02-26-2007 03:20 PM
For example, let's play with some of today's stories from the San Francisco Chronicle: the big to-do this morning has to do with the fact that the 49ers football team is planning to build a new stadium outside of San Francisco (gasp! horrors!), but apparently the land they want lies over a right-of-way owned by the city of San Francisco, which is not happy in a major way about the team's desire to move out of Candlestick Park (a horrible location for anything). The story says: "The 4-acre ribbon of territory, on the site's southern edge just opposite the Great America amusement park, is where a pipeline carrying water from the Sierra to 2.4 million Bay Area customers is buried. The pipe, part of the Hetch Hetchy system, is owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission."
What if it's not a water pipe under there, but a major conduit between our world and a fantasy world? What if, say, the SF Board of Supervisors includes a wizard who can arrange for that one strip of land to be plagued by earthquakes? Lizards? Rats? What if the water pipe is really owned by trolls who demand tolls to use the land?
The Chron's website includes this enticing headline: "Through the Lens: World turns upside down." What if someone has a camera-like device that really can turn things upside down?
Levi Leipheimer, a local guy, handily won the Tour of California bike race. What if some of the athletes are not human? What if, instead of a tour of California or France, the tour ran through a fantasy world?
One seemingly inexhaustible source for fantasy ideas, is classic fairy tales from different cultures in addition to our own. Neil Gaiman does especially well with these, both in short fiction (take a look at his story "Snow, Glass, Apples", a re-telling of "Snow White" that may set your hair on end).
Fantasy ideas are everywhere -- just let yourself be open to them.
02-27-2007 04:03 PM - edited 02-27-2007 04:03 PM
Q. Can you train yourself to have a better imagination?
Sure you can. Take time to stop and think about the things that float into your life -- accept nothing at face value. Play the "People" game: ("That guy in the overcoat is a spy on a secret mission. He's trying to discover the secret of the secret sauce, because he's an alien who needs it to power his spaceship." "The woman in the blue dress spends half her time here and half her time in an alternate universe, where ... )
Play games with your own head. It's fun, and productive too.
edit: I don't know why the software insists on throwing smiley-faces into my text. Maybe it's an alien plot ...
Message Edited by marta_randall on 02-27-200701:04 PM
02-27-2007 11:49 PM
One was about beekeepers finding half their hives gone. One keeper lost 5 million bees in one shot. Seems to be a big problem in the industry. Nobody can figure out what's happening to them. Where are they going. Millions of bees are missing. Is something killing them? Is someone stealing them. What for? These are pollinating bees used widely to grow crops like almond, apples, blueberries. Is someone altering them to adversely effect the food supply? Maybe using them to pollinate someing more sinister?
Another was on a study evidencing that sperm from men over forty is more likely to cause birth defects. (it's about time they started looking at the guys, but I digress) As people tend to have babies later and later, more birth defects occur. Eventually, major problems in the population. Do we require people to have babies before a certain age? Do we harvest eggs and sperm at young ages for later use. Is sterilization required after a certain age. What if an older couple conceived. What would society do? What would the courts do?
It has been disocvered that 15th century Islamic mosaic craftsman had mastered a way of producing something called quasi crystal. I've never heard of this but the article reports that they are patterns that never repeat. This is an advanced mathematical concept that was not discovered or understood in the Western world until the 1970's. How did these people perfect their technique? Were they taught by an advanced life form? If so, why didn't the knowledge become more widespread. Maybe the advanced life forms took back the knowledge. What if all the knowledge we have is given to us by that life form and they come to take it back because they don't like what's going on down here? Were they created by beings passing through from alternate realities. Are there some people in each generation that possess knowledge far superior that they are not aware of and cannot pass down?
This is fun.
02-28-2007 08:30 PM
The posted deadline for the story ideas is March 5. Does that mean that the various story ideas and drafts will be closed to comments after that time, removed or left to continue on for the duration?
My story post has URL tag on it. At least one that I can see - I don't know if everyone can. I was just curious about it since no one else has one. Did I just enter something in differently or incorrectly? Thanks drlaura
03-01-2007 11:38 AM
Hope that helped!
If I'm wrong, I'm sorry.
03-01-2007 08:30 PM
03-03-2007 03:39 PM
I hope this helped in some way.
03-20-2007 10:05 PM
03-21-2007 01:20 AM
If you're looking for some place quiet to read, you could always try your local library. Or maybe outside? In your backyard? At a friend's house?
I hope this helped
03-22-2007 03:19 PM
Roadies at rock concerts buy and use very efficient earplugs, otherwise they'd go both deaf and mad. These aren't expensive. They are shaped plugs of foam that you stuff into your ears, and they work. Give them a try. They won't block out the noise entirely, but they may give you enough peace to read -- and maybe write, too.
04-12-2007 09:51 AM
Either way, this has been a great experience, and thank you, Marta, for doing this! I know I've learned a lot.
04-13-2007 07:06 PM
05-11-2007 01:39 PM
I'm new to this site. I've seen a few of your comments and was wondering if you would answer a question for me.
I wrote a little peice and I've posted on the Dashboard. Could you read it. One of my characters has a special ability, does this qualify as a SF Fiction. While I think it could, I'm not really leaning that direction.
05-12-2007 03:25 AM
I'm a bit disturbed by the way the story shifts focus. I liked the old lady at the opening, but her story (that is, worry about the thugs and whether she will get to her stop safely) utterly disappears when we reach the paragraph where Lazarus puts down his newspaper. Her story feels uncomfortably unresolved. While we're in Lazarus's point of view, we also fall into the truck driver's POV and the bus driver's POV too, which also makes the story seem out of focus.
Think about telling this story entirely from the old lady's viewpoint, so that we never know what Lazarus or the bus driver, etc., are thinking: we just see the action as she sees it. You may be surprised at how different, and how much tighter, the story is.
Thanks Marta, I understand your point about the POV in the Lazarus story. Basically the light bulb went on. My intention is to use this one story to introduce Lazarus. Thus, it's really the only time I show him thinking (his POV). I have 5 other stories written and as you stated they are "non-SF ideas". The plan is to have a total of 10 to complete a novel. In each, Lazarus is a minor part basically the "tool" allowing for the eventual outcome to be played out. So, the issue I have is how to introduce Lazarus' ability without him talking (I have various rules restricting what he can and can not do) about what he does. Hmmmm of course I can just create a new story from Lazarus point of view for the whole story and let the old lady tell the bus story.
Marta ever consider a private mentoring program?
05-12-2007 08:53 PM
The problem is that it came back extremely fast (six days) so I suspect that it may have been rejected by the slush reader for submission formatting issues. Their published guidelines are not very exacting, but being new at this I had reformatted the story in Courier-10 and replaced the ellipses with dots and em-dashes with double dashes. (I personally believe Courier is the spawn of Satan beloved only of copy-editors.)
My questions are these: Was this overkill, and what formatting do you use for F & SF?
Of course, they just may have a very fast slush reader who didn’t like the story
05-13-2007 01:47 PM
Griff, there are a number of thorough articles on ms preparation here: SFWA.org - writing. I don't know if Gordon Van Gelder uses a slush pile reader, but do know that his response times can be pretty fast. Why don't you ask in if formatting was an issue? There is a message board at the magazine's website and he's pretty responsive. And if you go there before the end of May, you'll see the June issue, whose cover illustrates a story by Yours Truly.