Tag Archives: worldbuilding

Military Science Fiction Lessons from Jack Campbell’s Legendary LOST FLEET Series

Posted by March 6th, 2014

john_hemry_1What’s military science fiction, you ask? Fiction in the style of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would be the short answer. Stories about interplanetary conflict that emphasize military strategy and play-by-play  descriptions of battle scenes. To get the long answer, read our Q&A with Military SF Landmark author Jack Campbell. His Lost Fleet series recounts the adventures of naval officer Jack Geary, who “comes back from the dead” to help the Alliance stand up to its enemies—the Syndicate Worlds. 

NG: There are 15 books in the Lost Fleet universe. What’s the secret to your world’s longevity? Do you have advice for writers who want to write military science fiction worlds that make readers readers keep coming back?

JC: There are several different things that have enabled me to keep the stories coming in the Lost Fleet universe.  The first is that the initial scenario gave me so much to work with.  I had been thinking for years about how to successfully write a long “retreat in space” story.  That’s a lot harder than it may sound, because it requires a combination of technologies and ways of fighting that allow a beleaguered force to survive and continue trying to reach safety.  I had the classic long retreat book as a model (Xenophon’s March of the 10,000), which had been used by other writers in the past, and I wanted to make what I was doing feel real.  During the same period that I was thinking about how to do that story, I had also been thinking about sleeping hero legends, which are common in societies around the world.  Such legends (like that of King Arthur) say that the hero is not dead, but sleeping, and will someday return when needed.  They are probably based on real people who were, well, real people, not awesome heroes.  I wondered what it would be like for someone to awaken from a long sleep and discover that they were now thought to be an awesome hero, and that everyone was expecting them to save the day.  After years of thinking about these two ideas, I suddenly realized that they fit together perfectly.  Both required a lot of background to make them work, so the Lost Fleet stories began with a double dose of background.  That gave me a lot to build interlocking storylines about.

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SF Worldbuilding: How to Ground Your Science Fiction World with a Mystery Plot

Posted by March 4th, 2014

Alex_Hughes_AuthorBuilding believable worlds is a skill—one that can be honed. Today Mindspace Investigations series author Alex Hughes shares her techniques for marrying science fiction elements to the realism of the murder investigation crime scene. 

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Good mysteries these days have crime scenes. It’s a requirement—and not simple crime scenes either. Since CSI, mystery audiences love seeing detailed clues in crime scenes and on murder victims that help the detective solve the case. So when I sat down to write the latest book in my science fiction mystery series, I knew I needed at least one detailed crime scene. But I also wanted those real-world details to work with the science fiction/fantasy elements of my world. 

To address the mystery elements, I watched a lot of CSI and then did detailed research on forensics to get my head around the reality (and the fiction) of crime scenes. Having a real-world grounding in detail meant that I knew how forensics people and detectives both in the real world and in fiction tended to think. Then, when I added a character who could see in Mindspace (where human minds leave traces of themselves), I could add clues in a way that would help the police find the killer. I could pull ideas and situations from my research, and then add other elements on top of them; the layers and the research make the science fiction elements feel more grounded.

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Marshall Maresca

Posted by June 10th, 2013

Science fiction and fantasy have always captured my imagination—they offer endless possibilities.

Marshall Maresca is a Book Country member from Austin who primarily writes city-based traditional fantasy—a place where urban, epic, and traditional fantasy stories coalesce. On his blog, he lets readers look under the hood and see maps from his fantasy worlds. For the member spotlight, we chat with Marshall about his books, fantasy worldbuilding, and writing villains. 

Nevena: Thanks for joining us. Let’s get to brass tacks: when did you start writing and what inspires you to carry on?

Marshall: I was dabbling for quite a while, more talking about what I wanted to write instead of actually writing it. In 2007, though, I went through a bit of a crisis of vocation—I had been saying I wanted to be a writer, but what was I really doing about it? So that’s when I put my nose to the grindstone to really get projects done. And, now, with three novels out shopping with my agent, and a fourth about to go out, I’ve come too far to give up! Continue reading

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Constructing a Story Arc in a Series

Posted by October 17th, 2011

Book Country Twitter Chat (September 22, 2011)

Series development is tricky so we brought in the pros–bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn and literary agent Laura Bradford.

 twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhiteDeveloping a story arc in a standalone is hard enough, but what happens when you toss multiple books into the mix? Suddenly

you have to think about your plot in a much larger way, while still giving each book its own mini-arc that fits nicely into the big picture. Not an eask task, that’s for sure!

Book Country decided to chat with some of the best in the biz–author Yasmine Galenorn (@YasmineGalenorn) and literary agent Laura Bradford (@bradfordlit), to give you some tips and answer your questions.

Yasmine is the New York Times bestselling author with multiple urban fantasy and young addult series under her belt, including the “Indigo Court” series and the “Chintz ‘n China” series. Her upcoming novelCOURTING DARKNESS (Nov. 2011), the 10th book in her beloved “Otherworld” Series, is available for pre-order now!

Laura is no stranger to series development either, representing authors like Ann Aguirre, Anya Bast, Jennifer Echols, Megan Hart, and more. She specializes in romance across a variety of subgenres.

Please note that we had some technical difficulties with Yasmine’s Twitter feed during the chat; her tweets have been re-tweeted by our Community Manager Colleen Lindsay and myself in the transcript, downloadable below.

But first, here are some great snippets from the chat:

@bradfordlit: I like to know that a book is part of a series in the query. But remember to pitch one book at a time!

@yasminegalenorn: Most important thing is consistency. You must maintain worldbuilding/characterization in all books.

@scootercarlyle: I do fantasy, and I need the details to line up between each book or the world will fall flat. I outline them all.

@KelliLemay: Mercedes Lackey is a good person to read over for story arcs and tie-ins. Her series tend to span over history as well.

@bradfordlit: If an author is too entrenched in the series already, it can be hard to make necessary changes.

@yasminegalenorn: I always have a balance of action/intrigue/etc. Though some fall more one way or another.

If you missed the chat or want to remind yourself, we’ve posted the entire transcript as a PDF document here. The PDF will open in your browser and you’ll be able to save it to your computer if you like. You can also get to know your fellow genre fiction lovers by clicking directly on their Twitter handles.

Bear in mind that the chat appears from newest to oldest tweets, so start at the end of the PDF and work your way up.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this useful chat!

REMEMBER: Book Country Twitter chats occur every other Thursday night from 9-10 pm EST. Just use the hashtag #bookcountry to participate or follow along. Topics are announced in advance in the Book Country Discussion forums, so be sure to take a look!

 

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