Space Opera Short Stories

A catch-all topic for movies, books, television, and other SF & F conversation.
jeeohn
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:41 am

Space Opera Short Stories

Postby jeeohn » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:26 am

I made an interesting observation about my own writing while I was on the train the other day: I don't know how to write a simple, entertaining story. I came to this conclusion after coming across Penumbra's Space Opera themed March issue (deadline is January 15th, eek!), and subsequently failing to even begin my own space opera short story. It wasn't because of writer's block or a lack of ideas, but ineptitude.

I learn by reading. I've read many great authors and I contribute whatever technical ability I have to their work. However, the genre I don't have much experience in is space opera--at least, none in terms of short stories. I'm asking a few questions, really:

-How do you encapsulate an operatic narrative into 4-7k words?
-How do you generally begin these space opera short stories (in my failed attempt I found myself bogging down by setting the scene; I feel that I should get right into the action but I'm not sure what that means).
-What tone or voice is a modern audience expecting? I suspect that it's changed since the days of Doc.
-What kind of character is a modern audience asking for, and what kind of arc do they generally follow?

Finally, and most importantly, it would be awesome if you could recommend short stories that I could learn from. Thanks!

LDWriter2
Posts: 3322
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:59 pm
Location: Central Cailf.
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby LDWriter2 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:31 am

I have only a couple of minutes so that there might be more later, however your topic caught my attention. I read space opera, it's some of my favorite. I always thought that if I stared to write on a regular bases I would be doing a lot of SO. I did those types of stories in my head and on small notepaper. But the first story I did seriously was about as far from SO as you can get. I have written some over the years but not nearly as many as I figured I would.

But as to you question. I think you can do both setting and action in the opening. If your MC is a captain of a warship in the middle of a battle you can work some shorter descriptions of the bridge in. Or if he-she-it is a enlisted-man down in the middle decks you can give a basic description of the deck while he's running to his duty station or trying to fix some battle damage.

At the same time I don't think you need action to start it. I have read SO short stories and not all start that way, as to what you put in a short story. It doesn't have to be about fighting and winning a war, maybe one small ship has to take out one larger ship. Or the ship is damaged and the crew has to fix things before the reactor blows.


More later
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

User avatar
s_c_baker
Posts: 3019
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:32 am
Location: Head, inside of
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby s_c_baker » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:33 pm

I must admit to similar confusion for the Space Opera issue. I don't see how that genre can even work in fewer than 80,000 words... wotf001

(No way in hell I'll have time to write anything before the 15th, in any case!)
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.

liz
Posts: 361
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:17 am

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby liz » Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:23 am

jeeohn wrote:I made an interesting observation about my own writing while I was on the train the other day: I don't know how to write a simple, entertaining story. I came to this conclusion after coming across Penumbra's Space Opera themed March issue (deadline is January 15th, eek!), and subsequently failing to even begin my own space opera short story. It wasn't because of writer's block or a lack of ideas, but ineptitude.

I learn by reading. I've read many great authors and I contribute whatever technical ability I have to their work. However, the genre I don't have much experience in is space opera--at least, none in terms of short stories. I'm asking a few questions, really:

-How do you encapsulate an operatic narrative into 4-7k words?
-How do you generally begin these space opera short stories (in my failed attempt I found myself bogging down by setting the scene; I feel that I should get right into the action but I'm not sure what that means).
-What tone or voice is a modern audience expecting? I suspect that it's changed since the days of Doc.
-What kind of character is a modern audience asking for, and what kind of arc do they generally follow?

Finally, and most importantly, it would be awesome if you could recommend short stories that I could learn from. Thanks!


Alas, I have the same questions. I've tried googling for space opera short markets without much luck. wotf017

I'll be excited when the Penumbra issue comes out, to see how other authors pulled it off.

Strycher
Posts: 2113
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:28 pm
Location: GA, USA
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby Strycher » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:19 am

You might check out The New Space Opera anthology, which has 18 space opera short stories. Also there's The New Space Opera 2, which has 19 stories.

