Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by glorybee » Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:19 pm

Well, for the purposes of this particular challenge, a piece that hovers over the boundaries between science fiction and fantasy would be fine, as it would be "on topic" whether a judge considered it to be one, or the other, or both.

As I said, the borders are fuzzy, but science fiction tends to be more science-y--something in that story is different from our world because of some scientific difference between our world and the world of the story. (And keep in mind that science isn't necessarily technology--it could be medicine, social science, inventions, engineering, etc...) And fantasy tends to have something significantly different in the characters: they're not human, or they have some sort of unusual quality that makes them differently human.

If it's set on earth or our known universe, it's MORE LIKELY to be science fiction. If it's wholly made up, it's MORE LIKELY to be fantasy. But those are not engraved in stone, and there are many exceptions.

Here are a few examples that you might be familiar with:

FANTASY: Wizard of Oz, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Sleeping Beauty

SCIENCE FICTION: Star Wars, Left Behind, Hunger Games, The Time Machine

Any clearer now? Let me know if you have remaining questions, and I'll give it another shot.
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by glorybee » Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:21 pm

Anja wrote: Fantasy / science fiction stretch me. It's as baffling as quantum physics. I have written in that genre ONCE the whole time I've been at FW, the last time sci-fi was the given topic. I was the most shocked being on the planet (or even the universe) when it placed.

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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by RedBaron » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:13 pm

Not to blur things further, but there are a TON of sub-genres, like Science Fantasy (which is what a lot of people consider Star Wars to be because of The Force) or even Space Opera (like the old Flash Gordan and Buck Rodgers serials).

The basic difference is that if "amazing" things happen....

In Science Fiction, they are explained by technology that may not/doesn't exist yet, but is "possible" - transporter, faster than light transportation, time travel.

In Fantasy they are explained by "magic" - spells, magic items, creatures who have abilities they are born with) however you decide to define that, in a Christian fiction.

There can be quite a lot of overlap, too. Like the Dragon Riders of Pern series (not a Christian series), some people consider it fantasy because of the dragons, however it can be also considered SciFi because of the way the dragons were developed from genetic manipulation (don't want to give too much away).
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by glorybee » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:40 pm

Thanks, Shari. You're right--lots of blurring and overlap.
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by RachelM » Mon Oct 20, 2014 1:47 am

I recently read a Christian sci-fi trilogy that starts with Firebird by Kathy Tyers, and I loved it. The story was very engaging, and the Christian message was subtle but intriguing. I'm going to try to write a dystopian novel for NaNoWriMo this November. It's going to have a familiar Bible story with a twist and will take place in the future.

This was my only attempt at writing a sci-fi/fantasy story:
Remnants of Another World

It was fun to write, but the theme has been done too many times before.
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by Deb Porter » Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:35 am

RachelM wrote:I'm going to try to write a dystopian novel for NaNoWriMo this November. It's going to have a familiar Bible story with a twist and will take place in the future.
Just in time for next year's Fiction Page Turner contest. :D

Loving the discussion on these two genres this week.

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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by KatKane » Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:52 am

Where I'm really coming undone is the boundary between fiction and sci fi/fantasy, or put another way, being on or off topic :? There seem to be an awful lot if grey areas. Take a dream about Heaven, for example. Perfectly possible to dream about Heaven, but yet Heaven itself is a place where things happen that don't on earth. The grey are probably why I struggle so much with sci fi/fantasy. I definitely prefer the clear cut, but that's all part of the writing challenge I guess.
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by Deb Porter » Mon Oct 20, 2014 3:07 am

A dream about heaven wouldn't fit either, as far as my interpretation of the genres. The same with a story about heaven. I could be wrong on that, but I would rate that as not being particularly strong for topic, unless you introduced fantasy elements (which was done by our first Page Turner winner with her manuscript--combination Biblical fiction and fantasy. A fascinating combination.).

My opinion would be to avoid going down that heaven/dream track, and to be honest, when it comes to dream stories generally, avoid them like plague. They usually raise red flags with the judges and are a turn off for many readers.

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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by KatKane » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:19 am

Thanks, Deb. That clarifies things. :thankssign

Now back to the drawing board... :D :D

One thing is for sure, unless life really conspires otherwise, I WILL be having a go this week, in order to make sure I don't get into the mindset of 'I can't do this'.
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by Deb Porter » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:29 am

Good on you, Kat. With the Challenge, placing is great, but the heart of it is really to make it a personal challenge as a writer.

Love, Deb
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by RedBaron » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:06 am

And if people are interested in reading some really excellent Christian fantasy or SciFi (beyond C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkein lol), be sure to check out Stephen Lawhead. He does both quite well, as well as some historical fiction. He's one of my all time favorite authors.
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:35 am

Deb Porter wrote: My opinion would be to avoid going down that heaven/dream track, and to be honest, when it comes to dream stories generally, avoid them like plague. They usually raise red flags with the judges and are a turn off for many readers.
What if the M.C. thinks that what he/she is experiencing is a dream--and then finds that it is not a dream?

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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by glorybee » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:54 am

I suppose that depends on what the character is dreaming. It could be either science fiction-ish or fantasy-ish, I suppose, and for that to be reality for the character would definitely put it within the topic.

However, I'll repeat what Deb said: Dreams as a plot device are cliched and generally not good. Avoid them.
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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:17 am

Thanks, Jan!

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Re: Be a Better Writer -- SCIENCE FICTION

Post by RachelM » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:49 am

Deb Porter wrote:
RachelM wrote:I'm going to try to write a dystopian novel for NaNoWriMo this November. It's going to have a familiar Bible story with a twist and will take place in the future.
Just in time for next year's Fiction Page Turner contest. :D
Yes! Now that I've submitted a Page Turner entry for this year, I'm looking forward to next year's contest! :) It's one of the best things about FW. These contests are motivating me to plan and write books. Love it!
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