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So You Want To: Write A Science Fiction Story
Science fiction brings to mind lots of stock images, from androids to spaceships, first contact with aliens and machines that let us travel through time. It's a vast and multilayered genre on par with Fantasy (which is why the two genres are often paired together in the acronym "SF&F"). But how do you tell a good science fiction story?

We'd be amiss if we didn't first recommend checking out So You Want To Write A Story for advice on how to tell a good story above all else.


Necessary Tropes

  • First, you need science. Seems self-explanatory, but it's much,much trickier than you think. Science in fiction can range from hard to soft, from accurately researched and plausible (like basing your spaceship off real-world NASA rockets) to Technobabble and Applied Phlebotinum to Hand-Waved plot devices. Most audiences only have a very basic grasp of scientific principles (if even that much), but there is such a thing of suspension of disbelief. The key is to make the rules of your fictional world consistent, whether it's based on Real Life or your own imagination.
  • Second, you need to address which scientific issue is at the root of your story. Most people think of outer space and aliens when they hear science fiction, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Some stories are about Time Travel, others are about Genetic Engineering, and still others are about how A.I. Is a Crapshoot. The first arguable work of science fiction was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which is about the ethics and trauma of Creating Life. Once you've got a grasp on what kind of science you're dealing with, you can work out the kind of story you'd like to tell based on that premise.

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