Many of us read books, not knowing that the person who wrote the story often took a long period of time crafting even a single page. This is especially true when it comes to action scenes. Being able to convey the excitement of an action scene while still being able to tell the story can be harder than people think. This is most noticeable when an author chooses to insert a car chase into their book. The following list entails some of the things to keep in mind when writing such a scene.Read more
In science fiction, the world that the story inhabits plays such an important role in the story that the imagined world becomes another character in the tale. How the characters live their lives is very much determined by how they interact with their make-believe world. While there are many elements that go into creating a world for a sci-fi story, here are three of the most important ones.
Figure Out the Basic Infrastructure
The infrastructure of the sci-fi world determines just about everything in the story. Elements, like currency, food supply chains, social classes, etc., provide critical elements against which the characters play and sometimes fight against. They’ll also change, depending on what kind of sci-fi you write. The infrastructure will be different in a steampunk novel than it will be in a space opera. In many cases, the way the characters interact with one another and each other is also determined by the infrastructure. Star Trek is a good example of this. While an away team does have the option to take a small craft down to a strange planet, most of the time, Picard and crew get beamed down via the transporter. Crew members order tea from the ship’s computer. They don’t really exchange money. You get the idea. The basic infrastructure determines how they move about their world.
Choose Your Tech
Star Trek offers a good segue into the technical aspects of science fiction. Like the infrastructure, the tech that the characters interact with plays a big role in how the story plays out. The story’s technology tells the reader what kinds of resources are available to the characters. For example, Trek-level technology creates different parameters for the characters than steampunk-level technology would. Perfect technology is fun to think about, but overdone. How about something a little closer to home, like self-driving cars that can still malfunction and cause crashes? How would the characters deal with that? What reverberations would this malfunctioning tech have on the trajectory of the story? Whatever tech you decide on, make sure that the characters interact with it directly. It shouldn’t just be a set-piece.
What Date Is It?
This element ties in with the two previous ones. Clearly, the date for a steampunk novel would be different than a Trek novel, and the effect would be different. For example, since steampunk exists largely in the 19th century, it has elements of science fiction, but it also has historical elements and even alternate timelines. With this genre, some of the world is already in place; you know what happened during the Victorian era because it’s part of history. Clearly, this historical parameter affects how the tech will work and does so in a vastly different way than it would if you set the story 400 years in the future. The date also affects what the characters will be familiar with and what they won’t. For example, unless it’s a story like The Time Machine, Victorian-era characters wouldn’t know about President Kennedy. However, the characters in a Trek story might.
Worldbuilding in science fiction takes plenty of thought and planning. Whatever parameters that the author sets for the characters in terms of infrastructure, technology and time periods have an effect on the story’s outcome. When creating these worlds, it’s best to think of the story’s characters interacting with another full-blown character because that’s really what this new world is: another character.
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Science fiction is a genre rich with potential. Any good author can pull a compelling story out of it so long as they have a wealth of ideas. At least one or two of these ideas should relate to the story’s technology, as futuristic tech is often one of the biggest differences between the story’s setting and our present. If you’re looking for some ideas on how you can outfit your story with the latest in speculative science, here are six technology considerations for your futuristic sci-fi novel.
Given that our homes are loaded with all sorts of technology (you’re reading this on some right now), it’s natural that your characters will have their own everyday tech needs to fulfill. Figuring out what kinds of devices the average person in your setting uses and what your major characters have access to is a great way to build your world and flesh out both the setting and characters. It’s also handy for establishing a baseline of technology for the universe, making it easy to tell what is more or less advanced than the average person might have on hand by comparison.
What would a future TV look like, for example? A gaming system? A phone? Things like holograms and augmented reality are already somewhat viable in the present, so imagine what they’d be like down the road. Bulky electronics of any kind might be a thing of the past when you can project images on any surface or simply see them inside the lenses of a pair of glasses.
Transportation is important for any story that’s not set in a single room. Science fiction stories, however, allow an author to really dig deep and come up with some creative solutions to get their characters from point A to point B. Everyone’s familiar with flying cars and starships, meaning that standing out is all a matter of how you can put your own spin on things.
One of your first considerations should be whether or not your setting involves things like space travel or travel between universes as this greatly changes the type of vehicle most characters may have. If people can routinely go to space and visit other planets, the idea of single person spacecrafts may be a popular all-purpose mode of transportation, maneuvering near the ground or out in space with equal ease. It’s also worth considering how easy something like this would be to control, opening up the possibility that these futuristic modes of transport might only be viable for those with great skill as pilots.
There’s a whole new dimension to consider in your writing when it comes to health technology. What will the hospitals of the future look like? How is healthcare managed? Does insurance still exist? Answering simple questions like these provide a new depth of worldbuilding that helps your setting feel real and lived in.
