Imagine a futuristic story in which language diversity is a problem. How will your characters solve the problem? How will they get others to agree to their solution? What will be the drawbacks and benefits of the solution your characters choose?
A major corporation builds a massive factory or mine or something, and has to get workers from many linguistic groups. The corporation hires linguists to create a simple language for the corporation workers to use with one another. Over time, children are born from ‘mixed marriages’ among the workers who use the (copyrighted) corporation-owned language as their primary or only language— and they can’t leave to work for other corporations because they cannot use their native language without corporate permission!
Your characters believe that Esperanto (or another interplanetary language) is evil and threatens the survival of other languages and their related cultures. Languages like Chinese and English and German are dying out the way American Indian languages are dying today (many Indian languages in the US have only a handful of elderly speakers left alive right now— when they die, the language is dead, without any native speakers.)
When we watch science-fiction series like Star Trek and Star Wars, it is assumed that somewhere in the universe there are Terran space colonies. There are Earth-type worlds were Earth human people grow crops and manufacture goods. These worlds support the larger culture of the series.
But where do these colonies come from? How were they formed? What kind of people went to the colonies? Did they go voluntarily, or were they required to? These are the kind of questions you must answer when writing a space colonization story.
One of the first questions is that of government involvement. Are the first colonists on the new world subject to an all-ruling government? Or are they, once they arrive, able to form their own government? We can look at examples of colonization from our own world and, in the United States, from our own history.
The Pilgrims that came on the Mayflower took it for granted that they could make some of their own governmental rules. They did not believe that they had to enforce the primacy of the Anglican Church. They were of course dissenters from the Anglican Church, and they built dissenting church communities, feeling they had the freedom to do so.
Some space colonies might be heavily supported by the home planet. Goods from the home planet might be brought to make the colonists’ lives easier. On other colonies, the colonists might be dumped with a handful of primitive tools, and allowed to survive or not by their own efforts period
Medical support is one thing that colonists may need to live without. On our own world and in our own culture, hospitals are available both for emergencies, and for routine events like childbirth. Women tend to expect high levels of medical care during pregnancy. They expect advanced interventions in cases where something goes wrong. In some cases, they expect genetic screening, followed by the termination of the lives of imperfect unborn infants. On a space colony world, women may not be given much medical support at all. Pregnancy terminations may be considered taboo, especially if done for the limitation of family size. Colonies must have an expanding population to survive. Routine abortions might make this impossible.
A big question is whether the colonists are volunteers, exiles, or draftees. Volunteer colonists may seen as the ideal, but very many people might wish to avoid giving up their whole lives to come to a primitive world. If life is made hard for certain minority groups, such as practicing Christians or Jews, these groups maybe willing to leave Earth to gain the right to practice their religion in peace. If colonists are drafted and taken against their will, they will be very disaffected, but will not choose two fail to survive just to spite those who ordered them there.
A big part of any space colonization story is the surprises. A planet is a very large place. There may be lifeforms or other dangers which have not been detected prior to the arrival of the colonists. The colonists will have to cope with these dangers on their own, whether they like it or not.
Many space colonization stories start with the very first days of colonization. Others may start years or generations after the beginning of the colony. It all depends on what the authors’ interests are. And the readers. What kind of colonization might you like to read or write?
This blog post has been written using the Enhanced Dictation available on a Mac computer. It is considered a good practice to use the dictation software on blog posts, emails and note taking, to make it easier to dictate the novel. Dictating is a skill that must be practiced.
Why, exactly, are zombies so darn eager to take a bite out of humans? On the Walking Dead, zombies have it good. They survive all sorts of injuries except direct shots to the head, some zombies have been locked in rooms for years before Our Guys find them and the zombies are still doing good without food for all that time.
We assume they want to bite us because they are ravenously hungry and want to consume our flesh for food. But zombies don’t seem to need food to keep going. How hungry can they be?
