Fun Writing Ideas

Building Confidence in Young Writers

6 Science Fiction Guided Writing Lessons for Kids

science fiction writing year 6

Use these Science Fiction writing lessons for kids to guide students in writing their own stories.

Like fantasy , kids enjoy writing Science Fiction because ANYTHING can happen!

I’m not a huge fan of science fiction, but kids love it, so this past summer I offered a science fiction summer writing camp.

Northern Lights--Science Fiction

The theme for the afternoon art camp was Arctic Adventure. I incorporated the Arctic Ocean and arctic animals into several of the morning Science Fiction writing lessons. It turned out to be a lot of fun!

As a result, I wanted to be sure and share the ideas here for you all to use!

Common Core State Standards

NOTE: These lessons can address the following Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.3, W.1.3, W.2.3, W.3.3, W.3.3.A, W.3.3.B, W.3.3.C, W.3.3.D, W.4.3, W.4.3.A, W.4.3.B, W.4.3.C, W.4.3.D, W.4.3.E, W.5.3, W.5.3.A, W.5.3.B, W.5.3.C, W.5.3.D, W.5.3.E, L.K.2, L.1.2, L.2.2, L.3.2, L.3.2.C, L.4.2, L.4.2.B and L.5.2.

The titles of the guided lessons that I generated and presented were Polar Power, Aliens in the Arctic, Birthday Bash, Exhausted Electronics and Solar Seeds .  

The campers heard the ideas for the Science Fiction writing lessons and then ran with it, creating their own unique stories.  One rising first grader took the Solar Seeds idea and created his own story titled, “SUN DAY.”

Child's Science Fiction story

It is so important to remind students that ANYTHING can happen in their stories. These lessons are simply meant to guide them so that they have a clear beginning, middle and end.

Now, let’s talk about the 6 story ideas below.

*This post contains affiliate links.  For more information, see my disclosures here .*

There are two pieces to these stories that really engaged my campers; dialogue and super powers.

First, we began each story with dialogue. This is a fun way to help students entering Grades 2-6 learn to correctly write punctuation for dialogue.

Dialogue punctuation to start a science fiction story

While I don’t worry about punctuation for K-1st Graders, I still want them to write their characters saying something.

Dialogue without punctuation to start a science fiction story

Younger writers typically began their stories with friendly dialogue. For example, two polar bears playing and talking or arctic foxes running around and joking.

For the older writers, I encouraged them to write conversations that conveyed a problem.

I explained to the campers that presenting a problem right away, grabs the reader’s attention. It makes the reader want to read more. I pointed out how we as readers get hooked all the time.

Authors often use dialogue to grab our attention and draw us in to keep reading. Check out these examples of problematic hooks!

  • A sample hook for for ALIENS IN THE ARCTIC
  • “What was that?”
  • “Did you hear that?”
  • A sample hook for EXHAUSTED ELECTRONICS
  • “I’m tired of just sitting here, day after day, night after night.”
  • “Someone, please get me out of here.”
  • A sample hook for SOLAR SEEDS
  • “These are good, but I don’t feel so well. My hands are getting hot.”
  • “Whoa, Kai. Are you okay?”

Super Powers

Super Heroes for a science fiction story

Secondly, each story had to incorporate super powers. The kids love brainstorming super powers! What’s fun is that they not only name off the familiar, but they learn to create their own.

Let’s first look at the familiar. Here’s a list of super powers that children will name off rather quickly:

  • Ability to Fly
  • Shoot lasers from eyes
  • Super jump, speed or strength
  • Telekinesis (moving something by thinking it to)
  • Teleportation (transporting oneself from one place to another)
  • Time Travel (going forward or backward in time)

Then, when I give the students a specific writing prompt, they begin to think of additional super powers specific to the character, scene or situation.

Each prompt below lends itself the opportunity to create new super powers fitting to the story.

Polar Power

Arctic Fox for a science fiction story

  • Arctic Foxes–Claws that extend really far and cut
  • Beluga Whale–Shoots Webs
  • Ermines–Lightning Fast
  • Musk Ox–Horns extend and crush anything in its path
  • Polar Bears–Lasers that freeze (or melt) anything in its path
  • Reindeer Horns–Shoot webs that freeze anything it catches
  • Seals—Super Whack
  • Snowshoe Hares–Blind people/animals with their whiteness

Aliens in the Arctic

Arctic scene for a science fiction story

  • Shoot toxic slime
  • Melt the ice around them
  • Blow bubbles that pop a sticky substance
  • Change the weather
  • Communicate back to their mother ship
  • Innocent super strength

Birthday Bash

Birthday Balloons for a science fiction story

A balloon pops and:

  • Causes time travel
  • Sprays a laughing gas
  • People turn invisible
  • Shrinks everyone

Exhausted Electronics

Electronics for a science fiction story

  • Electronics talk
  • A toaster shoots painful bread crumbs
  • A TV turns invisible
  • An I-Phone shoots electric shocks
  • An I-Pad teleports to another location

Solar Seeds

Sunflower seeds for a science fiction story

  • A person gives off extreme heat or brightness.
  • The sunflower seeds blind people.
  • A person’s mouth shoots flames.
  • A person creates electricity as needed.

Astronaut in outer space for a science fiction story

  • Fly to outer space.
  • Cause people to laugh uncontrollably.
  • Grease any surface causing enemies to slip.
  • Shrink from the color purple
  • Have a mega voice.

6 Science Fiction Writing Lessons

Now for the lessons!

First of all, these 6 Science Fiction writing lessons guide students to write a complete science fiction story in a short amount of time.

To get a full understanding on how I conduct each writing lesson you may want to read the  Writing Prompts Introduction  post.  The lessons outlined below (and all other prompts posted) will make more sense and be easier to follow and use.  Here’s the lined paper I use for  Grades K-2  and  Grades 2-7

While each story line is very different, the format of each lesson is the same. This is very important when teaching writing.

Having a different story line keeps the lessons engaging and fun. Using the same format helps students become comfortable writing a complete and detailed story.

The 5 Sections

The format (or 5 sections) for each of these stories is:

  • Introduce the characters
  • All of a sudden,
  • Reaction/Action
  • Solution/Conclusion

As mentioned in my writing prompts introduction:   K-1 st Graders are encouraged to write 1 sentence for each section, 2 nd Graders 2 sentences, 3 rd Graders 3 sentences and so on.

Secondly, these lessons focus on dialogue and story order.

Each of the 6 stories begins with a conversation. I taught 5 of these stories at our week long science fiction camp this past summer and was amazed at how well the campers improved their ability to punctuate dialogue after just 5 days.

Thirdly, each lesson comes with an easy art accent that accompanies students’ work. These art accents are highly motivating to young writers and reward them for their work!

