Saturday, 19 September 2009

NZ Spec-fic Blogging week

Here is a link to the main page.

Because speculative fiction still doesn't get the recognition it deserves in New Zealand and because there are so many people out there doing so many exciting things - and so often they don't know about each other.

And what I've been doing - writing more and getting feedback from Critters - an on-line critique forum for writers of science fiction and fantasy.

I particular, the useful tips I have had recently: - think about the whole ecosystem in the workd you create - how did it get an atmosphere if there is just one life form?
Be specific in explanations - my 'biologist' should be an exo-biologist or xeno-biologist. These specifics also create the different world.
Like any good fiction, the characters should drive the story. Make them rounded, have a back ground, some foible, family or associates?

How did I get into writing speculative fiction? Well to start with I didn't set out to write that specifically. I've always loved words, quirky plays on them but only started writing a little when I was into my fifties having always read. A lot. To start with, I wrote a bit of life writing, shrot stories did a fiction course extramurally through Massey University here in New Zealand - excellent!! - .

I joined a writing group. This was another very fortuitous happening, around the same time as I did the Massey course. And I did that course by default almost. I had been doing a BA by drip feed - one or two papers a year - and started with German. BY stage three it was a bit too time-consuming without being in contact with German speakers. My interest in short stories and the relationship between life, country and the stories of an era had been awakened with some of the German writing we studied. So as an alternative major I looked to English. I did a literature and a writng course. Then they brought in the fiction writing course. Wonderful. I have now done most of the fiction writing papers they offer.

Then I found my stories often had a quirkiness. Not what I thought of as science fiction, nor as fantasy. Actually, truth be told, I didn't really describe them at all. Until people asked - well, what do you write?

Speculative fiction sounds more learned than quirky stories.

So, that's what I write. Mostly.

As I said, I didn't choose to write it but I think my muse is a gremlin. Something alien anyway. Something happens and a little voice says, that's what Thorians do.

Or I start to describe a scene and find it is an alternative life-style. Then I find just how alternative it is as I watch the characters interact or the characters tell me about just what does go on there.

One of my best moments is where I had two characters meet for the first time. I had had to invent a second character to give the first one some information about what had been happening. And both were going to go the direction the main character had aimed to go all along.

I was sitting there typing away, copying down their conversation and suddenly they decided to go where the secondary character wanted. A whole plot turn. Exciting. I was in the zone where I had to go back to the computer to find our what was going to happen next.

Well, to anyone reading, I wish you happy and exciting writing. And reading. There's lots of great NZ fiction out there, some published, some just waiting to be.