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Back To The Drawing Board

It’s been a funny few days. A small monkey has been flushed down the toilet courtesy of Lilirose (don’t call the RSPCA folks, it was made of plastic); my husband and I had a row about Cheerios of all things (How? I don’t even know); my son has been offered a “cool ride home from school” in a Black Thunder (mind boggles) on wednesday next week courtesy of local radio station Gemini FM and I’m pretty sure I sent a rather amorous text message to one of the other Bloggers by accident yesterday. You know who you are. Soz about that: your name is next to my husband’s in my mobile phone book, nothing funny is going on. Honest.

So, what else? Well, it would seem my 25 WOL package sucks. Which is a shame, since I worked a trillion hours on it, but you win some, you lose some. Rewrites are funny things: they can be exhaustive, exhilarating and ultimately deflating. My first Power of 3 liked it, but I should have known they’re all insane and need lobotomies. Only kidding. That first Power of 3 were all girlies like myself, not really interested in sci-fi. The next Power of 3 (well, 7) were made up of blokes who all adore sci-fi: the problem with mine then? Mine is a big fat cliche.

So how do you write a genre you’re just not that “into”? I mean, why would you bother? Well, I’m looking at it as an exercise – one day I hope to be commissioned on a movie that actually gets made and there’s a fair chance I’m going to look at the brief and go: WTF? We all know producers are mad and escapees from Broadmoor (really, it’s true, ask anyone – but not the Producers themselves ‘cos they’ll bite your cheek off like Robert De Niro in Cape Fear), so it makes sense to me to get a little bit of practice in on something I wouldn’t normally write. Plus there’s this part of me that says, “Sci-Fi COULD be interesting to women and I’m just the one to revamp the entire genre for the UK public!” I know. But you gotta have a big ego in this biz to cope with the knockbacks. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

So, I found out the hard way this week that it’s no good coming up with stuff you think OTHERS will like: you’ll be second guessing and the Genre Geeks (sorry boys) will smell it a mile off and bay for your blood. Really. It won’t matter what your characters, dialogue, arena, whatever is like, even if they’re good! They. Will. See. None. Of. This. All they see is THE IDEA. If that idea is a cliche then, all you need is a taxi for one to REJECTIONSVILLE, proving that concept is all at the end of the day.

You have to believe in what you write – but that doesn’t mean you CAN’T write genres you’re not keen on. You absolutely can. It’s finding that “in” that’s the problem: you need to access the genre through your own interests. I don’t like sci-fi… But I like philosophy. Hmmm. A lot of sci-fis have some quite deep stuff behind them if you choose to view them that way. Suddenly I’m getting a lot more ideas and I’m not second guessing anyone. I’m even enthusiastic about my new storyline – something I wasn’t particularly before.

You live and learn…

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12 thoughts on “Back To The Drawing Board”

  1. But I do like sci-fi! Though I think you should go with the philosophy angle because that’s what you’re passionate about.

  2. Hi Lucy

    I was at the Adrian Mead thing and I’ve been meaning to post a comment for ages but…

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that you’re completely wrong if you think “women” don’t like science fiction – some do (I do – it’s the genre I most write in) some don’t. Just like men. (I’m in two writers’ groups for writing stories, both where all the writers are published – in one of them, two of us are women, and two are men; in the other, three of us are women and four are men.)


  3. Sorry Liz! Maybe I should have said that science fiction is a genre not done AS MUCH by women as men. Or at least, *seems* that way to me – most of the sci-fis that come through Bang2write are by fellas. That better? ; )

  4. P.S and actually I don’t dislike sci-fi myself… My fave film is ALIEN! What I’m hating is the writing of this particular thing I’m doing so I think the WHOLE CONCEPT is now junked, no rescue, buried under the patio for all eternity. Aaaaah. Feels so much better,

  5. Different Eleanor here. (Blimey there’s two of us!)

    I’m the one that thought the concept had potential, but wasn’t keen on the way it was at present … needed more geekiness. – Just to clear up in case you thought Elinor was me…?

    Confused now? I am.

    I’m glad the new idea’s going well! Have fun writing. 🙂

  6. I think I disagree with you about women and sci-fi. The Sci-Fi Channel has seen a 10% rise in female viewers in the past few years and women viewers now outnumber men.

    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley invented science fiction with Frankenstein and there have been loads of women writing it since then including legends Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin.

    Even ET was written by a bird! The best staff writers on Buffy and Angel happened to be women, IMO. And so on and so on.

    The sci-fi spectrum is a wide one and while you might not be keen on some sub-genres you might be keener on others. You can do whatever you want in the genre, it’s up to you and, as you say, your interests.

    Two of the examples of 25 WOL are Pi and K Pax, I’d recommend renting them as they seem more like what you’re trying to do. As films they’re shite but they’re still worth looking at in terms of genre and structure. Good luck.

  7. Eleanor – hi! New idea’s going so well it’s now IN THE BIN! I’m back to the drawing board again! Hopeing third time lucky…

    Robin – Wow, I’ve opened up a can of worms haven’t I!!! Mary Wollenscraft is buried in Bournemouth and been to visit her grave though her feminist works inspire me more than Frankenstein. But you’re quite right: women can do whatever they want, even SF: I should say that I love SF, Pitch Black is one of my faves. as is the Alien Trilogy and Event Horizon. Just can’t seem to get into the mindset for actually writing it tho…

  8. Mary Wollstonecraft is one of my heroes but when, two centuries after her death, people are still debating whether her daughter could have really written Frankenstein, because she was just a woman then you know things change slowly.

    I actually got down to the shortlist and had an interview for one of these 25 WOL with a sci-fi thing. But the crucial point was it wasn’t about ‘sci-fi’ it was about characters who happened to be living in the future on a different planet.

    I worried about the genre as well as it wasn’t my favourite but I could also name loads of sci-fi films I loved.

    I did loads of research with books and websites but didn’t use or need any of it. I had a good story and a good central protagonist. Sorted.

    Hold on, to correct myself from earlier, I don’t think Angel and Buffy count as science-fiction, the spectrum’s wide but not that wide.

    Battlestar Galactica does have some quite a few women writers though. That counts.

  9. I’m right there with you on that front, Robin.

    You’re a dark horse re: 25WOL! When was this? Did you write about it on your blog? Was it an enjoyable experience, did you get anything out of it? Send me the link pls – or an email about it for the COURSE list, been thinking about including something on comps too.

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