Writing Science Fiction: Tips for Beginners
We’ve seen a lot of science fiction stories over the past year or so. It’s not like they sci-fi ever went out of style, but it seems to be gaining popularity recently.
For some, writing science fiction might seem like a daunting genre to break into. Do you need to know complex mathematical equations? Do you need to know exactly how space travel works? Did you need to major in astrophysics?
Sure, those things don’t hurt, but they’re absolutely not necessary. You can write a great sci-fi novel without years of research. And you can tell a really interesting story, even if you’re not a science pro.
Here are a few tips to get started:
Consider ‘What-if’ Scenarios
This isn’t just a great rule for sci-fi novels, but I think the best ones use this approach. Start off with a simple what-if scenario. For example: what if we lived on a world made of ice? What if in this particular world only consisted of women? Obviously, you’ll need to expand on those scenarios and spend time really developing what those caveats would mean, but you get the idea.
Start with a small what-if scenario and brainstorm!
Figure Out Your Rules
I don’t think writing great sci-fi depends on being 100% scientifically accurate ALL THE TIME, but I do think you need to stick to your own rules. Whatever is a hard rule for your own universe, it’s important to keep it that way. Does your world have ships that can travel quickly from planet to planet? Sure, that’s great! Figure out your own rules for space travel and develop your world. How do the inhabitants on one planet act/grow/eat/interact compared to the inhabitants of another? Spend time developing these ideas!
No Info Dumps!
Sometimes when people write science fiction, they tend to explain their universe all in one big info-dump. Don’t. This is boring and it does nothing to serve your story. Slowly reveal information. Every plot point in your story should serve a purpose. Develop your characters through the action and show off your worlds through them. Get creative.
Keep it Vague
If you’re unsure about the science of something, write to your strengths. Don’t understand how space travel works? Maybe your MC is put to sleep during a long trip. This is just one example, but try to figure out a way to make it work for you. Maybe avoid space travel altogether if it doesn’t serve your story.
Listen, this isn’t a substitute for research, but I also don’t want you to avoid writing science fiction if you just don’t get a lot of the concepts involved. If you’ve got a great idea for a story, work it out to fit your style. Science fiction is a great platform for unique and compelling character studies, so don’t get scared off! You don’t have to write hard science fiction in order to write a good novel.