My favorite of these is Dan Simmons' "Muse of Fire" which appears in the first anthology.

liz
Posts: 361
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:17 am

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby liz » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:20 pm

Strycher wrote:You might check out The New Space Opera anthology, which has 18 space opera short stories. Also there's The New Space Opera 2, which has 19 stories.

My favorite of these is Dan Simmons' "Muse of Fire" which appears in the first anthology.


Awesome! Thanks for posting these wotf008

AlistairKimble
Posts: 366
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:46 pm
Location: Evergreen, Colorado
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby AlistairKimble » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:21 pm

Strycher wrote:You might check out The New Space Opera anthology, which has 18 space opera short stories. Also there's The New Space Opera 2, which has 19 stories.

My favorite of these is Dan Simmons' "Muse of Fire" which appears in the first anthology.


I concur with Krystal's picks, and Dan Simmons' story is the best of the first anthology. However, I think the second anthology is the stronger of the two.

Strycher
Posts: 2113
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:28 pm
Location: GA, USA
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby Strycher » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:14 am

AlistairKimble wrote:
Strycher wrote:You might check out The New Space Opera anthology, which has 18 space opera short stories. Also there's The New Space Opera 2, which has 19 stories.

My favorite of these is Dan Simmons' "Muse of Fire" which appears in the first anthology.


I concur with Krystal's picks, and Dan Simmons' story is the best of the first anthology. However, I think the second anthology is the stronger of the two.


I haven't gotten through the second anthology yet, but I'm just not feeling it. I'm only a few stories in though. Which was your favorite from the second?

AlistairKimble
Posts: 366
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:46 pm
Location: Evergreen, Colorado
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby AlistairKimble » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:07 am

Strycher wrote:I haven't gotten through the second anthology yet, but I'm just not feeling it. I'm only a few stories in though. Which was your favorite from the second?


Now I have to think back--A few pop into my mind right off. Resnick's story, "Catastrophe Baker" I think, was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the Kris Rusch, Neal Asher, Robert Charles Wilson and Jay Lake stories--though I can't remember the titles.

The Cory Doctorow was okay - sometimes I think he tries to get too cute. The same goes for Scalzi--though I generally enjoy his writing.

Oh, the Bill Willingham story was also a lot of fun.

Probably more than you wanted. wotf008

Strycher
Posts: 2113
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:28 pm
Location: GA, USA
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby Strycher » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:38 am

AlistairKimble wrote:
Strycher wrote:I haven't gotten through the second anthology yet, but I'm just not feeling it. I'm only a few stories in though. Which was your favorite from the second?


Now I have to think back--A few pop into my mind right off. Resnick's story, "Catastrophe Baker" I think, was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the Kris Rusch, Neal Asher, Robert Charles Wilson and Jay Lake stories--though I can't remember the titles.

The Cory Doctorow was okay - sometimes I think he tries to get too cute. The same goes for Scalzi--though I generally enjoy his writing.

Oh, the Bill Willingham story was also a lot of fun.

Probably more than you wanted. wotf008


I have read the Resnick story and it was pretty funny. Now I'm curious about the ones you liked so I'm going to start back with them. Maybe it will motivate me to actually finish the anthology this time.

LDWriter2
Posts: 3322
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:59 pm
Location: Central Cailf.
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby LDWriter2 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:47 pm

I have the first one, only half way done though. It's taking awhile because I didn't like many of the stories in the first half. New Space Opera is right. And noticed I said stories not writing.


But if all those were listed are in the second one I may just look for it.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

User avatar
Ishmael
Posts: 1626
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:47 am
Location: Stirlingshire, UK

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby Ishmael » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:17 am

jeeohn wrote:-How do you generally begin these space opera short stories (in my failed attempt I found myself bogging down by setting the scene; I feel that I should get right into the action but I'm not sure what that means).


