Epic Science Fiction Series

Danger, Will Robinson!
Danger, Will Robinson! (Photo credit: drp)

Welcome back to another Wednesday Writing Words entry – you’d almost think this was becoming a thing. It is. I hope.

Today marked my re-emergence from a shell I’ve been stuck under for a month or so now. I think I’ve said that before recently, but the last few days have helped reassure that assessment. Or it’s all lies to make me feel better, but so long as I can do it without getting drunk in public, where’s the harm?

I’d like to talk, albeit briefly today, about the epic science fiction series. The what?!? Where did that come from? I’ll tell you – it came almost as a challenge while reading Marie Brennan‘s great article at Swan Tower  about the points a writer should follow when embarking on an epic tale. By epic, she of course means an intentional series of more than just a mere trilogy or even quadrilogy in length, and what the pitfalls are. I think rightly, she points out that most authors in the fantasy ilk never get a chance to perfect this talent, because by the time they finish the fifth (fifteenth, whatever) book in the series, they’re either dead or done for. All of her points, as a reader of such fantasy, were spot on valid, and it got me thinking.

Brennan picks on fantasy because fantasy series are more prone to being epic in length, but what about Science Fiction? And then the wheels began spinning. Could I take her lessons on the pitfalls of writing and apply it to my own work? What work, right? Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve been sketching out (loosely) an epic science fiction series, replete with escalating tiers of tension and crisis as the scope of the story expands broader and broader, while the peril to our heroine becomes tighter and tighter. Epic Science Fiction isn’t a new thing, and deep down I wish I could do it all in one book (I am also enamored by the idea of a book that is both the beginning and ending of a story), but I know my own story better than that. This isn’t a tight, one book story.

But where’s the writing?

As always, Chuck Wendig (who I seem to reference more and more these days, and it’s really just because I’m only doing these updates once a week, so odds are out of a dozen posts he’s said something worth sharing) covers this in his recent guide on how to quite faking it and just write your damned book already post (his choice of words are a lot more colorful, but then he doesn’t have my daughters reading over his shoulders every few minutes). The biggest bullet point to take from that is 350 words a day and you  would be done with a novel in a year. Sound too long? Then double it for six months, etc., the point is you (and by you, I totally mean me) aren’t making any progress just thinking about thinking and talking about it, and your half assed sketches aren’t stringing a story together. I keep telling myself I’m waiting so I can outline the novel – and series – properly, so I can avoid the pitfalls mentioned in Brennan’s article, so I can skip the part that usually comes about 2/3 of the way in where I lose my way and drop the project. But at this point, not writing anything is even worse than writing poorly and dropping it.

Wow, that was both therapeutic and a bit more personal than I’d intended, but now that its out there, I’m leaving it.


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