It’s also worth considering what kind of health technology characters may have on their person at any given time. The world of today has wearable health monitoring devices like Fitbits and medical alert systems, meaning it’s not unreasonable to think there might be some version of this in the future. For instance, modern medical alert systems enable the user to just press a button for rapid response help, so maybe a medical alert system of the future could automatically send for help if vitals reach a certain threshold, use faster AI-based “paramedics”, or even administer basic first aid.
War may never change but the way it’s waged certainly does. While the atomic bomb is essentially the pinnacle of warfare in our modern era, will that be true 100 years from now? If conflict is a part of your story, thinking about the kinds of weapons technology at the disposal of your characters opens up a whole new world of creative battles and confrontation.
Both on a large and small scale, the type of weaponry characters can use should be accounted for. AI drones could have replaced ground soldiers entirely, for example. Laser-based weapons could be a fun way to dress up any type of standard weapon from a knife to a gun, especially if you consider how older technology would interact. If your setting has robots of any level of sentience, consider how they might be used in combat or how they might react to violence done against them, too.
The future isn’t all fun and games but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any to be found. One often overlooked part of building a compelling and realistic fictional world is the type of recreation people have when they’re not working in the corporations or fighting for freedom. Thinking about the type of technology people use for play will quickly make your work more interesting and gives you a chance to showcase characters in a more mellow setting.
VR is the hot new thing in gaming, so maybe in the future its influence has spread considerably. There could be entire worlds of VR for characters to explore with their own rules to figure out. Do paper books still exist or have they all been replaced by digital? What about things like card games, bicycles, and sports? More importantly, how have these types of analog games changed and adapted with the advent of technology?
In many sci-fi stories, especially those of the cyberpunk or dystopia variety, surveillance is a major issue for characters. A lack of privacy from an industrialized future under the thumb of corporate overlords is a rich setting you can do a lot with that also lets you draw parallels to our present society. Even if you don’t choose to go this route, taking into account what type of privacy concerns your characters should have is still a good worldbuilding detail.
For a spy story, maybe characters have access to miniaturized cameras that can move around on their own styled after literal bugs. Our own technology is being made smaller and smaller, so it’s not unlikely a camera or microphone could be slipped into just about anything. What if clothing comes equipped with biometric or tracking features that keep tabs on citizens wherever they are, too?
Building a world is both the most challenging and most rewarding part of creating any story. Try out these six technology considerations when crafting your sci-fi novel to be sure your setting is richer and more realistic than the rest.
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Writing about injured characters is challenging for writers of any genre. However, in fantasy or science fiction writing, there are considerations related to the characters’ injuries that should always be kept in mind. Even though this type of fiction requires readers to believe the unbelievable, you still want to strive for a touch of authenticity.
Injure Them Realistically
Injuries that characters sustain should be consistent with what injured them. For example, a description of an injury suffered during a sword fight should not be similar to a gunshot wound. An injury that happens because of a fall should be consistent with the height, such as not having catastrophic fractures occur because of a short fall.
Another important thing to be considered should be what type of protective gear, like armor or a spacesuit, the character was wearing. Keep in mind that protective gear is not perfect (unless it’s magical and supposed to be that way), and characters can still get injured through it. For example, people can still get head injuries even while wearing a helmet.
In fantasy, a character fighting a dragon might receive burns even with protective gear. Science fiction characters who are nonhuman might withstand injuries that would injure humans pretty seriously. The story’s setting always matters.
Use the Right Symptoms
Paying attention to symptoms and appropriate reactions associated with the injury type is important to writing convincingly. Accurate medical sources regarding different injuries can help you present an injury accurately, even in a setting for removed from “real life.”
For example, describing pain bearing weight on an injured leg would be accurate, as well as symptoms similar to gas poisoning resulting from an encounter with toxic potions. Always remember that even the most unbelievable fantasy or science fiction storyline has some inspiration from real life.
Don’t Ignore Pain
Many writers find pain difficult to write about, at the risk of downplaying their characters’ pain. However, unless some plot device in the storyline allows for supernatural pain resistance or magical healing, you will most likely have scenes that involve characters being in pain.
Another consideration in writing about pain is keeping it proportionate to the injury. A person who receives burns from dragon will have more pain than someone who trips mounting a horse. Try to put yourself in your characters’ shoes as much as you can.
Writing about injured characters is a unique challenge for writers. When you are writing about them, you want to make sure that it seems realistic so you don’t alienate the reader. However, by following the above tips, writing about injured characters will become easier over time.
Want more writing tips? Check out this other article on how to write empathetic characters without boring your audience!
