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View Full Version : sff topics you'd like to see in a how-to-write book?


sunandshadow
08-25-2006, 09:24 AM
I made a thread in the novel forum for general writing topics people would like to see in my how-to-write book, but I'd also like to include some sf-oriented material on worldbuilding, plot types, and other things. So if there's anything (not publishing related, only theory and technique) that you would particularly like to see covered in a how-to-write book, please let me know what it is. :)

Ardellis
08-26-2006, 06:03 PM
How about something on how to create languages, even if all they're used for is naming characters and places?

Or how to invent a religion?

alleycat
08-26-2006, 06:28 PM
There's several lists of cliches and hackneyed sci-fi plot ideas on the Internet. Somehow incorporation them into your book (perhaps as a sidebar).

UrsulaV
08-26-2006, 06:48 PM
This is probably not what you want to hear, but I'd only buy a how-to-write book from an author whose writing I knew and liked already. There are tons of how-to books out there by people I haven't heard of, and I have no idea why I'd want to write like them, so I really need a reason to pull the book off the shelf.

So the sff topics I'd want to see would be the ones that I had admired in the author's books, and of course, that'd dependant on the author. Lovecraft's take on crafting believable female characters is nothing I want to read, nor am I particularly interested in his analysis of writing dialog, but I'll re-read a chapter on "Ancient Terror and You" five hundred times. I'd be glued to a chapter on worldbuilding from China Mieville, but I'd snore through something similar from a lot of other authors, even ones I admire. Phillip K. Dick, if he hadn't been crazier than a hoot owl, could have written "Short Story Plots To Kick You In The Teeth" and I would have read it, but I would have torn the chapter on "Making Loveable Characters" out and burned it, and then sown the ashes with salt.

What I want to see in a how-to write book is what the author does that I admire, ya know? So I can't give you any specific advice without having read your work.

badducky
08-26-2006, 09:40 PM
How to make a full-time income at a part-time job while surrounded by awesome people and works of amazing art...

How to get a job as a night watchman...

How to get a job as a professional renaissance fair bridge troll...

How to be a roadie for a book tour....

sunandshadow
08-27-2006, 07:34 AM
There's several lists of cliches and hackneyed sci-fi plot ideas on the Internet. Somehow incorporation them into your book (perhaps as a sidebar).

Does anybody actually use those to help them write though? How do you use them?


Ursula - yeah, I can't really do anything with that because I'm writing the book to explain my own theories, I'm not going around interviewing authors.

Ardellis - Fortunately I've already written something about creating a language, and yes creating a religion (or a cosmology or magic system, which are somewhat related) sounds like a good idea! :)

UrsulaV
08-27-2006, 08:49 AM
Ursula - yeah, I can't really do anything with that because I'm writing the book to explain my own theories, I'm not going around interviewing authors.


Well, forgive me the question, but have you written any SF/F books?

yanallefish
08-27-2006, 12:47 PM
Ohh, lemme see.

1)Query letters for sf/f
2)definitely put the language/religion how-to in there!
3)basic writing technique
4)resources list (for those of us -- like me*g* -- who don't have a science degree but have this great idea about oh, I dunno, some weird biological thingy, for instance)

sunandshadow
08-28-2006, 01:11 AM
Well, forgive me the question, but have you written any SF/F books?

I don't want to derail this thread into a discussion of myself, so I'll answer this in a PM.


yanallefish - What would basic writing technique be? I'm not going to talk about spelling, punctuation, or grammar, there are plenty of books about that, but I am going to talk about plot and character arcs, act and scene structure, character creation, worldbuilding, and those sort of things.

Snitchcat
08-28-2006, 06:41 AM
I agree with Yanallefish:

A list of resources for those of us who don't have a detailed background in science would be very helpful.

yanallefish
08-28-2006, 11:11 AM
yanallefish - What would basic writing technique be? I'm not going to talk about spelling, punctuation, or grammar, there are plenty of books about that, but I am going to talk about plot and character arcs, act and scene structure, character creation, worldbuilding, and those sort of things.

*G*Actually, what you're going to talk about in there was exactly what I had in mind regarding that - there's some writing stuff that's just specific to writers of our field, that's why I thought it should be in there. Glad you did too!:hooray:

sunandshadow
08-29-2006, 03:51 AM
I posted the tentative outline for the book in the novel forum, last chance to let me know if anything is missing! :)

AceTachyon
08-30-2006, 01:03 AM
SpecFicWorld (http://How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/158297103X/theworldsoffanta)by Orson Scott Card
Worlds of Wonder (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1582970076/theworldsoffanta) by David Gerrold
Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0713658533/theworldsoffanta) by Lisa Tuttle
Conceiving the Heavens: Creating the Science Fiction Novel (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0435070088/theworldsoffanta)by Melissa Scott
Paragons: Twelve Master Science Fiction Writers Ply Their Craft (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312156235/theworldsoffanta)by Robin Wilson
Borderlands of Science: How to Think Like a Scientist and Write Science Fiction (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671319531/theworldsoffanta) by Charles Sheffield
On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1880448785/theworldsoffanta)by George H. Scithers, Isaac Asimov, Darrell Schweitzer
The Writer's Guide to Fantasy Literature (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0871161958/theworldsoffanta) by Philip Martin
The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1896944094/theworldsoffanta) by Darin Park & Tom Dullemond
Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0028639189/theworldsoffanta) by Cory Doctorow & Karl Schroeder
The Writers Complete Fantasy Reference (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1582970262/theworldsoffanta) by Writer's Digest Book
Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1551801892/theworldsoffanta) by Crawford Kilian
About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0819567167/theworldsoffanta/)by Samuel R. Delany

sunandshadow
08-30-2006, 03:34 AM
About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0819567167/theworldsoffanta/)by Samuel R. Delany
Ooh that's new! I hadn't seen that one yet and I really like Delany! Thanks! :D

Medievalist
08-30-2006, 04:16 AM
SpecFicWorld (http://[COLOR=black) has the following list of books that might help.

You'll note that these are all by successful much published authors.

And I'd mention Kate Wilhelm's book, as well.

dclary
09-01-2006, 11:16 PM
Yeah, someone's mentioned this in another thread, but I think it bears repeating...

Most people are going to buy a book on how to write something from someone who's not only had reasonable success actually writing it, but who would also be recognized by name as an expert on the topic.

I don't doubt your ability to organize this information into something I can use, but if I had $10 to spend, I'm going to go with card's book first. I know his writing, I know I LOVE his writing. I'd love to get his insights on how to make my own writing better.

But that's just me.