A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Science Fiction
Science fiction is one of the most enduring genre of all time—wherein other genres are slowly fizzling out, sci-fi flourishes to the top of the genre chain. Its popularity lies in its use as a tool to interpret the world around us and investigate areas of our life that are too complex, too implicit, too subtle to discuss due to the limitations of realistic fiction.
While science fiction has been a beloved genre for years, it was not always an accepted one. It carried a stigma where many thought this was mainly for the nerds or science enthusiasts. However, science fiction exploded in 2000. Books under this genre surely sells, became more popular, and more accepted than ever. Readers found themselves being taken to a new reality that’s an extension/different from our own. And a lot found beauty in writing science fiction.
So how do you write a compelling science fiction?
Writing science fiction can be an equally arduous and exciting process. As with any novel, you’ll need to develop interesting characters, out of this world plot, and write polished prose. That being said, writing science fiction also requires plenty of unique considerations. Following the considerations listed below will ensure that you can write a stellar sci-fi novel like Moon Luck by Wayne Scott Harral.
Develop a Big Idea
More so than any other genre, science fiction is about ideas. For over a hundred years, sci-fi writers have presented big and bold ideas. This genre has delivered a steady outpouring of concepts never tackled before. Readers will expect much from you as well; therefore, spend time thinking about the “big idea” that makes your story different and special from the rest. They’ll look for it from the synopsis and the first chapter of the book, expecting you to deliver.
Reading lots of science fiction books is a great way to forming a big, bold idea. See, writing for science fiction starts with an idea which is the seed from which the story grows. For that, this idea of yours plays a huge role in how your novel will be judged by readers. Is it a good novel or a great one?
The definition of science fiction will vary, but one thing everyone will agree: science is integral to the overall story. Authors plant a story’s roots in scientific reality—or at least they try to if they want their work to be successful. Science fiction tackles complex scientific topics, from astronomy to the human genome that are explained and link to the story tropes and plot devices. This process enables writers to imbue their stories with scientific accuracy without putting readers to sleep.
While you may not be adept in science or technology, you can only rely on research. Since it is science, you’re going to have to do a lot more research than usual to really capture the essence of the genre.
Build an Interesting World
Science fiction is a genre that enables writers to develop any kind of world they want. The world-building process is one of the most important process of creating a compelling science fiction story. Sometimes those worlds are purely fictional, like that of a futuristic world or a world where science and humanity live in disarray. Other times the world is embedded within the real world of the past or the present.
If you want to use the real world and keep it as is, then disregard this step.
Focus on Characterization
The story shouldn’t be “about” science. While it is fundamental, the story should focus about the characters you’ve created. It should be about what the characters want, their motivations, and the obstacles they face in pursuit of their goals. Get inside the characters’ heads, and consider how ideas impact the emotional lives of the characters you’re creating. That’s the heart of the story.
It’s important to note one thing when creating characters: it is not a bad thing to fall on a trope for the first layer of the character as long as there is depth. Depth means adding character traits, relationships, and arcs. And failing to add depth to the characters as the novel progresses jeopardizes the dramatic plot.
No matter how futuristic or scientific the world is, it must still obey an internally consistent logic. This is particularly important in science fiction, which already requires suspension of disbelief. A story is made up of multiple components, and it has internal consistency when all these operate and abide by the rules and logic that govern the world it is set in. Consistency is vital as it allows readers to engage actively with the story. After all, readers love thinking about the characters, plot, settings, and ideas of the story. And thinking about these involves trying to understand and even predict them, which will be impossible without consistency. Lastly, consistency ensures that the story makes sense. Thus, edit edit edit until consistency is achieved.
Take these considerations in mind, and you’ll end up with an amazing science fiction book.