Thursday, January 31, 2013

Speculative Fiction and Prospective Writers

To take the lead from authors such as Ben Bova and Orson Scott Card, I’ll classify speculative fiction to include science fiction and fantasy, as well as the myriad of sub-genres out there (i.e. steam punk).  Thankfully, my interests in writing bridge from fantasy into the wider spectrum of genres of speculative fiction.  I have a number of short stories and ideas for some novels in a science fiction setting, both set in different future Earths.  Why does this matter?  Well, apparently the market has a huge influence on what avenues most writers pursue to get published.

For the most part, short story outlets (be they magazines or short story compendiums) are where the majority of new writers get their first publications.  Most of these outlets are either purely or predominantly science fiction.  The options for the budding fantasy author in the paying and large circulation short fiction milieus are much fewer and farther between.  This isn't a rebuke or critique of the system; it simply reflects the market demands.  The fewer places one can go to submit fantasy short stories, the more and more it makes you lean towards full-length novels to find a way to express the stories you wish to express.  The other option of course is to throw your story into the mix with the others in the crowded fantasy market.  This I have done and will continue to do so.  I thankfully also have a number of ideas to springboard out of the fantasy genre.  I can’t wait to get them out there.

This of course doesn't discount the novelization avenue for a speculative fiction story, be it science fiction or fantasy.  It certainly is the harder of the two to break into, with the obvious pay-offs dramatically higher, both financially and professionally.  Thousands of budding authors present what they hope to be the next best seller to an industry that is also looking for the next book to sell millions of copies and make them money.  It is a business, and the model is ever adapting with the introduction of electronic formats of publications.  How this will define the publishing industry is still in its nascent stages; how this will impact prospective authors is still anyone's game.

What does this mean for me?  Well, my darling manuscript at the moment is the first of a hopeful series tentatively called the Ochra Cycle.  I retooled it and reworked it from the initial behemoth of 182k words – yeah, that sucker was over 700 pages long.  Looking back at the first draft, I shake my head.  Ludicrous, ridiculous in more places than I care to admit, and a number of other choice adjectives come to mind.  Heck, it was painful to read.  The current version is down to around 90k – less than half – and better by an immeasurable magnitude.  More characters, sub-plots galore that actually reinforce the main story line, and a bit of key research missing finally found and applied.

I can’t wait to get it out there.

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