A Brainstorming Question for the Indecisive and Queer

Everybody occasionally needs to think of lots of options and choose the best. So we collect information, lay it all out, and then decide. There is no productive reason for most of us to become experts on, say, how microgravity affects eyesight. Sometimes we just need to make a decision. Do this thing, or don't?

I fall down literature review rabbit holes instead of making decisions, so when I'm brainstorming, one of the first questions I ask myself is: "Is there a good reason there aren't more __ like the one I have in mind?" It's a better brainstorming question than just asking WHY? because it forces me to immediately apply the answer to my problem or project.

As an example of how the answer affects decisions: There is no good reason that positive portrayals of wlw (women loving women) couples, or LGBTQIA+ relationships in general, are hard to find in sci fi novels. There are plenty of bad reasons. So, one of the first things I knew about Barbary Station was that the point of view characters would be women who adore each other.

Sometimes the reasons are fair, if not good. Example: As far as I can tell, the reason that most sci fi stories have consistent Earthlike gravity is that keeping track of gravity changes from scene to scene is difficult! And realistic gravity is less distracting than scenes with boring or interesting but impossible gravity, in my opinion. With that as my goal, I had to storyboard scenes on closet mirrors (the white board was already in use) and ask for help with the physics. I'm happy with how it came out, but wow, did that answer my question!

To summarize: Ask "Is there a good reason there aren't more __ like the one I have in mind?" Then focus your research on that. Visual aids and expert assistance are useful.

Sometimes the answer to the question is "I don't know why there aren't more __ like this." I have no idea why comparatively few stories feature established relationships. The meet-cute-then-fall-in-love story is fine, but we all like a little variety, right? In Barbary Station, Adda and Iridian (our protagonists) are already dating on page 1. I think that adds more intimacy and intensity to the tale.

This question can be a challenging one when applied to story subjects, and it can be even more challenging in real life. Is there a good reason to fear discussing my personal life with this individual? Is there a good reason to censor myself in this social context? Is there a good reason to put this chocolate in my shopping basket (probably not, but it's staying)?

The real answers are usually less fun, but it's still a question worth asking. Let's live and write consciously! Question assumptions. Have a reason for the things that you do, and try to make it a good reason. In other news, I wrote a guest post for the fabulous Women in Queer Sci-fi & Fantasy month on Just Love Reviews. My contribution is here, and there are many cool posts in the rest of the series.

And, in case you didn't know, Barbary Station is a science fiction novel from Saga Press about women in love and the artificial intelligence that's trying to kill them. Its release date is October 31, 2017. It's available for pre-order in paper, digital, and audio formats now.

R. E. Stearns