In any genre, writing gurus have created “golden rules” that should never, ever be broken. They convince authors that if they dare to break these rules some rare meteor is going to hit Earth and life as we know it will end, along with their writing career. Some genres have more freedom in rule-breaking than others, but when it comes to the science fiction or fantasy realm, that freedom is vast. In science fiction and fantasy writing, there are some very specific rules these genre writers should try and break. The risk will most certainly be worth the reward.
Authors should always be encouraged to break the rules of writing. Whether it revolves around the point of view, character development, or novel structure- any writer can raise their hand and say, “I’m sure I’ve done that before.” Today, we looked at some of the “rules” of writing a science fiction or fantasy novel and decided to feature the ones we found most interesting and bold to break:
- Prologues are unnecessary.
Creating a whole new world for a reader can come with a price if there isn’t a prologue. Not all successful sci-fi or fantasy novels have them but if your fantastical world is layered and complex, you might want to consider having one. The absence of a prologue can lead to there being info dumps in the middle of scenes or conversations. These digressions can sometimes make readers feel like they rather just get straight to the point or like the author is just throwing in random information. Getting large chunks of background information out to your readers right from the start will make for smoother writing later.
- Fantasy novels must be a series, not standalones.
There are many standalone fantasy novels that proved to be a success (i.e. Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott; Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay; Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells…the list can go on!). Don’t feel as though you have to produce a trilogy because other writers have done so.
- Portal fantasies are overrated.
On the contrary, portal fantasies can help the reader discover a new world with the protagonist. It can be appealing to be the ordinary person traveling to a strange world.
- Women & hard sci-fi.
Hard science fiction emphasizes scientific accuracy. It is a male-dominated genre, but some women have made their way into the category. There are a list of female writers who have published works in the ‘hard sci-fi’ category. Some of those authors being Linda Nagata/Trey Shiels, Catherine Asaro, Nancy Kress, Sarah Zettel, and Ann Leckie. So don’t be afraid to go somewhere you feel you don’t belong.
- Magic is always needed.
Sometimes fantasy novels stress the use of the magic. George R. R. Martin created Westeros and Essos with magic being only a rumor. Magic wasn’t needed to create the turmoil amongst the people, making it a “rule” you can break. There are many ways to make a science-fiction novel feel magical without well… the magic.
At HRM, our office has managed to enter a few different worlds during audiobook month with these titles from our authors:
- “The First” by Kipjo EwersSophia Dennison wanted a normal life. She wanted to raise a family with the love of her life, and further her medical career as an up and coming surgeon in neurology…But everything changed when she was convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal murder of her husband. Several hours after her execution, FBI Agent Mark Armitage is called to investigate a serious disturbance at the prison. Upon arriving he finds the place a war zone. After being debriefed by his friend and partner Dustin Mercer, he views the video tapes and learns that the source of the destruction is Sophia. Footage reveals that seven minutes after her execution she miraculously resurrected, breaking free of her bonds and overpowering several guards before being viciously gunned down and dying for a second time. Sophia Dennison has escaped, and is now on the run…The hunt is on for the first actual superhuman.
- “Faerie Blood” by Emma L. Adams
“I’m Ivy Lane, and if I never see another faerie again, it’ll be too soon. Twenty years after the faeries came and destroyed the world as we knew it, I use my specialist skills to keep rogue faeries in line and ensure humans and their magically gifted neighbours can coexist (relatively) peacefully. Nobody knows those skills came from the darkest corner of Faerie itself. When a human child disappears, replaced with a faerie changeling, I have to choose between taking the safe road or exposing my own history with the faeries to the seductively dangerous head of the Mage Lords. He’s the exact kind of distraction I don’t need, but it’s work with him or lose my chance to save the victims. It’ll take all my skills to catch the kidnappers and stop Faerie’s dark denizens overrunning the city – but if the faerie lords find out about the magic I stole last time I went into their realm, running won’t save me this time…”
- “Magic Hunter” by C.N. CrawfordRosalind’s mission is simple: hunt demons and mages. As a member of the Brotherhood, she’s dedicated to protecting the world from dark magic. Someone’s got to stop the supernatural bloodlust – even if it means getting up close and personal with vamps. Everything’s going to plan until she meets Caine, a powerful dark mage. He’s scary as hell and just as sexy. Worse, he’s brought her a warning: rumors are spreading that Rosalind is a mage, too. Now the Hunters have chosen their next target – and it’s her. To save her own life, Rosalind must form an uneasy alliance with Caine, traveling with him to the vampire world. But what if the rumors about her are true? If she can’t figure out who to trust, and fast, she’ll be exiled to the realm of the very monsters she once hunted.
- “Dark Siren” by Lee Dignam and Katerina MartinezSupernatural bounty hunter Alice Werner loves her job. She gets paid the big bucks to take down her targets and doesn’t ask her clients too many questions as long as the money’s good. But when a girl goes missing and the case feels all too familiar, Alice can’t help but act. Concern for the girl’s safety draws her into a risky case. Compassion keeps her involved when the stakes begin to rise. Desperation forces her too call on an old flame to help. Despite their unfinished past, Alice and Isaac Moreau, a prominent Mage, must work together to save the girl. When clues reveal more than meets the eye, Alice must face her deepest fears and confront demons from her past to protect the victim, and herself, from a fate worse than death.