Lastly, at the bottom of the 6 lessons, there is a list of writing games that focus on grammar and the mechanics of writing.


Child's Science Fiction story

Story Line: Specific arctic animals are playing. There’s a problem. The arctic animals battle using their super powers.

Suggested Art Accent: Watercolor and salt from the list of Snow Art Accents

Easy snow art accent for the science fiction story

I also had a pack of arctic animal stickers * that the campers used.

Arctic animal stickers for the science fiction story

Lesson 2: ALIENS in the ARCTIC

Child's Science Fiction story

Story Line: Arctic animals are playing.  All of a sudden, friendly aliens land in the arctic and are lost OR aliens attack the arctic.  The arctic animals have to help or get rid of the aliens .

Suggested Art Accent: Use marker to draw and color aliens around the border.

Then, glue googly eyes* onto the aliens.

Draw aliens and glue googly eyes around the border of the science fiction story


Child's Science Fiction story

Story Line: A birthday party is going on. All of a sudden, a balloon pops causing everyone to time travel. You have to figure out a way to get back.

Suggested Art Accents: First, fill in the border with any one of the birthday art accents.

Child's Science Fiction story

Then, give your students a big colorful balloon to blow up and bounce around. They have a pack of them at the Dollar Tree!

Birthday balloon to go with science fiction story


Child's Science Fiction story

Story Line: The electronics that we use every single day are lonely, tired or unhappy and they finally speak up! You help or battle the electronic.

Suggested Art Accent: The student draws the electronic, cuts it out and pastes it to a scenic calendar page .

Computer in the northern lights scene--science fiction story


Child's Science Fiction story

Story Line: You are eating sunflower seeds.  Suddenly, you have a special super power related to the sun.  You either keep it and use it or find a way to get rid of it.

Suggested Art Accent: Make a bright sunny border using marker. Then, eat sunflower seeds while gluing some onto the border!

Sunflower seeds around the border of the science fiction story

Lesson 6: SUPER YOU-Discover Your Own Super Power

science fiction--Child looking at a clock for time travel

Story Line: You live in a futuristic setting. One day, you discover you have a super power. You learn to live with it or get rid of it.

Suggested Art Accent: Use ABC Stickers * or marker to write the title.

science fiction title


Correct the Paragraph

Correct the paragraph about a science fiction story

Quotation Scramblers

Unscrcamble sentences about science fiction

Silly Sentences

Write silly sentences about science fiction

Instead of Said-A to Z

Instead of said words for science fiction stories

Spin a Category-60 Seconds –For this game, choose categories specific the story that the students write. We played this after writing Birthday Bash and used the following categories:

  • Decorations
  • Cake Flavors
  • Kinds of Candy
  • People (girl, boy, dentist, cowboy etc.)

category words for science fiction stories

Words With # of Letters

words for science fiction stories

More Science Fiction Writing Lessons

Check out more Science Fiction Writing Lessons that I’ve posted!

A Barn, Cows and Snow-Science Fiction

Science Fiction writing lessons-cows

Leprechaun Attack-Science Fiction

Science Fiction writing lessons-leprechaun green clover

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  • Writing - Unit 1 Science Fiction
  • Blended Learning

Science Fiction

In this writing unit, we will be learning about science fiction.  

We will be reading science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov and Douglas Hill.

Science Fiction stories may be set in the future, involve advanced technology, extra terrestrial life, time travel or robots.

Monday 25th January

For Monday's English, please complete the spelling activities for your group, and the grammar and reading for Monday.

Tuesday 26th January

Today we are going to continue writing our science fiction stories.

You will need your plan.

Please re-read your whole story so far before you begin writing.

Use the lesson below to support your writing.

Science Fiction Section Four

Wednesday 27th January

Science fiction section five.

Thursday 28th January

Today we are going to complete our science fiction stories.

Science Fiction Section Six

Friday 29th January

Edit, review and publish.

science fiction writing year 6

Monday 18th January

Science Fiction (Sci-Fi) is often set in futuristic or alien worlds.

In order to tell the story, first the writer must create a setting.

Today I would like you watch this short film made to accompany the blockbuster movie Avatar.

Once you have watched the short film, use the worksheet below to create an imaginary alien world of your own.

I have also included an example to help support your writing.  This is about the imaginary planet Jana.

Pandora Discovered

Sigourney Weaver narrates this first look at the world of Pandora, as portrayed in James Cameron's epic motion picture, Avatar.

  • Alien World.pdf

Tuesday 19th January

Today we are going to begin writing our science fiction stories.

You will need the plan completed on Friday.  A blank plan is included below.

Use the presentation below to support your writing.

  • Science Fiction story writing 1 (2).pdf

Wednesday 20th January

You will need the plan completed last week.

Science Fiction Section 2

Thursday 21st January

You will need the plan completed last week.

Science Fiction Section 3

Friday 22nd January

Edit and review.

science fiction writing year 6

Monday 11th January

For Monday's English writing, please complete the spelling activities for your group.

Spelling activites can be found in the Spelling Tab below.

Tuesday 12th January

Watch the short film "Invasions" by Clément Morin and then complete the answers to the following questions about the blue alien:

Remember to include evidence from the film to support your answers.

  • What does he discover and experience? 
  • Is it his first trip to Earth? 
  • What is his purpose? 
  • Why does he land? 
  • What is the purpose of the crop circle? 
  • Who is the pink alien?

"INVASIONS" by Clément Morin

This enchanting animated short film follows a visitor from another world as it starts its journey on Earth.Invasions

Wednesday 13th January

Listen to the following science fiction story set in an imaginary future.

During the presentation, you will be asked several questions.

Answer these questions in as much detail as you can.

A copy of the story is available below in Thursday's learning.

Is There Anybody There?

Thursday 14th January

Read the story "Is There Anybody There" again.

This story is set in an imaginary future when life on planet Earth is very different.

Once you have re-read the story, identify any "made-up" words.

How have these words been created?  What do they mean?

For example "telesensor" - this is a combination of the prefix tele (from afar) and the word sensor (a devise which detects, measures or records).  So a telesensor is a screen which detects and measures what is happening in "the Outside".

Now create some futuristic words of your own.  

Perhaps you can create names for some of your futuristic inventions created in last Wednesday's lesson when you described the technology of the future.

The table of prefixes and their meanings below will help you.

  • Is There Anybody There.pdf

Friday 15th January

Science fiction story planning.

  • Story Mapping No More School.pdf

Wednesday 6th January

Please watch the short film as an introduction to Science Fiction.

Science Fiction Genre - A video compilation.

This video was created to introduce middle school students to science fiction as a genre. It was intended for educational and instructional purposes only.

Writing Task

Science Fiction is often set in an imagined future with technological developments.