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If you want to be a published author, you’ll need to find a way to make your characters realistic and convincing. This includes adding flaws, believable conflicts and plausible reactions. It also includes having empathy for your characters regardless of how different they may be from you.
Know What it Means to Really Be Empathetic
Empathy is defined as being able to read others accurately. People who possess this quality are capable of more than merely sympathizing. They tend to understand the motivations of others. These characters are usually highly intuitive.
The first thing you want to do with your characters is humanize them. This means giving them emotions such as courage, frustration, desperation, excitement, etc. You also need to remember that human emotion is not always blatant. If your character is terrified because her best friend is being rushed to the hospital, she won’t necessarily become hysterical while explaining her own motivations. People in shock tend to become unresponsive and somewhat frozen at first. They may then try to distract themselves with some insignificant and repetitive act. Often, tears only come slowly.
Add One Flaw That Gets in the Way (or More!)
Give your character a personal flaw. Maybe it’s something major such as an addiction or a narcissistic personality. On the other hand, it could be something minor such as being constantly disheveled.
It’s also possible to make flaws attractive. For example, have you ever known someone voluptuous who exuded confidence about his or her appearance in spite of being routinely put down for being overweight? You could instill that trait into one of your characters.
Make sure not to use the flaw as an afterthought, though — that’s a quick way to get weak or boring characterization. Instead, try starting with a flaw and building your character around it.
Make Your Characters Three-Dimensional
Minor characters may come and go rather suddenly without giving the audience a chance to know much of anything about them. You do not want to do this with your main characters. Flesh them out.
Place your protagonist in a conflict that demands growth. You don’t want to make the challenge too easy. After all, without change, there is no plot. You should put a major conflict at the forefront of your story. It will set the tone from the outset.
You won’t engage your audience unless you add depth and humanity to your characters. This means considering things like whether a character has a vocation, is religious or displays personal idiosyncrasies. In fiction writing, characters often seem to develop voices of their own. The strong ones tell you what they’d do in a given set of circumstances.
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There are seemingly already enough obstacles to becoming published as an indie author, so it’s understandable that getting reviews may seem like adding another challenge. Reviews help set your published work apart from others because they help give it legitimacy. Though this is not an exhaustive list, mentioned here are some effective ways to help you receive reviews for your published work.
Use Your Own Website
When you have your own website, you can control what content you do and do not have on it. You can provide digital downloads of your books and either sell copies at a discounted price that is determined by you, or you can give away copies for free. The great part about having your own website is that by investing a little money in a domain name and using a turnkey program like WordPress, you can be online within a day and distributing your book all over the world. You can also be a guest blogger on other sites and link back to your author page.
Look to Relevant Influencers
Ask for an honest review of your book from someone who is at least fairly well-known and whose opinion is respected. 80% of consumers trust online reviews, and if they’re already following an influencer they admire, chances are they’re going to trust their opinion on your book. Use this trick to help validate your book with a review that your readers will likely take seriously. Publishers do this by getting reviews from other authors that readers love and respect. You can try to start there as well.
Give Away Free Copies
Sometimes you have to essentially buy reviews for your book by giving away free copies in exchange for an endorsement of your latest work. Though from a money standpoint it may seem like you have earned negative income by forking over a certain number of copies, you have in fact enabled other readers who are otherwise interested but not sure to go ahead and spend the money for a copy of your book. Think of this in much the same way as many popular brands giving away free product to consumers and thereby turn guinea pigs into the pied pipers who bring loyal readers marching to your online presence.
Pre-Sell Your Book
Sometimes you need to run a pre-sale opportunity to launch your book, and this can end up working in your favor because you have a chance to validate interest in your book before you commit fully to writing it. This gives you an opportunity to solicit ideas and feedback from your early bird participants to write the book they want to read and thereby receive the glowing reviews necessary to keep your book ratings high. To best implement this, you will need to run the pre-sale for a short time. Two weeks is common. It is a good idea to collect email addresses in the process. This allows you to keep contacting your list contacts to achieve a high conversion rate. Be firm about the cutoff for the pre-sale out of respect to those who took advantage of it.
With some creative thinking, you can achieve your dream of being a published author. For some, this will bring legitimacy to your writing talents. Getting started always seems to be the most challenging part. If you give it an honest try, though, you can achieve great success as an author. You have chance to differentiate yourself from others who have self published by taking extra steps to obtain reviews of your work. This is a good way to increase your chances of being successful when you publish.
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The last few blogs have been about exercise, and that is going to continue. Mostly because at my work, we’ve begun our version of the Biggest Loser and there are paid time off we can earn if we can lose a percentage. That inspired me to write another post about the subject since it has become a part of my life.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not an exercise guru. I find myself staring at the equipment or contemplating how to convince myself not to run. It’s still a struggle for finding the time and the energy to do it with all the other essential things in my life. That is why I’ve decided to try and see some easy exercises that I can do in my house.
