How Sci-fi Made Me a Better Writer

My upcoming Novel Ceres has truly put me through the ringer in terms of storytelling range.

In its infancy, Ceres was a half-baked and confused pile of ideas for characters, planets, and circumstances that I hadn’t been able to string together.

I had just gotten through half of The Point of Chaos, when I needed to take a break. I was going through a mental shift in what I was interested in, and was looking into Sci-fi in place of my typical fantasy.

And so, unable to smother the thoughts for this story, I began writing it.

What a mess…

I’ve touched on this before, and won’t beat a dead horse. The first draft was finished a little while ago, as mentioned in a previous blog post, and at the point of writing this post, I’ve gotten through draft two. What’s remaining now is to run through a couple different editing processes I like to use.

At the point I feel the core story is done, I set the book down for a few weeks – maybe a month. Then I come back to it with different eyes, and read the whole thing through. This helps me catch things I wouldn’t have noticed in my haze of creativity, and/or, impatience.

Then I do individual character consistency edits. Dialogue has to be consistent: i.e. if a character speaks with a certain tone at the start, they have to keep that tone through to the end. Diction needs to be consistent with how they communicate.

Afterward, I do general diction checks, motivation and knowledge consistency checks (if a character doesn’t know something, they can’t magically start knowing it later on), and anything else that comes to mind before I send it off to an editor.

Sci-fi and Fantasy

Why has Sci-fi made me a better writer?

Starting my writing career with an epic, dark fantasy novel eight-hundred pages long is all well and good, but what Fantasy doesn’t teach you is brevity.

Every detail of a fantasy world has to be addressed in one way or another – this generally ends up as superfluous exposition, or pages upon pages of meaningless lore delivered through dialogue – or worse, narration.

Many people get sci-fi and fantasy mixed up. Here’s how you remember the difference. Sci-fi is the art of the possible, where fantasy is the art of the impossible.

Sci-fi taught me how to shorten things and tighten them up. I had creative liberty, but only as much as is allowed within our own natural world. Ceres is based in our own world, but set in the decade between 6500 and 6510. Earth is now known by another name, and no one lives on it anymore. Humans are no longer humans, and a few alien races – who may not be alien at all – live amongst the “Syn-Ket”: our descendants.

Something set in a future time, based in our reality, needs to ring at least a little true.

Ceres allowed me to explore deeper thoughts about our human experience – something the Plight of Steel never facilitated. I am much more in tune with knowing the good and evil of our human race – from my perspective, at least. My writing from now on will benefit.

Also, I wasn’t switching storylines every chapter. If forced me to write one consistent story – something I really struggled with at the start. The Plight of Steel, for those unaware, switches between the numerous storylines each chapter. I experienced something of a creative fugue breaking away from this.

When Is It Done?

Well, I am currently in talks with an artist to create a custom, digitally painted cover. I’m seriously excited for this, as it will be the first time I’ve outsourced any aspect of my projects. Neith and Anhur, the main characters, will be drawn by another person; I can’t wait to see how he’s going to interpret what I’ve given him.

If I were to place a vague release date on this, I’d tentatively put it sometime in May. That could all change, of course, but a couple months should certainly give me plenty of time. I’m planning a Kindle pre-order thing, possibly sometime early May, or even April.

So subscribe to my newsletter for monthly updates, follow my social media, and keep an eye out for Ceres. I’m sure you’re going to love it as much as I do.

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