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Posts Tagged ‘speculative fiction’

Photo by Jason Scragz

Photo by Jason Scragz

From ear piercing to tattoos to plastic surgery to scarification, body modification has long played a significant role in worldwide culture, and still does today. It’s a nearly universal practice; historically, tattooing, scarring, piercing and the like have been used to mark rites of passage, to enhance beauty, to denote tribal or other affiliations, for spiritual reasons, and, especially in current Western culture, for self-expression and even shock value. On the other hand, body modification is still a taboo in many circles. To some, any kind of body modification that isn’t medically necessary is considered a desecration, a dishonoring of the sanctity of the body. In short, a form of self-mutilation. And, of course, there’s a wide range of opinion and feeling on the matter.

Considering the long and widespread history of body modification, and its cultural significance, this should be a fertile area to explore in fiction, especially for speculative fiction writers. Do the people who inhabit your worlds modify themselves? How? Why? Is modification a subculture or counterculture? Or is the absence of modification uncommon?

If you write contemporary mainstream fiction, consider your characters’ attitudes toward modification. Do your characters practice any sort of modification? What are their attitudes toward the common types of modification, such as piercings or tattoos? Are they likely to encounter the more uncommon types, such as scarification? What would their attitudes to such kinds of modification be?

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When most people think about politics, they think of government policy, election campaigns, lobbying, and everything that involves the people who run the government.  Of course, politics encompasses more than just government.  Politics includes competition in the workplace, between family members, between members of any organization, even between friends.

It can be difficult to write about politics, however; it’s one of those touchy subjects that almost everyone has very strong feelings about, and many of us would rather not ruffle feathers.  And it’s hard to write fiction about current political affairs without giving your work a very short shelf-life.  But it’s difficult to write without somehow involving politics, whether in the sense of government, or in the sense of competition between individuals. 

If you write fantasy or science fiction, the issue of politics is particularly salient; writing speculative fiction is one way to write about current affairs while giving your work value that lasts beyond today’s headlines.  Many writers have used imaginary political systems to criticize their own, or to speculate about the long-term effects of the decisions their governments have made.

Think today about how politics touches your writing.  Do your characters have strong feelings about how governent should work?  Do your characters compete with others for the best job, the best seat at the table, the most attention from a mentor? Do their feelings about politics affect their actions?  If you write speculative fiction, is the political system in the world you’ve created similar to the one in which you live today, or based on systems from the past, or is it something entirely new?  What does your fictional political system say about the world you live in?

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1. Endicott Studio : Home of The Journal of Mythic Arts; tons of well-written, thoughtful information about the folklore and fairy tales of many different cultures. Also, poems and stories by the like of Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen and more.

2. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: An online course in speculative fiction writing from Jeffrey A. Carver

3. Exploring Ancient World Cultures: An introduction to Ancient Greece, Rome, India, China, Egypt, the Near East, early Islam and Medieval Europe.

4. Dave’s Mythical Creatures: A good place to start when populating your fantasy or science fiction worlds.

5. Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions: To help writers flesh out fantasy and science fiction worlds and how they work.

6. SpecFic World: Advice to Writers: Lots of articles specifically for fantasy and science fiction writers.

7. The Best of Legends: Information on some of the most famous legends of all time, including Robin Hood, King Arthur, Beowulf and more.

8. Ralan’s Webstravaganza: Extensive market information for F, SF & H writers; includes pay rates, guidelines and more.

9. Storm the Castle: Articles for writers, but that’s not all. Stretch your creativity with dioramas, model rockets and classical guitar as well. A plethora of information, nicely organized.

10. David Walton’s Writing Advice: Mostly links, well-organized, from a wide range of speculative fiction writers

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