Plus, zombies don’t have a beating heart or working lungs. They don’t need air to survive. They don’t even need their bodies to survive— remember Herschel’s head? So we are supposed to believe they have functional digestive systems without functioning hearts and lungs to support them?
Without a functioning digestive system, what zombies eat would just accumulate in the zombie gut until the undigested mass got so heavy that it would overtax the fragile zombie skin and tissue and the guts would fall clear out.
But there is another reason zombies might have an instinct to bite: zombies cannot reproduce sexually. You’ve never seen a pregnant zombie giving birth. If a male zombie tried to have sex with a lady zombie, could he even do it without breaking off vital bits?
The only way a zombie has of making more zombies is to bite a human. And he can’t bite off too much. If zombies ate a human right down to the bones it would not be able to reanimate as a functioning zombie.
So, when a zombie is coming at you with intent to bite, it’s not that he thinks of you as food. It’s just that the zombie really likes you a lot and wants you to join the herd. It’s flattering, really. But it’s best to blow the zombie’s head off anyway.
What’s new: I’m on Wattpad now. Wattpad is a social media for readers and writers, where writers share stories and other things for free. My profile on Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt I’m currently putting up one of my poetry books for free there, but I’m working on a zombie story to put up there.
When asked what they like about Christian fiction, people often say ‘it has a Christian worldview.’ They don’t say ‘when I read the book it felt like getting a really nice sermon.’ But how exactly do you go about showing a Christian worldview? This series of posts will help show you. [Note: ‘Christian’ here includes all followers of Christ, including Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Moravians, and LDS.]
One essential is this: Christian fiction takes place in a certain type of world. In this world, God is real, discoverable, and loves you. What does that mean?
God is real. Not maybe real or might-be real, or real-for-me-not-for-you, but real, like a nuclear explosion and the science behind it. The secular world likes to divide the world like this: there are the hard-nosed, logical, scientific-method thinkers who are all secularists-like-me, and the airy-fairy ‘spirituality’ sort who make a ‘leap of faith’ into the land without logic. Don’t you believe it. For the hard-nosed logical, scientific-method Christian, becoming a Christian isn’t based on ‘blind faith’ but on a logical examination of the evidence.
God is discoverable. There are two ways God is discoverable by man. One, God has revealed Himself in certain events— such as the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The events of that delivery— the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea— are commemorated among the descendants of the Israelites, modern-day Jews, to this day. And there is the event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There have been people who sought to debunk Christianity by examining the events of the crucifixion and resurrection as recorded in the Gospels, who have instead come to the conclusion that Christianity is true. There are also the words of prophets raised up by God, who in many cases have predicted events that have come to pass.
Another way that God is discoverable is through nature. St. Paul writes that even the Pagans have knowledge of God. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19, 20
God loves you (& all mankind)
We believe that God is not a Creator who made us, lost interest, and moved on to other things ages ago. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 God, for whatever reason, cares about us, not only as part of a collective like ‘the children of Israel’ or ‘the Church’ but loves each of us as individuals.
What this means for fiction
Christians, real or fictional, don’t have to be embarrassed about our belief in God when faced with the local atheist. Atheists are not better than us, smarter than us, or cooler than us. We should look on an atheist the way we look on a guy who hasn’t learned his multiplication table all the way through yet— as someone who does not yet know vital facts about the world.
Christian fiction writers should not perpetuate the old myth of the logical atheist/secularist and the emotional/illogical ‘person of faith.’ This trope needs to die, disappearing like a soap bubble in the light of the truth like a vampire in sunlight.
Part 2 is coming soon — in two weeks, on April 9th. But if we have enough response with people sharing, Tweeting and otherwise spreading the word about this post, I may get on the ball and get it posted in one week. Comments this post are, as always, welcome.
One of the books I’m reading on Wattpad is Unicorn Western by Sean Pratt and Johnny B. Truant. It’s kind of like Stephen King’s Dark Tower. And like High Noon. Not Christian fiction, but so far it is a fun story.
