Everyone has probably read at least one good science fiction novel in their life. Many beginning authors wonder how to write science fiction. Firstly, you need to know exactly what it is. Since the beginning of this genre, it has become more complicated and more popular. Writing science fiction can be quite difficult, but if you pay attention to certain matters, you’ll be more than ready to do so.
Know your genre
This tip would be appropriate for any kind of novel, actually. Before writing something, especially something this complex, you need to learn theory and to know the peculiarities of the genre. So, what is a sci-fi novel? Such a novel describes a certain science discovery or a technological occurrence that sometimes spreads on the whole planet (The War of the Worlds) or occurs locally (The Invisible Man).
It is important to draw the line between sci-fi and fantasy as quite a lot of people confuse those things. Sci-fi is something connected to science or can be achieved through it (time traveling, space missions, robots, etc.). Fantasy, on the other hand, is something completely impossible (magic, witches, spellings, etc.). In other words, sci-fi implies a scientific approach towards supernatural phenomena, and fantasy – the mythological one. For example, Peter Parker has supernatural powers because he was bitten by a radioactive spider and Gandalf has his powers because he is a naturally born magician.
So, if you want to know how to write a sci fi novel, read some theory first. You can probably manage without it (especially if you are a hiding genius with mind-blowing ideas), but knowing how everything works is this particular genre will make the question of how to write a science fiction novel much easily answered and of course it will save your time on editing your future novel.
Have an idea
Every sci-fi story starts with an idea and here we cannot help you much; you’re on your own with your imagination and creativity. But don’t just sit and wait to be dawned on with some brilliant idea; look for inspiration. There can be several places to look:
- The first thing to get inspiration from is reading. You shouldn’t get into science fiction writing unless you enjoy reading books of this genre yourself. So far there have been hundreds of brilliant books with bright, unusual and original thoughts in them; maybe some of them will give you an idea for your own thing.
- Read science news. Maybe some new discoveries in the science world will be inspirational for you. Scientists make different discoveries quite often; follow them and wait to be dawned upon. You can also read some science books or researches.
- Watch sci-fi movies and documentaries.
- If you are a sci-fi fan, you probably already do those things. All you need to do is open your mind and expand your imagination. If you need a little push, here are the popular themes in the genre:
- The world ends (The War of the Worlds by Herbert Wells, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson);
- Time travelling (Cloud Atlas by David Stephen Mitchell, The Time Machine by Herbert Wells);
- Aliens come to the planet (Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card);
- It is the future with many new technologies (robots and stuff) (I, Robot by Isaac Asimov );
- Some science invention that changes the world, etc.
Create your world
You can build either an absolutely unique world or a world based on ours. People tend to relate to the second one more. If an imaginary world is too different from ours and too complex, people can get confused and don’t relate to it enough to keep reading. Try not to go too far from the real science; it feels more real and convincing then.
One of the appealing qualities of the best science writing is the feeling of escaping the real world and getting into a new, more exciting one. So, even if the events in your book are happening in our world, there still should be something unusual and interesting.
If you create a completely different world, you have so many things to think through! Think of the location, decorations, language, religion, music, art, politics and other things in your world. If you make up some creatures, you need to think over their appearance and describe them to your readers very carefully so that they have the same picture in their heads as you. A great example of an exciting world would be the good old Dune with its sandy planet, enormous worms and underground oceans. When you read it, you cannot but feel that you are there, in a completely different universe.
Create a situation and plot structure
Ok, now we have an idea and we have a world around us. Now we should have something happening in this world. You can use a basic novel plot structure that we’ve already talked about.
- Have an introductory part (let’s say, the aliens decided to invade the world). Then we should have a crisis (they actually are invading the world, people are running around in horror and the brave main character volunteers to save the day).
- After that goes a climax (there is a big fight between the protagonist and the big alien boss where protagonist almost dies).
- And finally we have a denouement (everyone is grateful to the main character, his family meets him or her in tears of joy).
Well, this is a very basic guide on how to write a sci fi story, but if you already have a certain story in your mind, it can help you structure it.
So, these were the common sci fi writing tips that we feel can guide you to creating your own piece. This particular science writing workshop is aimed to inspire you and to get you some idea of how to write a science fiction story. All in all, we can advise you to read more sci-fi books and seek for inspiration. If you don’t have this bright idea yet, don’t worry and wait for it. Meanwhile, write some short stories and exercise your writing skills and everything will come to you in the right time.
Alyce is an inspired blogger, private tutor and educational consultant who is passionate about everything related to writing. Now she has found herself as a private consultant/educator, providing seminars and workshops to teachers of English. The focus of her presentations is how to motivate students to enjoy writing and to help them in becoming creative and proficient writers both for their pleasure and coursework assignments. She loves to share her experience in these fields. Stay tuned to get more actionable tips about writing!