You know what the great thing about writing is?
If you are in the middle of researching something, and the theory may be really out there or the evidence is slim at best — and you can use it anyway. Because this is fiction, and taking based-in-reality-but-not-quite theories to build a world is fun.
Well sure, stick to as much historical fact as you can, and following the evidence really will get you better and interesting places. Authenticity is good.
But you can still run with the idea.
Or, perhaps more accurately, you can expand on the idea and take it new and crazy places. The world-building will certainly need some elaboration. And the characters — well, depending on whether you’re researching person or place, characters are going to need some creativity too.
Why am I talking about this?
I discovered a Novella-length contest for Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Through this, I decided I wanted to make something decidedly more Sci-Fi than Fantasy (because I generally lean towards Fantasy). I toyed with a few ideas I had, how I could expand them, and I fixated on a strange, vivid dream I’d had a few weeks ago.
It was about a horse and girl, set in a post-apocalyptic society besieged by strange creatures. Only, I didn’t want to put it in the future – this story felt like it took place far, far in the past. Now, I’ve always tinkered with the idea that the Earth had a reset button, and whenever we pesky humans get out of line, she says ‘ef it’ and kills us all in a dramatic flourish. Society restarts. We get another chance to try again. (Obviously, we’re epically failing).
So, I started running with a technologically advanced society set thousands of years ago with the theme of Gaia’s Revenge.
(Incidentally, this is also the story that I’m using to practice making a “Tropes Outline.” That is coming along pretty interestingly, by the way. Hopefully I’ll have it done within this week and I’ll post my conclusions about it.)
Then I remembered Ooparts.
Ooparts, or Out of Place Artifacts, are objects of historical, archaeological, or paleontological interest that are found in unusual or seemingly impossible context. For example, Airplanes in Ancient Egypt and South America. A battery found dating back to Sumerian times. Things like that.
Plethora or lack of evidence aside, it’s fascinating, and fun to consider.
So guess what’s in my story.
Cue the evil grin.
What idea have you run with recently? What are your thoughts on the balance between using fact and playing with fiction?