So, how'd you like to learn a little bit about the current book on which I'm working?
My previous book, "Out of the Shadows," was a collection of five novellas that I struggled to categorize. (And for the purposes of marketing, you must choose a genre.) I ended up going with the all-encompassing umbrella of "supernatural thrillers," even though they weren't necessarily about ghosts and boogeymen. They weren't really horror, nor were they science fiction. But whatever you consider OotS to be, that was then, and this is now.
The new book isn't a collection. It's its own full-length novel. More than a full-length novel, really, because right now, there are four planned books. A series. (I'm going to see if it's possible to trim it down to three books, because everyone loves trilogies, but I have strong opinions about whether or not trilogies faithfully serve a proper dramatic arc -- spoiler alert: I don't think they do -- but perhaps I'll discuss that point next week...)
And for the genre? Science fiction / fantasy. Without a doubt. And I'm very excited about this, because sci-fi is my wheelhouse. Now that I've hooked you all with stories about spider aliens, frosty serial killers, ghosts, and demons, I'm going in for the metaphoric kill with a sci-fi epic set in a post-apocalyptic near-future America.
Which is all my verbose way of bringing us to the point:
The inner workings of good science fiction stories.
If you read last week's blog post, you already know that I had temporarily put my writing on hold to delve further into the nuts and bolts of my story to strengthen it. Other than character issues, I wasn't fully happy with the semi-utopia I'd built. It didn't have the same vibe as many sci-fi epics that had resonated with me so strongly growing up. And after some research and thought, I realized it's because I was ignoring the "Holy Trinity" of good sci-fi stories.
Science, religion, and politics.
Most solid, meaningful science fiction stories out there weave together all three of those things in order to take a strong moral stance on particular issues. My story had lots of science, and a little religion, but no politics. And the realization forced me to rethink the world I'd built, and now it's far better for it.
Imagine Star Wars, Bladerunner, or The Hunger Games without the strength of all three parts of the trinity fueling those stories.
Star Wars, whether you think the series is good or not, is a simple and strong example of properly utilizing the sci-fi holy trinity. A space military using high-tech devices for survival, a nebulous concept of organized religion that everyone adheres to, and an oppressive political force fighting to control the people.
The entire universe is technologically advanced enough that even the poor scavengers are familiar with how to use it, all while focusing those stories on the villains creating even more advanced technology (for dubious means, of course).
All beings -- alien and human alike -- are aware of an unknown religious "Force" in which they all believe, so much so that a common goodbye when parting company is the phrase, "May the Force be with you." It's prevalent throughout but also just vague enough that someone of any religious belief could identify it as their own.
All the while, an oppressive government, led by the nefarious and evil Emperor, seeks to destroy anyone who doesn't believe the Empire should be the main political force in the universe. (Also a subtle cautionary tale to which anyone from any country can relate.)
Obviously, simply having the holy trinity in one's science fiction story isn't enough to make it a good story, but weaving those three aspects together in a subtle way will elevate the true story being told and help to make the writer's moral stance clear by the end of the series.
Hopefully, once the books are in your hands, you'll feel that I did justice to the concept while leaving a lasting impact on people's thoughts.
Until next time,