What do you think the future will be like?

Write a  non-chronological report about life in the future.

Your report must be organised into paragraphs .

Use the questions below to help you generate ideas. 

Remember - the only limit to an imagined future, is your imagination!

Each paragraph should have the following sub-heading:


Will schools have real classrooms or will all learning be virtual? Will teachers be robots? Perhaps all children will learn at home.  Maybe there will be knowledge downloads direct to your brain.


Will television still exist? Perhaps everyone will use VR (virtual reality).  What might music sound like? How might art have changed?  What about the kinds of toys children will play with?

Will future homes be under the sea?  Or maybe in the clouds? Will we still live on planet Earth?  Maybe we will all have our own space craft.

How fabulous would it be if we all had our own hoverboards?  What kind of fuel might power our cars?  Will cars fly?  Or maybe we won't use cars at all. 

Could we have instant food - just add water?  How about a replicator - just say what you would like to eat and if makes it appear?

The structure of your report should be:

An introduction followed by each of the five   paragraphs in any order.  Copy the introduction and then add the paragraphs in any order you choose.


As technology develops, the future will be very different from the life we know today.  

I look forward to reading your texts.

Thursday 7th January

I hope you enjoy this short story that we will read together.

No More School by Douglas Hill (Part 1)

No More School by Douglas Hill (Part 2)

Copy of the story text.

  • y5nomoreschool.pdf

Writing Tasks

The first writing task today is a combination of writing and drawing.  In the text a detailed description of the bug is given but no there is illustration of the creature.  Draw and label  a detailed diagram of the bug.  

At the end of the story, the writer leaves the story on a cliff-hanger.

For the second writing task, I would like you to write what you think will happen next?

Write about your ideas considering the following:

  • is it likely that there would be only one  alien egg?
  • where did the creature come from?
  • what is its purpose?

Discussion Points

What makes this story a science fiction story?

At what point in the story do we get our first hint of extra-terrestrial activity?

Into which category of science fiction does this story fit: human versus machine, aliens, or inventions?

Friday 8th January

Here is another short science fiction story that we will read together.

The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov

Questions to answer during reading

Read paragraph 1

How do you know this is a sci-fi story right away?

Read paragraph 2

Was there a time when all stories were printed on paper?  When?  How long ago? 

How far in the future is the story set?

The story was written in 1951. 

How long ago was the story written?

Paragraph 3  

How are paper books different to the future books in the story?

Read to end of page 1  

How are future schools different to schools today?

Read to end

Which would prefer – future school or school today?  Why?

How is this story similar/different to “No More School”

Copy of the story text

  • The Fun They Had.pdf
  • Write a comnparison of future books (according to Asimov's story) and books we have today.
  • Write a comparison of future school and school today (you can choose whether you want to write about "normal" school or school during lockdown).
  • Write a comparison between the two stories: "No More School" and "The Fun They Had".

For each of your answers, use evidence form the story/stories to support your ideas.

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Help children develop their knowledge of different fiction genres with this poster on sci-fi stories. Using engaging illustrations and examples, the poster describes the settings, characters and common elements used in science fiction writing.

  • Key Stage: Key Stage 2
  • Subject: English
  • Topic: Themes and Conventions
  • Topic Group: Reading
  • Year(s): Years 5-6
  • Media Type: PDF
  • Resource Type: Poster
  • Last Updated: 07/07/2022
  • Resource Code: E2WAE46
  • Curriculum Point(s): Maintain positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read by increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths, legends and traditional stories, modern fiction, literary heritage, books from other cultures.

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Planning a Story KS2 – Story Writing KS2 Science Fiction Inspiration Pack

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Develop pupils descriptive writing by writing Science Fiction (sci-fi) stories. Images and planning sheets are provided to support pupils to write engaging setting descriptions and develop characters and plot within their stories.

This resource pack could be used to provide inspiration for sci-fi settings in narratives that you are currently planning and writing.

What is included in this Science Fiction settings writing pack?

  • Scie-fi images to inspire descriptive writing. Available as a PDF and PowerPoint for display.
  • Sci-fi story planning booklet where pupils can record ideas for writing.
  • Writing prompts with questions to inspire descriptive writing.
  • Teacher Notes

Science fiction features for KS2

  • Takes place in a world that is different to ours. This might be in space or in the future.
  • Features new technologies or scientific innovations.

National Curriculum English programme of study links

Pupils should be taught to draft and write narratives by creating settings, characters and plot

Pupils should be taught to draft and write by, in narratives, describing settings, characters and atmosphere

This resource is part of the Effective Writing collection. View more from this collection

  • teacher notes
  • pupil booklet
  • story planner

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How to Write Science Fiction

Last Updated: January 2, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Melessa Sargent and by wikiHow staff writer, Hunter Rising . Melessa Sargent is the President of Scriptwriters Network, a non-profit organization that brings in entertainment professionals to teach the art and business of script writing for TV, features and new media. The Network serves its members by providing educational programming, developing access and opportunity through alliances with industry professionals, and furthering the cause and quality of writing in the entertainment industry. Under Melessa's leadership, SWN has won numbers awards including the Los Angeles Award from 2014 through 2021, and the Innovation & Excellence award in 2020. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 349,542 times.

Science fiction became popular when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818 and has become a diverse genre in books and film. It may seem challenging to write, but if you have a good story in your head you can easily work through it. Once you have inspiration and design your setting and characters, you can write a science fiction story that readers could enjoy!

Writing Help

science fiction writing year 6

Finding Story Inspiration

Step 1 Read old and new science fiction writers to see what ideas have been done.

  • Try authors like Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, and Andy Weir.
  • Ask an English teacher or a librarian for suggestions on books or authors.
  • Read writers for the format that you want to write, such as screenwriters if you want to do a screenplay or short story writers for a short story.

Step 2 Watch science fiction movies to get visually inspired.

  • Watch older movies like Jurassic Park, Blade Runner, Alien , or Star Wars , as well as new movies like The Martian, Ex Machina, Interstellar , and Arrival .

Step 3 Look online or scientific journals for recent breakthroughs.

  • Look for journals that cover multiple areas of science, such as Nature or Science .
  • See if you can subscribe to a digital version or archive of the journal if you want to access them easier.

Step 4 Stay up to date with current world news to get real-life inspiration.

  • For example, if news came out about the discovery of a new supervirus, you could write a story about the last few survivors or how finding a cure went wrong.

Step 5 Use the “What if…” thesis model to generate a story premise.

  • For example, the “What if” question for Jurassic Park is “What if dinosaurs were brought back to life for our entertainment?”

Building a Sci-Fi Setting

Step 1 Choose a time period for your story.

