As I browse through the F&F section, I notice that the majority of the fragments posted there are either fantasy, sci-fi, or action stories. When I read the fragments, it is clear that while the writers have promise, most of them are still beginners. Why is it that most beginning writers seem to gravitate toward fantasy or sci-fi? Is it just because most people here are OSC fans, or is this a wider trend?
Fantasy and sci-fi seem to me to be the HARDEST genres to write in -- you have to develope whole new worlds before your story can be complete. It seems to be me -- and I may be wrong, this is just my theory -- that most beginner writers get so infauated with creating their own Tolkien- or Asimov-esque worlds that they forget completely about characterzation.
Learning to write about people is the most important thing a writer can do to improve. So why go into the trouble of creating huge new worlds when you're just beginning? Set your stories in OUR world, or make very simple fantasy or sci-fi worlds that involve very little developement. Then you can focus on your characters and your true story. Cause that's what's most interesting to read about, anyway.
I do Sci-fi and fantasy just as you say. No grandios epics. I just don't seem to have that in me. I prefer character stories. The reason I choose Sci-fi/fantasy is partly for escapism but also because they, in my opinion, can be far more introspective. Nearly everything comes from me. I do research but if I decide I don't like the way the real world works, I can change it. My stories are about my should have, would have, could haves and my nightmares and hope nots.
There are events I cannot quite tell in main stream stories that I need to get out.
Also, as long as one is consistant within the world, one does not have to have any accuracy. A lack of knowledge allows one to practice writing, rather than practicing research. Of course, if you do world building, one is researching. Again, one only has to be consistant, rather than accurate.
We write what we read. There are other writing boards that talk about romance writing, or mysteries, or horror. This is a science fiction and fantasy board.
When I started, I wrote what I read. Now, I still want to write SF and / or fantasy (and / or horror, as well), but seem to have little desire to read it. Besides leaving me dreadfully out of touch with what's currently being put out, it makes me wonder if I should be writing it---except nothing else engages me as much.
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I don't like the label escapism. I find it inaccurate and derogatory. I have a love for the surreal, the great "What if?" To me, that's what fiction is all about. Writing about what is not, what could be, not what is (the realm of non-fiction).
I find when I try something literary, my heart just isn't in it. I don't want to write for writing's sake. The reason I started is because of the strange new worlds brimming in my head. Writing is a tool to make them live. I've no desire to copy Tolkien or Asimov. Those worlds didn't spring from my mind. I desire to be original. That's not to say I probably haven't tread old ground unintentionally--but purposely? Never!
Saying that, inevitability 90% of what I've attempted to write, starts off in the everyday, modern world, where the surreal proceeds to intrude. Yes, it is very difficult. There's a elephant of exposition to try to sweep under the rug.
But it doesn't I don't make stabs at characterization. When I read, I desire the viewpoint character to be relatable, so when I write, it is through a human viewpoint, usually one seeing the millieu through fresh eyes. Of course, none of this is to say I succeed at it, just to offer the reason why I chose this genre as my own.
There are many, many, many reasons we gravitate towards Scifi and Fantasy.
It can be escapism for some. It can be to avoid the constraints of the real world. For some, it is because our imagination won't allow us to stay in this world. Some look to the future and wonder what humans will be like there. Will we ever change, will we encounter new races, new technology, and how will it change us?
I started by writing fantasy, but have moved into scifi. I think at the time I had more experience reading fantasy. I like the idea of magic. I like the idea of normal people being able to come up with powers to overcome others. I think anyone who was ever picked on growing on can gravitate towards the genre, if they don't become a bully. Imagine having a power, or a technology, to get back at those that pushed you around.
For me, I've always been intrigued by the concept that people can have powers out of the ordinary. Whether those are the powers of magic or technology. The story has to be a character story. I want to see how the character gets the power, how they use it, and how it changes them. I have to care about the character. Good speculative fiction does this.
Think back to your childhood. When you played make-believe or used your imagination, you didn't have your toys get involved in a hostile business takeover, get trapped in a deadly love triangle, battle Nazis in World War II, or act in such a way as to make a statement about our world, country, society, or culture. We made up stories of epic battles, huge explosions, ninja vs. pirate wars, good vs. evil, man versus alien, etc. This genre is "easy" and "appealing" to beginners because we have been inventing stories containing these plot elements for much longer than the ones involved in other genres. Or at least, that is why I lean towards this genre.
