THINKING AHEAD: The Stories I Want To Tell

It’s been over a month since I wrote anything of real significance. That’s fine, work gets in the way of things. Annoying, but still. A month away from writing has given me plenty of time to think about the stories I want to tell.

The thing that keeps coming back to me is that I want to write on an epic scale. Hardly alone in that, I’d expect. Thinking about my influences (Asimov, Piper, Herbert) The one thing I keep coming back to is that the stories I love are about civilisations, not just characters. Foundation is the best example of this, and also the book that got me into SF in the first place. More recently, there’s Jack Campbell’s Lost Stars series, about the rise of one empire from the ashes of another.

That, above all else, is the story I keep coming back to: What does it take to establish an empire? How far are you willing to go for civilisation? And what price will you pay? I want to write stories set over long periods of time, looking events over decades, centuries. I want to show actions and their longterm consequences. I want to create universes that feel ancient. Lived in, if you will.

I wrote my MA dissertation on the role of empires in Science Fiction, so I feel like I should be capable of writing these stories. Still it’s a daunting task. I’m no Asimov. I’m no Herbert. But I’m going to give it a shot. Unfortunately, this sort of story seems to have fallen out of favour over the decades. Hopefully that means by the time I get something to the public, it will have come back into demand. But I shan’t hold my breath.

The option I’m thinking of going down is the Future History route. It’s worked for modern authors like Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds, so the audience exists. It’s also an easy plan to change and adapt as you go along. For those unaware, a Future History is a series of standalone books or small series that can be put together to create a connected universe. It’s basically a long series that people can dip in and out of with ease.

So what’s the plan? First up, come April I’ll be committing fully to the next novel: The Price of Empire. The success I experience with that will determine how far I go with this idea. It will be standalone, but obviously plenty of room for expansion. I’ve got most of the ideas sorted out for it, it’s just a matter of hammering out the finer details.

The main thing I need to do is break away from my RPG influences. That means less emphasis on party dynamics, and an emphasis on things other than just combat and action scenes. I think I also need to break away from visual storytelling. Find something less cinematic and more literary. But those are more complex thoughts for another time. It’s getting late, and I have another busy week ahead. So, catch you again soon.

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