Breaking Down Sci-Fi

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!

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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?

Language 101

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.

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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!

The Head Hopper: Narration 101

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.

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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!

The Cannibal Monster

This is one of the last two areas of the world we are traveling too. So, let’s venture into the deep woods of the Americas to start the beginning of the final countdown!


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WendigoAlgonquian Tribes

Cannibalistic beastly humanoid, possibly once human.

  • This creature is aligned with murder, insatiable, and cultural taboos against “normal” behavior. They’re also associated with the winter, the north, coldness, famine, and starvation.
  • The Wendigo is bigger than a human, and whenever it feeds on human flesh, it grows! It never gains weight and will always appear thin. They’re always hungry so watch out!!
  • There’s also an explanation as to why they may have been human once before turning into the Wendigo. When they were human, they may have been incredibly greedy. Or if the human was in contact with Wendigos for too long, they would become one.
  • Powers include: mimicking human voices, possession, controlling weather, manipulation of darkness (sunset), control of forest creatures, healing, and incredible strength and speed.
  • Believe it or not, there is a psychological disorder called the Wendigo Psychosis. People diagnosed crave human flesh even though they have access to normal food sources.

Proof It Once, Proof It Twice…

…Third times a charm! Right? Right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to editing and proofreading your novel. If you’re trying to save money and doing everything by yourself is your only option, we want to be there for you.

Meaning, we’re going to give you some advice.


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  1. Take some time away. We mean it. You may not be able to do a vacation getaway from your writing, but you could leave the room. That’s like a vacation, right? Leave your writing domain for an extended period of time and take a breather. You deserve it! And plus…if you jump into proofing and editing immediately, you’ll end up critiquing yourself as a writer more so than edit your actual book.
  2. Figure out what you want the process to be likeWhile you’re away from your writing space would be the best time to do this! Mapping out your editing goals will help you focus on what’s important and needs to be done. Don’t let your mind wander!
  3. Sit down.
  4. Make sure you’re reading your book as a strangerAnother important part of taking a break is coming back with a new, fresh perspective. With healthy distractions, you’ll be able to forget (for the most part) what your book was like and when you start to re-read, you’ll think…”What did the author say?…Oh wait, that’s me.” You’ll notice details differently, too.
  5. Get into the reading groove. Maybe you’ll read very slowly, maybe you’ll read it aloud to yourself (or force someone to read it for you…ALEXA.)
  6. Pace in your space because it becomes too much.
  7. Don’t worry! We always see writers attempting to word particular things differently. Don’t worry about that. Sometimes…you just have to use the word ‘said.’ There’s no reason to get fancy. Focus on other bits, not that.

A Brief Guide to Shaping the Next Generation

What lesson do you think kids (we’re talking teens, tweens, and drama machines) these days need subconsciously taught to them? Is it something you remember neglecting when you were a little one yourself and regret wholeheartedly? Or maybe it’s something you were never taught! Writing a YA novel can open a door in a young adult’s mind which will start them on the road to success or down a path of self discovery.

One thing to remember in writing a story for a younger audience is you want to tap into their emotions. This is a time in one’s life where they’re channeling all sorts of feelings: some old, some new. They’re trying to sort things out and maybe, just maybe, your book can assist them along the way.

You know what else teenagers are trying to sort through? The latest trends. You don’t have to be a genius to know this one. You were a teen once, right? Remember how you wanted to go and grab the most popular pair of shoes or learn every word to the number one hit on the radio so you could scream along with your friends and not feel like an outcast? Utilize teen culture to cultivate your world, your characters, and your readers. Don’t rely on trends too heavily though – it’ll make for a bad YA novel. Mainly because you’ll hear in the back of your head, “Mooooooooom!/Daaaaaad!” in a whiny tone to stop trying to be cool. You want to be able to speak to your audience, eye-to-eye, and connect with them.

Speaking of an audience, know who you’re targeting! You should that for any book before you start writing but it’s easy to write a book about young adults rather than for young adults – catch my drift? For example, Stephen King’s IT is about young adults, tweens, whatever…but it’s written for an adult audience. Don’t aim for adults: know how your audience talks (don’t go crazy with slang either, it’s not that important), what they like, what issues they may encounter. You want to be able to relate, not have your reader feel like you’re talking about them to another adult right in front of them.

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Oh, and stereotypes. Tropes. Get rid of them. Or if you’re going to use them, please make the idea original. Please. The future leaders of the world are begging you to.

Antagonizing Antagonists

Purpose. Almost every antagonist has a purpose.

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Are they trying the “take over the world” tactic? What got them to this point? Evil isn’t born from the black; it’s molded and crafted by life’s doing. If you’re writing a classic villain – give them the unique back story to give them epic purpose.

