Science fiction allows authors greater freedom than perhaps any other genre. But the complexity needed for science fiction and fantasy writing can be daunting and leave even the most experienced writers exhausted. Author P. Wish presents a 26-point checklist for plausible and authentic science fiction — an A to Z guide for how to write sci-fi.
A- Attack Start with a bang. Every story needs a strong opening.
B- Blow it up Science fiction usually consists of blown up situations. Whether is is aliens taking over the Earth, or black holes or a dystopian novel, they contain situations that are blown up versions of reality.
C- Characters Characters are the backbone of any story. Create realistic, fleshed out characters. Take time to know your characters before you begin writing. Many science fiction stories ignore characters.
D- Danger An element of danger will keep the readers turning pages. Science fiction thrives on danger. A sense of impending doom is essential to add flesh to the story.
E- Elements The five elements- air, water, fire, earth and space make up your science fiction universe. These directly influence the world that our characters live in. Science fiction usually plays around with these.
F- Futuristic Science fiction is synonymous with ‘future’. Science fiction relies on futuristic technology. Many of the gadgets we see today were written about in science fiction novels. Make sure you include a ‘futuristic’ element in your story.
G- Genius Put a unique spin on the tale. Black holes, time travel, futuristic gadgets and dystopian governments have been done to death. Take an idea and put a unique spin on it.
H- Hell This is where we introduce the bad guys. Make your hero’s life a living hell. This is the motivation to change. No pain, no gain.
I- Innovation Innovation is the backbone of all science fiction. What if teleportation was a mode of travel? That would save lot of time, traffic jams, fuel, metals and money. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. Find a problem and solve it in an innovative way.
J- Jungle Chaos is the way of things. In effect, your characters are stuck in an imaginary jungle. There are known and unknown forces at work. Expose the story layer by layer.
K- Kremlin Kremlin refers to a Fortress in Russian. Fortress is a place of refuge or support. Create a fortress where your character can recoup and re-energize. This is the source of your character’s strength. This is where he/she goes to retreat when they are wounded. This is what they would protect with their life. Every story needs one.
L- Last Science Fiction has a love affair with lasts. The last of the human race, the last contestant remaining, the last straw- science fiction is a series of lasts. Having a ‘last’ in your story creates a sense of urgency.
M- Miracle Readers love miracles. They offer a sense of renewed hope. In science fiction stories where the future is a bleak and depressing place, miracles are what keep people going.
N- Nemesis Remember Hell? Nemesis takes ‘hell’ to a whole new level. A nemesis becomes a part of the hero’s DNA. It is what the hero lives to defeat. Make the nemesis a force to reckon with.
O- Opportunity All successes are a result of the right opportunity. Give the hero opportunities to change and defeat.
P- Parallel Action These are the invisible forces that are at work behind the scenes. Plot a parallel stream of events. Then, expose them one by one.
Q- Question Finding an answer is all about asking the right questions. Make sure you make your readers ask the right question. This is important to keep the plot moving in the right direction.
R- Re-Birth Science fiction is a tale of transformation. Without re-birth, any story falls flat on the face. Let your hero rise from the ashes. Change the premise. Re-awaken an old spirit. Re-birth adds the third dimension to your plot.
S- Science There can be no science fiction without science. Make sure the scientific elements of your story are believable (or it’s not science fiction, it’s fantasy.)
T- Time period In what time period is your story set? Is it set in a future where the human race faces extinction? Is it set in technologically advanced Japan?
U- Universe Ultimately, all actions influence the universe we live in. How does your hero interact with the universe the characters live in?
V- Vacillate A vacillating story that wanders without any sense of direction is not what you are aiming for.
W- Waterfall This is the point in the story when everything comes gushing at full speed. A strong climax makes a strong story.
X- X-Ray Examine the inner dynamics of the story and characters.
Y- Yield The story must ultimately yield to the expectations of readers and the characters. Twist endings are fine but make sure you give a heads up to readers.
Z- Zen A state of Zen will do wonders for your imagination. It is also the state you will be in when you finish your story.
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P. Wish is an author and blogger. She graduated with an honors degree in Law from the University of Manchester, UK. She self published her first book in May, 2015. Her next book releases on 28th October, 2015. She spends most of her time writing, designing for her blog and making book trailers. When she’s not writing, she likes to paint, dance, meditate, research, watch movies and nourish her sweet tooth. She loves to read about a wide variety of topics like business, psychology, marketing, singing, pop science and self help.