That Time I Decided to be a SF Writer but Only Wrote Stories About Mayhem
Updated: Jun 1, 2021
I read a lot of science fiction when I was growing up. I worshiped at the feet of titans such as Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I also watched a lot of Star Trek, Dr. Who, Star Wars (over and over again) and whatever else might contain some sci-fi element. After many years of churning out fan fiction associated with various SF franchises it seemed only natural that when I took the leap of faith to start writing original fiction, it’d be science fiction.
I plotted out the first big book of my trilogy, wrote two shitty drafts, and re-plotted. Nothing was working. Frustrated at how hard it was to define my protagonist (he remained an enigma wrapped in a psychological mystery), I took a break and wrote the short stories I’d had in my head for over a decade. I wrote three. Then kept writing until I suddenly had enough for a book.
The stories were about perfectly ordinary (and not so ordinary) people doing perfectly horrible things. People setting out with the best of intentions and accidentally killing someone. People getting their comeuppance compliments of despicable characters. People being surprised when karma comes back and bites them on their ass.
At which point (after binge watching Hannibal) I had the feeling that maybe I was supposed to be writing thrillers. Because those short stories about mayhem and revenge were a lot more entertaining to write. I didn’t struggle with the characters, or their motivation. Disturbingly, the plots weren’t much of a struggle either.
I have an idea for a book that’s a dystopian thriller and unlike my pure SF story I can see the characters (and plot) fully formed in my head.
I guess this means it’s time to accept my tastes may have changed and it it might be time for a little genre swapping…