In the past I wrote a lot of women’s fiction. Okay, I’m lying I still write women’s fiction. Women’s fiction as a genre they say is “dead”. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, people are still writing it and those books are still flying off the shelf.
That isn’t to say that other genres are less valid or even more successful or that I’m not writing them.
In fact for the past almost 2 years I have been working on a Sci Fi novel called StarTribe set in 2084 when introversion is illegal. I won’t say any more but to me that in itself is an absurd premise. Or is it?
Writing Sci Fi is so fun, not just because I use it as an excuse to nerd out over sciency/tech stuff, but the world-building is so incredibly flexible.
That has been both liberating and scary. The learning curve for me of what is “acceptable”(everything) has at times given me pause and made me get in my own way.
In fact I found myself even more blocked because the options for what I could write about beyond the story in my head were limitless.
So I went to the experts.
Thankfully I have some writerly friends who have been writing Sci Fi for a while. I told one about my premise and that I needed to create a character but was stuck. I had already a line-up of misfits in my head but I couldn’t create or formulate an image in my boring old brain of a creature who could be both intimidating and cuddly. I guess the words I used sparked an idea in this writer’s head.
He said: “Why not make a half-man, half-bear hybrid?”
“Genius!” I thought, why didn’t I think of that? But then that dusty part of my brain that sees things in black and white had reservations. A half-bear, half-man hybrid? What? Who would interact with, let alone befriend such a creature and would/could this creature exist in my world? That second question is the one that I asked my friend:
“Do you think that is feasible?”
He asked me, “Why not?”
And that had me thinking even more: “Yeah, it’s my story, why not? I mean just because something that couldn’t exist supposedly in the real world doesn’t mean I can’t just make it so in MY book.”
And that is what Sci Fi is for, to allow for those absurd details that you can somehow make sense and fit into your world.
Five Doors is a fantasy novel I am writing.
I would go back and forth between calling it Fantasy and Magical Realism, because I am so so stuck on that realistic factor. She’s a real person, with real problems, in the real world but she has these powers and other people in the world have powers too. Powers to change and dictate their fate. Some might say we already have that power but in my novel that issue is addressed: Do we? Can we?
As I keep writing, those absurd details keep cropping up. Some involve dreaming, some involve time traveling through doors, some involve timepieces that are long dead suddenly coming to life.
If I didn’t think of these details the story would be boring. It would be “just women’s fiction”.
But even the women’s fiction novel I wrote has an absurd detail in it. One that I have even felt the need to sometimes justify.
Some might think writing from life could be boring too. “I’m not a celebrity; who would want to read about my life?” But think about all the insanity and absurdity you have encountered in your life. Things you might have thought didn’t exist in this boring old world. But you were surprised by them, just as your reader would be if they read a narrative about your life.
So my takeaway, which I hope is also yours, is to embrace those absurd details and use them. And if you aren’t thinking absurd enough, think harder, you’ll get there.