Well, there you have it: two different movies in the theaters that show the full range of science fiction in all it’s glory.
I won’t spoil either movie for you, but I’ll say this much. If you want to learn how different science fiction can be from itself, you need look no further than the movie theater right now. The Arrival and Doctor Strange show how you can combine elements of the Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy genres to make a basic three-act story or a thoughtful, moving tale that asks ‘if you had it to do all over again, would you?’
I’m happy, because it means we get to experience the full spectrum of sci-fi again. We’ve needed that for a very long while.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve nothing against the Marvel Comic Universe. It’s just that, well let me put it this way: I love pizza … But I don’t want pizza every day. I love blues music, but after a while I need something in my life besides Stevie Ray Vaughn. ‘Variety may be the spice of life, but don’t look for it in the movie theater,’ we’ve been told over and over again.
It took directors like Christopher Nolan making movies like ‘Inception’ and ‘Interstellar,’ to smash through the conventional wisdom that hard sci-fi didn’t appeal to mass audiences anymore. Now we’re seeing more and more science fiction … real science fiction … coming at us and to that I say “Bravo!”
Now, as much as I love real science fiction, I want to add some caveats:
Stories are designed to be enjoyed, not categorized
Not every hero has an ‘origin story.’
Sci-fi doesn’t have to follow the typical three-act story arc
I’m going to talk more about those thoughts later on but wanted to get this thought pushed out to make room for everything else I’m thinking about. Happy Monday, go make something awesome.
Remember what I said about building audiences for fun and profit? How about that part where I said ‘use your powers for good?’ Now it’s time to put that into practice. I just finished watching this video and it’s an amazing explanation of neurolinguistic programming, emotions and how videos become viral. Understanding how people think is the first step toward ensuring that you engage with them correctly when building your audience.
Continuing this discussion about building audiences. All artists are entrepreneurs, and all entrepreneurs are artists.Real artists ship. The game of professional creativity was never for the faint of heart. This blog series is simply about accepting the art and process of building an audience. It’s just as necessary to authors as a copy of The Elements of Style. You’ll never be in a place where you can afford to only listen to your inner creative voice. Audience building is integral to the Author Trip, full stop.
So let’s continue that discussion. Keep in mind, though, that it takes much persistent and gentle attention to build an audience. You need to understand the mechanics, but you’ll still need to apply them and everyone does this in their own way. Just like our matchstick Minas Tirith, you’ll be working at the micro level while being painfully aware of the macro. You’ll push through the ambiguity and doubt with a blind faith that your effort will lead you somewhere. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should we believe in you? Let’s now consider some more ideas about audience building: Continue reading
I watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy about once a year. As a fantasy series, there’s a lot to recommend. One thing I enjoy about the films are the sweeping, epic visuals of cities like Minas Tirith. Like me, you probably saw the matchstick sculpture of Minas Tirith that I use throughout this post. To me, it’s the perfect metaphor for the process of building a sci-fi audience. As with this matchstick sculpture, you’ll find that audience building is a slow, painstaking process made out of many small pieces.
Now, before you write me off because I have less than 200 followers on Twitter, let me establish a few things: I’ve built audiences before. Before I pivoted and started the business of telling scifi stories, I had a side business in social media marketing. SEO, blogging, inbound marketing, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … you name it, I’ve done it all. I’ve had Twitter audiences in the thousands … I’d love to tell you more but am forbidden by the NDAs that I signed. 😉
So when I started InkICan, I wanted to make sure I did the job right. No paying for clicks, no buying fake followers … I’ve watched people go this route and I’ve also watched them crash and burn. I’m an author and an entrepreneur. I’m trafficking in dreams, emotions, hopes and fears. This is too important to me. I’d rather take my time and get the job right. I apologize in advance to any of the bubbles I may be bursting with this breakdown. Please keep in mind that I have zero skin in the game, it doesn’t matter to me if you sell your book or not.
What follows are some lessons learned about the process of building that audience. It’s not a step one-step two-type process, it’s more of a state of mind. Believe me, there are plenty of “How to Build an Audience” blog posts out there that do just that. This isn’t one of them. One thing I want to stay very far away from is the formulaic ‘Do this to get 10,000 followers’ posts you often see on author blogs. Anybody can get 10K followers on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t believe me? Google ‘Buy Fake Followers’ and follow the instructions. All you need is a valid credit card. After you spend the money, you’ll quickly understand the truth: bots don’t equal audience. Let’s now cover a few basic ideas so that you can start building your own ‘matchstick castle.’ Continue reading
Ran across this on Reddit and wanted to share. Every author faces potential backlash when they discuss controversial subjects and rarely do you find an authentic story that does not have some sort of controversy. I’m not planning to play Mafia III, but I do plan on using this as a template to handle any potentially wounded sensibilities. I’m passing it along because you, as a writer, might find it useful, too.
I don’t have HBO, but I’m reading all the reviews about Westworld and they prove an important point. Sci-fi has a love/hate relationship with story tropes. You know what they are, even if you don’t know the word:
Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. Tropes are not inherently disruptive to a story; however, when the trope itself becomes intrusive, distracting the viewer rather than serving as shorthand, it has become a cliché.
The mechanics of storytelling require, nay demand, that we use tropes in sci-fi … if for nothing else, it gives our readers a mental baseline for the universe that we’re building. Good storytellers know how to play with tropes in a way that won’t distract the reader (i.e. “The Princess Bride,” or any Pixar film). Bad storytellers leave us angry enough to steal hubcaps. Continue reading
I’m scared to talk about this. But I need to talk about this. Here goes.
One of the things I want to do with my science fiction is avoid doing what everyone else is doing. That makes sense, right? I can’t call myself creative unless I’m pushing into new territory. The question is, what territory? Where does creativity stop and thoughtfulness begin? These are all the questions I’m thinking about as I work on a new short story.
‘Body Issues’ is a short about a teenage girl and the new social issues coming our way. I don’t want to give away the plot, but the main character is a girl and she’ll be non-white, too. For those of you saying, “So what?” let me say this: Thank you. I think this should be a no-brainer, myself. Given the current landscape of humanity, I’m afraid of negative repercussions. I don’t think it’s right to let that stop me.
When I started this journey toward a ‘third act’ in my life, one of the things I wanted to do was tell stories again. I love doing it. I missed the creative process and the way a good story connects you with other people. To that end, I’ve been thinking about the kind of stories I want to tell and doing some research. Then I got an ‘a-ha!’ moment when I stumbled on this list of rules that Pixar uses in their stories. These rules can be incredibly valuable for any storyteller, so I’m posting them for you as much as I’m capturing them for myself.
Human beings communicate via stories. For good or evil, storytelling is a very powerful way to share ideas, get your point across, or draw people to your cause. I’m sure you can think of a hundred examples of this, but for me I just turn on the news. All you see now are different people telling stories to explain their politics, their personal feelings or their reasons for whatever they do. Stories are powerful. Therefore, as a storyteller, I must learn to tell good stories. I’m life-hacking my way through this process, and the following 22 rules are a good step in that direction.
Let’s look at them together, shall we? I’m not going to try and break them down for you: like a good story, I think they speak for themselves. If you’re having trouble reading them, just click on them for the big version: