last week’s goals
– run 16km
– edit book 2
– judgement day
– exit plan 6
The 5 Step Framework Every Science Fiction Author Needs To Know
1. Pick a single scientific or social premise to build your story around.
2. Take your premise and answer three big questions
1. How does this relate to society?
2. How does this relate to the individual?
3. What new possibilities does this lead to?
3. Choose characters that represent society, individuality and the future
4. Create 2 minor and 1 major point of conflict as a result of your premise
5. Add one unexplained or unexplored premise
The 5 Step Framework Every Science Fiction Author Needs to Know
Break through your block by using this easy to follow 5 step framework for creating compelling science fiction.
Because you need to create page turning and imagination firing science fiction stories I have created this easy to follow framework just for you. Sometimes the ideas just flow and sometimes we look on what we created and wonder why it just doesn’t quite gel. This framework will help you step by step create amazing visions of the future with the depth that is so required today. I’ll take you through picking a focal topic, answering the big three questions, generate the characters you need, find conflict and add the hook you need to draw your reader, viewer or listener in and keep them coming back.
1. Pick a single scientific or social focal point to build your story around:
Science fiction, though difficult to define definitively, can be said to be the exploration and expansion of existing ideas or theories into the realms of fiction. To put it more simply is that science fiction is a “what if” analysis of current theory or imagined possiblity set against some analogue of our own world. To that end the first step you need to do is imagine some future state of a scientific theory, technology or social construct. So pick one. It can be from your existing passions, an article you’ve read, a topic you are familiar with or something from today’s news stories.
This will be the focal point around which you will hang the rest of your world and story. It will act as the anchor or foundation of the following steps. This isn’t the only reason for your story’s existence, though it might be. Rather, this focal point is what we will use to as a skeleton to hang the flesh, sinew and nervous system of the rest of our world and story. You might be able to pick two but with a single foci you can attain greater clarity and the following steps in this framework will be that much easier.
– Gene editing of human embryoes.
– Extra dimensional faster than light travel
– Consciousness as an emergent property of matter
– Social reputation entriely managed by a global network
– Colonisation of another planet
Take your focal point and expand it into some future state where it is emergent or ubiquitous. Step one done!
The ‘science’ in ‘science fiction’ isn’t just physics and engineering. It can also be linguistics, anthropology, and psychology.
— Ann Leckie
2. Answer the three big questions
If you want a great story that really grabs your audience by the viscera and squeezes you need to answer the Big Three. The Big Three are the questions that will build your world, inolve your audience and inform your story. Without them you’ll find people don’t “get it” and will drift off. The first thing you need of course is the focal point. This is the second step in the 5 Step Framework so if you haven’t got your focal point go back and get one.
What are the Big Three or B3? I’m glad you asked.
1. How does your focal point relate to society?
Your focal point, the scientific theory, technology or social premise you’ve chosen will affect society in some way. The world your story exists in will be created, molded and changed by your focus. Think about governments, trade, commerce, institutions and religion; how will they adapt or react? A universal cure for all disease will have an affect for example, a dominant world religion will have a social impact and so will faster than light travel. In what ways will this be reflected in social attitudes, family values, crime rates, political atmosphere or economic policy?
2. How does your focal point relate to the individual?
You’ve got how your society has been affected, you’ve shaped your world and build the institutions that define and are defined by society but now it is time to consier the individual within this structure. How does an individual get their education, relate to others and how do they feel about the rules and roles that society molded by your focal point has forced on them? If people over the age of fifty are culled from the population then how does a person feel as they approach that age or as their family or friends approach that limit? What daily actions does an individual do in the circumstances they find themselves?
3. What new possibilities does this lead to?
Every innovation, technology or social revolution opens doors to futher development. Where is this heading and what possibilities are presented due to your focal point? Is a new religion on the horizon? Is a new city being built guided by principals being learnt from extra dimensional faster than light travel? When computers became common, networking was taking off. When computer networks became common the internet started evolving. So what is the not quite science fiction of your science fiction?
Isaac Asimov said: “Science fiction can be defined as that branch of literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology.
