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9 Science Fiction Writing Tips

Gorgeous spacescape as seen from one of Saturn moon. Digital illustration.

Gorgeous spacescape as seen from one of Saturn moon. Digital illustration.

The worlds of science fiction offer writers and authors numerous opportunities to explore. Virtually nothing is off-limits, including humor. From Isaac Asimov to Harry Harrison to Alan Dean Foster, each world has a certain uniqueness all its own that makes it memorable to the reader. How can you be able to duplicate these worlds in your own writing? These science fiction writing tips will help you out.

#1. Create a visual reference for your world first.

Sketch out the different things you’d like to have in your world. Don’t worry if you’re not an artist. The purpose of doing this is to help you nail down locations for your characters to visit, descriptions for their environments, and progression for the other elements you’re including with the narrative.

#2. Research the science… and then research it again.

Although almost anything goes in the worlds of science fiction, there must be at least some element of scientific plausibility in what is going on. This is how stories like Star Trek have been able to endure over the years. Research scientific theories and then use your imagination to expand upon them so you create a believable set of actions and circumstances for your reader to follow.

#3. At the heart of every science fiction story is the need to explore.

This is even true for dystopian science fiction. Whether the goal of your characters is to explore strange new worlds, go deep into the center of our own Earth, or delve into their own inner being, there should be something that inspire curiosity for your characters within your narrative. This, in turn, will inspire creativity in your reader as well.

#4. Characters are generally a central theme.

You don’t need to pick one character to wrap a story around, but you do generally need to follow at least one group of characters. Whether it’s a group of like-minded individuals returning a ring or a group of siblings discovering a brand new world in a wardrobe, people identify with singularities in science fiction. Without this central theme, there is no element of discovery, and ultimately that means the reader will lose interest.

#5. Create a dialogue around current events.

If writers must “write what they know,” then how can a science fiction writer or author craft a tale about life on-board a generational ship flying to Alpha Centauri? It’s done by incorporating current events into the dialogue of their characters. Take something that has happened or is happening to you and infuse that situation into the universe you’ve created. This will add authenticity to the dialogue, make the reader think about what is going on in the world today, and make the story that much more enjoyable.

#6. Hope must also be included in the narrative.

When people look to the future, they generally want to see a world that is better than the one they have today. It’s a natural desire to want one’s children to inherit something better. Even if your world has been destroyed by nuclear war and people are eating cockroaches, there can still be an element of hope for your characters. Maybe they’re restoring the top soil. Or they’re creating an underground paradise. Or they’re searching for a new paradise. Without hope, there really isn’t science fiction.

#7. Avoid disregarding the benefits historical fiction can provide.

If you have a science fiction story set in the past instead of the future, then blending elements of historical fiction into your narrative will add authenticity to your story. The same would be true for any era or location piece that has a basis in known reality. More proven facts within the narrative will create a better overall story for the reader because they’ll be able to picture themselves there.

#8. Keep it simple.

You can have your characters going back and forth through time. You can have them visiting different planets. You can have them travel to distant galaxies. Yet at the heart of science fiction, the purpose of the journey is still pretty simple. Find that simple message and you’ll have the cornerstone for your story.

#9. Remember that the #1 rule is that there are no real rules.

In Doctor Who, they’ve had cities turned into spaceships. Characters that live for billions of years. Planets made out of diamonds. Once you establish a level of authenticity for your dialogue, characters, and worlds, you’re ready for the best rule of all: there are no rules except for what your imagination demands.

These science fiction writing tips are designed to help get you started with the creation process. Maybe your story will write itself. Maybe it’ll take years to bring it to reality. What matters most is the effort. Keep writing, keep exploring, and you will find yourself one day in a place no one has gone before.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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