  • Using the far, far future will give you the most freedom to explore ideas while setting your story in the past will restrict you.
  • If you set a story in the past, make sure to research the time period to see what technology existed, what events were taking place, and how people spoke. Check for what clothing they wore and what customs they followed.

Step 2 Research real locations and their histories to incorporate into your world.

  • For example, The Handmaid’s Tale is a futuristic society, but the themes of treatment of women and slavery come from real culture.
  • Experiment with mixing different cultural practices when creating an alien race. For example, you may blend a nomadic culture that dresses like the Vikings.

Step 3 Incorporate real science into how your world functions.

  • If you’re introducing new technology that is completely foreign to readers, make sure to describe it in detail so they understand it.
  • For example, The Martian uses real science to send a man to Mars and for how he’s able to survive once he’s stranded.

Step 4 Consider all 5 senses when describing your settings.

  • Make lists of what your characters would experience when they first arrive in your setting. What sights would they see? Who would be there?
  • For example, if your story takes place in a world where the oceans dried up, you could describe the heat, the taste and smell of salt in the air, and the large salt deposits and valleys where the oceans once were.

Step 5 Write descriptions for each of your settings so you have an understanding of them.

  • For example, if you were going to do a brief description of Pandora from the movie Avatar , you may write: “Pandora is a large jungle planet inhabited by a tall, blue humanoid race called the Na’vi. The Na’vi exist in a tribal society with chiefs and spiritual leaders guiding them. They worship and bond with the lush and colorful wildlife around them.”

Creating Memorable Characters

Step 1 Make your protagonist have flaws.

  • For example, Superman’s flaw is that he’ll do whatever he can to save the world, but he will not kill. Putting him in a situation where he may have to harm someone makes your hero go through an interesting choice and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

Step 2 Let your antagonist have some redeeming qualities.

  • For example, HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey sees the human crew endangering their mission and chooses to wipe them out.
  • Remember that the villain is often the hero of their own story.
  • If your villain is a monster, they do not need to have a redeeming quality, but it could be interesting if they do. Consider having a monster feed its children rather than hunting people for fun.

Step 3 Create small quirks that your characters perform out of habit or necessity.

  • If your character has an especially odd quirk, like having to pour water on themselves to stay hydrated, you may need to explain it so readers aren’t left in the dark.

Step 4 Give your characters goals and motivations that are relatable.

  • For example, a character may be motivated to travel across the universe to find a cure for a rare disease in their homeworld.

Step 5 Write your characters’ backstories if they help you figure out who they are.

  • Sketch out what you want your character to look like if they’re an alien race or unfamiliar to a general audience.

Writing Your Story

Step 1 Use “The Hero’s Journey” template for storytelling.

  • You can find the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey here:'s%20Journey%20Arch.pdf .
  • The Hero’s Journey is not a set in stone way to write stories, but it will help guide you if this is the first time you’ve written.
  • This works best in long-form writing, like a novel or screenplay.

Step 2 Outline your entire...

  • A third person limited point of view allows you to write as a narrator, but the reader only gets the thoughts and feelings of your protagonist.
  • A third person omniscient point of view uses a narrator, but you can switch to the thoughts and feelings of any character in your story.
  • While you can use second person, where the reader is the protagonist and the word “you” is used, it is not very common.

Step 4 Find a tone of voice for your writing.

  • Examples of tone include sarcastic, enthusiastic, indifferent, mysterious, wry, somber, acerbic, smug, pessimistic, and so on.
  • The tone can also be formal or informal. Your writing’s voice can be shaped by what point of view you’ve written your work. For example, you may be able to use more slang or informal language if you’re writing in the first person.

Step 5 Work on writing...

  • Make sure each of your characters sounds different or else your readers will have a hard time telling which character is speaking.
  • Avoid clichès like, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” or “I have a bad feeling about this.”
  • Listen to how people talk in real life so you have an idea of how people speak. Ask if you can record a conversation and try to transcribe the audio.

Step 6 Pace your story so action happens frequently.

  • Use detailed language, but don’t be over-explanatory or else you risk bogging down your writing.
  • Vary the length of the sentences throughout the piece. Shorter sentences are read faster. Longer sentences, like this one, will make it seem like the story is going slower and will affect how readers feel while reading your story.

Step 7 Write until you feel like your story is complete.

  • Ask others to read your story so you can get a different perspective on your writing. They may catch things that you may not have noticed.

Step 8 Revise your first...

  • Make multiple revisions until you feel like your story is completely finished.
  • Find an editor or copywriter if you can to help look over and revise your drafts.

Expert Q&A

Melessa Sargent

  • Don't be afraid to write about something that would probably never happen. Science is the basis, but it is also fiction, so you can stray from the facts a bit. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Once you’re finished, you can self-publish your story or submit it to short story collections. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

science fiction writing year 6

  • Don’t copy another writer’s idea exactly. Always make changes or use a different point of view. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 0
  • When you get writer's block , don't give up on the story. Give it some time. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Melessa Sargent

If you want to write science fiction but don’t know where to start, look for ideas from everyday life and and then imagine what they would be like if you pushed them to the extreme. For example, an article about a new super-virus could lead to a story about a cure gone wrong. You can also think about a time in the past and gain inspiration about what you love about that time period. For instance, what if the Roman Empire was invaded by aliens? For more writing tips, including how to create memorable characters, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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While Science-Fiction can be greatly varied, there are a few themes that tend to crop up a lot…

Futuristic Technology

Almost a staple of Sci-Fi, futuristic technology may feel very familiar and only be based in the near future, or it could be so far ahead it is barely recognizable.

Future technology is often characterized by being super-efficient, but many authors like to make the worlds feel more authentic by giving the technology the same flaws and foibles we experience today.

Whether it’s first contact (Pushing Ice, Rendezvous with Rama), or an established inter-galactic civilization with hundreds of alien races all interacting in trade and culture (The Uplift series), relationships with extraterrestrials are a common theme of Sci-Fi.

Space Travel

A large proportion of Sci-Fi takes place in space or on other planets, real or imagined.

This space travel often uses understood scientific principles to explain the crossing of large distances and how the space ships would be designed (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Expanse Trilogy, Red Mars).

Robots and Artificial Intelligence

A sub-theme of Futuristic Technology, we are all waiting for our robot overlords to take over and rule humanity better than we have. AI in Sci-Fi almost always becomes conscious, but whether these new types of beings are benevolent or aggressive varies.

It’s common for the robots to take human form, sometimes being indistinguishable from real humans, forcing us to consider what it really is that makes us human (2001: A Space Odyssey, Ancillary Justice, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).

Alternate Societies

As an alternative to space travel and aliens, another popular theme in Sci-Fi is the exploration of alternate societies.

