Nerddom is here to stay

What drove you to write Sci Fi in the first place?

Or better yet, what is driving you to write Sci Fi now?

Is it books?

Graphic novels?

Movies?

Cartoons?

What is it?

What do you love so much that it drives you to create?

The importance of being a nerd

The status of nerds has changed over the last few decades. In the 80’s, nerds were made into comedy movies that became instant cult classics. In the 90’s, nerds were given two of their biggest icons in Steve Urkel and Samuel ‘Screech’ Powers, yet they were more the butt of a joke than tailor made heroes.

The turn of the century brought on something new though. Cartoon Network launched a block of shows that were translated from Japanese to English, giving science fiction other than American comic book heroes credence. This led to a further translation of many more shows, leading to a revolution among the upcoming generation of youth.

Of course anime was nothing new then; CN simply brought it to the status of an afternoon cartoon show like Animaniacs or Tiny Toons. What they did was bring it up from the underground and put it in the mainstream. Go ahead and talk to almost anyone age 25-35. I bet most of them know what Dragonball Z is (at least).

With all of this said, the shift had begun. Fast forward to 2013, and there are live action TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and King of the Nerds. Mainstream application of Science Fiction and its fans. I mean, the Scott Pilgrim movie made 47 million at the box office! Have you seen that movie?! It’s silly and full of all kinds of video game references! (For the record, that is one of my favorite movies of all time. I was super stoked that one of my favorite graphic novels was being made into a movie)

Not to mention the commercial successes of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Peter Jackson has accomplished what was once thought impossible with the fantasy genre. And now there’s Game of Thrones to go along with the Fire and Ice series.

Nerddom (?) has begun its reign after many years of a slow infiltration.

Which is probably one reason you create

Come on, admit it.

You know that you are a nerd for something. I like lots of sci fi things. I’m currently reading ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ by Robert Heinlein. I’m sure I will go see whatever cool Sci Fi movie comes out soon. I need to organize my 400+ comic books and graphic novels. All of these things drive me to create worlds full of adventure and sweet gadgets. The lightsaber still haunts me.

What drives you?

What are you so in love with that it makes you want to make your own?

The Process

Many of my ideas come to me at random times. Sometimes even when I’m already writing a different story! It is very important to keep your ideas documented. How organized you keep them is your own business, but at least get them where you can come back to them.

Once you have an idea, fleshing it out is the hard part. Most people tend to want a novel length project, but short stories are much easier to complete. Combining short stories can also lead to a novel. Don’t count out the short story.

Editing is absolutely necessary. There are mistakes. Your beta readers and editor will find them. Trust me.

Whatever makes you create is just as important as the process. Which is why I spent more words on nerd stuff than process in this post. I have tons of content on process and nerd stuff if you want to check it out. Just click on the archives and start browsing. I hope your holidays were great, and that you got some cool stuff that will spur your creativity even more. I’m off to get a bow this weekend with my Christmas earnings.

Keep Writing!

Expanding Short Story Horizons

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A few months ago a wrote a post on short stories. I stand by what I wrote, but I want to expand the horizons a little bit. I was reading a post earlier today that redefined word counts associated with fiction from my previous understanding. I was using the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America scale, but after reading this post at Live Hacked about ebook pricing, I like the scale referenced there better. I haven’t written about pricing or marketing or any of that, but the time is coming for me to become more directly involved in it. I have several stories very near ‘ready-to-be-published’ status and they fall into different categories. So let’s talk about different word counts and what they ‘mean’ for short fiction. I will use part of the scale I found on Live Hacked, which was taken from the Kindle Forum.

Flash Fiction <1000 words

Flash Fiction is a tricky thing. Mostly because we think that if something isn’t long it isn’t worth reading. I disagree. I’m a huge baseball fan, and I enjoy reading baseball cards. I’m also a giant nerd and play Magic: The Gathering. The card effects and quotes are fun to read. I enjoy looking up useless information on wikipedia.

So what if you write a story that takes up only a few pages?

I think it’s perfectly feasible. Plus, these stories would only take a few moments to write and edit. Spend a few weeks writing one of these stories every single day, and you will have a nice collection of stories nearing 14,000 words.

Short Short 1000 – 5000 words

These are my bread and butter. I enjoy writing between 2500 and 5000 word stories. Not too short and not too long. Room for chapters or scenes. Not as long as a novel. They take a week or two to write as opposed to months. Or if you’re really persistent you could knock one out in a few hours I’m sure. Editing is still fairly easy, plus people can beta-read them in one sitting. I find that the story can develop quite well in one of these ‘Short Shorts’ and not leave the reader wanting in quality.

But you should always leave them wanting more 🙂

Short Story 5000 – 10000 words

I just finished writing one of these, and it was quite enjoyable. I clocked in right around 8000 words, but it took me a little while to write it. Because there’s more room for character and plot development these take up more planning time. For instance, the story I wrote has four true acts, something that doesn’t quite develop in the shorter categories. With the longer word count, the story draws you in and feels longer than it actually is. What this does is attach your readers to the characters, and perhaps they will want a series of stories instead of just a one shot.

Another note is that this is the range of most ‘traditional’ Sci Fi short fiction. Philip K. Dick and Isaac  Asimov are a couple of writers who were around this word count with their stories.

Well there we have it. A new classification system for short fiction that fits better than 0-7500 words. I hope this is helpful and ignites some new story ideas in your head that make it to paper. What are your thoughts on these divisions? Let me know, and tell me what you’re working on.