When taking the first steps into your new world as a speculative writer, it’s often a good idea to ignore the first things you ‘see’. It’s all too easy to get caught in the Land of ClichÃƒÂ©s, where the environment in which your story takes places resembles the generic mold for your stereotypical science fiction or fantasy story. Your first ideas about what this world should look like are not necessarily your best, and so it is important to take a second look in order to create a world that is both interesting and unique.
In his book Characters & Viewpoint, Orson Scott Card talks about how to create characters that are unique and rich. Part of this process involves taking an idea that might be common and giving it a good twist. Bring the idea in from an unexpected direction, giving it an element of surprise to the reader and thus making it more interesting to the story as a whole. For instance, in my “previous article”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=177, I wrote about a landscape of hot cinder cones. That immediately brings to mind volcanic activity, which was surely what I intended there. However, had I developed the scene further, you might have found that the volcanic activity, and hence the cones themselves were the product of the war, whose existence was implied by the debris in the volcanic field. The war could have been so devastating that it shook the earth’s balance and brought forth the its fury. Or the volcanic field could have been created by some advanced technology brought by the invaders themselves. Or twist it further, and it could have been created by the aboriginal inhabitants in order to keep the invaders out or even to cover their headquarters or subterranean cities. The possibilities are endless.
It’s a continual challenge to come up with new and fresh ideas in my writing. I am an infant in writing, comparatively speaking, and so twisting ideas to make them unique and new is still very much a challenge, but I hope that as I write more, the process will become second nature and that my stories will be more interesting and enjoyable.