Sadly I don’t have a story for you today because my boss has been so gracious as to let us have self-improvement Friday today. So I have been spending my morning reading up on writing and editing, listening to podcasts, including one by Joe Hill (author of Locke and Key – I love this comic book!) and researching the Science Fiction genre. I love it!
Listen to Joe Hill’s podcast here: 10 Minute writer’s workshop with Joe Hill
I’m preparing to submit short stories to a whole list of publications and one of them has the space theme: Houston we have a problem. So I’m reading up on what is science fiction – well I know what it is but what is it? What makes a story science fiction? Is it space ships? Aliens? Half burnt men in black robes and breathing masks choking people with some metaphysical force? Surely not. So I’ve delved into it a bit more.
If you have been on my blog in the last month, you know I have been raving about an amazing writing book – On Writing Well by William Zinsser. It will be my first non-fiction book review for the next Wednesday Book Review. My boss gave me more books to read on improving writing, one of which is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. As a writer, you need to read a lot and not just books for fun but also self improvement books that will guide your writing.
“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” ~ Samuel Johnson
“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” ~ Ray Bradbury, WD
Although I don’t have a story for you, let me give you some insight into my writing process. I doesn’t look like this every time but it’s one of the main ways I brainstorm:
Houston we have a problem.
Okay so what does this prompt bring to mind:
Crash (so obvious)
Propeller system isn’t working as it should (probably not even called a propeller system. Also. Obvious.)
Jammed space jam into the control panel lever that sends me home (okay some humour… also something about a malfunction seems to the main idea/theme)
An alien ship has attached itself to mind and is reeling me in (we’re in space after all it’s plausible – also note I said mind not mine – error or my brain being sneaky?)
I have flown too close to the sun (Icarus!)
I am being attacked (obvious too)
Running out of oxygen/fuel/food/energy (hmmm interesting premise)
Virus has infected the crew (ok Dead Space how did you sneak in here)
One of the crew is a serial killer with a penchant for blood and we cannot escape (over done? Probably)
I don’t want to be calling things incorrectly (like propeller system… I’m probably thinking propulsion) so I ask memory for some insight.
Memory recalls Star Ocean (I love this game!) and some of the themes it carries. It brings an image to mind of a long eared priestess in flowing blue robes. On the side I read something about religion and the following ideas came to mind:
Religion. Sect. Think Star Ocean priests in blue robes praying to some foreign god in space.
Prompt: Astronaut alone in his own ship. Houston we have a problem his statement before he crashes.
Story: They see a pod flying towards them. They think the prophecy is coming true of “a being from beyond the vale”
Religion adopt him into their sanctuary.
Yes I know I misspelled “veil” but this is inconsequential to the writing and brainstorming process.
Next I question the great and wise Google for some insight. She overwhelms me with insight.
I also remember I get emails from Wattpad Science Fiction group and this leads me to: How to Write Science Fiction. It is a great, insightful resource just to help me get my bearings on a couple of things. This is the list I compile:
Communication. Time/Age/Distance. Travel. Food. Energy. Fuel/Refuel. Resources
History. Where. When. How. Why.
From here my mind has already started putting bits and pieces together and a story has formed. Here’s an excerpt from a very rough draft. You can see from the brainstorming where the story stems.
“Those nations were Samaria, Judea and the rest of the earth. But today we know there is more to nations than what we see here on earth. So I will implore you once again to heed my call to the word of God. The nation of Zeraiyus and the nation of Lweoyrigew and the nations in sector 01286 all need to hear the gospel. The good news. They need interplanetary missionaries.”
Space priests. That’s right. I’ve never heard nor read anything that dealt with this idea and in my particular way. So there’s my story. I don’t know where it’s going, but I at least know the setting.
So from here onward it’s putting words down and running with this idea. Who knows where it will lead?
What is your brainstorming process? How much effort do you put into your research?
I’ll listen to that podcast today. What other podcasts do you listen to? I’m always looking for recommendations. Also, for books on writing, have you tried Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer? It’s pretty awesome and is geared mostly toward sci-fi/fantasy writers but writers of any genre can benefit from it. It has lots of cool pictures too.
Oh no I’ve never heard of Jeff Van der Meer. I’ll definitely look him up thanks a lot. I’m still discovering writing books and will probably make a post as I read them.
As for podcasts I listen to: The Creative Penn, Dead Robot’s Society, Grammar Girl, The Moth podcast, The Roundtable Podcast, Snap Judgement and Writing Excuses. Great podcasts about writing, on writing, for writers by writers.
Thanks for dropping by. Enjoy!
Thanks for all the podcasts! I enjoy listening to them while at work. That Joe Hill one you posted was really good. He said some of the same things on The Writer’s Panel podcast but I still recommend it because he gives more details there http://nerdist.com/the-writers-panel-266-joe-hill/
Also, do you listen to the BBC World Bookclub podcast? It’s great too. They mostly speak with writers of literary fiction but although I haven’t read some of the books, I enjoy listening to how the authors came up with the idea for their story and the characters.
Ah thank you so much Zezee for the link. I haven’t listened to BBC World Bookclub, I’ll definitely look it up. 🙂
You’re welcome! Glad we could exchange suggestions.
A great post as always Nthato. I’ve always wondered how someone brainstorms because my mind usually wanders off to food. This was really helpful although I’m not writing science fiction, this will help with my dentist planning. 😛
Haha I have noticed during our chats that food creeps in somehow somewhere. I love food so 10 points!
Haha I’m glad it’s helpful… not so much for your dentist though 😛
Let him rot in hell! Or let his teeth rot in hell! Haha. I can’t help it. We are all foodies.