Note: Although we are focusing primarily on the genre of science fiction, most, if not all, points mentioned in this post can be applied to other genres in writing!
- Star Wars
- Star Trek
- Octavia Butler
- George Orwell
These are only a few names known in the realm of science fiction (sci-fi from here on out.) Our own worlds have broadened because someone took the time to travel to the futuristic unknown rather than entering a fantasy world. But what are some key components to writing sci-fi? Let’s get talking!
Like any other creative writing project, planning and mapping out your story is crucial and necessarily before you dive into your tale. Not only for plot purposes but you always need to question: “how will this affect that?” You know, the usual. Depending on your sci-fi story, you’ll get the opportunity to create even further. For example, settings are new, language is different than what we know on our planet, races vary even more so than skin color…there are so many details to account for! We always recommend doing research into other novels within your genre range. Take it a step further and watch shows and movies. It’ll help further stimulate your creativity.
Something to help you indulge in your research is looking into scientific journals, new discoveries by labs or space teams, etc. This can influence your story in any way you want it to. Shaping your universe with new discoveries and current-world situations. Not only that but you’re expanding your own knowledge. what a way to kill two birds with one stone!
Our last point we’d like to highlight pertains to another question you can ask yourself. What if…? Utilizing the knowledge in the journals you find and articles you read, you can mix this with the creative details you’ve mapped out thus far. Apply your ‘what if’ question and add more depth to your story, add a new element, or a new plot line. Whatever the case may be, you’re adding something to the story by asking what if.
So what if…you start writing now?
We can all agree: languages are fun to write, sometimes. Other times, they’re difficult to work with. There are a variety of languages, accents, dialects, and so on we have to keep track of while writing our dialogue. There is a way to write them effectively, so let’s talk about it!
The readers of this day and age don’t typically take a liking to phonetic spelling. It may not be the route to take if you want to build an audience. These readers may not want the challenge in reading non-standard English. The real downfall is how much time they’re going to spend deciphering what the characters are trying to say without diving into the deeper meaning.
Any language can relate…no one speaks their language the same way. This is where dialect plays a huge role into how language is spoken and can be portrayed in writing. When anyone learns a language in grade school, they aren’t learning the different dialects of the language…but one can learn through native speakers in certain areas. Depending on region and ethnicity, everyone speaks differently. Utilizing modern language with minor change to the dialect and phonetic spelling here and there will improve the quality of your story. This is only important if communication between your characters is a central point in your story. Most characters interact with others – but sometimes the language in which they speak…speaks volumes for the story.
Some important bits to remember when writing in other languages or dialects are diction, syntax, and idioms. All of these key components help the conversations between your characters become unique to them. Even if things sound strange to you, it may be best to detach your experiences from that of your characters speech.
Always remember: you want your characters to come off as unique through dialogue, especially if you want your reader to be able to distinguish who’s speaking. We also want less boring and more relatable characters so you have to find the perfect balance!
Wondjina | Australia
Cloud and rain spirits that deliver monsoons.
- These spirits created the landscape and humans living on it. Talk about a God.
- They painted their image on cave walls and entered a waterhole once they’ve found a place to die.
- While the appearance of the Wondjina spirits vary, due to how they’ve painted themselves, they are more commonly known to have large upper bodies and heads. They have eyes and a nose…but no mouth.
- A missing mouth is sometimes attributed to the fact of how powerful they may be. If they spoke, rain would never stop!
- Their control of the weather only occurs when someone breaks the law. They’ll bring floods, lightning, and cyclone.
We’ve talked about multiple POVs and the importance of treating them with love; each character is a distinct person who has a unique personality worth sharing with the world. We’ve talked about having too many characters and working on who to cut from the cast; we know so many authors who have created beautiful narratives with more than two characters as their MCs…but sometimes it’s not done well.
Taking things in a different direction but still referring to multiple POVs, characters, and consistency…let’s talk about your choice in writing style (if you’re taking the route we are going to be starting a conversation for.)
Being a head hopper is fun! As the writer, you get to explore different minds and see your plot unfold in your tale through the lens of diverse brains. Sometimes, you explore a single mind for one chapter, then switch to a new persona in the next. You can even write from a completely unbiased point of view…
Okay, you already know what we’re seguing into: your narrator.
It’s crucial to keep your narrating style consistent. Flopping between third omniscient to subjective/limited to objective to first person…all because it makes sense in the moment of the scene? No. Our brains hurt simply thinking about that. It’s a heavy example but it’s worth mentioning the most extreme of cases to get your editing eye trained on your work and how you’re choosing to narrate.
The question then becomes: Am I doing this?