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I love sci-fi. That's why I write sci-fi. I tolerate fantasy, even sometimes enjoy it. I can see a day somewhere in the future when fantasy may be the genre for the telling of a particular story that's in my head, but not for a while. I agree that the task of creating that fantastical world is just too much for me right now. I'm not young, and I am educated, I am new at considering writing more than just a hobby, more than just something I do to put my thoughts down.
I'm here because OSC's books sparked the fire to get back into reading, and to take writing seriously. I understand there are other online forums dedicated to writing. I'll probably find them some day, but why go there when the people who already like the kinds of things I want to write are here? IRL, the people closest to me who would be my natural critics and helpers can't stand sci-fi (makes me wonder why I like them some days. LOL)
I think you are making some erroneous conclusions from the information you have. You say
quote:When I read the fragments, it is clear that while the writers have promise, most of them are still beginners. Why is it that most beginning writers seem to gravitate toward fantasy or sci-fi?
I disagree. Most *HATRACK* beginning writers gravitate toward fantasy/sci-fi. I can't imagine that this community is representative of the writing community at large, other than in very very general ways (e.g., the wide range of age among the writers.)
One final note about science fiction and why - I have always loved sci-fi because it's about the *possible* - the fantastic, the incredible, the amazing. My eyes open wider, my heart races to think what could happen, what might happen, what the future holds. I find much of what's on the NYT best seller list, or even just the general fiction table at the bookstore to be really unbearably depressing, really unbearably dark, or just fun fluffy stuff. I don't want to read or write that. (Well, OK, some occasional fluff for fun.)
I'm not so pretentious as to attempt to answer for anyone else. But, I found a little of my answer can be found in each of the other posts:
quote: It's hella more fun to write those genres than about the mundane lives we are trying to step away from in the first place.
That's a part of it...
quote: My stories are about my should have, would have, could haves and my nightmares and hope nots.
...a major part of it...
quote: We write what we read. ...There are events I cannot quite tell in main stream stories that I need to get out
...and that's some more...
quote: There are events I cannot quite tell in main stream stories that I need to get out.
quote: The reason I started is because of the strange new worlds brimming in my head. Writing is a tool to make them live.
...tell me about it...
quote: For some, it is because our imagination won't allow us to stay in this world.
I was imagining myself in a Sci-Fi or Fantasy story since I was a small child. Before any memories of movies or books, I have memories of the many worlds of my imagination. As an only child, I met some of my best friends in an alien environment. You could say, Sci-Fi and Fantasy found me, before I found it.
quote: ...most beginner writers get so infauated with creating their own Tolkien- or Asimov-esque worlds that they forget completely about characterzation.
Forget about it, or truly love the milieu? As a reader, I noticed that when characterization is done well, it doesn't stand out, it blends into the story. In the end, I only notice the differences in the milieu and events.
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 15, 2007).]
I consider this MAINLY a scifi/fantasy/light horror site. But that genre can encompass a HUGE amount of writing. Anything that can be out of the ordinary can fit into the category of speculative fiction. The genre is so inclusive. You should read How to write science fiction and fantasy, by Orson Scott Card. He spends a great deal of time on the topic of what is fantasy and scifi and what is the difference.
Yes, being OSC's writer's workshop, most people that come here are drawn to fantasy and science fiction, but the things learned here can apply to most writing. Just because our fiction is speculative doesn't mean that we can be sloppy. If anything, our audience holds us to a higher standard.
So, yes, mostly scifi and fantasy. But we can include all styles of writing.
If you accept the definition that science fiction is about anything that can happen, and fantasy is about anything that can't happen, then science fiction includes mainstream, some types of romance, thrillers, mystery, and literary fiction, while fantasy includes other types of romance, thrillers (including horror), and literary fiction.
Many of us read more than science fiction and fantasy (even if you don't accept the above definition), and there are people here who are willing to give feedback on other types of fiction as well as nonfiction.
But yes, most of what is discussed here fits in the science fiction or fantasy (or horror) marketing categories.