Friday, April 29, 2022


 Introduction: In Which an Old Dog Learns a New Trick

This is the first of fifteen posts dealing with surprising things I learned in the course of writing a science fiction series.

I write (and I'm published) in nearly every genre of fiction you can imagine. Science fiction horror is my favorite genre to read, and I'd always wanted to write in that genre. Though I'd written mild horror and many speculative fiction titles, science fiction was new for me before I decided to embark on what felt like an epic quest when I started the Arrow of Time Chronicles. At that time, I'd been published author for more than 20 years, and this old dog was about to learn quite a few new tricks.

 A timeless universal truth:

A timeless universal truth: No simple solutions, no easy answers, and nothing is ever free…

Long before I actually had any specific ideas about potential science fiction plotlines, I was talking to my son and husband about wanting to write something like Star Trek and having my Clumsy Girl Zoë Rossdale (of Clumsy Girl's Guide to Falling in Love and Clumsy Girl's Guide to Having a Baby) onboard the spaceship. My son, especially, thought it was brilliant and encouraged me to make it happen.

Fast-forward a few years and finally I'm getting ideas for a science fiction series. The premise I started with was a sci-fi saga set not too far in the future when mankind has finally begun traveling the stars, mainly in desperate and dire need of finding new homes for the population stranded on Earth following the Great Catastrophe (basically, Climate Change reaching the critical point). What if Humans built orbital habitations for their people not only in their own planet and moon's lagrange points (you can do a search for what these are if you need to) but also in the L-points of other planets and moons all over the galaxy? In the course of constructing these space dwellings suitable for Humans, what if one of the moons and planets they build above is in a nuclear winter and there are actually survivors down on the planet below? What if there are others originally from the planet who'd achieved space travel before the war that destroyed their planet and these hostile Napoleonic aliens return to their homeworld to find Humans "squatting" in their territory?

That catalyst is what led me to writing this series, but another thing that compelled me was the idea of having cultures (what I call the alien races populating my series) spread across the galaxy that, genetically, are so similar, it begs a billion scientific, cosmological, and theological questions.

The horror angle I wanted to develop in this series turned much milder than I intended in the form of phantom energy--an unconscious force of dark energy--dominating and "expanding" like a space-eating tumor throughout the universe. Eventually, its rapid destruction spreads everywhere and threatens all life in the galaxy.

In case you're wondering, yes, my Clumsy Girl Zoë's descendant, Astoria "Tori", is on board the Aero spaceship, klutzing it up in the most endearing way!

Before I started writing my Arrow of Time Chronicles, I believed science fiction had to be the most complicated genre imaginable. Not only do you as an author have to create all types of characters, but most of the time they're part of an alien race that hails from a different part of the galaxy altogether. World building becomes *universe* building. Gulp! And technology…wow, where do I even start? It's no wonder a lot of sci-fi authors are scientists (Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Fred Hoyle) 'cause, frankly, who else can really understand all these things? Intimidation galore!

Of all genres, I think science fiction also has the most opinionated authors. I tease a bit here, but seriously I don't believe in placing too many regulations on writers. If an author can get something to work in a story, then who cares about some long-standing rule that says no, you cannot do that here? How many other genres are you told from the get-go that, as a writer, you absolutely should not dare to change something that's been as established the cardinal rule? Additionally, you're also told that all your science and tech better be legit…despite that…{clearing throat here} you're writing **fiction**.

While I was writing my Arrow of Time Chronicles over about 2, 2 1/2 years, I found out in the process of learning everything I could and in some ways teaching myself how to go about the process of understanding the mechanics of writing in this genre that science fiction was definitely the most complicated genre imaginable. There was so much to absorb, so much to construct, so many ways to go wrong and have it all fall apart.

After I was done writing my sci-fi series, I felt a whole kaleidoscope of emotions about writing science fiction: Triumph, relief, awe, sorrow, complete and utter exhaustion. And, my conclusion was, yeah, science fiction is the most complicated genre imaginable--hands down! There is simply no comparison. Even mysteries, police procedurals, and action-adventures were a walk in the park compared to this genre. I learned so much in the course of writing my sci-fi series. Before I ever started writing Arrow of Time Chronicles, I read every book I could get my hands on about how to write in this genre. Yet I was left with quite a few curve balls that I couldn't have foreseen. I knew I had to overcome these things if I had any hope of accomplishing this epic undertaking that promised to bring about my magnum opus.

The posts in this long series coming to Alien Romances blog are the basis for my writer's manual titled Writing the Overarching Series (or How I Sent a Clumsy Girl into Outer Space), which will be included in my 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection. In the posts that follow in this series over the next three months, I'll go over the surprises I had in the course of writing my first science fiction series, including the following topics:

·         Of the Overarching Series and Its' Connection to Speculative Fiction

  • ·        Surprise #1: Of Not Having to Reinvent the Wheel For Everything

·         Of Research and Developmental Tool Requirements, Part 1: Surprise #2: Research Overwhelm

·         Of Research and Developmental Tool Requirements, Part 2: Surprise #3: Development Tool Underwhelm

·         Surprise #4: Of Deliberately Limiting Story Potential Development

·         Of Arcs and Standalones, Part 1: Story Arcs

·         Of Arcs and Standalones, Part 2: Series Arcs

·         Of Arcs and Standalones, Part 3: Establishing a Series Arc Early in the Writing Process

·         Of Arcs and Standalones, Part 4: Establishing Story Arcs Early in the Writing Process

·         Of Arcs and Standalones, Part 5: Surprise #5--Why Standalone Series Stories May Be Impossible in the Sci-Fi Genre

·         Of Arcs and Standalones, Part 6: Cliffhangers and Conclusions

·         Of Lessons Learned 

·         Of Rewards Earned

·         In Which a Clumsy Girl Goes into Outer Space

Happy writing!

 Writing the Overarching Series (or How I Sent a Clumsy Girl into Outer Space): 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection by Karen S. Wiesner (release date TBA)

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series, including the romantic science fiction series, ARROW OF TIME CHRONICLES

1 comment:

  1. A really interesting blog! Wondering how your writing is going...
    New here. Have a peaceful weekend!
    Donna in Texas