Back in 1986, a book was released by Shambhala Press - Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. My sister urged me to read the book. She thought it would help me jumpstart my writing career. I never did read the book, but I love the title. The visual is great - writing down the bones. When I create a work of science fiction, I view my story as a human body and I begin with the bones, the skeleton, so to speak. Once the structure is in place, I begin to fill in - flesh out the story, or body of the work, and imbue my characters with heart and soul.
I don't follow many rules when I write; I guess I'm a bit of an author/anarchist. But science fiction requires rules - without rules, a work of science fiction can quickly devolve into nonsense.
My first rule of science fiction - abide by the rules of my own creation. For instance, if I create a universe where successful interplanetary travel is only possible for three-eyed, psychic, hairless genetically enhanced warthogs, then I can't send a frog into space and expect my readers to believe the frog will survive. *Unless…at some point in time, additional information becomes available to the inhabitants of my universe, information that enhances their knowledge and abilities and allows them to safely send a frog into space.
My second rule relates to my first. I avoid resorting to Deus ex machine, or basically, putting the onus on God, or a plot device, to solve a problem. There may be miracles, but they must arise from the very marrow of the story. Have I put my skeleton together in such a fashion that miracles might be possible? If I have, a reader won't mind the rare miraculous intervention.
Rule Three - I try not to stray too far from my comfort zone. Small changes or tweaks to society as we know it are often the most effective way to make a story credible. Technology evolves and human societies change, but if the characters keep their core of humanity, readers will find it easier to identify with them and the story will resonate. It is especially in science fiction romance that I want my characters to deal with familiar emotional issues - issues of the heart, love, loss, trust, betrayal, good, and evil.
Rule Four - I set the stage, position the players, and I must make both the stage and the characters feel real. The first person who has to believe what I write is me. If I don't believe my words, nobody else will. I'm not a techy, but I am a big reader of mainstream science fiction. My favorite books are character-driven. They may contain technical details, but none are so complicated that I either feel like an idiot or worse, can't follow the storyline. I like to keep my technical details minimal and focus on my characters and their actions.
Rule Five - hard and fast. It's not what you think. J This is my hard and fast rule and I will not stray. Never overwhelm a reader with too many characters all at once. Never overwhelm a reader with too many characters with weird names who are hard to differentiate. If a reader can't keep my characters and their individual roles straight, the truth is, I probably can't either.Okay…done. Like I said, I really am a bit of an anarchist, but no matter how far my characters stray from the world as I know it, they still follow the rules - even if the rule is no rules at all.
Julia Barrett: I write erotic science fiction, paranormal and contemporary romances for Resplendence Publishing, Siren, Logical Lust, Evernight Publishing, and Cobblestone Press. In my other life, I write nonfiction. I attended the University of Iowa as a creative writing major. Later I returned to school to become a Registered Nurse. I've been a hospice nurse for twelve years. I am proud to admit that I was born and raised in Iowa, but I've lived, camped, hiked, traveled all over the United States and Israel. I am married with three children, a new puppy, two cats, two talking birds and two very lucky koi.
Daughters of Persephone, Books III and IV, Reborn and Red Demon
Book Three: Reborn
A thousand years have passed since the Empress Aja Bokinan and her consort, Kyr Aram, settled on Calen. As the legend foretold, a great evil has arisen. Black Frocks scour the planets, searching out women, children and even men with a trace of the Royal Blood, sacrificing them to their dark god.
When they see her mahogany hair and gray eyes, Issa Bokinan's family flees the village for the safety of the mountains, but even that is not far enough. It is up to The Red Demon, Tem, to hide they young Empress away in the past, teaching her to use her powers, grooming her for the day whens he will face the Black Frocks and her own death.
But The Red Demon has a plan within a plan. She's meddled in the gene pool, producing a man with the powers Women of the Blood only dream of. She wants Kane Tirol for her own, but Kane, a Calen Man, wants nothing to do with The Red Demon. He is bonded to Issa Bokinan, and not even time will keep them apart.
Book Four: Red Demon
There is a reason Tem is called The Red Demon. She does what she wants when she wants. No one controls her. Time and space do not hinder her. Worshiped on ancient Earth as a goddess among many people in many different lands, nobody opposes her, except her own creations, Issa Bokinan and Kane Tirol.
Having left her own daughters behind on Earth as seed stock for future generations, Tem had hoped to make a life with Kane. That is not to be. Rejected, alone and broken, she seeks comfort in the past from the Empress Ya on Persephone, promising to behave and keep her identity a secret. Tem is hard-pressed to control her worst impulses when she's caught riding the Empress' prize stallion.
Horse Master, Aytan Kirrae, cannot believe his eyes. A small Red Woman has just ridden off on the stallion named for him, a horse bred for the Empress Ya. He waits for her return, flipping her over his knee, meting out what he thinks will be a kinder punishment than she would receive from the Magistrate. He has no idea the small Red Woman can kill him with a single drop of her blood.Pulled along to the future against his will, Aytan thinks he's dreaming, until he must share the Blood Bond with Tem to save her life. Once he does, his own life will never be the same.