Sometimes in my stories, a space ship *does* blow up on page three. But even then, my work always has something deeper to say, and I find the dismissal irritating.
Every science fiction writer has something that drives him or her. For many if not most writers this is the need to pen a story and have it read, usually by means of publication. A quick visit to the websites of most literary agents or publishers yields one dominant insight into what one must do to achieve this. Write an engaging story with believable characters and immerse the reader in the story within the first few pages. This is sage advice, if you want these folks to notice your work. Often they won’t read beyond the first few pages and what they’re looking for is engagement, a powerful plot and character-driven hook.
Notice what’s missing here. Rarely are you asked what your book is about. If you are, what they’re referring to is the story line, the narrative structure of the piece. What’s not being asked is what the book is about in a thematic sense. What are you trying to say? They may ask that question once you’ve passed the litmus test of having an engaging opening to the book, but it’s not what they’re looking for. This has created an emphasis in the modern science fiction genre where what the book is about in a thematic sense is not nearly as important is this “engagement” aspect. Many writers these days have little or nothing to say on the thematic front, but they get away with this because their book clips along at a good pace, has engaging characters and cool tropes. I’ve had published writers tell me that they never think about theme, and others tell me they try to add the theme in after several drafts. The resulting books, while they might engage and be fun, rarely leave a lasting impression on the discerning reader.
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