These past weeks, my writing students are exploring the sci-fi genre. At first, they were skeptical. Why sci-fi? Why not fantasy or romance or horror?
Because I'm the teacher, and I want to learn more about writing science fiction. I've never written anything in this genre. While my list of favorite movies includes more sci-fi than not, I don't read the genre nor do I right it.
Time for a change.
This has been my game plan so far:
1. Learn about the Moon. We spent a few weeks looking at images, reading poems, watching historical footage, and writing about our lunar satellite. We kept watch of the moon in the sky, and we reported back on what we were doing when we saw it, or what we thought it looked like up there. We created a list of facts and myths.
2. We watched Pixar's La Luna. This animated short helped students understand the basic elements needed to tell a story. Plus, the Moon.
2. We practiced writing sprints. Students wrote for five to eight minutes on Asteroids hitting earth, something coming around the corner, and what it would be like to be on the moon.
3. We remembered stuff. Students made a list of ten things they remember. For these writers, that's about one item a year since age two or three. Next, we chose one memory and wrote as much about it as we could remember.
4. We watched a montage of great sci-fi flicks and recorded the science-y piece in each. Movies included: Terminator, Jurassic Park, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. From these films, we created weird things found in sci-fi.
Here's a few on our list:
-humans acting like machines
-machines acting like humans
-humans with animal qualities
-animals with human qualities
-robots, computers, and cyborgs, oh my
-altered retellings of historical events
5. Now we are taking our memory and adding something from this list.
I write with my students, so I am also developing a sci-fi short story. Hopefully, when we finish--in about six weeks--I will post their stories here.
I am having a blast developing my story, and it's easier than I thought. After all, science fiction is simply a real story with a little bit of science to take it in a whole new direction. Like I tell my students, tell your story about when you fell off your bike, then ask yourself, "what if..."
What if ... the bike started talking because it was an alien ... your wounds healed automatically because of the bike grease ... your bike could take you through a time portal ...
Once you start with the what if's, there's no telling where your story will go.
Do you write science fiction? How do you get started?
That's my story.