15 Tips on How to Write a Science Fiction Story
You want to write your first science fiction story? Then you already know what science fiction is. Writing science fiction can represent a real challenge, but do not be discouraged. If you have a lot of imagination and pay attention to a few things – you are ready to write an extraordinary science fiction!
So, where to start? Here are the 15 tips on how to write a science fiction story! A new writing adventure can begin.
Step One: Finding your inspiration
- If you have difficulty developing a good story, find inspiration by researching the latest scientific discoveries or the most interesting ones. By relying on science, you can avoid many clichés and focus on content that will grab the reader’s attention. However, do not let science overwhelm the story. Visit the online forums focused on popular science and science fiction topics. The discussions and materials you find there should provide you with a handful of new ideas to help you visualize the futuristic landscape in which the storytelling will take place.
- You probably read a lot of good science fiction, haven’t you? Regardless, you can still find inspiration by turning to the classics of this genre. Learn from reading your favorite Sci-Fi authors and by analyzing their writing styles. You do not have to follow their patterns and fantastic worlds, but you might get an idea to create your own!
- Science fiction is a very complex genre, but it makes writing science fiction even more interesting. Why not explore the subgenres of science fiction as well? There are many options to choose from: Hard science fiction, soft science fiction, military science fiction, steampunk, Sci-Fi fantasy, space opera, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, science fiction horror, and many others. Who knows, you may become the originator of a new sub-genre!
- What makes the reader tick? Build a story around the specific message that you aim to convey in your writings. When a story leads somewhere and has a predetermined meaning, the chances it will leave a strong impression on the reading audience are much higher.
- The best science fiction is the one that gives us a better insight into the world we belong to. Take some of the events or observations that have recently caught your attention. Present them in a world that is far different from yours. In this way, you will tell an important story and remove the reader’s biases. When the action we can identify with takes place in the distant future, on another planet – we tend to look at it more closely and more rationally. For example, did you know that Dune, one of the greatest classics of science fiction, actually refers to the conflict in the Middle East after the end of World War II?
Step Two: World-Building & Characterization
- You reached the world-building phase. The task is to create a different reality from your own. Science fiction represents the worlds that are so fascinating and different in every way. In such a world, the reader must recognize something familiar, and at the same time be able to understand it. Create a connection between reality and the imaginary, and the story will find its way to a much larger audience.
- You also have the task of creating realistic characters. These characters may live in another galaxy, but to identify with them and “get into their heads,” try to use your own experiences. What ideas or interests do you share with the characters you create? Where to get character ideas? Use real people as models, with all their values, morals, gestures, interests, quirks. Or maybe base a character on yourself?
- Pay attention to the scientific aspect of your story. When writing about science fiction, it is necessary to make sure that the scientific side of the story – remains scientific. Otherwise, the reader will have problems with the credibility and will not believe it. Do not stray far from what the reader is (scientifically) familiar with.
- If you plan to use fictional language, it might be helpful to mention some basic rules about sounds and grammar. It is not necessary to invent whole languages as Tolkien did. All you have to do is be constant enough throughout the novel for the reader to find your story believable.
- Craft a brand new culture, the culture that extends beyond what we see on the page. Define this strange new world of yours. Define its inhabitants. Think about their history. An elaborated cultural background makes your world more complete. It will certainly look more real to the readers!
Step Three: Develop your story
- Select a structure. The structure is the general way your story is told. It can be a three-step structure. Imagine, for example, the first part where you present the framework of the story, the second part where the story unfolds, and the third part where the story ends.You can also have two- or four-stroke structures, cyclic structures (like monomyth), or a nonlinear history.
- Conflict is one of the best guides in your story! All conflict falls into two categories: internal and external. A good story usually contains both types! That is, the story may contain multiple types of conflict, but one should be the main focus. Pit your characters against nature, society, the supernatural, or other characters! What you decide to choose will have a significant effect on what kind of story you tell.
- Work on perfecting your narrative style. Choose a narrative point of view (write the story in the first, second, or third person.) Choose a storytelling time (past, present, or future). Choose a narrative voice. Ask yourself, can you trust the narrator or not?
- Respect a chosen style of writing. Pay attention to the passages in your story where the writing styles will not be the same. When writing over a long period, you will be exposed to different emotions and influences. No matter how well you tell the story, the writing style needs to be the same from the beginning to the end.
- Pay attention to the sequence of events. This section is crucial because it determines how fast the events will happen. They must stay connected, otherwise, you guessed it – the reader will find it difficult to follow the plot and the relationships between the characters.
The end is in sight! What is left to do? Edit your science fiction story. Take another look at the world you have created, as well as at the characterization. Share the story with friends or editors who will give you even more critical feedback.
Finally, publish it! Some will prefer self-publishing, while others might opt for a literary agent. But also consider the various writing contests you can take part in.