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Setting the Stage: World Building in Sci-Fi Romance

My special guest today is friend and fellow sci-fi fan, Kaye Manro. Forbidden Love is Kaye’s debut book, and it’s doing really well. If you’ve been following Kaye’s Forbidden Love tour, you’ll know she’s discussed some really interesting topics. This is her last tour stop, and she’s talking about world building. Over to Kaye…

Forbidden Love by Kaye ManroThank you for inviting me to be your guest today, Shelley!

World building is such an interesting subject, and I’d like to talk about just how I created my science fiction environment in my short erotic SFR Forbidden Love.

While world building is important in all genres of fiction, it is doubly true for science fiction. The process involves detailed back-story that may never end up on the written page!
In science fiction, as well as science fiction romance, (SFR) authors tend to spend a lot of time on world building. In the created worlds especially those involving space travel the process usually starts with designing the star and solar system in which the planet resides.
Here’s an example from my own world building experience. When I created the premise for the Forbidden series (book one is Forbidden Love, which recently released at Red Rose Publishing) I wanted an astounding species with touches of reptilian DNA. For that, I needed the proper environment for them to exist. Their planet needed to be atmospherically disruptive and wild, a little like Venus but able to sustain life. While in opposition, I wanted the species to be an ancient and peaceful but advanced culture, capable of traveling across galaxies by way of hyper-jumps through invented event horizons.

I had a vague idea of what I should call this world, and those red-orange colors kept popping into my mind. I created the name for the planet by combining words like orange and ascorbic because it reminded me of vitality and virility. I melded the two words and Asconage was born.

As I pondered, what Asconage might be like, visions of its solar system came to mind. Asconage is a desert-like world, and I needed to create an extremely arid environment. This planet, painted in russet, ginger, and mauve with an indigo-purple and hued red nighttime sky, orbits two suns, one near and one far. The binary system makes intense heat possible without causing a total planetary meltdown. This is the main reason why T’Kon’s species developed along the evolutionary path it did. I hope this gives you an idea of how everything ties together.

I wanted T’Kon’s race, though extremely technologically and physically advanced, to have archaic beliefs and laws governing the people that preserve the purity of their species. In Forbidden Love, that’s exactly why T’Kon has a hard time coping with his attraction to Maya, the heroine. She is from a human species on an Earth-like world known as Terrain. T’Kon is an explorer and scans Maya’s world for possible contact when his spacecraft crashes into the Terrain surface.

Truly, Forbidden Love came alive only after I had spent time developing the foundation for which I based this story and that is world building. Here is how the story actually unfolded–

Forbidden Love is a futuristic sci-fi erotic romance. Yes, there is space travel at FTL (faster than light). But there is also lots of sexy sensual exploring between the hero T’Kon and the heroine Maya, who hail from different galaxies and evolutionary paths. Rules on T’Kon’s planet forbid interspecies mating. But when he crashes his spacecraft on Maya’s world close to her desert home, what else is he to do but let this lovely alien tend his, umm, injuries?

Here is a little taste of Forbidden Love:

Something cool and clammy grazed her arm, causing a shiver. He sat on the edge of her exam table, his face no longer tinged with the pale blueness she observed earlier; rather, a deep russet color washed him.

Maya stared at the alien awake and alive, his lean muscles tensing as he stretched. Slanted sliver blue-flecked eyes peered at her holding a puzzled look, a haunting icy glare.

“I—I’m Dr. Maya Belle,” she cleared her throat. “I found you hurt in the desert near here so I brought you to my lab—my home.” She squinted and sucked in a mouthful of air. “Who are you? It’s a foregone conclusion you’re not from this world. Where do you come from?” She tilted her head. “Do you understand me?”

Suddenly his thoughts tumbled into hers.

“I am on a peaceful mission. My cloaked spacecraft malfunctioned and crashed into your planet’s surface. You do know where it is.” She sensed his uneasy pause and then, “You will take me there.” It sounded too much like a commanded to her.

Yeah right, she thought and immediately tried to recant the notion. But it was too late. His icy gaze narrowed on her. Clawed fingers grasped a firm hold around her wrist. He emphasized one word. “Now.”

Bio for Kaye

As a romance author, I lean toward the adventuresome in my writing. I love science fiction and all the enticing quantum theories surrounding it. Where characters rush through outer space at Faster than Light speed, or teleport into another time, and even slipstream into an alternate reality. I like creating love scenes too with strong heroes, and captivating heroines. It just seemed natural to combine all these elements together in my stories and write (SFR) Science Fiction Romance.

