Skin colour in sci-fi writing – a future perspective

corporationhands

The hands represent the top five corporations in my book

When I set out to write a sci-fi novel set over a thousand years into the future, I wanted to dissolve culture down into its basic building blocks and then rebuild it in a distorted and twisted corporate image. Imagine being locked in a room all your life with nothing but a bunch of Dyson hoover manuals for company, you’d be pretty messed up. By the end you would be shouting out phrases and bullshit, taking about nozzle collectors and brush length like it was gospel –this is Future Grim— well, my interpretation of a solely corporate dominated future.

What does that mean? What does it have to do with skin colour?

Good point, but I feel you need the set up to understand the problem I presented myself with.

Prejudice as a concept is never going to disappear. It will take a few more generations for us to stop discriminating against women, let alone against different skin colours. I feel that prejudice is here to stay for the long haul and is just a basic element of our fear abiding brains telling us to be scared of the unknown, get to shelter and feed yourself and your family.

In my future, your life is devoid of the culture we understand today. You grew up in a heavily designed and controlled environment (know as the corporate culture) where political correctness has been taken to its peak (you could say, a political acceptance). This leaves a prejudice vacuum in which hatred is directed at rival corporations. Initially this would be to incentivise healthy competition, but after generations it would soon grow to fill the discrimination gap.

So I was left writing my story set in a world without the standard culture or discrimination that we are so familiar with today. Initially to combat that I left out skin colour description all together so that the reader could imagine a character as looking Asian, European, African ect. This however backfired as most of my characters ended up feeling European, because of the heavy use of corporate terminology and ideas that permeate throughout my universe. I didn’t want to describe characters as being from certain countries as this then brings along the cultural baggage that those countries have. Suddenly a character who is described as having a Latino complexion has a slight Spanish twang with every word they speak.

This lead me to my recent revelation of how to describe skin colour in my book. As with all great corporate things, it stems from categorisation. This one being standard plus or minus one.

Standard = Light brown

Standard plus one = Darker brown

Standard minus one = Lighter brown

It goes on in either direction to the different shades, with plus or minus three being the limits on either end. This should hopefully elevate my current cultural problems until I find the next common thing I need to describe.

Of course this doesn’t solve all the problems, but it does allow me to limit the focus on race (and allow myself to have a racially mixed set of characters) while still following the corporate culture that my universe demands.

What have other people done in their fiction to tackle these subjects, are they a part of your plot or have you done something similar to be because the world demands it? I’d love to hear from fellow creators.

In other news, I recently purchased www.klcarter.co.uk, which currently just leads to this blog. When I get some spare cash I’ll invest in a website or something.

I’m still editing Future Grim: Origins at the moment, but it’s coming along leaps and bounds. I’ve had plenty of great suggestions from my test readers (both happen to be crazy scientists) that has allowed the little kinks in my story to be ironed out.

Keep it spacey,

Kyle Carter

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I’ve got 60k problems and my intro ain’t one

Future Grim is a universe devoid of culture and commanded solely by warring corporations. These corps battle for the wealth of human resources, in bouts of so called bloody business.

Kennerman are the no. two of the top five. It is up to Francis Kennerman and his his loyal COs to take back the top spot from the mysterious Alberton. The no. three, Volan, headed by Nigel will undermine the rules and regulations to seize the top spot for himself.

Disloyalty, dishonesty and desertion will not be tolerated. The Future is Grim.


I’ve had problems, editing problems.

60k> words isn’t easy to edit. I’ve been churning through the early chapters, but then I find myself slipping backwards to the first chapter. I polish it and repeat. The first two parts of the six are better than ever, however the rest hasn’t been touched in over a year. I’ve had to implement a colour coded ‘do not touch’ system to attempt some form of progression.

post dune

The good news is I’ve started listening to some audiobooks while doing my brain absent job. I got around to experiencing Dune, which turns out has similar concepts. It’s been great inspiration for me and I’ve called this period of writing the ‘post Dune’ era. What I enjoyed the most was the way exposition was handled. In my own initial drafts I now know that I left out too much information to the point the reader wouldn’t understand.

I’ve also listened to Snow Crash, which was equally amazing. I’m always up for some sci-fi recommendations.

My goal now is to polish each part to a certain level and then move on. I’ve given myself to the end of this week to create a first part that I’m happy with.

In other news, my mate has been creating mechanical keyboard reviews. I recently created an intro for him, so it makes sense to give him a shout out. It’s interesting and worth a look if you like things technical (also he has a deep and soothing voice :P).

Till next time…

Kyle

 

Darkness Vs Light – The tone of your writing

darknessvslight

It is important to set out an overall tone for your writing (whether it is novels, scripts or shorts) because it is part of the matrix of glue that holds everything together.

Dark and light are thrown around all the time. Villains are evil and heroes are good. The quest is dangerous and their hometown is lovely. Of course you can reverse it, the hometown can be horrific and the quest will be then to fix it. These all lead to the idea that everything is heading towards the light and improving the situation through conflict.