These could be very much like ours, but with a few details changed, such as different political leaders being successful or major world events going in a different direction (the Man in the High Castle, Machines Like Me).

Or they can be completely unrecognizable with entirely different social structures and histories (Consider Her Ways).

The alternate societies Sci-fi explores are often very bleak. Perhaps as a way of trying to head off such dangers, Sci-Fi authors take current trends of modern life and follow them through to their most terrifying ends (Brave New World, The Drowned World, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, Fahrenheit 451).

What are common tropes in Science Fiction?

While a theme is a large, overarching concept or idea which is explored, there are also common ‘tropes’ that can be found in Sci-Fi.

Tropes tend to be smaller and more specific in scope than themes , which are more generalized and can be explored in a myriad of different ways.

Tropes aren’t good or bad in themselves, but need to be used skillfully . A novel which is packed full of classic tropes with no twists or surprises will come across as cliche and hacky.

However, used skillfully, tropes can swiftly build a picture, make the story feel comfortable and familiar to the readers, and be subverted to surprise the reader by playing with the expectations.

Here are a handful of the most common tropes in Sci-Fi:

The Redshirt

This term comes from Star Trek—where the main characters wore blue, yellow, or red shirts, depending on their function—science, command, or engineering/security respectively.

When a previously unknown character wearing a red shirt was beamed down to a new planet, you could be sure they were a lower-level security person about to meet a sticky end.

Cryogenic Sleep, or Suspended Animation

It takes a long time to reach anywhere when you’re travelling across the vastness of space. So cryosleep or suspended animation is often employed in order for the characters to not die of old age before they get there.

When a story features cryosleep, it’s very common that someone will wake up early, or the helpless sleepers will be put in peril.

Humanoid Robots or Aliens

As mentioned under themes, we are fascinated by human-shaped things that aren’t human.

It forces us to consider what it is that makes us human, and also makes us horribly fascinated by the idea that the people around us might not be what we think they are. Love stories are common when this trope appears.

Cyborgs / Human Augmentation

’Cyborg’ is a portmanteau of ‘cybernetic organism’, which essentially means a living organism with integrated mechanical or electronic parts.

Similarly to humanoid robots and aliens, this trope feeds our fascination with trying to understand what we are, and what we could become, and allows us to fantasies about superpowers in a scientific way.

Big Brother / Totalitarianism

A great number of Sci-Fi books deal with apocalypse, and while this often means a devastated world with only a few survivors, the other prevailing landscape is that of a highly authoritarian, regimented society which values order and uniformity, and despises creativity, variety, and freedom.

How Great Science Fiction Works

science fiction writing year 6

Here are some tips for making your science fiction novel fly light years ahead of the crowd.

Focus on Characters

The biggest pitfall for science fiction writers (and the misconception that puts many readers off science fiction) is that it is all about the world, and not about the characters. This is a big mistake .

While setting and plot are very important in sci-fi, compelling characters are as critical as with any other novel where you want to engage readers and have them fall in love with your story .

So make sure your characters are three dimensional, with flaws, foibles and vulnerabilities . Give them a compelling arc where they evolve as a person, and conflicts which make the reader fear for their safety.

Understand the Science

Science-Fiction readers tend to like science.

That’s not to say that they’ll all be Professors of String Theory or that you have to get a PhD in Astronomy to be able to write Sci-Fi (though it certainly helps, and a lot of successful sci-fi writers are scientists), but if you don’t respect the science at all, you may put off a lot of your readers.

Make sure you have a basic knowledge of the key aspects of science and technology that feature in your novel, and if you want to deviate from established knowledge, make sure you justify it.


Writers of Science-Fiction need to spend a lot more time worldbuilding than their colleagues in other genres. Worldbuilding means making sure your story world is internally consistent and feels real – with nuances of culture, politics, and geography.

Decide which aspects of worldbuilding will be most important to the story you want to tell. For some stories, having a clear map of the Universe and knowing how each of the planets and regions interact, will be critical to the plot.

In others, time will be better spent exploring the nuances of the cultures involved, including their languages, customs, and festivals.

Keep the Plot Pacey

With so much worldbuilding, it can be easy to get bogged down. Make sure you’re only ever doing as much worldbuilding as is necessary, while keeping the plot moving forward, otherwise your readers will end up frustrated or bored.

Another good technique for keeping things moving, it to make sure your worldbuilding and other sci-fi themes are always tied into conflict and awe , so readers don’t feel they have to wade through a history or geography lesson to get to the ‘good stuff’, but that all the exposition is just as exciting, and woven into arguments, conflicts, and challenges.

Get inspiration from the real world

Many of the most chilling and thrilling sci-fi books are based on real world events and developments.

By reading magazines and websites about cutting edge science, technology, and psychological and societal research, you can be inspired and give your writing a satisfying undercurrent of authenticity.

Here are a few blogs to get your started:

Go Forth and Conquer

Hopefully this article has helped in your understanding of what Sci-Fi is, and how to go about writing a great novel in the genre.

The most important way to learn how to be a great writer is to read lots of great books. So below, we’ve provided a list of recommended science-fiction reading.

Read as many sci-fi books as you have time for (not only from this list), and see which ones you find most compelling. This will help show you what sort of sci-fi you will most enjoy writing. If you ever need assistance in writing your own sci-fi masterpiece, don’t hesitate to seek paper writing help from experienced writers in the genre.

Furthermore, see what’s handled well in each of the novels (characters, world building , ideas) and what doesn’t work so well. See how you can apply this in your own writing.

Happy writing!

Recommended science-fiction reading:

Ancillary Justice, Anne Leckie

Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds

1984, George Orwell

Kindred, Octavia Butler

Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson

A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge

Neuromancer, William Gibson

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

I, Robot, Isaac Asimov

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

This is just a small sample of the great science fiction books out there, a cross section which covers most of the common themes or sci-fi.

Unlock your writing potential

If you liked this article by the Novel Factory, then why not try the Novel Factory app for writers?

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Blog • Perfecting your Craft

Posted on Oct 05, 2021

6 Fantastic Tips for Writing Stellar Science Fiction

Writing science fiction is possibly one of the most immersive and fulfilling experiences a writer can embark on. Readers arrive in search of a new (yet relatable) world in which a stimulating story unfolds, which means that as a writer, you have to juggle creating something unique while grounding it in shared human experiences. It may seem daunting at first, but we’re here to help!

For this post, we turned to some of Reedsy’s experienced science fiction editors for some practical tips on how to write compelling science fiction. Here they are!

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1. Find out what your audience expects

Science fiction is a vast category with many subgenres — a space opera and a dystopian novel will both fall under the same big umbrella. Each subgenre brings with it different features and tropes you can play into or subvert, so the key is to read deeply into your chosen niche to get a better sense of the market. 

