Why Scientists Shouldn’t Write Science Fiction

scientists writing science fiction LAB BOOKAnd why detectives need to be careful writing Detective Fiction, etcetera. Experts tend to fill their novels with esoteric information that gets in the way of the story, so choose your atmospheric/tech descriptions wisely.

Okay, Isaac Asimov had a PhD in Biochemistry. He was a genius. But I think it is safe to assume that you’re not. And if you are, you shouldn’t be listening to me anyway. Go away and create a brave new genre, and leave us plods in the dust trying to explain why you are so successful.

Asimov’s genius was in using his scientific background to make his Sci-Fi believable, but not letting it become the be-all and end-all of his work.

That is the bane of science fiction writers. So many of them think that they can create all sorts of verisimilitude by having wonderfully accurate science in their stories. And they are wrong. Because what the vast majority of people want is good stories. They couldn’t care less about the science. Readers want realistic characters, not realistic science.

Let me give you an example. Continue reading “Why Scientists Shouldn’t Write Science Fiction”

The Next Seven Book Reviewer Complaints

Mistakes authors makeEveryone had so much fun with the last seven complaints I had while reviewing books, I thought I’d give them a chance to get right down to some more. Some are a bit esoteric, but when a reviewer is really busy and looking for an excuse to go on to the next book, a few of these will do the trick every time.

8. Information Dump

This is feedback from everyone in comments on the earlier post. NEVER, EVER, EVER bore the reader with an Information Dump. I know you need us to know the whole life story of the main character, but we don’t know we need to know it, so why read it? So we put your book down after Page three.

When is an information dump not an information dump? Never. The only time information is okay is when we don’t notice it, or, best yet, when we want the information. If you can set up a situation where the reader feels like, “Why is he doing that? WHY is he doing that? WHY IS HE…? Oh! That’s why!” then you’ve got it nailed.

Part A: Developmental Errors Continue reading “The Next Seven Book Reviewer Complaints”

Research: Keeping the Backstory in the Back

libraryRecently I stumbled across this post for Stephen King’s top 20 rules for writers. I can agree with most of them, and one in particular about research really struck a chord with me for a couple of reasons.

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.” Continue reading “Research: Keeping the Backstory in the Back”

World Building Tips for Authors

forbes westGuest Post
by Forbes West

People come up to me – at bars, restaurants, half-way houses, and ask, “Forbes? That you?” After a few moments of sideways glances and awkward chatter, they will soon say to me, “Boy, Nighthawks at the Mission (available at Amazon.com now), you really set up a world there, whoa, I gotta say, you know, that world you built in that sci-fi story, yowza.” And I’ll nod and glance at my watch and exit the room quietly after making an excuse as I do not like talking to strangers.

After I’ve walked away and soon realize I left my keys in my other jacket pocket and I have to wait around an hour for my wife to come open the front door, I sometimes reflect to myself, what is world building? How does one do it without submerging the real stuff of story – the characters, the plot – and explain this new setting to the reader who doesn’t have the privilege of sitting inside my brain the entire day?

When I started writing Nighthawks at the Mission (available at Amazon.com now) I didn’t even exactly start with the story. I started by making up the actual entire world that this story would inhabit. Continue reading “World Building Tips for Authors”