I have been working on Second Class Supers, a novel, with my wife for a year and a half, and the biggest takeaway for me is that creating a compelling science fiction world is difficult.
When I was first writing down notes about a concept I had for a story, my wife approached me about doing a collaboration. Neither of us had ever finished writing a novel length story before, and we hoped together that it wouldn’t be such a monumental task. I had only written up a few notes where the main differentiator between our world and the one in our novel was the idea of people having to purchase super powers.
Thankfully, there was a great deal of weight in that idea, and it spawned dozens of other questions that helped us fill out the world we wanted to create.
1.) Write What You Want to Read
It seems like a simple thing, but it has helped me keep the story on track numerous times. If you are going to edit and revise your story, you better enjoy every element of it. Cutting things from a story that don’t excite you or working on a scene that does, can make the difference between finishing your story or letting it languish.
There were so many friends and family that were able to read our story as we wrote it and continually tried to push us to work in a romantic element. In talking with my wife, we were both on the same page that we didn’t want to end up in Twilight teen romance territory with our story, and tried to dodge such a contrived plot element the best we could.
2.) It’s About Characters
Having a great concept for a world isn’t really a story in and of itself. We see these mistakes in Hollywood sometimes where they have a cool concept, but without strong characters to explore an idea, you as the viewer or reader are left detached from its depth.
When my wife and I were working on plotting out how our story was going to go, we were fortunate enough that the unique story element was able to drive the plot by being something attainable. Our main character wants to purchase a superpower, and that’s the driving force of the story.
3.) Make Your Science Believable, Even If It Isn’t
The “science” in science fiction can be hard to attain, especially if you don’t have a strong background in science, but building as much believability into your story as possible will reduce how much effort your readers will have to put into suspending disbelief. Does it at least sound slightly possible?
In Second Class Supers, we made the decision to bring superpowers to the masses via genetic engineering. Of course, it isn’t very likely, but we’ve tried to make it as believable as we can within the world we created, and added in multiple layers about how they were created, what they are used for, and why people want them so much.
We hope that through the use of these techniques and others that we will create both an interesting world and a compelling story, and that’s all anyone writing fiction can hope for, right? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and if you are interested, please feel free to help us Kickstart the editing of our novel, Second Class Supers.