While we don’t want to speak too broadly about such varied corners of publishing, there is one important distinction that new writers should be aware of: the difference between writing hard and soft science fiction.

Hard science fiction

Hard SF is grounded in real scientific laws and understanding, where elements of natural science (mathematics, physics, biology, etc.) form a crucial part of the plot. Readers of this kind of work will enjoy concrete possibilities and are likely to scrutinize your novel’s scientific base. In other words, technical credibility is important in a piece of hard science fiction. 

📚 Examples: Andy Weir's The Martian , Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, Nancy Kress’s Beggars in Space .

In The Martian , astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars and presumed dead by NASA. The challenge he has to overcome is to figure out the logistics of staying alive and of re-establishing communication with Earth. In true hard science fiction fashion, the conditions of Mars and the limitations of communicating and travelling in space are crucial to the story.  

Soft science fiction

Soft SF, on the other hand, is more concerned with the social aspects of the fictional universe. Often, readers aren’t hugely fussed about the technical details of the world’s logic, especially when it requires a specific appreciation in the so-called “hard” sciences. Instead, the intricacies of the cultural and social aspects of the world will have a greater impact on the reading experience. 

📚 Examples: Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness , Frank Herbert’s Dune series, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a diplomat who’s sent to an ambisexual planet on a peace envoy. While navigating the unfamiliar social and cultural set-up of this other world, he also has to manage the intergalactic political power-play between the planets. The book’s groundbreaking focus on sex and gender as a theme is directly related the human social experience, giving it a strong soft SF quality.

Writing Science Fiction | Aircraft Illustration by Matt Hubel

Hard SF isn’t always all science, soft SF isn’t solely concerned with social topics, and both can support an epic, intergalactic premise, if that’s the book you have in mind. Indeed, all good books feature a mix of scientific and social problems. However, understanding the taste for each kind of science fiction can help you better research and write your novel so that intended readers are not disappointed. 

Looking for more classics to read? Have a look at our list of 100+ best science fiction books ever written! 

2. Give your world believable structures

Regardless of whether you’re writing a science fiction novel rooted in real-life science, the world you create must be inherently believable. Beyond scientific rules that hold water, you also need to have social structures that govern your book’s society (or societies). You can head to our detailed guide on worldbuilding for some in-depth suggestions, but here are a couple of SF-specific tips to think about. 

Find inspiration in real life

For both science-y and social aspects, a good source of inspiration for a well-structured world is real life itself. Our knowledge systems and societies are unendingly complex, which means that there are always real-life pieces of information or perspectives that can inspire you in your worldbuilding. 

A strong understanding of real-world structures will give you a good grasp of the mechanisms that make up a universe and society. These basic dynamics are useful models that you can either mimic or subvert to craft your fictional world — as many of the best SF authors have done so in the past. For example, the complex societies in the acclaimed Dune series was inspired by the Middle East’s ecology, cultures, and strands of theology, all of which author Frank Herbert carefully researched. 

Pay attention to powerholders

Former Penguin Random House editor Rebecca Brewer suggests thinking about the powerholders and how they validate their status — e.g., through military, economic, technological prowess. From this understanding of the power base, you can draw out conflicts that exist within this society, as well as the history of the people in your universe. 

It’s not expected of you to write a whole encyclopedia on the origins of your book’s world — after all, not every science fiction book has to be of epic proportions. Instead of over-stretching yourself, think about details that can organically be tied to the science logic of your book as well as those that can influence the flow of your story. 

For example, in the future of Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon , human consciousness can be transferred between bodies — making people effectively immortal. However, the social chasm between the rich and the poor means that only the wealthiest can afford to 're-sleeve' themselves in young healthy bodies. As such, the science and the social are married to create a believable, intriguing world. 

science fiction writing year 6

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Avoid adding details to serve a plot point

For editor Allister Thompson , it matters most that world structures are logical and consistent throughout your book. “You can’t add details just for the convenience of the plot,” Allister says, “readers know when you're just making stuff up to write yourself out of a jam. A pop culture example is ‘midichlorians’ from Star Wars — it’s a concept introduced later on in the franchise that ruined it for a lot of people.” 

Writing Science Fiction | Star Wars Midichlorian Plot Device

The ‘midichlorians’ were introduced as a way to explain the workings of the Force and advance the story in the 1999 episode, Phantom Menace . At this point in time, the Star Wars fandom had more or less established their own interpretation of the Force. The ‘midichlorian’ explanation, therefore, felt out of place, and it disrupted the immersive experience of the audience. 

You want to avoid making the same mistake by mapping out the grand structures of the world before you write (our free worldbuilding template can get you started on that), and stick to their logic throughout. If you face a roadblock while plotting or writing, review your world and work within those constraints rather than draw your way out of it with new and unnecessary details.



The Ultimate Worldbuilding Template

130 questions to help create a world readers want to visit again and again.

3. Don't overwhelm readers with exposition dumps

When you start writing your novel , you may be eager to bring readers into this universe as soon as possible. In this genre, you’ll sometimes find prologues that ‘set the table’ with a history of the story’s universe — but they’re rarely the best way to start a book. It’s often better to pace yourself, introduce readers to this realm through small details, and avoid the dreaded info-dump. Essentially, you want to find interesting, natural, and digestible ways to carry out your exposition so readers can understand what’s going on without needing a history lesson. 

Writing Science Fiction | Boy Living in Post-Apocalyptic Waste Illustration

Worldbuilding belongs everywhere

Editor Ashley Wyrick has a tip for you: “Add worldbuilding details into everything . In action scenes, dialogue , major plot points — everywhere. Spread them out: give bits, pieces, and hints all over the place by making them part of the characters’ experiences. Mention the same detail in new ways, or show how it can affect characters in different ways.” The important thing, in other words, is to introduce a steady stream of exposition throughout your book, rather than a Biblical flood that completely overwhelms your reader.

For a spot-on demonstration of how a futuristic world can be built gradually, consider Ray Bradbury’s short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains.”

Writing Science Fiction | Excerpt from Ray Bradbury's There Will Come Soft Rains

Pay attention to how he introduces details little by little, blending them in with everyday activities, right in front of the reader’s eyes. This way, the reader can feel like they’re a part of the narrative — someone of that time period — rather than a strange visitor from the past, ogling at the newfangled technology.

4. Uncover what's at the heart of your story

Inspiration for a science fiction novel usually comes in the form of a premise or an idea for a world. But at the end of the day, a novel’s a story, and every good story has a strong core, according to Rebecca Brewer.

“Consider what the heart of your story is once you take away all the technical details. Is it about a nobody who saves the universe, or is it someone who is searching for a new family? Whatever the heart of your story is, being able to condense it into one sentence — as if you’re writing a query letter — will help you focus the narrative.” 

