So, speculative fiction writers, go ahead and speculate

Here is something amazing:

The Terry Pratchett Prize

In a nutshell, the inestimable Sir Terence Pratchett of Ankh-Morpork is spearheading a new competition to find an unpublished writer of speculative fiction and to lead them towards all the glorious riches that go with publication – literally in this case, since an advance of £20,000 is part of the deal.

I love speculative fiction and I was delighted when I first encountered the phrase since it drew together so many genres that I like to read – science fiction, fantasy, Steampunk, AU – all the stuff that the logical, rationalist side of me believes to be complete nonsense but which needs an outlet regardless.

I’m also not averse to trying to write it. The above announcement in The Times of Ankh-Morpork (“The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret”) resonated since I have a long-planned story with a Steampunk tinge that would fit the bill admirably and was probably far enough planned to be realisable in six months.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think I have a chance in hell of winning the contest. I’m not even sure I would enter it if I had a suitable story. But, as a writing challenge, as a way of getting the story written (or at least a first draft) in the next six months, it can’t be beaten.

The thing to do is not to think ahead too much. So I shall try. I shall be relying on the by now deeply-ingrained habit of knocking out 50,000 words in November to deal with most of it. (There is no need to mention that this would not conform to the official NaNoWriMo rules for that month and therefore should not constitute a submission; I know.)

I’ve allowed myself July to work on world-building, as the alt-universe element needs beefing up a bit to satisfy the entrance criteria. I need to think about which elements of 18th and 19th century French and English history I need to have worked out differently. That means reading quite a lot of it.

Writing should commence on August 1. Let’s hope that it does.