January 25, 2006

Doing it the “right” way …

I’m going through an interesting (perhaps interesting is not the right word :p) debate with somebody on one of the forums I visit. I wouldn’t exactly call it a debate either since I didn’t start out with the intention of debating the point. I had simply posted the first scene from my novel on that forum for comments and critiques and I got one critique (only one mind you :p) from this person who had a few relevant things to say but also in the crit mentioned that I should not use terms such as "credits" or "blaster" in my story because "as any professional would tell me" (he might not have used the exact words, so the quotes are mine :p) that is not the correct way to write science fiction.

I agreed with most of his critiques because they were valid and to the point. However, I found this whole "credits" and "blaster" thing a bit … how shall I put it politely without saying "pig headed"? … irrational? mindless? stupid? I don’t know … one of those or all of those. I just didn’t agree with the way that particular comment was phrased. (There was sense in there – but not the way it was said and not for the reasons expressed by this particular person.)

Now, if you were to look around, you will find a lot of rules to writing and even ones which are specifically aimed at writing science fiction. The Turkey City Lexicon is one really good example of rules and advice on how to (and how not to) write science fiction. Incidentally, if the Lexicon helps you, you might also want to take a gander at the annotated version – it leaves out some of the stuff but it also, I believe, adds a bit to it. So yes, there are a lot of rules on how to write good science fiction. But the trick is not to get bogged down by these rules and not to follow all (or any) of these rules slavishly because "that’s the way it is supposed to be done". You have to take every rule and see if it applies to what you want to do. Sometimes you might even want to break a rule for effect or because it actually makes your story better. But in essence, you should be able to determine what works (and what does not work) for you personally and not be bound by all these rules.

I (or rather Laurie :p) posted the question about "credits" and "blasters" to a different forum – one composed of both writers and science fiction fans. The responses we got were completely different. Not one talked about doing it the "professional" way. They actually came up with arguments both for and against using the terms and in each context, I agreed with what they said. I’ve taken the best of what they’ve said and am incorporating those suggestions into my story because they actually made sense. But do something just because that’s how everybody has been doing it and by golly that’s the way it should continue to be done? Phooie, I say :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:32 am  |  No Comments