Sunday, February 17, 2013

Speculative Fiction for Budding Authors

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 outside of the fantasy genre.
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.
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’ve 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 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. 
This doesn't mean it is finished or polished.
I started vetting it (for lack of a better term) over at the Absolute Write forums.  There were a number of glaring issues I was blind to until someone else pointed them out, as well as some incredibly helpful suggestions and ways to correct things.  For the most part, reaction to the storyline has been really positive as well, which is encouraging.  Off to re-write version two-point-oh and see what the fine folks at AW think.
I can’t wait to correct things and get it out there.


  1. How have you been doing the vetting over at Absolute Write? Posting pieces or making arrangements with other writings and sending on large chunks via email, or what? Just curious ... I'm glad the process is working for you. I love the shot of the page with all the red ink markups.
    Good writing!
    Fictional Planet

    1. At the moment, I'm just doing bits and pieces in the protected Show Your Work area. The first shot of the bow addressed a lot of issues I had with the opening scene, which I'm beavering away at. Pretty soon I'll be looking to go through with larger chunks/beta.

  2. I used to use the SYW area on Absolute Write, and it was okay, but for me the Authonomy site was so much better that I pretty much gave up Absolute Write and use Authonomy instead. Each site has its good and bad points, but you might check out Authonomy, at least.

    Also, you should add a Followers add-on to your sidebar so people like me can more easily follow your blog. I'd also recommend removing the word verification on comments, since it's doubtful that you are getting lots of spam, and the word verification discourages people from commenting.