Monday, 11 February 2013

Review: 'How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy' by Orson Scott Card

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, 1990, Writer's Digest Books, $14.99, softbound, 140 pages. Category/Genre: writing how-to. Cover: at first glance, it may look cheap, but the font, design, and color scheme combine for an effective result. We like it. We have the one that's a textured reddish brown with gold design. Where we got it: gift. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

If you're looking for a book to help you with plot and characterization, this isn't it. Card, a successful science fiction and fantasy writer himself, breaks down the intricacies of science fiction and fantasy, starting with the definition for each according to publishers, writers, and readers. While this particular section could have been briefer, Card captivates the reader whilst educating them. He goes into world creation, and includes in this the rules of magic, space, and time, and a section on working out the customs, language, geography, and history of your world; story construction, which includes where a story must begin and end, qualifications for the main character, and whether or not the viewpoint character should be the main character. Here he also goes into what he calls the "MICE quotient" -- milieu, idea, character, and event -- and how to use these to help shape your story. 
Card covers the writing process, including gaining the reader's interest, how to keep the 'level of diction' appropriate to your story, and how best to use invented words. Another topic is the writing business, including information on how to reach markets for both short and long speculative fiction; workshops, conferences, conventions, and classes; professional writers' organizations; and collaboration and adaptation. 
There's some good information in this book, and it's an interesting read. Definitely worth a look if you plan to write science fiction or fantasy. 

If you like this one, try: The Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe by George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier, Space Travel: A Writer's Guide to the Science of Interplanetary and Interstellar Travel by Ben Bova with Anthony R. Lewis, World-Building: A Writer's Guide to Constructing Star Systems and Life-Supporting Planets by Stephen L. Gillett, and Aliens and Alien Societies: A Writer's Guide to Creating Extraterrestrial Life-Forms by Stanley Schmidt.    

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