Science fiction is one of the most popular fiction genres. If the idea of a new universe excites you, writing science fiction might be the best next step on your writing journey. After all, what's more exciting than taking an audience to a place no one has ever visited?
What is science fiction
"Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again." - Ray Bradbury
Science fiction is an incredibly broad genre. It can be hard scifi, cyberpunk, space opera, or many other things. What makes it distinct from fantasy is an argument that ranges across sci-fi forums. Many writers agree with this rule of thumb from author Isaac Asimov: "If a story is set in a universe that follows the same rules as ours, it's science fiction. If it's set in a universe that doesn't follow our rules, it's fantasy. Or, in other words, science fiction is about what could be, but isn't; fantasy is about what couldn't be."
One of the best ways to discover what science fiction is is to read as much of it as you can. Study it, enjoy it, and then get out there and write it.
Creating your universe
Once you have your idea (learn about making a start), it's time to create your universe.
Keep in mind that creating a universe will take time and your ideas will likely need some tailoring. Ask yourself questions that will help you shape your universe. Create profiles of your characters and their backgrounds. Draw maps. Think about the history of your world. What is the scenery like? What makes it unique?
Spend some time thinking and planning out your ideas before you write. Give yourself rules and boundaries, and have an idea of how you want to end your story. If you're able to answer all these questions about your universe, you'll be able to write a better story.
Science fiction subgenres
Science fiction has many subgenres that you could choose to write in.
There are two distinct types of science fiction—hard and soft. Hard science fiction is scientifically accurate, based on hard sciences (physics, astronomy, chemistry). It puts an emphasis on the science of the story, and pays special attention to technical details. On the other hand, soft science fiction is based on the soft sciences and particularly social science (anthropology, sociology, psychology).
Within these types of science fiction lies many subgenres that you can include in your story.
Alternate history: Uses a divergent point from known history to take things in a new direction from our own timeline.
Alien invasion: Invasion by an alien force. A trope that intrigues and enthralls.
Apocalyptic, Post-apocalyptic, Dystopian: Three nearly always intertwined subgenres, often with the apocalyptic moment leading to the post apocalyptic scenario or dystopia that follows the event.
And there's more! Metahuman and superhuman, military/battle/invasion, space Western, space opera, Steampunk… the list goes on. Whatever story you are writing, consider mixing in elements of other genres. This will help you create a story with great depth and drive your story forward.
Science fiction writing prompts
Explore a few writing prompts from the science fiction community on Wattpad to get inspired and start conceptualizing.
- You wake up disoriented and confused about your whereabouts while on summer vacation. As you explore the place of your stay, you realize something is off. You've been pulled into an alternate universe.
- In a post-apocalyptic world, survivors discover that the epidemic was caused by aliens in an attempt to take over the planet.
- A spaceship has landed on earth with no communication coming from the owners inside. You have been selected as one of five scientists to discover whether there is life inside the spaceship.
Discover more science fiction writing prompts.