Links:
Forbidden Love Buy Page ~ Kaye’s Website ~ Kaye’s Blog ~

Writer Tip: Kaye Manro

“GET HOOKED!

What does that mean? Simply, we must write stories that grab readers at page one and never let them go. It’s not as easy as it seems. To start with, a stellar beginning/opening is vital these days, especially for aspiring authors if we want that coveted publishing contract.

According to statistics, editors/agents reject manuscripts before they’ve finished reading the first few pages. I wanted to know why. So I studied many books on the craft of writing and took several creative writing classes that addressed that very issue. I also read and researched multi-published authors’ books, trying to get the feel of what set them apart. Then I practiced, rewrote and practiced again hoping to get the words right.

Here’s a stellar ‘Get Hooked’ opening from Carved In Stone by Vickie Taylor (Berkley Sensation): Nothing reminded Nathan Cross he wasn’t human so much as an attractive woman watching his every move from across a crowded room.

Now doesn’t that make you want to read more? It does me. The book continues to be stellar throughout and never lets the reader down all the way to the end.

Our first goal as an author is to evoke an emotional response that hooks the reader. Les Edgerton, leading authority on writing stellar hooks says, “If you are able to capture the right beginning, you’ve written a small version of the whole story right there.”

How can we go wrong with that? The best advice I can give about hooking editors, agents and ultimately readers, is to write a stellar opening and then make sure the rest of your story lives up to that fabulous beginning.”

Kaye Manro
www.kayemanro.com

Kaye Manro’s science fiction romance FORBIDDEN LOVE releases at Red Rose Publishing on May 20, 2010.

Writer Tip: Holly Root (agent)

What is your best craft tip for aspiring authors wanting to submit to an agent?

90% of writing is rewriting. I don’t know that it ever gets easier, but I know that the more you learn to self-edit and polish, the stronger you’ll be at those skills.

Follow this link to read my full interview with agent, Holly Root

Writer Tip: Cheryl Brooks

“I don’t know if my tip is unique or not, but when I’m writing, I keep what I call a tracking sheet on each book. Whenever I start a new chapter, I add in the chapter number and the page it begins on. This enables me to know just how long each of my chapters is and when I should start thinking about ending them. I keep that and a synopsis and a style sheet with character names and a few brief characteristics in separate files on my computer and update them as I go along. The style sheet helps me keep character names and spellings, (which are always hard to remember since I invent most of them) within easy access of my increasingly Swiss cheese brain so I don’t have to go back and scan what I’ve already written looking for the name or description.”

Visit Cheryl Brooks’ Website
Purchase a book from Cheryl Brooks’ The Cat Star Chronicles

Writer Tip: Maria Zannini

Go to the source: Want to know how it feels to sit in a Mercedes Benz, or the smell of a horse, or the sound of a forest?

Go to the source.

Window shop at a high end car dealer, visit a horse veterinarian or enlist the help of horsey friends. The woods are not silent. Spend a night–or at least several hours hiking.

Nothing beats the real thing in order to describe it well. While some of us can’t go up in space, we can simulate the experience by spending a few minutes in a cramped metal shed or the cockpit of an airplane. Writing about the past? Turn off all the lights in your house and fetch water out of a rain barrel.

Now submerse yourself in the experience. As you transport yourself, you’ll transport your readers.

Visit Maria Zannini’s blog.
Purchase Touch Of Fire • Samhain Publishing

Writer Tip: Tawny Weber

“Goals and Goal Timelines

Writing goals are fabulous tools. They get us to put the words on the page, they motivate us to submit our manuscripts, they push us over hurdles when we’d rather give up. You’ve sent goals, right? Finish the first draft – or better yet, finish the first draft by XYZ date. Maybe even goals like pitching or submitting to a certain number of editors and agents before the end of the year.

But what about those ultimate goals we’re all striving for- the goal to sell a book? How can we set that goal when the decision is in the hands of someone (or someones, in the case of books bought by an editorial committee) else? Can we put a deadline on something like that?

Yes and no.

We can create a goal timeline. If the ultimate goal is to sell a book, make a list of everything that has to be done first. Write the book, polish it (maybe get critique partners or enter it in contests for feedback). Submit, resubmit, revise, use feedback and revise again. Realistically look at your time – do you work full-time? Have kids who take up time? Are you a fast or slow writer? Where are you at in terms of knowledge of your craft?

So taking into account where you’re at, what you have to learn, and where you want to go – how long, realistically, would it take for you to complete all the steps on the timeline? This is what you can control. This is the part to focus on. This is what your goal should be – to do all the things on your timeline. Then, after you’ve submitted the book, to do them all over with another book while you’re waiting to hear.”

Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course). In September 2010, her tenth Blaze, RIDING THE WAVES hits the bookshelves. Come by and visit her on the web at www.tawnyweber.com

Writer Tip: Monica Burns

“The middle of the book is often a really crucial turning point for a writer. For me, I usually find myself at a crossroad not sure where to turn with the book. I’ve found that printing out and reading what I’ve written so far helps me reconnect with the characters so that by the time I’ve read through the book, I’m ready to roll with the last half of the book. Another thing I’ve found very useful when editing is to read the book out loud. It helps me catch things the eye generally overlooks.”

Visit Monica Burns’ website.
Purchase Monica Burn’s upcoming release, Assassin’s Honor.

Writer Tip: Samantha Kane

“Editing: The most important thing you will ever do. I’m not kidding. First, self-edit. Find your style. Do you like to edit as you write? Do you prefer to finish the first draft and then go back and edit? Fine. The important thing is that you do it. You may scoff, but there are people out there who skip this step altogether. Amazing but true. Cross your t’s, dot your i’s, and edit for grammar and punctuation. Then edit for content: GMC, characterization, plot consistency, romantic conflict, dialogue and dialogue tags. It is not your writing group’s, your critique partner’s or your editor’s job to do this. That’s right, IT IS NOT YOUR EDITOR’S JOB. By the time you send your manuscript to your editor it should be as clean as you can possibly make it. Most editors will tell you that their job is content editing, not line editing. And if you send a submission full of errors to an editor or agent? In most cases they won’t read past the first glaring mistake.

Second, edits from an editor or agent. Do them. Suck it up and drive on. You all three have the same goal: to produce the best, most marketable book possible. If they have to fight you every step of the way, then guess what? You’re not worth their time. Because there are writers out there who will gladly do the edits. And that is the author they would rather work with. The best advice I ever received was from writer Claudia Dain, who said the correct response to an editor’s request for rewrites or edits was, “You want words? I’ve got words. I’m a writer.” I have followed that advice religiously. I do the edits, I don’t argue, I get them done on time, and I hand them in with a thank you. And yes, this does make a difference in how I’m treated. And I also think my books are better for every edit I have made. Remember, editors and agents are your first readers. If something doesn’t work for them, chances are it won’t work for Jane Doe Reader, either.”

Visit Samantha Kane’s website at www.samanthakane.us
Purchase Samantha’s latest release, Love in Exile.

Writer Tip: Gail Carriger

“I believe that to make it as a writer takes a combination of skill, persistence, and luck. William Feather aptly puts it, “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” There is no way to predict what will be the right pitch at the right time, so my only advise is the kind no one wants to hear. Sit down, write, and finish. Correct it and send it off. Then ignore it and write something completely different. Then send that off. Don’t get attached to your work. Because that’s what it is. Work. Not your art. Not your baby. Just your work. If you can’t disconnect yourself, I don’t think you’ll be emotionally able to survive this industry. ”

Visit Gail Carriger’s website at www.gailcarriger.com
Purcahse one of Gail’s books – Soulless was trust upon the unsuspecting public Oct 1, 2009. Changelessis due in April of 2010, and Blameless September 2010.

Writer Tip: Louisa Edwards

“Go Low Tech

I don’t know how anyone ever managed to write and revise a novel before the invention of computers (laptops!) with word processing. The speed and maneuverability, the way you can lift whole passages out and slot them in somewhere better–it’s fantastic.

Louisa EdwardsIt can also be a little paralyzing. When I get stuck and realize I’ve been staring at that blinking cursor on my white screen for too long, I close my laptop and grab a pen and a spiral-bound notebook. (Some of my writer friends go for legal pads or composition books, whatever works for you.) I take my low-tech tools out of my office, curl up on the couch, and think about the scene. Something magical happens! It’s as if being unchained from my computer frees my mind to see the story from a new perspective. I might sketch out snippets of dialogue or notes on character motivation and interaction; I might even write a couple pages of the scene out longhand. But invariably, the change of pace from computer to paper engages a different part of my brain that helps me push past whatever was blocking me, and I discover something new. Then I can go back to my office and push forward.

I could never give up my iBook; I love all its bells and whistles, its cute, sleek styling. But when you need a jolt of creativity, nothing beats plain old paper and pen.”

Vist Louisa Edwards’ website at www.louisaedwards.com
Purchase Louisa’s latest release, On The Steamy Side