M. J. Moores began her career as an English teacher in Ontario, Canada. Her love of storytelling and passion for writing has writing has stayed with her since the age of nine. M. J. relishes tales of adventure and journeys of self-realization. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres but speculative fiction remains her all time favourite.
This month, she is also hosting a GIVEAWAY for two print copies of her new book Time’s Tempest and its prequel. Enter here.
ON WRITING SCIENCE FICTION
Without a doubt there are many wonderful “How To” books when it comes to writing science fiction or world building. In fact, my two favourites just happen to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Tree and Leaf” and Philip Athans’ “The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction.” But I’m not here to quote someone else’s words and ideas to you – this is a glimpse into the process for writing my science fiction novel Time’s Tempest. You might even find that one or two of my chosen paths surprise you, too…
As with most stories, I began with a nugget of promise and an idea that just wouldn’t leave me alone. As an adventure and quest writer of fiction and fantasy my first surprise came when the book told me it was science fiction. My shelves are filled with other worlds, magic and dragons, mystical pasts and forbidden choices – not scientific advancements, space ships, foreign planets, and aliens. But my source, my inspiration, was my then-boyfriend/now-husband who loves all things science fiction. And while I can only list A Wrinkle in Time as my one reading venture beyond fantasy sitting on my book shelves, I must admit that I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi flick that doesn’t scare me witless. So I was venturing into new territory – but not really.
Yes, the book has aliens in it; it even has advanced technology and a foreign star system but the story thrives around the people and their adventures and not so much about the technology. That being said, it may surprise you to learn that the next thing I did was dive into research. Research? Don’t I mean back story and world building? It’s not exactly like I can find facts about a plant and a people I’ve completely made up, right? Wrong. The crux of any story (especially sci-fi ones) is their believability factor. If I can’t convince my reader that this story is at least plausible, then I’ve already lost them. So what did I research? Deserts – mostly. You see the planet Xannia just happens to be located in a trinary star system and if you know anything about Star Wars, the planet Tatooine is part of a binary system and it’s covered in deserts. Now, my world works a little differently because of the trajectory of the orbit of the planet around these suns… and, oh hey – did I also mention I did a lot of research into planets, outer space and stars? It’s a good thing I’m partial to astronomy.
And then, yes, I started my world building and plotting – simultaneously along with my research. Basically, whenever I found a really cool piece of information that was not common knowledge, I made note of it and built part of my story around it. For instance, one of the nine Deserts in Time’s Tempest is similar to the Mojave. I learned that natives who live on the outskirts of the desert coax large, fat, water storing frog to the surface from underground burrows by stomping on the ground to make it sound like it’s raining – and then they use these amphibians as both a refreshing beverage and lunch… so I borrowed the idea and sculpted a scenario around the characters needing to rehydrate and eat when they ran out of supplies.
The above ideas tend to end up on cue-cards or large scraps of paper in no particular order. Once I have exhausted my research and I’m dying to put pen to page (yes, most of my first drafts are still a pen and several notebooks – I do not trust computers as far as I can throw them… although that’s getting easier and easier to do these days; I digress) I graphic organize. Oh yeah, I do a massive plot graph so that I can see how the different threads weave and run parallel throughout the story. I place things that happen where and when I think they’ll work best.
Now I get to actually write the story. I say “story” because I’ll use very little of the actual scientific facts I’ve discovered and focus on what the characters need to say and where they choose to take me instead. My lovely visual graphic is nearby but I don’t force myself to follow it to the letter – it’s a guideline, a suggestion to ground my subconscious. It is in this stage where I learn about my protagonist(s), antagonist(s), foils, archetypes and supporting cast.
After I’ve allowed myself time to vomit on the page so-to-speak, I get technical with my craft. Whether I’m writing sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary fiction or whatever – I follow my character arcs, I analyze my villains, I learn so much about my main characters that I feel as if I’ve known them my whole life. Then I start at the beginning again and build the first legitimate draft of my manuscript.
Everything else I do is fairly standard after that point: I deal with beta readers, get feedback and critiques, workshop scenes that aren’t quite clicking, add chapters, delete scenes, get a final edit and pray that someone other than me truly appreciates the book I’ve created.
Every writer has their quirks and rituals no matter what genre they write. Science fiction just decided to bite me in the butt one day and after a while the pain gave way to that euphoric numbness hard-core joggers get and then it felt as though it was always a part of me. You simply have to laugh sometimes about the creative process… and toss in a few face-palms for good measure. I still can’t believe that my debut novel is sci-fi and not fantasy or contemporary action… but here I am – right where the fates want me to be.
A loyal and dedicated government contractor extraordinaire, learns of the fate of the planet while on a top-secret job working as a lab tech for a disreputed scientist.
A Talian government dissenter who claims the only way to save their dying world is to trust a set of ancient documents lost long ago in the forbidding Deserts.
A reporter covering the story of a lifetime following a lead that could mean more than breaking the biggest story to hit the planet since the Nine Seas Massacre.
Fate, destiny and truth collide with 2000 year old secrets the government will do anything to keep buried. When Taya is forced to accept a contract that will be a death sentence for anyone involved, she unwittingly becomes a catalyst in a game she never wanted to play. As she leads a false prophet and his followers on a mission doomed from the start, she learns far more about herself and her world than she ever thought possible.