If you’re struggling to home in on this core message, here are some approaches that might help. 

Pinpoint the central conflict

The central conflict is the underlying cause of all the challenges that the protagonist faces; it keeps the story going and the readers interested. In Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, the surface story is a thrilling romp about surviving dinosaurs in a theme park — but the central conflict is between nature and humanity. It’s about what happens when humans try to play God — and the pushback they get from the natural world. The story can be seen as a meditation on social issues ranging from commercial exploitation of animals to how technology has made us callous and apathetic.  

Writing Science Fiction | Jurassic Park Life Finds a Way

Given their speculative quality, science fiction novels are ideal for exploring human nature by pushing characters and societies to the very edge. This is why most conflicts in the genre are of this nature — and you might consider taking the same approach. Take a look at our guide on conflicts , their many manifestations, and how you can create them if you want a deep dive into this aspect of storytelling. 

Don’t ignore your second act

We often hear that it’s not the destination but the journey that counts. While you finish rolling your eyes at this cliché, let us elaborate on this statement: in science fiction, the time spent exploring the world accounts for most of the ‘fun’.

Many new writers focus heavily on impactful openings and whizz-bang twist endings — neglecting the second act, which is where much of the adventure can be experienced. It’s where your heroes encounter allies and enemies, discover new lands, and find themselves in increasingly hot water as the stakes start to mount. Getting that second act just right will ensure that your readers enjoy their journey and are delivered to their destination, ready for your jaw-dropping final act. 

That said, this second act of a story can be the hardest to pull off as it asks the writer to balance exposition with character growth and mounting tension. For some inspiration, head on over to our story structure guide for detailed tips on the many ways you can unfold your story.

5. Don’t neglect your characters 

A common mistake that a lot of SF authors make is prioritizing worldbuilding over character development. But as Allister Thompson puts it, “science fiction is really just a fascinating cloak draped over something all fiction aims to do: to tell human stories of love, loss, ambition, and tragedy. You need to have round characters that are believable and relatable, as much as they would be in any piece of literary fiction .”

So if you’re a writer who does any amount of planning before drafting, don’t forget to sketch out your characters. Write down details about:

  • Their personality, and how this affects the way they tackle problems;
  • Their desires, which may or may not change over time;
  • Their past, which has implications for their motives.

If you’re looking for more guidance, download this free character profile template and start filling it out!


Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

Take Ted Chiang’s novella Story of Your Life , which was the basis for the 2016 film adaptation, Arrival . This narrative takes the common SF premise (first contact with aliens) and uses it to drive home a very human message about fate and loss. The story follows Dr Louise Banks on her mission to learn the aliens’ language, which she soon discovers has the ability to unlock the future. She begins to ‘remember’  her own future — one where she has, and then loses, a daughter. The alien language becomes a way for Louise to make sense of her life and her loss. It also ruminates on our human perception of free will, since Louise now knows pain that her future might entail and can choose whether or not to fulfill it.

While the scientific approach to linguistic research in the story is fascinating, it’s the protagonist’s internal struggles that ultimately hit home with readers. 

Writing Science Fiction | Dr Louise Banks in Arrival

As such, the best kind of science fiction is the one that intertwines mind-boggling science with human struggles — one that lets readers see themselves in the characters even when they exist in an entirely unfamiliar domain. 

6. Read beyond the realm of science fiction

While our first tip on this list was to read deeply into your own niche, developmental editor Rebecca Brewer reminds us to stay open to titles from various genres. There are certain features and techniques in other kinds of writing that can be used to enrich your story and turn it into something truly memorable. 

“Reading romance novels will show you how to build chemistry between characters,” Rebecca says. “Mystery novels will show you how to drop important details, and literary fiction will show you how nuanced language can have an impact. Each author has their own writing toolbox, and reading their works is a fantastic way to learn those and incorporate them into your own writing.” 

Need a recommendation? Look no further than these carefully curated reading lists on our Discovery blog:

  • The 60 Best Romance Novels of All Time
  • The 30 Best Mystery Novels of All Time
  • 100 Books to Read Before You Die

Writing science fiction is no simple task — you have to devote your time to meticulous worldbuilding while also crafting meaningful, engaging stories that push the boundaries of our imagination. It takes time and practice, but remember that you’re not alone. There’s a robust community of SF readers, authors, and professional editors out there ready to help you, should you ever need some feedback!

Continue reading

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Writing Science Fiction: The Ultimate Guide

Krystal Craiker headshot

Krystal N. Craiker

writing science fiction

Writing science fiction can feel a lot like exploring the expanse of the universe. It’s a big undertaking in a big genre.

It’s hard to boil down exactly what science fiction is. In fact, the definition of sci-fi is hotly debated among experts and genre enthusiasts. Is it the campy creature features of early cinema or the esoteric, philosophical stories of classic literature?

One thing is certain: science fiction involves scientific elements or principles that are central to the plot of the story.

Whether you’re writing hard science fiction, pulp sci-fi, or something in between, we have everything you need to know to begin writing a great science fiction story.

7 Steps for How to Write a Sci-Fi Novel

5 tips for writing science fiction, how to write a science fiction story.

Writing science fiction doesn’t need to feel overwhelming. If you want to write science fiction but don’t know where to start, try these seven steps for how to write a good science fiction story.

7 steps to writing sci-fi

Ask a Question

Every great story starts with a question, and that’s especially true of science fiction. Science fiction novels usually ask some big “what if” question. In fact, it’s this question that drives the entire genre.

Science fiction stories have an element of novum . Science fiction scholar Darko Suvin coined the term “novum,” which is Latin for “new thing,” as a defining element of science fiction.

In essence, novum is a new, fictional idea that is grounded in or reconcilable with reality. It’s the difference between sci-fi and fantasy, and it’s crucial that you find the novum within your story.

Writing Youtube Channel Tale Foundry gives the example of vampires. Vampires as a mythological creature are fantasy.

But what if a virus causes people to need to suck blood to survive? Viruses are real science, so they’re grounded in reality. This is novum.

Ask a big question and answer it with novum. This will give you the most important foundations for your plot.

What is novum

Decide on Your Themes

Every great science fiction novel explores heavy themes. Many touch on race, gender, and class.

Some explore what it means to be human or the indomitable human spirit. Dangers of technology, surveillance, and fascism are other major themes. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have a big question and your science element, ask yourself what themes make sense to explore. A compelling sci-fi story will often tackle a few major themes.

Find themes that work well together.

For example, the themes us vs them and exploration can make for a great space odyssey book full of aliens. Androids and robots are a fun way to tie together what it means to be human with the dangers of technology.

Start in the Past

By this point, you probably have a world and plot forming. But another important part of world building is creating the history or backstory.

