Writing science fiction and fantasy can be a difficult task to undertake. It requires the writer to create an entire world with its own history, geography, and unique set of rules that govern how it works. In this blog post I will provide you with some tips on how to write successfully in the genre of sci-fi/fantasy!

What Is Science Fiction?

Science fiction is a genre of literature that typically features advanced science and technology. It often explores the potential consequences of developments in these fields, especially when it comes to their effects on people’s lives, interactions with one another, or society as a whole. The term has also been used more broadly to describe dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s.

Science fiction and Fantasy are often set in a ‘world’ or universe with its own rules, logic, culture and values. It’s important to know how your world works – what is different about it? What do the characters like/dislike?

Helpful tips for writing a Science fiction novel

Create a believable world by grounding it in our reality. In other words, make sure to include elements of human nature and society that we can relate with today (i.e., poverty, crime).

Build up the foundation. Build up the foundation for your sci-fi story early on so readers understand what is going on while you introduce new information about your story or novel.

Familiarize yourself with the tropes of science fiction and fantasy. What are common themes? Sci-fi is often a commentary on how our present world could be in future, while Fantasy can explore more imaginative worlds or creatures (i.e., elves) that don’t exist today but might if we were to discover them tomorrow.

Make sure you’re telling a good story. It’s one thing to have a great idea or situation, but that alone won’t keep people reading.

Make sure the rules of your world are consistent. One of the qualities that set sci-fi novels apart from fantasy and surrealism is that no matter how strange or fantastic the world is, the rules are always internally consistent.

If you’re setting your story in a world that has been created by someone else (ex: Star Wars), make sure to do research on how the creator envisioned it and then write within those guidelines.

Play with genre conventions or expectations – most readers of sci-fi/fantasy are looking for something new, so play around with how you tell the story.

Know your conventions or tropes – readers of this genre have certain expectations and if you know what those are then it will be easier to meet them in a way that they’ll enjoy (think: magic school). Just because everyone expects there to always be one character who’s a “chosen one”, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a whole story around someone who isn’t.

Know your world – if the rules of how this universe work are being revealed to the reader, then show them those things through your characters’ responses and actions instead of telling them about every single detail in exposition paragraphs. You’ll have more space to work with and it will be easier for the reader to parse what’s happening.

Explore your setting – don’t forget that not all sci-fi or fantasy stories are set on an alien planet, in medieval times, etc. If you’re writing about a world with modern technology but everyone still has swords, why is that the case?

Challenge your characters – don’t let them be perfect heroes who can do anything and never fail. If they’re going to save the world, how does that affect their family life or work/school situation? What about those people in other parts of the globe who are also fighting for justice but might not get it as quickly?

Don’t be afraid of the difficult stuff – if your story is about a group of people who have been enslaved by an evil empire, how does that system work? What motivates the slaves to do what they’re told? If you don’t address these questions then it might seem like this whole horrible situation just sprang out of nowhere.

Focus on character development. As a science fiction writer, you’re taking your readers into uncharted territory- show them how they feel about what’s happening. As a fantasy writer, it can be tempting to focus on the magical world around the characters but don’t forget that this is their story and people want to see how these fantastical events change their lives.

Have a clear message– not all of your readers will be automatically engaged by how cool the technology is or how detailed your worldbuilding is. You have to tell them what they’re reading and why it matters- think about how you can use these elements in a way that speaks to our shared humanity.

Keep an eye on genre conventions while you write- are you using certain vocabulary or sentence structures that are common in this genre.

Create a world with its own rules and customs –instead of creating yet another medieval Western European kingdom, how about building your story on an ice planet populated by aliens?

Be original –it’s always tempting to take inspiration from other people or books but you’re probably not the first person to have that idea. Make your work unique by creating something specific to you and what you want people to read about

Find mentors – find other writers in the genre who are at a similar stage as you, ask them how they got started and what their process is like.

Write consistently–  no matter how hard it can be to keep up, the more you write, the better your writing will become.

Find critique partners – they’ll tell you how to improve your work and keep you accountable in terms of deadlines.

Read like crazy– get into a routine of reading at least one book or article every week on topics such as plot development, characterisation, dialogue and reader engagement.

Remember that science fiction is about ideas. More so than any other genre, a good science fiction story depends on a great premise.

In general, science fiction is more about the idea than how it’s told. Focus on your idea rather than the details of telling a story or making something believable in order to make this work well as an essay for college students who are interested in writing sci-fi and fantasy stories.