Introducing the man who needs no introduction:
the founder of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group,
author of 4 Amazon Best Selling books in Science Fiction,
and the judge for the WEP - December Sci-fi Challenge
Take it away, Alex!
Writing Science Fiction –
It’s Not Really That Alien!
I’ve been a science fiction fan for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I read superhero comic books, watched television shows like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, went to every science fiction film, and read science fiction books by authors such as Heinlein and Bradbury. That I would choose science fiction as my genre of choice when I began writing was no big surprise.
But what if that’s not your genre of comfort? What if you’re not familiar with science fiction outside of Star Wars? What if the concept really is alien to you?
If you don’t know the difference between a plasma drive and a warp drive, don’t worry. While the setting and technology may be a bit different, the basics of good storytelling still apply. Beyond that, here are some tips for writing science fiction:
Study the genre. Read the books and watch the shows. It will give you a grasp on the elements of science fiction.
World building is very important in any speculative fiction story. If your story is set in the future or in another galaxy, you need to consider how that world came about and what sustains it – history, currency, politics, technology, social structure, etc. Most of it won’t end up in the story itself, but it gives you the background and a template for maintaining consistency.
Often you’ll feature technology that doesn’t exist. Sometimes you can take something that is a possibility now and make it real in the future. Or create something completely new. If there aren’t a lot of facts and theories to back up what you’ve created though, just be sure everything is at least plausible.
It’s all right to take ideas you’ve seen elsewhere and use them. Just make them uniquely yours and don’t reuse too many items or concepts. Tossing Star Trek, Star Wars, Avengers, and The Terminator into a blender will probably not make for a great story.
The characters are still just as important! Put just as much effort into character development. They still drive the story. And after all, even a robot has personality.
Does the universe speak English? Doubtful, so find a way to make it possible for races to communicate. Maybe they have all learned to speak the same language or they use a device to translate. Don’t include a lot of alien speak though. It works in the movies, but not so well in books.
Speaking of alien, make sure your names are easily pronounced! And don’t overload your story with so many alien sounding names and items that the reader has a hard time following it.
Now, what are some good science fiction concepts?
- Taking a possibility to the extreme.
- Tackling one of life’s big mysteries.
- A breakthrough or discovery gone horribly wrong.
- Changing the laws of the universe.
- Merging with another genre. (Think Firefly, which is a mashup of Western and science fiction.)
- Time travel.
- Taking something normal and twisting it.
Now, are you ready to write a science fiction story?
Join us for December's challenge and find out!
Questions? Just ask the Ninja Captain.
Meet the Ninja Captain
Alex J. Cavanaugh & his avatar.
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
You can find Alex J. Cavanaugh via these links
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Alex J Cavanaugh is discussing science fiction #WEPFF Write…Edit,,,Publish @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-writing-science-fiction-its-not.html
Writing science fiction – it’s not really that alien! Says @AlexJCavanaugh #WEPFF @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-writing-science-fiction-its-not.html
@AlexJCavanaugh on How to Write Science Fiction #WEPFF Write…Edit…Publish. @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-writing-science-fiction-its-not.html
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