Going back to a YouTube channel that has shown me some pretty good moves in the past. I found the following video that is simple, quiet (cause I’m the first one up and don’t want to wake up the kids) and comfortable to do.
One of the things I like about this one is that it does not take up a lot of room to do and it does work the upper body. It looks simple, but I found that after a while, my arms would get heavy which would add to the challenge of doing it.
I like to meld this one in with my old military routine of push-ups, sit-ups and mountain climbers that work the lower body. It’s cold at present, so I have not tried doing this before or after running just yet.
Why don’t you take a look at this and some of the other exercises on the site? I know I found a bunch that was helpful to my situation and I know for me, it’s always good to keep up the workouts.
In June of 2018, I suffered a mental collapse brought on me by stress and an undiagnosed mental health condition. It had caught me by surprise that I had gone from going along to massive mood swings, mild paranoia, and hyper-alertness. By August, my beautiful wife convinced me to go to the VA and speak with a mental health professional, and it turns out that I had Bipolar disorder. Since June, my life has completely changed.
In 2010, I served eight months in Afghanistan and to put it mildly; it was packed full of stress, anxiety, and sheer terror at times. Since getting married and having children, I have always struggled with my temper.
June was a turning point for both good and bad. I had come home from work and collapsed in my chair and suffered a fit of sheer fury for no reason which slammed into a high manic state which scared me. Susanna, my sweet, long-suffering wife, talked me through it and told me with no uncertainty that I needed to speak with someone and recommended the Veterans Affairs. She thought it was the best choice as the visit would be free (due to me having a combat badge from the war) and they would be more understanding of the things that I experienced.
My doctor found that I was Bipolar and that what I thought was part of the PTSD was something entirely different and that I had to change a lot of my life around to consider this. That was why I disappeared; I needed to figure out how my online presence was going to be now that I know what’s going on and have the support to get through it.
Why Am I Saying All Of This?
Mental illness has been shoved in the corner far too long which has allowed horrible people to treat those with mental illness as second class citizens that should be locked away and forgotten. Because of people spending so many years refusing to talk about mental health, it has been regulated to the world of mystery, and when someone mentions it, others get uncomfortable.
I’m not going to do that. It’s a part of my life I now understand as best as I can, and it’s something I will talk to people about if they want to listen. If it makes someone else with a mental illness comfortable and to know that I can relate as much as feasible, then I feel that I have done something right.
If anyone watched my Twitter feed, they would have seen the gift I got for my wife as a thank you which turned out to be so much more. Susanna and I have liked the Teen Titans show, and I found that my favorite voice actor who voice Susanna’s favorite character Raven (this would be the wonderful Tara Strong). I discovered that Ms. Strong had a profile on Cameo and requested her to do a positive message from Raven.
What we got not only helped cheer my wife up but made me realize that other people understood. Ms. Strong could have done something basic, but the recording felt like she took the time to figure out what Raven would have really said.
So, besides making me realize that I’m not alone in supporting those with mental illness (and making sure I’m an ardent Tara follower), I knew that it was essential to speak out and that’s what I’m going to do.
What is the future?
I’m coming back. There are a lot of projects that have sat on the shelf for half a year, and it’s time for me to get them done. I have a few more novellas, adventures, and even a program coming out soon. There is also the new Star Traveler #4 book in the work!
Thank you for listening and make sure to look to those with illnesses and let them know they are safe and supported.
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If there is one thing for sure, it has been a while since I posted anything. Life has continued to be a bear to the point it has inflicted damage on my participation in NaNoWriMo and all my other projects. So why am I writing? I’m writing because I need to and I wanted to share with you. That’s what a blog is for.
Health and exercise have been a major focus of mine because it is one of the few things that is keeping my stress in check and keeping me from losing it. Not only that, I’ve now got a desk job, so the old days of burning of them calories while working in a warehouse are long gone.
I think it was a post ago about an exercise website that I learned about and found another great exercise regimen that I am hoping will take care of the weight that I have gained from sitting at a computer and staring at it. It’s called “7 Day Weight Loss Challenge, Lose 10 pound in 1 Week”
Here’s the video:
The best part about it is that it can be done from one point in the house without having to go out in the cold and run (it’s getting closer to winter here and running in the cold is not fun).
It reminds me of a lot of the exercises that I did in the military when we alternated our running day. Getting a hold of this video brought back a lot of nostalgia and saved me from having to dig through my records and finding the steps. The nice thing is that I won’t have to do squats in the middle of the pouring rain!
Go ahead and give it a try, I found it very challenging and you can always add it to your regimen you already have something else you do. Do you have a specific exercise that works well for you? Why not tell me in the comments below!
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