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seekingreader
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seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample

[ Edited ]
Until now, my "long life" SF story has only been an idea floating around, waiting time for me to do the necessary research to begin work on it. Looks like the time has come to quit waiting and start writing! Here's a start on the project -- comments welcomed.


“Dr. Metcalf, I know you are a brilliant individual and a gifted and talented scientist. But what in God’s name were you thinking? Do you have any concept of the chaos you are about to unleash on the world? I assume you are familiar with Pandora’s Box – what you have done makes her little box of horrors look like manna from heaven!”

David R. Metcalf, B.S. (Biology), M.S. (Molecular Biology), Ph.D. (Genetics), Ph.D. (Molecular Genetics), Ph.D. (Genetic Engineering), holder of an endowed chair in Genetics at the Harvard Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and founder of the Avery Institute of Molecular Biology, drew in a deep breath before responding.

“Senator Laurensen, I am, of course, familiar with Pandora’s mythological box. And I am acutely aware of some of the potential impact of my research. I don’t claim to fully understand all of the implications, but I do have some grasp of reality. Which is precisely why I insisted on this appointment with you, the Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

But you need to understand something about research science – “pure” science, as some call it. We don’t know going into a project just what we will discover. We are not operating from a set of blueprints, moving directly from point A to discovery B to product C. I did not set out to find a way to lengthen human life. I merely wanted to know what was the function of an odd bit of material at the tag end of the DNA strand. For years, this “junk” DNA has been assumed to be useless, meaningless, without effect on the human genome. I didn’t think Nature would be that wasteful and I wanted to know why it is there. And I’ve found out.”

Dave leaned forward in his chair and an unconscious left index finger pushed his glasses back up his nose. His right hand pushed a shock of brown hair flecked with gray back from his forehead.

“I’ve discovered something momentous – and I don’t want to see society collapse in the aftermath of my discovery. But I cannot and will not try to pretend that my discovery never happened. Which brings us back to why I am here – I am seeking your advice and your help in managing the impacts on society that doubling or trebling the average human life span will cause.”

The senator leaned back in her chair and held her hands over her eyes for a moment.
“Why don’t you ask for something easy – like a billion dollar grant to investigate sun-tanning practices in the South Pacific?”

Message Edited by seekingreader on 02-08-200709:39 PM

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Cluecorner
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample

Seekingreader, I can tell that I'll enjoy reading this, because I found myself wishing there was more. The only feedback I have on it is that when I begin to read a new story, I am hoping to be suckered right into it in the first few paragraphs. After that, I can deal with some changes in tempo as the story may need to slow down to get some bits of explanation or other detail handled.

When I read your first paragraph, my interest in the story was building pretty nicely. The second paragraph slowed me down a bit, though and you risked losing me there. Is there any chance you could provide Metcalf's credentials a little bit later in the intro? Or maybe provide them in a less-detailed way?

Can't wait to see the next installment!
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book_worm
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample

It sounds good so far, I especially liked what the senator said in the last paragraph.
Very witty :smileywink:

I agree with Cluecorner that the 2nd paragraph did scare me a bit, but then it picked right back up. Seems like a good story idea you have there.
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marta_randall
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample

Seeking, I like this. But do be careful of starting a story with expository dialog -- too often, it gives the reader the feeling that the rest of the story will be the same, which might not be too appealing.

Take a look at the openings of two or three stories that you like (you want to consider a bunch of them, because stories and story openings differ). What's happening as the story opens? Description, action, dialog -- what are the characters doing? Most of all, what is it about the beginning that makes you want to read the rest of the story? If you can start to answer that question, you'll start to develop a good sense of how to open your own stories.
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seekingreader
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample


marta_randall wrote:
Seeking, I like this. But do be careful of starting a story with expository dialog -- too often, it gives the reader the feeling that the rest of the story will be the same, which might not be too appealing.



Thanks, Marta. I rarely open with dialogue, and I don't know that this excerpt is an opening. I haven't really figured out what, if anything, this story might be, but I had a vision of this conversation taking place and wanted to get it down before it went away.

I certainly wasn't ready to begin writing this story when this club opened up, but I am now trying to determine if there may be a story there I can write. In the meantime, I wanted to get some words on paper, if only to participate fully in the exercises as laid out in the club.

Thanks again for the suggestion. Any and all help is appreciated.
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galenem
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample

I had a couple of thoughts. I agree that there was drag but, I think you succeeded in giving me a sense of who these characters are. Problem for me is I don't believe they could exist. You have a scientist who has made an amazing discovery, something akin to the fountain of youth. Yet there are only two people that know about it. How could that happen? I think the discussion about pandora's box seems trite in comparison to the magnitude of the situation and it belittles it. I do like the idea of setting up the science against the politics since I think that many of the ramifications of this discovery will be addressed in the public arena. Also, I think you're right about nature not abiding waste and I would love more about that.
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book_worm
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample


galenem wrote:
I had a couple of thoughts. I agree that there was drag but, I think you succeeded in giving me a sense of who these characters are. Problem for me is I don't believe they could exist. You have a scientist who has made an amazing discovery, something akin to the fountain of youth. Yet there are only two people that know about it. How could that happen?

Gale, this might not be in the SF category but what about "Frankenstein; or, The Mordern Prometheus" by Mary Shelley or "The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson? They were the mad scientist type who discovered something revolutionary on their own. No one knew about what they were devolping or discovering untill they told someone. So it could be possible that no one knew about what Dr.Metcalf was up to. But then again those stories are very dated and seekingreader's story has to do with genetics, all I'm saying is it could be possible. :smileyhappy:
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anne2
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample

It is a good start to getting your thoughts on paper. In first drafts, we often bubble out details that seem important to the writer, which are facts that contitute the story in the writer's mind out of which comes the story on paper. All the facts that the writer knows don't end up in the final draft. I would encourage you to keep going and as you get more confidence, you'll be able to trust the reader to figure out this guy is really well qualified.

I was happy to see how you are proceeding with your idea. I think it will be pretty cool.
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marta_randall
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Re: seekingreader - What is science fiction? writing exercise sample

Always remember that in first draft, the most important thing is to get the words onto the paper. Revisions come afterwards. Because of that, it's important to look at this club and its discussions as tools to use when you rewrite or polish the story -- but in first draft, don't let anything get in the way of just getting the story told.
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