View Full Version : Where to start?

12-31-2004, 12:16 PM
When thinking about a sci fi story, do you start with the science, the characters, a nifty title or the plot itself? This time I've got what I think is a great science idea (and I'm not sharing, science ideas are hard work for us non-science types), but now the plot is resisting all my attempts to unravel it. Could it be my science idea isn't as amazing as I think it (no way!) or is it those pesky characters again? How does everyone else get conflict into their stories? The curse of being brought up to be "nice" strikes again.

Sorry for the whinge,


12-31-2004, 12:22 PM
Jen, I started with a scene. The climax, really, so I guess you could call that plot. Characters developed after that and then all of the details had to work out. In my case, the details is the science.

And hey, don't worry, everyone has those bad days! Mine's lasted for 4 months!

12-31-2004, 09:30 PM
I have a friend who is working on a Sci-fi card playing game. It's similar to Yugioh but without the problems. Because the game uses cards with ships, weapons, effects, and technology I am not having to spend a lot of time thinking about science. I'm concentrating more on characters, their problems, and how those problems are solved. Also, there is more to science than technology. Remember, politcal science, social science, & etc are great if you are not a science buff.

I am a begining writer and I bought the New Novelist software just to help organize my thoughts. I am a musician by trade and I understand the need to practice your art. This software has been a great help to me in that regard.

12-31-2004, 09:56 PM
It varies for me. When I'm working on a series, I have to take into consideration what's been done already and how the situation might stand for the new manuscript. With new stories that are not part of a series, it really depends.

In some instances, the character comes first in which I come up with a character and determine what would make the reader feel a bond with that character. I then come up with what that character wants to accomplish and determine what kind of obstacle is or becomes present. Then I let the story develop.

With some stories, a situation develops first. Then I populate it with characters and determine what their goals are. Sometimes, they're noble. Other times, they're just trying to survive.

In rare instances, the story and characterization unfolds based upon a device or invention that then places the character, often someone ordinary, into extraordinary circumstances where the character gets to show how an average person might react or succeed. By the way, by using an ordinary person with no science background the story then doesn't need a lot of explanation for futuristic inventions because the character just doesn't know and has to take much of what happens on faith. Also, the character doesn't have to be dumbed down for some events to happen. They can try things just to find out if they can do something and fail or end up in new situations that were unexpected.

12-31-2004, 10:34 PM
I'll bet everyone is different, depending on their background, writing style and a million other things. I am not a science type person. My hubby is Mr Tech guy (which really means that he buys all sorts of neat toys that no one else knows how to use) so alot of my tech/science knowlegde is by association. That said, I don't do alot of scifi, but the last short story I wrote, I stated more with a situation and the characters and story grew out of that. Usually, I start with a character first.

01-01-2005, 06:42 AM
So far, every story I've written has started out with a character. The first novel I wrote began with an image in my mind of a young boy walking up a dirt path on the side of a mountain with the sea far below, and thinking that he should have started out earlier. I then asked myself where he was going, where he was coming from, and what problems will he encounter because of being late.

I now have two novels written with two more to come that all grew out of that scene.

01-01-2005, 07:07 AM
By the way, by using an ordinary person with no science background the story then doesn't need a lot of explanation for futuristic inventions because the character just doesn't know and has to take much of what happens on faith.

Thanks, Dave. I'd overlooked this piece of commonsense. Seems like my character and me will be sharing perspectives.

01-01-2005, 09:11 AM
Start with a character in a situation with a problem. Go from there, wrapping everything around your "science idea."

01-02-2005, 12:29 AM
I just went through this myself. I had a cool world and no idea what to do with it. It resisted all efforts to become anything more until I found two characters in conflict and dropped them in the world.

This worked for me because I usually think in characters. More than once characters have popped up and ran for pages in complete void until I fleshed out a world around them.

I keep a file of "novel ideas" which sometimes are characters with cool conflicts, and sometimes are cool worlds. For this project, I tried out several sets of characters until I found one pair that clicked.

- Wen