Tuesday 24 November 2015


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

Help us Spread the Word!
We'd love if you'd Tweet one of these:

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

Next Tuesday, look for the InLinkz sign-up list for the
December Challenge


  1. Welcome Alex. It sounds simple when you put it like this. Thanks for guesting and for judging this challenge. You rock!

  2. Good advice. Plot and characters are key!

  3. Alex makes it sound easy. Part of his ninja magic I suspect.

  4. Want to get the ideas flowing for the next challenge. Interesting tips.

  5. Alex makes it sound so simple! The only sci-fi I have ever read is Asimov. New authors to explore here, thanks for that.

    I will have to schedule the post and postpone the reading as I am travelling last half Dec, if that is, I can manage to write one at all. As of now, in my usual clueless mode... is a haiku admissible as an SF post? :)

  6. Thanks for hosting me, Denise!

    Elephant's Child, there is always Ninja magic...

    Nilanjana, there is a whole world of science fiction beyond Asimov.

  7. Fabulous post. Sci-fi stumps me in more ways than one (I flunked Physics. Twice.) so when I saw the guidelines for the December WEP challenge I wanted to cry :D After reading this, though, I think I'm up for it. Thanks so much, Alex! And Denise, thank you for hosting Alex! I'm sure many like me will now be actually itching to start :)
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

  8. Alex makes it sound so simple.
    I'm not sure if I can write sci-fi... the world-building takes time.

  9. The world building required for science fiction can be challenging, but I think it's also a lot of fun. I love playing around with the possibilities until I come up with something that feels believable and makes for a rich foundation for the story that will follow.

    Great post! This should be a fun challenge!

  10. Nice to see you here, Alex, and who better to give us hints on scifi? I'm in for the December WEP challenge, as I love science fiction and have since I started reading it in my early twenties. I read everything scifi for a while to decide which type I preferred and generally it's the hard scifi with a twist that appeals to me. I don't care much for scifi monsters, unless they are humanoid. I like the epics where mankind must evolve or expand his ideas, like DUNE and The Foundations classics, . I've read almost all of the scifi greats, and some of the modern ones. If we don't dream, we'll never get there to the outer reaches of the universe. Thanks for the tips, Alex!

  11. Sci fi is a fun genre to write in, but it does take some getting used to "flying" to galaxies instead of driving overseas, lol. World building is the toughest, but its also the hardest about writing fantasy.

  12. Guilie, you can do it!

    Michelle, just keep it simple.

    DG, you are more than ready!

  13. Great advice, Alex. Thank you. SciFi is not really my genre, but I'll try to use your tips for the December challenge. It might be fun.

  14. Wonderful post and advice, Alex. I think world-building in SciFi would be quite challenging.

  15. I love these tips. They seem simple enough, but make all the difference in a good sci-fi story. I love Alex's CassaStar series and can't wait to read Dragon of the Stars.

  16. Hope these are helpful! Glad you enjoyed my Cassa series, Toi.

  17. Great post, Alex! You make Sci/Fi so much fun and that is why we stick with you!


  18. Lots of great tips for world-building in the future!

  19. There are so many possibilities in science fiction with enormous similarities and trivial differences. I speak of the human race and its many alien species. Its a wondrous universe.

  20. Hadn't thought about it like this, thanks Alex! Appreciate the tips.

    Thanks for hosting Alex today!

  21. Great post, guys. Alex, good tips for writing sci fi. Although western-sci fi is an 'alien' ha ha concept to me.

  22. Of course I'm late in reading this. My life's a circus. I have an idea I'm pretty sure no one has thought of. Time to write. See you soon.

  23. Learned to read on Superman comic books, Dick, Jane and Sally were so boring. Started a life long love of science fiction - thanks for the tips!

  24. Reading or watching sci-fi works can be a good brain exercise because it helps you imagine wonderful things that may amazingly influence your way of life.


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