Sunday, August 23, 2009

My writing week 2(34)

Hi all,

I spent most of last week catching up on things I had put off while sick, so there wasn't much time for writing. I'm still a few days behind in my newspaper reading. I don't chuck them until read, so they can pile up. I once got eleven weeks behind, but after some months I eventually caught up.

I find reading newspapers very necessary for my writing, not just the stuff on writing and books, but anything that might give me an idea of future trends. For example, I reckon if you are writing a science fiction book set on Earth in the near future you will need to include the effects of global warming in it or give an explanation of how science fixed it (because it looks very unlikely that any useful global agreement to stop it will eventuate).

If you write a book set 50 or so years from now, you will need to extrapolate the possible effects of nanotechnology, genetic engineering, cloning, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, medical advances, population changes, other technology, even future fashion and entertainment. All these trends are shown in quality newspapers (ie not printed by News Limited).

In relation to global warming, I have been following the debate for well over a decade and have noted that the forecasts of its affects have been getting progressive worse as previous forecasts have been exceeded or appear to be grossly inadequate. Therefore, I feel okay about writing stories set in the future where global warming is/was worse than currently expected.

Would writers of other genres get as much out of newspapers? Certainly they could get story ideas and should read the writing/book sections, but would they need to study the papers as much as I feel a science-fiction writer should? A crime writer might read most of the articles about crime, but I wouldn't think there would be much of use for a horror, fantasy or romance writer in newspapers.

If I I chucked out unread newspapers I would not have read that Steve Amsterdam's science fiction, post-apocalyptic novel, Things We Didn't See Coming, won the Age book of the Year. With Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road winning the 2007 Pulitzer prize there seems to be a gap opening up in the publishing world for apocalyptic novels set in the near future.This might help when pitching a novel that I finished the first draft of before I started my master of creative writing.



Satima Flavell said...

Another good thing to stay abreast of if you write near-future SF is the births column. If you're writing about a world twenty or thirty years hence, you will find there the right names for your characters!

Graham Clements said...

That too.

I found a list of the most popular first names for each decade on the web.

Monster Paperbag said...

Good luck on your novel :)