Space Opera

Never heard of a space opera? Neither had I until I did a little research on Samhain, an e-book publisher. They’re looking for romantic novellas of 25,000 to 30,000 words that take place in a setting other than the world we live in. Like outer space. 

This got me thinking about my manuscript, the one languishing in the drawer. I do have a foreign-world setting, at least for parts of the story, but thinking about setting 25,000 words there made me realize that I haven’t really built that world. I’ve got a couple of rooms I visit, but that’s it. The rest is vast unchartered territory.

Somehow this got me excited. It might be a challenge to see if I could write something that happened totally in that world. I could use my same characters and what bits I have of the setting…that’s all I got, frankly. Then I went to yoga. On the way home, I stopped at the bookstore. There I saw for the first time a bunch of really thick books that all take place in a world with the same exact name as mine.

Damn. I came home and brainstormed new names for my alternate world. I think I found something good, but when I tried to come up with a conflict, I got zero. My enthusiasm dampened. I amused myself by reading How I Became a Famous Novelist  by Steve Hely. HIlarious novel by a Letterman writer.

This morning, I took a bike ride. I’d given up on getting anything going with the space opera, but almost as soon as I turned the corner from my street, a got an idea for how I could work a conflict–something that I already had going in Traveling Girl; it would take just a little tweak to put it on the other world. For my bike ride, I thought of nothing else but how this all would work.

Finally, I’m finding my way back into Traveling Girl. By a side door into another dimension, but still.


  1. I’ve heard of a space opera. I took a couple of Writer’s Digest writing courses one summer, and one of them was called Essentials of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I originally took the course just for fun, to help force myself out of writer’s block, since my creativity had run dry for months.

    Anyway, there was a book we bought for the course, called, “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy,” by Orson Scott Card, and it talks about the different types of subgenres within those genres. Needless to say, space operas were mentioned among them, and I’ve always thought about trying to write one. I’m not very good at writing science fiction compared to fantasy, however, so I’ve been putting it off until I write more science fiction and feel more comfortable with it. Good luck with yours, Cindy!


  2. I am with you on the fantasy over science fiction. My space opera, if I write it, is going to be fantasy for sure. Science fiction is cool, but I am not a science major. Not even close…


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