I write a lot of contemporary. It’s fun. I can pick a place I’ve always wanted to visit, plop my characters there, and run. It’s not thoughtless and anyone who calls writing easy is nuts, but it’s relatively straightforward.
Writing science fiction is another thing altogether. The worlds are the ones I make up in my head. If I say the ocean is purple I had better have a damn good reason or someone will call me on it (and rightfully so). Moreso, what’s science fiction with only one world? You have a whole universe to explore and populate. It’s staggering.
So where do you start?
I suspect there are as many ways to do this as there are authors who write science fiction. For me, I have a map of what my universe looks like. It’s divided into Quadrants, and each Quadrant is divided in two (Inner and Outer). The map itself looks like a diamond within a diamond, and any planet outside the Outer Quadrants is a Far Reach planet.
That, right there, tells you a lot about how my universe is set up. The Far Reach planets are mostly colonies or independent governments who don’t necessarily want to be brought into the fold. There’s a level of lawlessness that allows for all kinds of shenanigans (and that I take full advantage of).
Conversely, the planets contained within the Quadrants are more uniform with how they interact with their citizens and each other. They are Europe to the American colonies.
From there, I took each planet and created a short history. I started with what kind of overall climate/terrain/danger level each had. For example, I knew that there are four Terra planets, and that’s where the bulk of humanity settled when they found this part of the universe. That’s where the Star Council reigns, though they do it poorly.
Once you have the basic groundwork done, all that’s left is to take your main characters and throw them into the mix. Things will change and develop as you write (or, at least, that’s my process), but knowing those histories and the species who populate any given planet are the foundation for a diverse and well-populated universe.
That’s one of my favorite things about writing science fiction. The sky’s the limit? Whoever said that wasn’t thinking big enough.
When the cards tell Ophelia Leoni she’s supposed to marry the Prince of Hansarda, the gunrunner grits her teeth and boards the starship that comes for her. It doesn’t matter if the ship’s commander is the gorgeous stranger she just spent a wild, drunken night with. As a Diviner, she’s painfully aware the cards don’t lie. Ever.
Boone O’Keirna knows Ophelia is trouble the second he sees the way she moves. Not about to let the little hellcat marry his sadistic half-brother, Boone pretends to be the Prince’s emissary and kidnaps Ophelia. Too bad they can’t be in the same room without him wanting to throw her out an airlock–or into bed.
Even as they fight each other–and their explosive attraction–Ophelia and Boone sense something is wrong. Too much is going their way. Soon, they realize while the cards may never lie, the truth is sometimes hidden between them…and the future king of Hansarda is not one to take defeat lying down.