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A Writer On Writing: Genre Jumping

Sally Jenkins plunges into sci-fi.

I’ve been getting out of my literary rut recently – by trying Sci-Fi.

I am attempting to enter each of the Monthly Writers’ News competitions. The September brief was for a science fiction story so, although I’m not exactly sure what constitutes sci-fi, I had a go. Creating a whole new futuristic world seemed too much like hard work, so I set the story in the present day with ordinary characters but included a new piece of technology which did a little more than it said in the instruction book. The result caused my main character a problem and so the story developed. This may or may not be classed as science fiction – but at least I had a go!

By coincidence, I also received a science fiction book to review from Waterstone’s this month – Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton. It was billed as a futuristic crime story and I love crime so that was why I entered my name in the prize draw for a chance to review the book. But I got more than I bargained for – it is a HUGE tome, 1087 pages long. It involves a murder, clones, space travel and hi-tech police procedures but at the end of the day it’s still the characters that drive the story. I liked Detective Sidney Hurst, who is the main policeman and there’s another intriguing personality in Angela Tramelo. She only ages 1 year for every 10 years of her age and was locked away 20 years earlier for a similar crime. But she has always protested her innocence and swears that the original killing was an alien attack…

his venture into Sci-Fi was accidental and it hasn’t converted me to the genre but it has taught me a few things:

• It’s refreshing to try something different

• The elements that make up a good story are the same, whatever the genre. The setting/time-period/pre-occupations of the characters may differ but if you make the reader care about the protagonists then it is a good tale

• Moving out of one’s comfort zone (in real life as well as writing) may not be appealing but once you’ve done it, it creates a feeling of confidence in your own abilities.
Finally, if you are a Waterstone’s loyalty card holder and want the chance to review books, click to see what’s on offer.





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