Whether your world is about to encounter aliens, or it’s an advanced space-faring civilization, or a virus wiped out most of Earth’s inhabitants, you need to start in the past.

How did your world get to the point it’s at when your science fiction novel begins?

Working backward is the best way to explore this. What did the world look like a year or five years before? A decade before? A century? You’re essentially looking for the causes after knowing the effects.

This information is crucial for establishing a well-developed science fiction world within your story. As you explore this, you may also uncover new themes or plot points to explore.

Plan Your Societies

Now you have the foundation for the world you’ve built, you can start planning the details of your novel’s societies and social structures. The more detail you plan in advance, the easier constructing the plot will become.

Be sure that you keep science and your novum in the forefront as you develop societies for your science fiction book.

Some books are science fiction–adjacent. Perhaps they take place in a dystopian or apocalyptic Earth or a futuristic society in space. But if science is not a guiding force in the world and the story, it is not true science fiction.

Develop Your Technology

For some science fiction writers, developing sci-fi technology is the most enjoyable part of the process. It’s time to turn on your geek mode and create an exciting new reality for your story.

Here are some questions to consider as you develop your science fiction tech:

  • Does this technology help or hurt people?
  • Who in society has access to the technology?
  • How was the tech created? Why?
  • How is the tech powered?
  • What are the dangers associated with the technology?
  • What current, real-world examples are related to the tech?
  • How does this technology serve the story themes?

As you answer these questions and others, you may find new plot conflicts or storylines to explore. Let your imagination run wild.

developing sci-fi tech

Craft Your Characters

There’s a good chance you have an idea of your protagonist by this point in the writing process. But now that you have an amazing science fiction world built, it’s time to fill it with the rest of your characters.

When you create your protagonists and antagonists, keep your story’s themes in mind. How will their character developments, traits, and flaws help you explore the themes?

Characters are often symbols for themes as well. This is true for both main characters and background characters.

Every character should have goals and motivations that make sense within the framework of the world you’ve built. They should also have relatable flaws that often cause conflict within the story.

Solve (or Cause) a Problem with Science

Your character has a problem. They need to reach their goal and something is in their way. This is where the major conflicts of your science fiction novel lie.

Your plot is how your main characters move toward their goal. When you’re writing a science fiction story, how your characters fail and succeed depends on science.

They may solve problems with a science element. Or the science in your story may be causing their problem or hindering them from achieving their goal. Science can be both, too!

By the time you’ve figured out what role science plays in character development and story arc, you’re ready to write!

Now you know the steps to writing a science fiction story, you’re off to a great start. But there is always more to know!

We’ve gathered five tips for writing science fiction to help you turn your story idea into the next great sci-fi novel.

5 science fiction writing tips

Be Mindful of Negative Tropes

Science fiction has a long history, and not all of it is positive. There are many harmful tropes in science fiction writing , and writers should all strive to avoid doing damage to marginalized people.

Racism is prevalent in both old science fiction and modern works. Many alien race storylines are rooted in racism.

It doesn’t matter if it’s green skin or three eyes: when any race with physical differences is written as more evil, uncivilized, or less intelligent than humans, it’s racist.

Likewise, depictions of oppression—whether aliens, androids, or robots—can also be damaging.

Sexism is also common. Breeder classes or aliens who implant eggs in humans without consent is an outdated and sexist trope.

Likewise, if all the military leaders or scientists are male, you’re alienating a large group of readers.

This is not an exhaustive list. Negative tropes also involve other marginalized communities. We always recommend hiring sensitivity readers to avoid accidentally offending your audience.

Do Your Research

Because science features so heavily in the plot of these stories, science fiction authors must become semi-experts in certain parts of science.

Science is an ever-evolving discipline. To understand how your sci-fi technology exists, you must understand what science currently says about that field.

If you’re writing about genetic engineering, you need a solid understanding of the field of genetics and what genetic engineering is presently capable of. If you’re writing about a virus, you will need to heavily research biology and virology.

Sci-fi readers are often science nerds, and they can tell when your science doesn’t feel plausible.

Keep a Book Bible

With all the research and world building you’ll need to do, it’s easy to lose track of details. This is especially true if you’re planning on writing a science fiction series.

When you’re creating new technologies, species, or classes, you need a reference.

A book bible is a living document full of the details of your world and your characters. You’ll keep track of research notes and backstory elements here. You can also keep character profiles in your book bible.

There are softwares like Campfire and World Anvil that will help you build a book bible.

You can also create a series of documents in a word processor. Note-taking apps and organizational apps can also be customized for book bibles. Find what system works for you.

Ask What If?

Story inspiration for science fiction writing lies in the “what if?”

What if there were genetically modified super-soldiers?

What if you fell into a parallel universe?

What if aliens are terrified of human beings?

Every “what if” question is a plot idea. It might turn into a whole novel, a plot detail, or a supporting storyline.

If you’re looking for inspiration, read about new science discoveries and ask questions. What if? What’s next? What dangers could come from this?

You can ask these questions as you’re world building, too. If you get stuck when creating a new planet or a new technology, start asking yourself what would happen if... ?

When you write science fiction, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. The best questions will lead you down a never-ending rabbit hole of ideas.

writing science fiction tip

Read in Your Genre

Our last tip goes for sci-fi or any genre. The best way to learn how to write science fiction is to read science fiction.

Read hard and soft science fiction. Read classic and modern sci-fi. Pick up books from authors who come from a different background than you.

You should read stories within your subgenre, but you should also read in other subgenres. Science fiction has dozens of subgenres, from space odyssey to robots to weird sci-fi.

Reading in your genre will help you understand genre expectations, norms, and tropes. It will also let you know what is already out there so you can create a fresh, original idea.

Writing science fiction is a fun way to explore big ideas in a new world. Sci-fi remains a popular genre because readers are always looking for new realities to escape into.

Use these tips for writing science fiction to help you turn your novum into an incredible story. You can also use ProWritingAid to turn your sci-fi story into a masterpiece. Our Style Report will flag non-inclusive language, so you can avoid harmful stereotypes in your characters. Learn more about our inclusive language suggestions .

You can also use our Sensory Report to improve your sensory details. Premium users can compare their science fiction writing against the works of bestselling sci-fi authors like Madeleine L'Engle, Michael Crichton, and Arthur C. Clarke.

science fiction writing year 6

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Krystal N. Craiker is the Writing Pirate, an indie romance author and blog manager at ProWritingAid. She sails the seven internet seas, breaking tropes and bending genres. She has a background in anthropology and education, which brings fresh perspectives to her romance novels. When she’s not daydreaming about her next book or article, you can find her cooking gourmet gluten-free cuisine, laughing at memes, and playing board games. Krystal lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, child, and basset hound.

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