The other side is when stories head towards the darkness. This usually happens in longer formats and is part of the massive success of TV series (Breaking Bad, Sopranos, The Wire) and long format books (ASoIaF). The writers can ignore conventions (I guess ignoring conventions has become a convention?) and shit on their characters/world/plot. Characters can become spiteful, conflict can erupt and hometowns can be destroyed/warped. The key to success is to show no real end to the conflict and have sympathetic characters turn into real bastards. This then allows the scope to create an evil ending or have your characters die without it feeling out of place.

This concept of a darker tone is in my opinion is one of the reasons TV has overtaken the film industry as the pillar for entertaining stories. How much exploration of these ideas can you really do in the confines of two and bit hours?

To use this in your own writing, consider the idea that a character (or even your world) has a best before date. Let them slowly crack to reveal a rotten core. This isn’t about creating a depressing story, it’s about writing something that has a ‘bad’ ending that doesn’t feel tacked on just to be edgy.

K.L Carter

Long time no post – Part three: “Shit son, seven months…”

Image

The book is dragging on by knuckle skin and tendon splinters.  63,000 words or something; it’s not about the words anymore (it was never about the words). I have three important topics to cover. The editing, the contest and the future. Let us start with the start.

The Editing

I’ve never edited anything for this long (and I trained as a video editor). The book has lost all meaning and I have been bored of several chapters several times over. I’ve taken the obligatory ‘month off’ to recoup and re-evaluate. It did help but only felt like a temporary fix.

My outlook has changed now Another friend has offered to help and they happen to be someone who is critical. It feels a good time to seek advice and my writing is benefiting from this approach. My first ten chapters have never been better. Some chapters have been moved and the whole text flows a lot more than it has ever done. It’s starting to make sense and it doesn’t need me constantly chiming in with exposition–because it’s all in the blood text! To create a science fiction world isn’t just about ideas, you need to really sell it as a genuine situation.

And then bam, I realised that I’m enjoying working on my book again.

So that ends this post, I’ll post about the contest tomorrow (If I remember).

Laters,

Kyle Carter

 

Day 1: Camp Nanowrimo 2015

I am utilizing Camp Nanowrimo2015 to edit my WIP Novel, Future Grim: Origins.

My goal is 70k words and currently I’ve got 58,000. It means I need to write 400 a day in April to hit the mark. The first problem I’ve stumbled at is that editing severely reduces word count. I’m currently down 100 words already and I’ve only been working for a couple of hours.

Though a deadline has definitely helped as it has given me a goal. This is the most dedicated I’ve been in weeks.

On the art side, I created a few character icons and collected them into a tasty poster thing. The Kennerman and Volan cast are present. They are created by digitally altering photographs in photoshop. I can’t draw this good yet.

 

 

CharactersWallaper

 

My mate is also attempting to write in April and we’ve created a Camp cabin. It appears it is mostly filled with ertoic fiction writers. Not what I was expecting but I’m sure it will be a laugh.

Laters,

Kyle.

 

Long time, no post – pt.2

Progress! Sort of.

I’m back to 57,000 words on Future Grim: Origins. The blame is placed on the skinny shoulders of a boring character. I had to fire (delete) him and he stole three chapters when he left the building — the bastard!

Nanowrimo-2014 was a moderate failure (also known as a slim success). I wrote 22k words, most of them in the finished draft of one short story and some in the beginnings of a second. If I try next November I’ll definitely plan out my story a bit more before charging in with my biro bayonet.

I’m taking part in Camp Nanowrimo to hopefully get my editing into a steady pace. I’ll update my blog to chart my progress.

Yeah!

Kyle

Long time, no post

I have written my first book and am in the editing stage. 60,000 words need to be trimmed down (and in some cases additional words added) so I can get my manuscript ready to either send out to publishers or whack it up on Amazon myself.

This month I am taking a break to write a series of novellas that are a prequel to my main book. I think I will either release all of them for free, or just the first one. Hopefully this will give a chance for everyone to read my work to see if you enjoy it. Maybe I will make some fans that go onto buying my main book. Which would be excellent.

I’m using NaNoWriMo2014 to power through my trio of novellas, which is a daunting experience. I have never written so much in such a short space of time. I am at 10,006 (which is hitting the correct target for yesterday) and finding it difficult to write without the usual amount of planning I go through.

Here is the synopsis for the three novellas:

Synopsis

The numbers are in the blood. Future Grim is humanity one thousand years on where corporations control every aspect of life. Combat by sword is a daily occurrence, but war doesn’t exist, it’s simply business.

The Casefiles are three tales of corporations, bloodied fists and a grim future.

Independent:

Joseph Lyier, an honest con man tracked by a corporate power. He did not even ask for the cargo, it landed on him and stared at him patiently. Planet to planet drop should be easy. He hoped the Franklin Investigators were still stupid as ever and he hoped they had not sent the Bean.

Heritage:

Jyan was a Volan. His mother laid on her deathbed and informed him that he would not have control of his entitled corporation. He believed such a fate would justify his misdeeds. The documents he forged, his brother’s bloody broken face and his plot to extinguish every Volan in the void.

Solider:

Martin was transferred to a ship on the edge. The crew was silent and the atmosphere was staler than the food he was supposed to serve. He had heard tales of the Ratter elite, the men and women who kept their faces covered and their blades sickly sharp. All he had to do was survive a month, but he had his doubts.

Hopefully it will be finished by the end of the month!

Have a good one,
Kyle