Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back to the Near-Future

One day I set out to write a science fiction book. I had several ideas running around in my head, and after a bit of chewing the fat and drinking the scotch, I settled on an idea for a near-future science fiction book. After a bit of brain molding, which, incidentally, consisted of more scotch, I set the novel only a few years away, with the possibility of a sequel stretching off into another decade.
The very first problem I ran into was world building. It is one thing to write come up with the strange and fantastic. It was quite different to write something close-to-home and familiar. It was both challenging and fun. And slow. Reeeeeaaaaaallllly slow.
Writing about the near-future required a lot of research. I used the interwebs. The library. I had to order my own books. My spreadsheet of writing expenses says I spent $253 in books for this project, half of that esoteric research material on Pacific Northwest Native Americans.
My research was not insular. I had to have my novel read by several experts. I needed someone to check my work on firearms. I had to have someone in law enforcement as a beta reader. I even had to seek out someone familiar with Washington State finances.
Once I was finished, I had a huge appreciation for writers placing their novels in a historical setting, those special authors who would spend days making sure they had a particular detail correct. I also had an appreciation for science fiction writers who can make a world come alive.
Mostly, however, I came to the conclusion that to write about the near future, you have to be crazy. If I would have known most of a month would go to researching the rich history of totem poles, and then hypothesize how their use could morph in the future due to cultural shifts, I might have said “pass.”
It’s an interesting sub-genre, I don’t know if it is for me or not. Anyone else here in Adventures in Writing land tackle the near future?

3 comments:

  1. I haven't Anthony, and I never even considered how much research it would entail.Perhaps I should drink more! Do you think the book has legs? It would be really interesting to see how your research informs the finished book - I bet it will be great - it ought to be after all the time and effort you've already invested in it.

    Julie

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  2. Thanks for the comment Julie. Good question.

    I feel the manuscript is hot. However, I have since learned it is difficult for the genre I picked to break out in a serial format. The book is part one of a trilogy and, while stands on its own, cannot be tossed out there as a singular entity. It's a three book deal or nothing.

    So I wrote another book to break out with.

    Now, I do know of a publisher that specializes in libertarian gun nut fiction. So in between other projects I'm going to float it direct. Wish me luck!

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  3. I love to write the near future. However I don't typically have to do a lot of research into the region because I usually write about the san francisco bay area, and all I have to do is look out the window.

    I usually pick a topic that involves an up and coming piece of technology, and say "What if?"

    The story follows from there.

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