"...while my firsthand experiences with writing have made me a much better author, I have still yet to even get half way to publishing a story..."

Within the last five years, how many "legendary" Science Fiction books have been published?

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  • 10+

    Votes: 1 50.0%

  • Total voters


Bret Bernhoft
Nov 30, 2020
I intuitively understand/know that I have a great science fiction story "in me", that is waiting to be told. I've put great resources and effort into writing this story, over a period of roughly ten years. And while my firsthand experiences with writing (what I have written to date) have made me a much better author, I have still yet to even get half way to publishing a story at all, let alone a piece of memorable SSF.

There have too many starts and stops to count, or even remember.

But something native inside me, keeps pushing my forward into the role of an amateur author, who desires to contribute his vision to the larger science fiction community. A well from which I have drank deeply, and been aided in transforming my mind and word choices. I originally underestimated how powerful and important fiction is.

With all of that said, is there any perspective you can offer me, as a newb in the SFF world?

Thank you for your time, and for holding space for other wanna-be authors, like myself, with this community.
I'm not sure whether to say congratulations or commiserations about writing one story over ten years! All credit to you, though, for putting in the effort. However...

Have you written nothing else but this one SF in its various iterations? If so, then I think it's time for you to move on and try and write something else, even if only short stories. As to which, though you've been here over 10 months I don't think you've taken part in any of the Challenges yet, have you? They are an excellent way of improving one's writing because it's necessary to be both concise and intelligible, and that isn't as easy as it sounds! There are two Challenges open at the moment, so I'd suggest you go and have a look at them and join in.

Also, among the resources you've employed over the ten years, have you joined a writing group, or have you engaged a developmental editor or writing coach to help you? You'll find that most of the writers here on Chrons who have had any kind of success have done one or another, and many have done both. Writing alone in a kind of silo without help isn't the way to go -- after all, we wouldn't expect a world-class athlete to improve in technique if she were on her own without coaches and team-mates.

If you've not been in a writing group, have you have ever given feedback to other writers on their work? Although that sounds an odd question, the fact is that giving a critique can be as valuable as receiving it -- one has to analyse a piece to see if it's working and if not, why not, which are skills we all need for our own work. It's also not unknown for someone to point out a mistake in someone else's work only to realise belatedly they've been doing exactly the same thing!

We do have a Critiques section here where members can ask for feedback on their writing. It isn't open to you to post a thread there as yet, as it's necessary to have at least 30 counted posts, but anyone can go and offer an opinion on work that is up there, so I'd urge you to have a look and see if you can help someone else and indirectly improve your own skills.

If you are part of a writing group and you have been working on other things over the last ten years, why is it, do you think, that you're not yet "even half way" to publishing? Is it that you've not yet finished a complete story? Or having completed it you don't know what next to do? Or that it is complete and edited but it's been turned down by agents/publishers and you don't want to SP? Perhaps if you let us know a bit more about how things have gone and where you now are in your writing journey, we might be able to offer targeted advice.
I agree with The Judge. Write a 75 and 300 worder for the Challenges. Not only will it give you something different to think about than your story, it will allow you to fully complete a piece of work and then see the reaction it gets from a knowledgeable audience. After that, if you wish, you can get considered feedback to where you have gone right (or wrong).

Both the 75 and 300 worders need careful consideration in order to make them understandable and to be constructed in such a way as to be a story in their own right. You may have to write to a theme/genre which may stretch your brain cells in different directions, and on top of that you have to make it interesting and enjoyable to read. No easy task.

Once you have written whole stories within these restricted word limits, it may help you to gain insight into the construction of longer stories.

Also as The Judge says, it helps to give critiques on other people's work. I find it sometimes surprising that when I cast a critical eye (both good and bad) over someone else's work, I suddenly realise some of the same traps that I have unwittingly put myself into.

Good luck with your writing, and remember that just because your story may not get published doesn't mean that it isn't a success. Most people will go through life and never even make the attempt to do what you have done.
The above writers are completely right. I would try to add two points, which you can feel free to ignore.

1: What is your goal for your writing? If you goal is to create something which is seen by the wider world as an epochal work, you probably need to write a lot of other materials not connected to that work, as almost no one's first work is their greatest ever. If you want to live in a world you love, playing there is probably the best goal, even if it doesn't lead to a world-changing work. For example, the biggest worldbuilding I've ever done is for a DND game I run, and I would never try to share it with anyone outside of my table mates, but the work I've done there has improved me greatly when I write other materials for public consumption (also, surprisingly in my teaching and training work)

2: There are many, many ways to contribute to the SF community, and even to contribute the vision your decade long story provided, both inside and outside your writing. While you are working to build your work into what you want to share with the world, what other methods do you have of using it, and the ways it has changed your thoughts on writing (and other stuff) to help you be part of the Sci-Fi community that you clearly care about. To go back to my life (apologies, I'm not always great on examples) while I will probably never be a good enough creative writer to make an impact on the SFF community that way, I was a college professor, and was able to use my scholarly knowledge to assist aspiring writers (and present at Worldcon and San Diego Comic Con), so my vision of what fantasy writing could and should be is still somewhat out there. You have a decade of experience plus imagining what a legendary piece of science fiction can be. Any way you share that imagination will add to the well that we all drink from
I am a little unclear as to the question, but my suggestion is to enjoy what you are doing and do what you enjoy.

What are the obstacles that you feel are preventing you from getting to a published story? There are a fair amount of people on this forum who have had success in getting published, but without knowing the issues that you are facing, there is little in the way of suggestions or advice that can be provided. I don't mean to sound gruff, but often taking a personal retrospective is the first step to advancing.

It's good that you have advanced along the way. Keep learning new things and do not get stuck in a rut. And remember to have fun with this writing thing.