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How To Write Science Fiction that Won’t Be Dismissed as Unrealistic

January 18, 2013
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at

So you love science fiction and decided to put all your creative energy into that idea that’s been bouncing around your head for the past couple of years.

You’ve created a great world, some cool characters with awesome powers and gave them a conflict.

But how do you know that people are going to enjoy reading your science fiction story and won’t dismiss it as being too unrealistic, or just plain and simple nonsense?

We all know fiction is not real.

Bilbo didn’t find a ring. Harry can’t cast magic. Tony is not Iron Man. There is no planet called Pandora where giant blue people run around. Darth Vador is not Luke’s father. And there is no language called Klingon.

But even though all these stories are fake, they have countless fans and followers. People take some of them to the point of being a cult.

So why would people be so accepting of a fake ring wearing, magic casting, iron suited, gibberish talking giant blue daddy, but dismiss your awesome science fiction story?

It’s because your idea is too unorganized. It breaks too many barriers.

Even though something is fictional, it still has to abide by certain laws.

So how do you create science fiction that won’t be dismissed?

Don’t break the fundamental rules.

Rules are necessary for society. Without them, everything would go to madness.

Gravity pulls everything down. Mixing metals creates alloys. Women can never have enough shoes. These are examples of rules that people have learned over time, so you have to abide by them.

Note that you can make your own rules. It is science fiction, after all. Just don’t break them, leave that for real life.

For example, you created a character who doesn’t need oxygen to breath, but then you broke your rule by putting he almost suffocated or drowned later in the story. Something like that can really turn readers off.

I never like it when a group of 20th century guys get their hands on a spacecraft in an alien invasion movie, and one of them says, “I think I can figure this out.”

No, you can’t figure this out. It’s alien technology. Whoever said that better have more reason than just his father being Einstein.

So make use of the well established rules. Or create your own and explain why it’s possible, which would probably abide by more rules. People will relate to them and your story may just end up with fans.

What do you think about the rules of fiction? Let me know in the comments. And if you haven’t already, click here to read The Grave Robber, this month’s trailer of my latest book, King Larsen.

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From → Writing Tips

  1. jdowds permalink

    Yes. This. You’ve got an excellent point. Too often people try to break the boundaries of existence with their stories. That’s fine, if you’re experienced, but when it becomes too much the story suffers. Oftentimes, I need to tell myself to cool it with that stuff because if I don’t, I’ll wind up writing a character that has biological implants that let him defy gravity, create blackholes by blinking, and control fire with his mind. All while underwater.

  2. jdowds permalink

    Yeah, but sadly I couldn’t find a market for him. No one seemed interested in reading a story that batshit insane.

  3. Carrol Mohamed permalink

    The difference with say the movies “Prometheus” and “Star Trek” is a good storyline that makes sense to the viewer and all parts merge into a good story…while “Prometheus” had fantastic CGI effects the storyline was vague and had me guessing at the end of the movie..”Star Trek” had the right amount of humor (most important), character dynamics, .action…thrills..and a storyline that made sense…so I agree with following the rules to a certain extent…don’t be afraid to step out of the box but at the same time..people…please…make a movie that makes sense..or in your case write a book that does not leave me wanting to dump it in the trash after a few pages!!

    • Well I’m definitely aiming to avoid getting dumped in the trash. But I never like it when a movie or a story leaves me guessing an answer. At the end of a story, I like all questions answered, unless you priming me for a sequel

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