Writing a science fiction novel can be a massive undertaking. There are many different sub-genres of science fiction (e.g., dystopian and space opera), but they all create worlds that differ from our own in key ways.
While creating a new world may seem like an exciting but daunting task, we have 4 tips to help you write a science fiction novel:
1. Identify the theme that your story will center around.
2. Create a comprehensive world for your story to live in.
3. Develop well-rounded characters that your readers can relate to.
4. Use character profiles and worldbuilding tools to help you stay organized.
Read on below to look at these tips in more detail.
Many authors are inspired to write science fiction because they have an idea of a world they want to create. However, at the heart of every story, there is a theme that drives the narrative forward. In science fiction, that often comes in the form of asking, “What if?” Consider Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which asks about technology’s cost to humanity. Or how Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness asks how society would change if there were no such thing as gender.
The presence of the question can be implicit or explicit, but it’s crucial to building an intriguing story that brings the question to life so that you’re not just writing through a thought experiment.
It’s important to give your readers a place for your story to live. Some of the most iconic science fiction novels have created more than just a great story—they’ve built entire universes for their readers to explore. Think about the Dune novels by Frank Herbert or the Star Wars stories by George Lucas!
These intricate details will bring your world to life. Here are some important factors to consider:
● Where: Does your story take place on Earth, on a different planet, or in a different universe?
● History: Develop a backstory to your world that will make it more tangible to your readers. Consider wars, enemies, rival races, etc.
● Weather: Are there natural disasters or extreme temperatures, and how do they affect the world? Are there natural resources? How do people use the land?
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● Language: How do the people in your world communicate with each other? Is there anything off-limits that could be a source of conflict in your story?
● Culture: What do the people in your world believe in (e.g., religions or sacred customs)? What do the people in your world celebrate? These can bring your characters to life.
● Power Dynamics: What is the governing system? Who is in charge? Who is privileged in the system, and who isn’t? Power dynamics can be a great source of societal tension in your story!
It’s important to establish the rules and boundaries of your world and how everything exists within it. However, avoid unloading all the details onto your readers at once—gradually introduce your world in interesting, natural, and digestible ways.
3. Character Building
Just as important as the setting of your story are the characters in it. If you want characters that your readers will connect with, they need to be believable. Create unique, three-dimensional characters with attributes that make them relatable:
● Backstory: Develop full histories for your characters, even if all the details don’t make it into the final story. This preparation will help you understand who your characters are and, therefore, how they operate and make decisions. Their backgrounds influence their motives.
● Personality: Consider developing characters based on real people with recognizable traits and quirks. The characters’ personalities will influence how they tackle problems and act throughout your story.
● Appearance: Identify your characters’ hair and eye colors, statures, mannerisms, and body language. These details will help your readers conjure realistic mental images of your characters.
You should have many different types of characters—at the main, secondary, and tertiary levels—that contrast and highlight each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
You should also give your characters goals, obstacles, and conflict, which will allow your characters to evolve over the course of the story.
Similar to introducing your world to the reader, slowly reveal your characters throughout the story to mimic how you learn about people in real life.
4. Stay Organized!
As you can see, science fiction stories are the culmination of many elaborate details. It’s important to fully develop the details ahead of time and keep them organized because your readers will notice inconsistencies! Fortunately, there are many character and worldbuilding development and organization tools out there to help!
Don’t forget about the importance of proofreading and editing. It can be hard to catch any typos or inconsistencies in your own work. We have expert editors who can highlight discrepancies in tone, language, structure, and even plot! Upload a free trial document today to learn more.