General · science fiction · Writing

Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells: You Are A Writer

I was reading The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells by Ben Bova and this quote from Ernest Hemingway jumped out at me:

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that it all happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.

I think this is the best idea of what makes a writer that I have ever seen. That it comes from a writer whose works I don’t usually enjoy strikes me as odd.

I think this is the ideal. You want all that, you want the reader to feel the story so deeply that they don’t forgot, so deeply that they come back to the story over and over again.You want the reader to get lost in the story and never want to leave. You want the reader to care deeply about the character’s sorrow and joy.

I also think it’s incredibly rare and that stories that do this won’t be the same from everyone. It’s too subjective.

Even so. I think to feel that way, you need a character you really connect to. I mean, as a reader I know I do. If a book doesn’t have a character I like, it’s very hard for me to read it. (This is why Game of Thrones remains unread on my kindle.)

And by connecting, I don’t mean the reader has to see themselves in the character. I really, really don’t see myself in Eve Dallas, Jaenelle Angelline or Miles Vorkosigan – three characters I love most and series I reread frequently. But I still connect, I still sympathize with them and I still like spending time with them.

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5 thoughts on “Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells: You Are A Writer

  1. The whole thing is subjective. What one of us reads and likes (btw I loved Game of Thrones – read my review) the other just can’t get into. For me it has to be strong characters that come to life and a good plot. Right now I’m struggling with my new read a Kate Moss but I’ll stick with it and see how it developes……

  2. I can’t think of any book that’s done that for me in years, maybe not since I was a young teen. I’m acutely aware and respectful of the thing as fiction, and enjoy poking about in it. I can create the artificial layer to discuss things as they happened within the continuity of the fiction, but it doesn’t feel to me like it “really happened” like my day did.

    1. I took the “really happened” thing to mean a really intense connection to the book, not that you believe it could really happen. And, yeah, the books I have that feeling with most are the ones I read in HS. Maybe people are more open in HS.

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