SHORT SCI FI WRITING TIPS
I have found there are senior and junior tips to writing science fiction. I have four main tips.
1. Persistence: You will need persistence. Writing a novel is more than writing an article. There are many more things for the author to do today, especially if he wants to publish independently. He has to get his book proofread, illustrated, covered, marketed and maybe even sold. Be prepared for the many setbacks and carry through.
2. Research: There is a lot to research, especially in science fiction. What you find might surprise you. Using a lot of facts that are mysterious to help per point four below. Research is the key.
For example, here are some facts. The moon is molten inside, not cold as commonly believed. The becomes what is called maria and has flowed over the moon’s surface covering the craters. You can see this on any picture of the moon. These darker areas look like seas from a distance. The maria is made by the moon circling the Earth in a perfect circle, but the center of this orbit is not the center of the Earth. This causes differential gravity, and moonquakes. Notice that the moon does not have many craters after the maria has been discharged from inside it. It thus appears that the maria is relatively recent in the moon’s history, and the craters are formed beneath the Maria from a long time ago. The supposition is that the moon was brought to this planet, and before that it was cratered elsewhere.
There is folklore from Greece to Finland to Tibet, stating when the moon arrived, and the people that arrived with it. The moon does not align with the plane of the Earth. It is on a plane with our sun and other planets instead. The other planet’s moons are on a plane with those planets, but not so with our moon. So from all this data it would appear that the moon could have been placed here and this sets the mood for a story. It is good research for science fiction.
3. Rid yourself of deadwood and chaff: You need to remove all the unnecessary chaff from your story. Your public does not want to waste their time. They want to get what they bought, and no more. Many write all they want to write from their own perspective. They just let rip. But when it is finished they cull it, and take out whole paragraphs, sentences and maybe even whole sections from their book. They do this by reading the story from the reader’s point of view. Would I want to read all this all this if I was the reader? No? Then I should cull it. And after they have removed everything not directly enhancing the story, they should have a good read. Remember it is readers who decides if it is good, not the writer. So read and cull your work from the reader’s point of view.
4. Mystery: Mystery is the glue that holds the reader to the writer in all genres. I liken mystery to the mortar that holds brickwork together. A brick wall will not stand without mortar and a novel will not stand without mystery. It just will not work. And it seems that the more mystery, the stronger the hold the writer has over the reader.
If you look at the research in the example above, it is good data, but it is the mystery which holds you there. Here may be further examples: Does the Earth rotate around the sun? Copernicus said so, but no, it does not. Is the sun made of hydrogen? Where is the real evidence that hydrogen is present? Is a vacuum really a vacuum of nothing? Absolutely not. Now, before you run off screaming I have writing rubbish, do your research. If space was totally empty, how could space out there be a few degrees above absolute zero? It is, you know. And if it is above zero, what is it that holds the temperature, and for that matter, what is temperature?
So these are my four tips. If you can master these, your writing is three-quarters there. Good luck.
Nick Broadhurst is the author of science fiction books, children’s picture books, and comics. He also writes articles on contemporary philosophy. For a living he is an architect, building contractor, building inspector, and worked in many countries.