If you are, you should further ask yourself which POV/narrator comes off the strongest of all. Whichever one it is: choose it. Stick with it. Rewrites are a pain but the goal, if this pertains to you, is to get the work recognized as worth for publication, so it’s worth the extra time…and love!
We believe in you!
Taniwha | New Zealand
Beings that reside among dangerous currents, may be guardians or predators.
- They live in deep pools, hiding out in rivers, dark caves or, the deepest of all pools…the sea! They like being in dangerous currents or giant waves!
- Good? Bad? Both? They’re considered kaitiaki, or protective guardians, of people and places in some legends. However, if told through other legends, they’re depicted as monsters who steal/kidnap women to marry.
- Taniwha loosely translates to shark species of the Proto-Oceanic word, “tanifa.”
- So, shark species means it probably looks like a fish of some sort, right? Right! Depending on the body of water. It’s beensaid there are some taniwha that appear to be alligators. There are a few legends which describe the taniwha as a log.
- If someone comes across a taniwha, they might turn into one after they pass.
This is the last creature of the Americas we are going to dive into. After this one, we will only have four mythological creatures left, all located in Oceania! Gah! Feels like just yesterday we were diving into the world of mythology.
What should we cover next?!
Ahuizoti | Mexico
Aquatic canine creature with a tail-hand.
- The fur on this hound clumps together to create spikes. Its hands are capable of manipulation, similar to humanoids.
- It likes humans, particularly nails, eyes and teeth. Shield yourself!
- You’ll find this creature near water. Any bodies of water. Caves near water. All of the above. As long as it’s near water.
- If prey is spotted, it’ll use its unique tail to swipe them up and drown them.
- Whoever is taken, their sacrificed to the rain god, supposedly.
Anyone writing a novel should always remember: consistently consistent. From the basics like character names to heavy lore details that provide rich world-building.
Telling a linear story will make you, as the writer, feel better about your product. You’ll feel encouraged to share your story more so than before.
In order to write consistently within the words, planning is necessary. We are definitely a broken record when it comes to this topic, but that should prove how important the process of planning out your novel really is. We’re talking plot outlines, world outlines, character bios, etc. All of these are needed to create the base of your novel. If you’re not incorporating mapping time, you’re not going to write a consistent story. You’ll end up writing ten different inconsistencies and your book will never see a virtual shelf. Ever. If you need to research, take time during this stage of your writing to get the gist of it. Relating your world to the reader’s will build the bond everyone wants to have with their favorite books.
Once writing has begun to unfold, your writing style for the novel at stake should remain relatively consistent (unless it’s part of the storyline…then do what you must! Just do it in a cohesive manner.) Tone with the narrator and characters shouldn’t change throughout the novel unless tragedy strikes and alters their perspectives. The plot can change slightly, as you uncover more during the writing process, but if it’s drastic…return to your outlines. You can easily incorporate these new changes in your story; it’ll also help you see where the changes will begin to morph the rest of the tale and avoid any inconsistencies!
It’s not in everyone’s best interest to sit in their home office to write. Works for some, not for the rest. A few may take a ride in their car to a local place they find inspirational. Others take a hit to the wallet and hop on a place to their most relaxing destination. The purpose isn’t to escape the process of writing, but lay the seed of inspiration and nourish it with the surrounding scenery.
Is anyone a location-inspired writer? If so, where do you like to write?
The beach in a comfy chair with your toes in the sand?
In a hotel with a magical view of snow-capped mountains?
Curupira | Brazil
Jungle genie with bright red hair and backwards feet.
- Curupira is a blend of West African and European fairies, and was once considered a demon.
- The name comes from the Tupi language, which translates to covered in blisters.
- You’ll be able to spot this creature from a mile away. He has bright red/orange hair, usually resembles a man or dwarf, and has feet turned backward.
- How can this little guy be threatening? He creates illusions and produces sounds to drive their victim to go crazy.
- Don’t worry…they only go after poachers and hunters; those who take from the jungle they live in.
Chupacabra | Puerto Rico
Bear-sized, spiky creature that drinks livestock blood.
- Breaking down the word, chupacabra can be translated to “goat-sucker” (chupar means ‘to suck’ while cabra means ‘goat’.)
- It’s primarily found in Puerto Rico but it’s been reportedly seen as far north as Maine, and as far south as Chile. Occasionally, you’ll hear of the creature popping up in Europe.
- The chupacabra’s first reported attack happened in 1995. This myth is still very young!
- Appearance varies on the place; it can be the size of a small bear, can have scales (making it more reptilian), a sharp spine, or may have quills. But guess what? It’s only supposedly 3 feet tall (can be up to four feet) and hops like a kangaroo. It’s sometimes described like a dog.
- They’re motive is similar to a vampire; their victims are always found drained of blood – not slaughtered.