Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 8 - We Can All Be Writers

As writers, you've each progressed in setting up real conflict for your characters and building the tension in your stories.  For our wrap-up day, we'll focus on the longer-short-story workshop and some techniques to keep the writing going long after you finish the course.

We Can All Be Writers
Two of the most popular sets of contemporary novels were written by authors who didn't consider themselves writers when they began.  Much of the first Harry Potter novel was written when J.K. Rowling was in-between jobs as a single mother (read more about Rowling on Wikipedia).  Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame had never written a short story before beginning her vampire novels (read more about Meyer on Wikipedia).

Naturally, each writer takes a different path.  Ray Bradbury was a habitual writer, mailing out stories every week for years before finally being published.  Stephen King, also, is such a writer, known to write every day, almost compulsively.

For today, here are some Creativity Exercises you can use to keep your writing going.

The Unique Challenge of Science Fiction - Keeping Up with the Times
Unlike realism or even fantasy, science fiction requires a certain level of specialized, non-literary knowledge.  This is particularly true today, in an era when general relativity and quantum mechanics now play important roles in our everyday lives (take a look at Relativity's Importance for GPS and how Computer Chips May Soon Use Quantum Mechanics).  Even stories set in the present must include references to the daily habits of smartphones, Facebook, and e-mail.  Stories set in the future are faced with greater uncertainty than ever before.  When we consider all the movies that feature fully-functional robots and yet neglect to include the sci-fi equivalent of the iPhone's Facetime (e.g. Alien, Star Wars, and Star Trek), we see how quickly imagination can become dated.  One notable exception is the Stargate franchise, which has continually been set in the modern day.  As alien devices are added to the collected toys of the show, so too are the modern developments of human technology.  Cell phones, laptops, and even smartphones are introduced to the show as standard aspects of the lives of our characters.

In addition, speculation regarding new technologies require some basis in fact.  Readers may be willing to believe in robots and cloning, but the truly innovative stories tend to find some hidden aspect of a technology to make it more real.  If we take zombies as an example, one could go beyond the typical "saliva-born pathogen" to examine how Prions May Cause Undead Plague.

Then we have the question of culture.  As we've discussed in class, the shifting cultural norms have lead many older stories to portray a great deal more gender and racial inequality than we presently see.  And yet we can't ignore the differences in the ways people are treated by society - a quick glance at how Chimpanzees Use Violence reveals that some of the base instincts we abhor are actually part of our genetic and cultural heritage from before the days of civilization.

Keep the Writing Going with Creativity Exercises

No comments:

Post a Comment