...

Thanks, Rosslyn. You're right. Originality is so important. Thanks for stopping by!

Lyn Perry said...

Maybe this is related to know what's out there and internal consistency, but I'd add know your subject. Many tropes/monsters have become so familiar and established that if you're going to introduce a new element, it will have to really resonate with readers. But, it's been done - vampires made a sudden shift from monsters to sparkly lovers and no one noticed! lol

Angie said...

I prefer the monster vampires myself. :) It's so important to know what's out there, especially if you're going to turn it on its head. Thanks, Lyn.