3. Craft your Characters Three.
A story does not work without characters and your story will be a masterpiece. So you must now choose your Characters Three or C3. There may be more or fewer that literally three individuals but there are three roles your must fill. Your focal point gives the skeleton, the foundation upon which you build your story. Your B3 or Big Three questions inform the world in which your story takes place and now this third step will populate your world with the vital characters through which your audience will experience your grand vision. Characters serve multiple purposes in a story. They progress the plot, carry the emotion and react to or cause the conflict. Your C3 will be pivitol in your plotting and will allow you to expose your world and ratchet up the tension and make your audience feel the world. Are there literally only three and are they each an individual? No. You might have all three expressed in a single person or one of the C3 might be a group of people, say the crew of a starship or one could be a computer, city or item of clothing. A character is a conjunction of idea, expression and reaction. A character paints a personal image in the mind’s eye of your audience.
Oh, you want to know who the C3 are?
1. A character that represents society
This character is the lens through which we understand and explore the social effects of your focal point. They are the interface between your audience and your world. Without this character the exploration of your focus is flat and without depth. Your society character demonstrates the traits projected onto your story’s society by your focal point. They explain and anthropomorphise the world they live in. Through them we understand how society has come to be the way it has.
2. Your individual character
Look at how your focal point affects the individual and that is what this character is. Often she is the protagonist but not necessarily so. You individual character carries with them the weight of all people trying to get by. Imagine an editorial comment posted on a current affairs show like 60 minutes if they lived in your science fiction world. That editorial is your individual character. She is the every-woman who sees the problems and takes advantage of the advantages without realising it. He will sit in a sterile, air conditioned bathroom commenting on how the people living in mud huts and collecting dung to burn in the fires that contribute to the horrendous mortality rate of their children have rich sense of community and some essential value lost to modern men. They are also the inspired adventurer seeking to experience everything their world can offer.
3. The character that embodies the future
Sure your story is already set in the future but you need a character that embodies the future future. If the individual character isn’t your protagonist you’ll probably find this one is. If your story is about changing or progressing the society created by your focal point then this is the guy leading the charge. Where is this all going? Follow your future character.
The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
– Anne Frank
4. Create 2 minor and 1 major conflicts as a result of your premise.
Conflict is the story and without it you’ve got a collection of words and little else. This is the fourth step in the five step framework and hangs off the first three. Create one major conflict which will be the prime crescendo of your work and it will come directly from your focal point. Think of it this way: if your story didn’t have the focal point your chose then this conflict would not happen. If your focal point was that colonists on a new world have evolved differently to Earth bound humans then your conflict should necissarily come from this evolution. Remove the focal point and you remove the conflict. Why I hear you ask? Because otherwise you just have what amounts to cops and robbers in space. If you can remove your focal point and tell exactly the same story scene for scene with present day real world analogs then do you have science fiction? You can claim it is but really you’ve just created some “futuristic” window dressing to gussy up a tired old story. Don’t be that girl or guy.
But one conflict doesn’t cut the mustard. You need to pick two minor conflicts related to two of the B3. These conflicts need not relate to the focal point but they need to relate to the world and in doing so they relate to the world. These minor conflicts will form the ups and downs that surround the unveiling of the primary conflict. Can you create more than two minor conflicts? Yes, but then you’re going to have a handful dealing with all the interactions between your C3 and your conflicts. Each conflict will touch and be reflected from each of your characters. This is what gives texture and depth to your story.
Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are.
– Stephen Moyer
5. Add one unexplained or unexplored premise
What is life if not for mystery? Do you want a story that leaves nothing to the imagination? No, I didn’t think so. We are, at our base, primal creatures. When we receive information it first passes through our reptile brain, our most basic processor and we determine if what we are perceiving is predator or prey. We want our stories to be the prey sought by our predator audience. What does prey do? It rustles the bushes and runs from us. Deny it if you like but you’d be wrong; we chase what runs. You’ve chosen a primary focus which holds everything together and now you need to pick a second one. This second focus should remain unexplained and unexplored. Involve it in each conflict, have it turn up in a character history but leave it without resolution. So in your world you have cryogenic sleep pods that allow people to travel between the stars without dying of old age and this informs your society, the individuals and points to a future of further exploration. Now throw some strange dreams that people experience while in suspended animation. Maybe one of the reams provides a clue to solving the main conflict. Have a university studying the phenomena but say no more on it. That little tid bit is your mystery, you prey to pull the reader into a deeper contemplation of your world and story. When they finish your story, if you’ve done it right, they will hunger for more from you without specifically craving resolution of the dream enigma.
Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.
– Neil Armstrong
next week’s goals
– run 16km
– finish editing book 2
– finish recording judgement day
– exit plan episode 7