About 1 in 4 people say that their top preference for fictional books is science fiction. The sci-fi world can be anything that you can imagine. It can take place in any time, involve any location in the galaxy, or even explore different times thanks to time travel or other mechanics. The key to writing good science fiction, however, is to make it realistic. To use scientific principles that may be forward-thinking, but potentially possible to invent.
When you’re able to start creating that type of world, you’ll want to include these additional tips for writing science fiction so you can boldly go where no other writer has been before.
#1. Create elements that tie into the real world. Harry Harrison is a master of creating futuristic elements with which people can identity as they are reading. Within the confines of his narrative, he’s able to incorporate humor with sci-fi elements that offer people an imaginative picture of the world he’s created. When you can create elements that tie into the real world within your science fiction, you make it that much easier for people to begin identifying with your characters.
From The Technicolor Time Machine: “The only reason that the Vikings settled in Vinland is because we decided to make a motion picture showing how the Vikings settled in Vinland.”
#2. Make a statement with your story. This is where Isaac Asimov was a master of phrasing. He could bring you into any number of imaginative worlds, yet make you think about what is going on in today’s current events. When writing science fiction, no topic is taboo. From religion to sexuality or creating a religion about sexuality, you can explore virtually any topic and share your opinion about it within your fictional world.
From The Caves of Steel: “People sometimes mistake their own shortcomings for those of society and want to fix the Cities because they don’t know how to fix themselves.”
#3. Include your passions. We are all passionate about something. It might be a sport like football. It could be your family. What makes your sci-fi story authentic is the passions that you’re able to include within the narrative. As a writer, you still have to put a little bit of yourself into each word to create a world that is believable. Without you, there is no authenticity. Without authenticity, the worlds you’ve created will seem hollow at best. David Feintuch excelled at incorporating his passions in such a way.
From Midshipman’s Hope: “There is no pity in the endless night, no mercy in infinite space. We do not belong there. Not now, not ever – unless one man summons the unbreakable will and unyielding discipline to survive the dark, silent hell he lives to challenge.”
#4. Use descriptions to your advantage. Because you’re creating a new world in some way when writing science fiction, your ability to describe that world can make or break your story. Readers need to have some guidance in picturing what is going on. We all know about “the cold emptiness of space.” Take it to a new level with your own descriptive take like Douglas Adams was able to do.
From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
#5. Inflate your ego. This is your most important tool in your writer’s toolbox when writing science fiction. Some might say that you need to set your ego aside when writing and to be humble, but that doesn’t work for this genre. You are the person creating these worlds. You are in control of the destinies these characters will ultimately have. Readers are attracted to your narrative because of what you bring to it. Don’t set your ego aside. Inflate it.
Orson Scott Card brought this into his world when creating Ender’s Game: “Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
#6. Follow the Golden Rules. Before signing off, let’s make sure you know that there are 3 golden rules to follow when writing science fiction to be considered: 1) sci-fi doesn’t always need to have robots; 2) keep your thesis statement steady from your first sentence to your conclusion; and 3) ask big questions, but don’t provide answers. What sci-fi ultimately does as a genre is offer a safe look at complex current events and force people to question their own perspectives, ethics, and morality. Sure – sometimes robots do help – but sometimes crafting your own voice means finding something completely new.
From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: “I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
Writing science fiction can be one of the most rewarding genres from a story perspective, but it can also be one of the most frustrating stories you may ever write to get the narrative right. These tips can help give your writing the boost it may need. Grab your towel, don’t panic, and let the words flow. There are brand new worlds to create.