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Q&A with Eric Martinez and Armani Salado: What Makes a Good Sci-fi Story?

Eric Martinez and Armani Salado are the authors of The Old Universe, a science fiction space opera released November 21st this year, part of an epic saga also know as The Spear Saga.

Eric and Armani have been imagining the lore and the story of The Old Universe for more than a decade, and they told me it’s been humbling to finally see it out there in the world.

In this guest post, Eric and Armani will be sharing their tips and tricks on what it takes to write a science fiction story, how to build characters, how to “world build” and much more, all based on their experience from writing The Old Universe!

What makes for a good science fiction story?

Armani: To me what makes a good science fiction story, or any story surrounding fantasy, is the lore. I love stories that have elements of “the past” within the current storyline. To me that allows a reader, or just the audience, dive into the the world the author is trying to build.

Eric: A story and setting that feels like a true escape. Worlds and universes that evoke emotion from every reader.

How do you get started as a science fiction author, where do you begin? 

Armani: I think it just starts with an imagination of the beyond. Thinking about different worlds, different abilities, different universes was what I did as a kid. From there its all about grabbing a pen, or laptop, and jotting down what your mind comes up with. Reading other authors, watching movies, seeing what NASA is up to; all these things is where I started. I do believe though that every other has their own process on how they formulate their thoughts to paper.

Eric: Begin any way you want! There isn’t a set way to get into Sci Fi. Our story didn’t come to fruition because we wanted sci fi. We just wanted an amazing story and it happened to have strong Sci FI elements.

What should a writer avoid when writing science fiction?

Armani: Basic aliens and naming something “star_”. The idea that science fiction has to have the word star in front of a hip, or weapon, or planet is extremely played out. As humanity progresses, science fiction should progress as well. Great science fiction stories of the past should be inspiration for new authors, but moving forward, authors should try to stray away from what has already been done.

Eric: Avoid spelling errors, slow pacing, and confusing plot lines.

How do you build characters in a science fiction story?

Armani: I like to look at the people around me and think about where humanity was 1,000 years ago and where it will be 1,000 years from now. Sci-Fi characters could be anything from an aline on a distant world, to a kid with a metal arm in the year 5403. At the end of the day, building your characters revolves around when and where your story takes place.

Eric: Build them like any other character, I don’t let a setting or genre limit how I can create my character. I give them motivations, and dreams. I also give them fears and doubts. We then see how they find themselves in the universe we created.

How do you incorporate the “science” in the book?

Armani: So for our book, we had the opportunity to throw away the science that we know. Our story takes place in a universe before the Big Bang, so the physics are 100% different and brand new, in a sense. We were able to play around with what living organism can do in space that humans can’t do in our universe.

Eric: Since this is in a separate universe we created, we set our own laws of nature and our own science. This gives us freedom to explain the processes in our universe in any way we see fit.

How do you “worldbuild”?

Armani: I make playlists. I let my music go on shuffle and then i just allow my mind to race. I love creating tons and tons of lore, and with music my mind illuminates what I believe the world my characters live in should look like. Every planet, character, and scene has a playlists on my phone that sets the tone of what I’m writing in that particular moment. World building to me is the best part of writing. It allows me to show a reader, audience, that there is more to the story than they could even imagine.

Eric: I keep it simple by coming up with a setting. I then introduce it in the story. Throughout the story I explain the history and lore through the character dialogue and exposition.

How do you keep the plot pacey?

Armani: For our story, I decided to keep the plot pacey by adding a sense of urgency through the dialogue and scene breaks. Depending on the overall story of an authors book, pacing the plot can be fast with action scenes and character motivations, or it can be slow with a steady build up. For me, I find it best to keep the reader dependent. I want them to ache for the next chapter.

Eric: Keep the plot moving by having major events. We then reflect on how our characters handle an event, but we don’t dwell on it too long. I then keep the characters focused on their goals and they move forward.

What do readers look for in science fiction books?

Armani: I love to think every reader is different. At the end of the day, a reader who loves your story will be attracted to what you delivered, and another reader might not. Science fiction itself is so broad that I hate it when authors feel like they have to bracket, or limit, themselves within certain margins. It’s your story. It’s your world. And there will be an audience for it.

Eric: Engaging story, exciting worlds. Awesome characters. Action and high stakes. Adventure and wonder.

Happy reading! ❤️