I have similar issues.

Of my 4 entries judged to date only one failed to start with an explanatory introduction and that was the HM; the rest were rejected. In recent crit exchanges it has been sensibly pointed out to me that the way you originally write the story doesn't have to be the way you submit it. If it helps to write down a scene-setting introduction, why not do so? Then when you've finsihed the story, go back and work out where the action starts. Delete the introductory material from the story but copy it into a separate document. Go through the story again and feed in relevant pieces of the introduction where it helps to explain and advance rather than retard the plot.

I can't claim that if you do this you will achieve success because I have yet to achieve success myself. However, this is my distillation from what seems like very sensible advice given to me, so it seems only fair to pass it on.
1 x SF, 2 x SHM, 9 x HM, WotF batting average .545
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.

LDWriter2
Posts: 3322
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:59 pm
Location: Central Cailf.
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby LDWriter2 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:03 pm

Looks like I'm going to have to find New Space Opera two. The writers that were mentioned are good.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

User avatar
Ishmael
Posts: 1626
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:47 am
Location: Stirlingshire, UK

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby Ishmael » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:51 am

As a postscript to what I said above, I have tried applying my own advice to two of my own rejected stories. I find myself astonished that I ever thought the lengthy introductions necessary. A great deal of introductory material made no significant contribution to the plot and the remainder was easily fed in at appropriate points as a sort of explanatory pause for breath during the action. Both of them read far better than they did before. One of them even had to be retitled because I cut out everything relevant to the title as irrelevant to the story!
1 x SF, 2 x SHM, 9 x HM, WotF batting average .545
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.

LDWriter2
Posts: 3322
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:59 pm
Location: Central Cailf.
Contact:

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby LDWriter2 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:08 pm

Ishmael wrote:As a postscript to what I said above, I have tried applying my own advice to two of my own rejected stories. I find myself astonished that I ever thought the lengthy introductions necessary. A great deal of introductory material made no significant contribution to the plot and the remainder was easily fed in at appropriate points as a sort of explanatory pause for breath during the action. Both of them read far better than they did before. One of them even had to be retitled because I cut out everything relevant to the title as irrelevant to the story!



That may just be one of the most significant revelations one writing you may have received or came up with, I've heard from pros that many new writers add too much at the beginning of a story.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

kaiyara
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:55 am

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby kaiyara » Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:00 am

I have a story. It is a potential entry.

The story is between 8-10 K. Mainly what I'm looking for is some feedback on balance between the "introduction" section and it's events, back-story, etc... and the "meat" of it. Too much intro, not related to the story enough, or is it in the Goldilocks Zone? Are they out of whack, is it a jarring transition, etc? Any other, deeper feedback is of course eagerly welcomed with the song of my people and an imaginary feast.

I would be happy to provide whatever meaningful critiques or feedback I can on your story or section or whatever, but be advised, I'm new to this word-herding business.

kaiyara
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:55 am

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby kaiyara » Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:05 am

I have a story. It is a potential entry.

The story is between 8-10 K. Mainly what I'm looking for is some feedback on balance between the "introduction" section and it's events, back-story, etc... and the "meat" of it. Too much intro, not related to the story enough, or is it in the Goldilocks Zone? Are they out of whack, is it a jarring transition, etc? Any other, deeper feedback is of course eagerly welcomed with the song of my people and an imaginary feast.

I would be happy to provide whatever meaningful critiques or feedback I can on your story or section or whatever, but be advised, I'm new to this word-herding business.

User avatar
Ishmael
Posts: 1626
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:47 am
Location: Stirlingshire, UK

Re: Space Opera Short Stories

Postby Ishmael » Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:42 am

Both of the immediately above duplicate another member's posting of January 12th under story critique exchange. Are we getting plagiarism on the forum?
1 x SF, 2 x SHM, 9 x HM, WotF batting average .545
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.


Return to “Science Fiction & Fantasy”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests