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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tea. Peppermint. Lukewarm. (Or, Why I Shouldn’t Attempt to Write Sci Fi)

NaNoWriMo is here again.  My brain is filled with “word counts” and whether or not I have “just-itis,” meaning I use the word “just” far too often in my written dialogue.  I’m afraid the answer there is yes.

It’s also filled with words like:  nanotechnology, neural scanners, and atomic goggles.  Oh the joy of trying to write sci-fi when you don’t have the knack for it!

I used to watch Star Trek, the Next Generation.  All fans know the line:  “Tea.  Earl Grey.  Hot.”  Ah, such a classic!  And the nifty replicator would produce a lovely “cuppa,” nice and steamy, every time.  Don’t forget the cool transporters, fashionably attractive and yet functional communicator pins, and the fact that you should never, ever wear a red shirt.  Those were the days.

Why am I trying to replicate such a world?  (Pun intended, by the way).  Because I love that stuff!  I love the idea of traveling through space, encountering worlds similar to or vastly different from our own.  I love the idea of many, many other planets teaming with intelligent life. 

Sadly, I am no sci-fi writer.  I try to imagine a different world, one that’s familiar because it’s ours, but a couple of centuries in the future and therefore quite altered at the same time, and…I’m stuck.  What do people drink?  Tea?  How boring and old-fashioned.  What do I call it?  What does it look like?  Smell like?  Taste like??? 

The Earth I’m trying to imagine has now been home to an alien race for a couple of centuries who joined with the human race, so cultures would have mingled, perhaps greatly altering how things are done.  What do people wear?  Do they have green skin or gold tattoos decorating their faces?  (Oh, wait.  That’s a “Hunger Games” thing.  Never mind.)  Do people still travel in cars or use some kind of vehicle that hovers over the ground, aka what Luke Skywalker “drives” on Tatooine?  Do they use a Star Trekian transporter and beam themselves somewhere else?  It goes on and on, and my head starts to spin.

I suppose I shouldn’t have bothered in the first place, but I’ve already reached 13,000 words and I want to keep going.  Even though my characters may be totally lame and unimaginative, I think they’re trying to tell me something.  What will Malek do about the disappearance of his mother, Chessa?  What will happen to Chessa upon arrival at World Headquarters, where she was taken against her will?  Will Valerius still be himself after receiving his new body, or will he actually be someone else?  Who is EnYus, what is his connection to Chessa, and why can’t I come up with a better sounding name?  Most of all, how can Ava be both an Assistant with a shaved head and neural implants, as well as a thirteen year-old student at the same time?  Why does she seem to know everything when I don’t?

Don’t expect to see them movie any time soon.  Or ever.




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