Louis L’Amour was born in 1908 and died in 1988. The heyday of his writing career was in the 1950s and 1960s. But— a few weeks ago I went into WalMart in the book section to find a Louis L’Amour book still available.
What is the secret of Louis L’Amour’s fiction-writing power? Why is he, a writer known for writing Westerns, not the most popular genre today, still on the WalMart buyer’s mind as someone to keep in stock? It may be in the nature of the very first book Louis L’Amour published. A book of his poetry called Smoke from this Altar.
You see, here is the difference between writing a novel and writing poetry. In a novel there are thousands of words, and a writer who worries overmuch about whether word 27322 is exactly the most powerful and best word for that position doesn’t finish many novels. Words and sentences in a novel can be bland or dull, so long as the action in the novel keeps coming and you find ways to make readers identify with the characters.
In a poem, every word counts. A novel can have unnecessary words, sentences and even paragraphs so long as they don’t interfere with the flow of the story. A poem must not have a single word that does not serve the poetic purpose. The words in a poem must be powerful and evocative. Even the sounds and rhythms of words must be considered in a poem.
So what happens when a poet, or someone who loves and reads poetry, writes a novel? The language gifts of the poet may find their way into the prose, making it more powerful. Here is an example taken from L’Amour’s ‘The Sackett Brand.’
“The trouble was, when I walked out on that point my mind went a-rambling like wild geese down a western sky.
What I looked upon was a sight of lovely country. Right at my feet was the river, a-churning and a-thrashing at least six hundred feet below me, with here and there a deep blue pool. Across the river, and clean to the horizon to the north and east of me, was the finest stand of pine timber this side of the Smokies.
Knobs of craggy rock thrust up, with occasional ridges showing bare spines to the westward where the timber thinned out and the country finally became desert. In front of me, but miles away, a gigantic wall reared up. That wall was at least a thousand feet higher than where I now stood, though this was high ground.”
Lest you think the above example was too descriptive, rest assured that someone gets shot by the end of the page. It still is an action-packed western. It’s just that L’Amour knew how to use language very well, as a result of his work as a poet. So he could through in a good bit of description that could bring the West to life.
If you are curious about the poems of L’Mour, his book ‘Smoke on the Water’ is available and so you can see for yourself. But until you get so far, here is an example poem that tells a Western story.
I have three friends, three faithful friends,
more faithful could not be-
and every night, by the dim firelight,
they come to sit with me.
the first of these is tall and thin
with hollow cheeks, and a toothless grin,
a ghastly tare, and scraggly hair,
and an ugly lump for a chin.
the second of these is short and fat
with beady eyes, like a starving rat-
he was soaked in sin to his oily skin,
and verminous, at that
the crouching one is of ape-like plan,
formed like a beast that resembled man:
a freakish thing, with arms a-swing,
and he was the third of that gruesome clan.
the first I stabbed with a Chinese knife,
and left on the white beach sand,
with his ghastly stare, and blood-soaked hair,
and an out-flung, claw-like hand;
the fat one stole a crumbling crust,
that he wolfed in his swinish way-
so i left him there, with eyes a-glare,
and his head cut of half-way.
we fought to kill, the brute and i,
that the one that lived might eat,
so i killed him too, and made a stew,
and dined on human meat.
and so these three come to visit me,
when without the night winds howl-
the one with the leer, the one with a sneer,
and and one with a brutish scowl;
their lips are dumb, but the three dead come
and cough by the hollow great-
the man that i stabbed, the man that i cut,
and the gruesome thing that i ate.
their lips are sealed, with blood congealed,
but they will not let me be,
and so they haunt, grim, ghastly, and gaunt,
till death shall set me free.
i have three friends, three faithful friends,
more faithful could not be-
and every night, by the dim firelight,
they come to sit with me.