Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Science of Fiction

I did something this week that I haven’t done in a while. I picked up a non-romance book to read.

Like clearing the pallet after a spicy meal, a dose of non-romance, like a dose of non-fiction now and then, I believe can be good for the romance writer’s soul.

I chose an anthology collection of hard science fiction stories called Forbidden Planets, edited by Marvin Kaye. The book is a specialty volume, available through the Science Fiction Book Club. The title intrigued me, and since I’m going to be writing about Forbidden Worlds for Amber Quill in the coming months, I thought it might be interesting to see what other authors, non-romance authors, think a forbidden world should be like.

I’m halfway through and I’ve found the stories interesting so far. The scientific language fascinates me. Having characters spout off facts and define themselves through logic rather than emotion is unusual and refreshing to a degree. The style of writing is a little different than what I’ve become used to over the years, a little drier. Romance writers tend to be jucier, we delve into people’s psyche’s very deeply, our scenes are often gut wrenching, heart rending or seat squirming where as many of the scenes in this book are merely that – scenes to be observed. Characters do things and there are consequences that are physical rather than emotional.

I’d almost forgotten what that was like. The POV thing is all different too. There doesn’t seem to be as strict a rule about POV per scene, head popping isn’t a problem. In fact, in the first story, I wasn’t even sure who the main character was supposed to be. I was in everyone’s head for a while. I decided the one character who survived at the end was likely the protagonist.

Endings aren’t happy.

They’re not necessarily tragic, and they do usually contain a twist, a denouement that makes you go Hmmm. The object is a lesson learned rather than a love defined.

That’s cool. It’s different. It’s like a new recipe for a favorite dish. Some of the main ingredients are the same, conflict, character motivation, strong plot, but the spices are different. I’ve been reminded that writing is a science as well as an art, like cooking or medicine, there are different ways to approach it, but you still need to start with the basics.

2 comments:

Skylar Masey said...

Isn't it fun to read something different once in a while?

(I'm lucky to squeeze in any reading.) But I do have Angela Knight's new How-to on writing erotica (from Loose ID) waiting to be read. I thought it might help me write a little hotter. :0)

My bf is currenyly devouring THE BATTLE OF CORIN, LEGEND OF DUNE which he's keeping me up to date on. Overall, it's depressing and there are some mentally deranged characters. Yet, he continues to devour them, then wonders why he's a little down. ;0|

Jennifer Elbaum said...

It is great to read other stuff. I'm personally waiting on Harry Potter (if only to prove to everyone I know that I'm right about a certain something!)

Loved "Endings aren’t happy." Too true!