Writing Science Fiction

Russ Colson

 

Click here for a list of published stories and articles by Russ Colson.

 

Click here for a published interview on my writing.

 

Some Science Fiction Writer Resources:

http://www.critters.org/  (An online workshop and source for other good websites)

http://www.duotrope.com/ (A list of fiction markets)

http://www.ralan.com/  (A list of science fiction, fantasy, and horror markets)

http://www.sfwa.org/  (A good source for all kinds of science fiction writing info)

http://www.hatrack.com/writers/index.shtml (an online workshop and writer's discussion forum)

http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/ (An online workshop)

http://www.sff.net/odyssey/tips.html  (A list of writing tips)

http://www.cherryh.com/www/list.htm  (A list of essential science fiction and fantasy works everyone should read)

 

Russ's Thoughts on Writing

 

Why write?

 

1)  Writing is therapeutic and fun, much better than drinking at the bar, and much, much better than going bonkers from stress. 

 

2)  Writing is a form of meditation.  The writer must reach into himself (or herself, in the case of some writers), learn his inner motivation, and find what makes us human.

 

3)   Writing is a means for an author to give something of himself in a manner that is not threatening and which folks find more pleasant than lectures on thermodynamics and geochemistry.

 

Why Science Fiction?

 

1) Science fiction is a safe form in which to address important issues.  By 'safe', I mean that you can address sensitive personal, spiritual, political, or social issues, and--because the story is set on a far off world with alien beings--the reader doesn't feel attacked or preached at (as long as the author isn't attacking or preaching).   

 

2) Science Fiction is among the most flexible of genres, encompassing all the universe, all of time, and any number of strange people and places.  It's full of mystery, discovery, danger, and anything else that's exiting, adventurous, or just plain fun.

 

3) Science Fiction expands the mind, considering ideas and possibilities outside our normal experience.  It explores not only what is, but what might be, or could be. 

 

 

What do I like in a novel?

 

The ingredients that delight me in a science fiction story are:

Adventure (The thrill of exotic places and grand events--not at all the same thing as action)

Relationship (The joy of two or more people coming to know and like each other)

Mystery (What's out there?  How did it happen?  Who were they?  Where did they go?)

Philosophy (Every story should grapple with a few grand ideas--my stories often deal to some extent with science and faith, two things I know and care about)

Science (Science fiction should include science!  Science is all about how we figure things out and how we know.  It's not about technology and factoids.  I can tolerate a bit of techno-babble and some gadgetry, but please don't call that science!)

 

My journey as a writer:

I wrote my first chapter story in 6th grade, a story of a young deer trying to survive the changing seasons and the hunters (absolutely no influence, of course, from the similar deer stories I'd read....).  My teacher learned I was writing, and insisted on reading the story to the class.  The first year of adventures went well, and the class liked it.  The second got a bit repetitive (after all, one year to a deer is about like another).  By the third year, my teacher graciously allowed us to simply forget to read any more.  I was quite relieved, and learned a valuable lesson.  Just because it's realistic (one year truly is a lot like another to a deer), doesn't mean it belongs in a story.

 

I wrote my first complete novel as a freshman and sophomore in college--a science-fictionalized account of Noah's Flood.  I was crushed when my Dad commented that "it was a good start at writing and if I kept at it........."  What do you mean, if I keep at it!  Wasn't it already perfect?  Maturity caught up with me though, and I soon realized my writing was rather amateurish.   I abandoned writing for several years.  The important lesson in my Dad's comments, that I didn't learn until much later, was "keep at it"!

 

I renewed my writing in the late 1980's, publishing several essays and short stories in an eclectic (but paying) magazine published quarterly by my brother and a college friend.  My stories still weren't particularly good, but my brother and friend were generous, and published several of my efforts.  I also published some articles in a local education newspaper. 

 

Shortly after, I took a faculty position at Minnesota State University Moorhead (then Moorhead State), and became very busy.  I didn't write for a long time.  In fact, I even quit reading.  Then, around 2000 and during a dark time in my life, I read a wonderful science fiction adventure by Julie Czerneda, "A Thousand Words for Stranger", and got started reading and writing again.  And having fun again.  Since then, I've written four novels, 19 short stories, and three non-fiction articles.

 

 

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 updated 2/11/2014