I decided to write a science fiction book.
Wait, go back.
“You decided to do what?!”
That was the reaction from most of my friends and family in early 2015. In April of that year I gave the science fiction book series its name, Lore of Energy and Light®. By June 2015 I was feverishly writing the first chapters. Around the same time I plucked up the courage to tell my wife.
“That’s nice dear.” [insert eye roll]
It was fair to say she thought I was mad. Her husband was a businessman, a sales guy, not a science fiction writer. I had started many businesses since we met; each with an increasing level of intensity that bordered on obsession. I suppose she was worried that writing a book would become just as obsessive. I am pleased to say I acknowledged her concerns … for, err at least the first month before I became a recluse. It was evident early on that my new found love would demand as much of my time as the love of my life.
After a few more chapters were written, I approached my dear friend and science fiction book fan Alice Dengler to read the early draft. She humoured me. Alice was very supportive. Looking back now, what I wrote was abysmal, yet Alice somehow managed to see through the poor grammar, typos and thin story-line. She saw potential. Alice gave me the confidence to keep writing and turn a thin plot into a rich universe. It has been just over a year since I confided in her; I have no regrets!
Throughout 2016 I have proudly told friends, “I am writing a science fiction book.” That statement has been met with overwhelming positivity. I was surprised at just how many closet science fiction fans I had amongst my lawyer, doctor, and business mates. Now the pressure is on. It’s time to get the book done, polish the manuscript and look to get published.
Anatomy of a science fiction book
Okay, so I am writing a science fiction book. What now?
In the early days I had no idea what it meant to write a book. I had given little thought to how the story would be delivered, or who the characters would be. Just in case you are thinking about becoming an author too … just do it … because my best advice is that you do not need to have all the answers at the start. You only need enthusiasm. I liken it to driving a car across the country at night. You can only see as far as your headlamps light the road, but that does not mean you are lost. You do not need to see the entire way all at once to know that you are on the right path.
Science fiction books are generally longer than other genres – about 110,000 to 140,000 words is the norm. Book 1 of Lore of Energy and Light will be about 150,000 words. The story is written in character point-of-view (POV) chapters. I opted for POV storytelling because I felt it was the best way to tie together the vast universe with its characters spread across immense distances, yet still keep the story personal.
For this science fiction book I had to create a unique way to use certain punctuation marks. For example, I combined brackets (parentheses) with quotation marks and words in italic to denote communication between characters transmitted in thought. That sounds simple, but at the time it was an obstacle that stopped the writing process.
Related Article: Glen’s Writing Process
When it comes to writing style, readers will note the inclusion of some old-English phrasing and words. I really liked this. It adds another layer of authenticity to the story and is a great juxtaposition to science fiction book lingo. It is just another way to immerse the reader.
By the way, I think there is a HUGE difference between words written on the page and how they actually sound when read aloud. Some sentences look fine in print, but that is not how someone reads a science fiction book. Readers hear the characters speak in their head, and they hear the narrator (sometimes in their own voice, and sometimes other voices.) My advice – write your book to be read aloud. Your book will read better in the long run.
Science fiction book characters
Characters are hard. Names are harder. What’s in a name folks? Everything!
If the name of a character does not feel right, I cannot write them. A name gives you a mental image of a character’s body, demeanour and personality. I keep a backlog of spare character names. Yep, my mind spits out weird and wonderful names often. So I just write them down and hope that one day the right character comes along that fits the name – or that the name inspires a new character (which is often the case).
Finally, I would describe my characters as “science fiction lite”.
Put it this way, not everyone is a drooling twenty foot monster. I think it is very easy to go overboard when writing a science fiction book. Your imagination can go wild; too wild. There still needs to be a level of relatability in your heroes and villains. That includes their appearance, the way they communicate and their personality; because as hard as we try, we will always overlay our human paradigms on extraterrestrial beings. Many of the characters in Lore of Energy and Light® are human or humanoids, and they have feelings we would empathise with easily. This will (hopefully) appeal to readers who do not normally read science fiction, whilst still engaging science fiction book fans.
There it is…my journey thus far. My life forever changed when I uttered the words,
“I have decided to write a science fiction book.”