Right, I have bad news I’m afraid. I hate having bad news. I hate being negative. It’s not the best of the feelings.
However, I read a book last night and it wasn’t good. You know how loads of white, male, literary fiction writers have suddenly decided they have a science fiction-y kind of thing in them? It was one of them. It doesn’t really matter which one. There is little to be gained from naming and shaming these guys. The others will carry on regardless. No lessons will be learned.
The main problem with these books is, well, they’re basic. Just because great science fiction is often as much about the present as an imagined future, doesn’t mean you can pick a recent news item and just add spaceships. You can’t, to pick a completely random example, say to yourself, “Ooh, that wall that Trump wants to build is in the news a lot, what if I imagined a big wall in the future, maybe chuck in the odd Brexit and climate change reference? That would probably do.”
You might assume that your maleness, and your confidence, will automatically make you a better writer than Naomi Alderman but sorry, life doesn’t work that way. You are going to need interesting characters or a story. Ideally you will have both, often you seem to have neither.
And so, out of the goodness of my super kind heart, I am going to offer, free of charge, on a first come first served basis, nineteen hot-cake-tastic ideas for a science fiction novel. You already know how to write decent prose, and where, to, put, commas and the; like. You just need a nudge towards a decent BIG CONCEPT, a hook, a humdinger of a story. And that is what I am giving away, ideas. You can flesh out the characters for yourself. You do the actual writing. That is why I’m not asking for money for this – because you will still have to do all the hard work. And anyway, I have ideas coming out of my ears. Plenty more where these came from.