Tuesday, July 3, 2012

SF is in My Blood

...like an alien entity.

So, I had a novel idea. (Meaning it was an idea for a novel, not a unique idea. Though it may be that, too. I don't know.)

It was about a kid who pretends to be possessed by an alien intelligence as a way of overcoming the deficiencies in his own personality. It was going to be a good, straight book with no actual aliens or possessions, only nice normal things like middle school and social pressure and how hard it is to be an introvert. You know, what they've taken to calling contemporary because everything has to have some sort of genre label.

Ahem.

Did you notice I said was? That's because no matter how I tried to put together a plot, I couldn't get excited about it. I mean, it's a great premise. A premise with promise, you might say. (But probably wouldn't.)

Also, I actually did pretend be an alien when I was a kid. I have a journal entry to prove it. It only lasted a day, but you might say I have some personal experience with this crazy notion.

Thing is, this novel was based on a short story that I based on my personal experience, but in that story, the kid actually did switch places with an alien.

I wasn't going to go there again. But honestly, I don't think I'm capable of writing a book about normal old middle school. I write for fun, dang it, and I just can't write something that doesn't grip me and drag me in. I can't write something I'm not passionate about.

Still, it seems silly to be passionate about aliens, doesn't it?

But when I think about the other books I've written, the passion doesn't lie in the plots. It lies in what the characters face: dreams and doubts, suicide and love. They're things faced by ordinary people living ordinary lives, and there are plenty of writers writing books about those lives. They do a good job. But that's not how I tell stories. And those aren't the kind of stories I fall in love with.

It's nice to see people in extraordinary circumstances facing the same things I face. It's kind of fun to watch people with superpowers or magic or warp drive struggling with the same weaknesses I struggle with. And I love turning the mundane into the amazing and vice versa.

Why? It's in my blood, I guess. I've always gravitated to speculative fiction. I love those what if questions.

What if you invented an imaginary persona to help you through difficult situations?

What if that persona became a voice in your head?

What if that voice was part of a plan to take over the world?

What if you didn't even mind being used because all the girls suddenly liked you?

And what if the voice in your head was being hunted by an enigmatic and dangerous stranger?

So now my novel idea really is novel. It's Cyrano De Bergerac meets Dr. Who, where Cyrano exists only in Christian's head.

Oh, and Cyrano's the bad guy.

7 comments:

  1. As far as pitches go, you had me with those last two lines. Dr. Who and an evil Cyrano? I'd read it. :)

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  2. haha! We must think alike because when I read your first description, I immediatly thought "but then the alien turns out to be real!" I can't get into realistic fiction stories like I can sci-fi and fantasy. BTW, have you read "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"?

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    1. I've been meaning to read it ever since I saw Susan Cain's TED talk.

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    2. I'm about half-way through. It's quite good! And enlightening.

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  3. "immediately"! That's what I get for not proofing.

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  4. This sounds completely awesome. Do it.

    I'm struggling to get through David Bowie's The Man Who Fell to Earth. I've literally watched that movie in 8 different pieces so far. (I have about 15 minutes left, praise God.) And I think the big problem with the movie is nothing happens that has anything to do with him being an alien. Except one thing, when he takes out his contacts and shows his girlfriend his snake eyes. Other than that, it's just this story about an alien having lots and lots of sex and that's it. And there is a market for that. Not the sex stuff, although there is a market for that too. But I mean, the whole "I'm just a person from another world, why were you expecting an alien?" thing. It's a good idea. I'm sure the novel is pretty good too. And my problems with the movie have a lot more to do with the handling of the alien stuff. It's just a crap movie, honestly. Gratuitous in every way. And so long. Like this paragraph.

    I think you're better off writing about aliens if you're going to take the time to write about aliens. Might as well. No one's going to be, "What the hell, this is actually about aliens?" But some people might say the opposite.

    Not that you should write for the crowds. Just saying, you're not alone in what you're thinking here.

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    1. *And my problems with the movie are a lot more than the handling of the alien stuff.

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