If your story is that of the everyday, then where is the bad guy? Are they standing right next to the main character? Are they in the cubicle next door? Are they after the same goal as the protagonist? The opposition is what gives the antagonist in this scenario purpose.

Here’s another one: your character is going against the government, or any large institution, “1984”-style. Why did this entity grow to be the way it is Why is the protagonist going against it? There shouldn’t be a “pure evil” motive because that means there’s someone behind the whole thing. It starts to blend in with other potential antagonist. Don’t confuse yourself! But there’s always…you guessed it…purpose behind the institution.

A new favorite and trend we see in writing is the internal antagonist. This mostly revolves around characteristics of the character and being held back by these traits. For the first time throughout this piece, purpose is stripped from the “antagonist” and comes to fruition out of some event or comes to light. These become more realistic because it may be an accurate portrayal of life itself.

So…take to the books and get writing your perfect, purposeful antagonist. Alright, we’re done using the ‘p’ word.

Jumping Through Time

A story can include one of two things: flashbacks or skipping to the future. We don’t think recommending the two is a great idea but if executed cohesively…sure! Why not! Let’s discuss.

Sometimes, writing flashbacks can help a story flesh itself out. Readers understand the plot better, the character better, ANYTHING! But what happens when a flashback becomes more than a flash back? Meaning, what happens when a brief moment takes up a whole chapter? Is that acceptable? There isn’t any reason why it shouldn’t be acceptable – other than not being written properly. Make sure flashbacks are quick and easy. They’re meant to be memories triggered by people or items or occurrences surrounding the character or plot. Here’s an idea: it doesn’t necessarily have to be written in the perspective where the character is brought back to a moment in time…but rather, induces a feeling, an image flashed in the character’s thoughts. Something like that.

Skipping ahead in time is also a way to get the story moving along. Readers don’t need all filler details and a story doesn’t deserve that either! A few months can pass in the story in a matter of words, as long as the reader is caught up with the characters and ongoings in their world, what else is needed? Questions should never be left unanswered, too. If they are, there better be good reason for it. Did something happen prior to the time hop that wasn’t resolved during the time not mentioned? Well, it better come full circle because then the reader will not be happy (they’ll scream, “PLOT HOLE, PLOT HOLE!” and write a whole review about how the plot hole ruined the story for them.)

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So, now that we’ve lectured about time and the relationship it has with your story – let’s build a time machine and have some fun!

Mood Rings

We’re not going to talk your ear off about how mood rings are real and they need to be taken more seriously…no, instead, we’re going to talk your ear off about colors and symbolism in your writing.

Using colors to accentuate the mood you’re trying to convey in your scenes may help your form of story-telling improve. It could be your main character can now see surrounding characters’ auras and the auras tell your character how a particular person is feeling. Or quite possibly there are colors within a room to set a mood in which your character is about to enter.

Use this color bar image we found on the great, big internet to give you a start on what sort of colors to use in your writing!

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Head Count

We’ve talked about killing off characters more than once on this blog…but today we’re discussing how many characters you should keep ALIVE to complete your tale.

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First of all, you need your protagonist. Usually there is only one of these but sometimes there are more. It takes a certain type of writer to have more than one protagonist.

Character count: 1

Next up, we have the deuterangonist. Or more commonly known as the sidekick. Let the confusion start here. Limit your sidekick to a single being, or two. To this we say: have fun. They’re very important characters who need to be just as well-crafted as the protagonist. If you’re still getting the hang of writing, stick to one.

Character count: 2

The antagonist becomes our next character to focus on. Don’t be fooled though; the antagonist doesn’t always have to be another person. Your protagonist could have very real inner demons they can’t shake like struggling with mental health, addiction…and so on. This should almost always be a single thing. Think of it as your target that you’ve zeroed in on and need to destroy. Your protagonist would think the same thing.

Character count: 3

Love. If your character finds their love along the way, there’s another character to include on your list. The love interest character could cross over in being a deuterangonist. There’s one less character you have to flesh out!

Character count: 3-4

If your main character is on an epic journey for the books, a mentor is always a plus. Most characters aren’t all-knowing and if they are in your book…well, this is about to get awkward. Keep a mentor down to one…they usually get killed off at some point.

Character count: 4-5

Secondary characters matter, as well. Two of these slightly developed beings in your story would be enough. Your subplots usually revolve around these characters and they contribute to the main plot line with the protagonist.

Character count: 6-7

Last but not least, we have the tertiary characters. These are the characters that aren’t really talked about in great detail but they’re still contributing to the protagonist’s journey the number to this is subject to the kind of story you’re writing.

Then you’ll have flat characters that aren’t too important at all. These are the characters your protagonist comes across in passing.

How many characters do you limit yourself to in your writing? How many do you think is appropriate?