Fiction Friday – Creative Writing Workshops!

This week’s Fiction Friday saw me giving my last workshop this week in a series I’ve given and helped give for the Runnymede Literary Festival. It was such a great experience and it’s definitely something I’d do again. The topic was on Science Fiction, so naturally it caught my attention and I signed up just like that.

However, what I’m going to discuss today was something I *didn’t* think of initially.

What do the upcoming generation think about Science Fiction?

Because each school had told their class varying degrees of information about the event, I would normally ask them what they knew was happening today. Many knew it was on Creative writing, but not necessarily on the subject matter. This is where the reactions kicked in:

First of all, I’d say the same amount of girls and boys were equally excited or sceptical about the words science fiction. There wasn’t a clear gender divide from what I saw – which was quite relieving.

The whole “slipstream” era is interesting in the light of the workshops, as many people believed fantasy and magic based stories to be in Science Fiction. A lot knew the big names i.e. Star Wars/Star Trek/Dr.Who without necessarily having seen them. Quite a few mentioned Star Trek was for old people, which in turn made me feel very old indeed!

There was fear about how someone could write science fiction, especially those who hadn’t engaged with the genre in any way, but I guarantee you – everyone had a sci-fi eque tale at the end of it. One of the best moments is when a young girl said “This is Sci-Fi? I never knew it was so good!”, and she had one of the best stories, so I don’t think she was being sarcastic, haha!

I gave two themes of workshops – Novums and Worldbuilding. The former invovled discussing the types of Sci Fi they knew, and identifying the novum and the basic plot underneath. Through this, I gave each group a prop (a lot of boys liked playing with my lipstick!) and helped them to come up with ideas about what this *could* be. One group described my top hat as draining memories from people if it found them interesting, and er… killing those it found boring. What an interesting idea!

It’s nice to see children really eager to read out their stories too – and that they have scope to continue it. The world-building workshops were great too, and in this one I saw great topics that fitted in the post-apocalyptic genre (they liked that term!), alternative myth, utopia/dystopia etc. I also saw hints of The Big Time, Surface Detail, By Light Alone (if light was replaced with bubblegum) and so on – I’m sure we’ll see these titles in bookstores before long!

So, I think in essence, it’s about bringing sci-fi to people’s attention by discussing the ideas. The sceptical ones mentioned that SciFi was just about explosions and special effects, and it’s this visual culture of the Sci Fi blockbuster that they’ve been solely exposed to. I’d definitely be up for promoting Science Fiction in schools for that reason, to show them that it’s not the only way Sci Fi can be presented. Who’s up for it?

A bit overdue… Fiction Friday

My reasons for Fiction Friday today are two fold:

1) Because I’ll be reading as part of the Purpereus Writers at the Runnymede Literary Festival tomorrow (already!?) at the Centre for Creative Collaboration in Central London from 7:30 – 9:30. I’m doing a SciFi monologue, which will be interesting to try and act to say the least! Haha! It’d be lovely if you could come and see the whole range of literary play that the Festival will deliver!

2) As it was National Poetry Day just yesterday – a benchmark into Spring as I call it – I wrote a poem before I went to sleep, as I’ve been itching to do poetry for a while now. However, since I seem to switch mediums ALL the time (the only thing I haven’t tried much of is TV screenwriting actually), it’s a little temperamental to get the brain working on that particular side. It’s like switching up your spoken language, I guess. However, I did write something and I would like to share it here on the blog. So here goes!



Triumvirate whispering

uncertainty, chaos, disorder

Voids gravitate to

What could’ve been

Eclipsing newly shed realities.

Blackholes seeking homes

Chromosomes drawing to a close

Truths that she doesn’t want to know

Exhuming alternatives like constellations

Humming with post-coital glow

Seeds of doubtΒ 

Feed the hope between each space

Defines a tangent

But it’s all for show.

Fission made in the conditional

A hammering heart of

Hermeneutic – tic -tic

A clock that’s forgotten to sing

Quite in tune.

The Long and Short of it… Dramatic presentation at the Hugos

Now, we all know awards season is in the air – like it or hate it, there’s an excitement in the air as people devour and reread the books that they would like to recommend, are recommended, the ones that got away etc. The internet hums with discussion pre and post awardage, which is actually a pretty good feeling. Then again, I’ve only of course seen it from the outside looking in. SF is famed for having so many cross channels of communication (it is classically in its nature, after all), but there are glimmers of discussion that cross the genre boundary and venture out into the mainstream. Very exciting it is, too.

Obviously, Best Novel and so on is one of the big guns and most speculation is delivered that way. I will probably do another post for that, but for now I want to focus on Dramatic presentation.

I don’t want to go into detail on this, but to open up a discussion. Arguably less speculation and dialogue goes into these two categories, because, well… let’s say it’s easier to call the winner, perhaps, than the novel. I can understand that. Shows like Game of Thrones and Doctor Who has mass appeal by the bucket load, and it adds a certain something to a whole load of viewers, no matter what their viewing tastes are.

When you take the definition of the award into account:Β “a dramatized production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theater, computer games or music”, it would be interesting to see more horses in the race. The films that have won from the beginning have really helped to define the genre (for better or worse, depending on your slant), but I for one would like to see a wider board of entries in terms of media, especially with the Long/Short divide. I know that Lucas Back in Anger was a nomination in 2006 Β and as much as I love satire, it’d be nice to see a wider range that theatre provides as well as this form. After all, I don’t think you need telling that SF in theatre is incredibly marginalised and is usually associated with simply a comedic representation. Awards are effective, I feel, not only in rewarding the people involved, but also to show their work to the public. It’d be great if SF theatre in more forms were out there (yes, it is out there) for the recognition and reward of seeing the genre in a different light. That’s just me though, and I am of course biased. I research SF theatre for my PhD, after all. It’s not me wanting an award either (although I’m sure we’ve done the fake acceptance speech with a water bottle, right? Right?), but I think theatre is a great arena for staging SF and music and videogames have their own takes on immersion and affectation that would be nice to see in the limelight too.

Because of this, I want to open it out to you all. Do you feel there is an elephant in the room Β when it comes to dramatic representation or are you happy with the way it’s been going so far? Over to you, guys.