So you want to know how to write science fiction stories on Commaful? Well, you're in the right place.
I won't be discussing the generality of how to make a good story, like characters or conflict, but rather aspects unique to the genre.
I recently released a sci-fi story called Capital Case. I will be using it as an example throughout this post.
If you would like to read it first to develop your thoughts on the story, I encourage you to do so. If not, then continue reading this guide. It's not a perquisite.
Science fiction serves a purpose. That purpose is to answer a question that cannot be answered conclusively by what we know now.
What would happen if aliens decided to invade our planet? What would happen if artificial intelligence rose against their creators?
That is the gist of science fiction. However, in my opinion, good science fiction holds a mirror up to an aspect of our lives. Let me explain.
Take a science fiction movie I recently watched, "Circle" (Minor spoilers ahead).
Essentially a group of random people is placed into a device (in the shape of a circle, mind-blowing, I know).
Every two minutes, the people have to vote for someone to die, and eventually choose a winner. I won't spoil much more beyond that.
The movie makes good points about stereotypes and wanting to blend in, but the main part I wish to focus on is the movie's message. The lying and remorseless are the ones who succeed in society.
"Circle" places a bunch of mundane, ordinary people in an extreme circumstance to reflect an aspect of our society today. The people who succeed and survive don't play fair.
My story, although short, was a story of a similar concept.
Capital Case is about a character who appeared in a different reality and was inducted into a mission to deliver a message to prove that an economic system is not working. That's a mouthful.
I've spent the entire time thus far discussing the importance of a message or question. Think about it as the root of your sci-fi stories.
The reader can't see it, but if they dig, they will surely find it. It also ties your story down to something we can understand.
Next is the scenario. In my story, this scenario is a character appearing in a different reality.
The scenario should evoke an emotion. It needs to be incredible, weird, or provoke awe. Anything except bland or ordinary.
The idea of sci-fi is for the mundane to collide with extraordinary, like zombies or aliens. To paint a vision of what would happen in an extreme situation.
Not everything should be uprooted. If the reader cannot understand what they are reading, then the immersion is broken. Keep it relatable to a degree.
Tip 3 is the significance of world-building.
I know I said I wouldn't cover how to make a good story in general, but sci-fi stories, particularly longer ones, should have a keen focus on the world-building.
The story I wrote did not focus on world-building due to how short the story was, but if your story spans multiple parts, then I highly recommend incorporating world-building into the story.
It flares engagements and immersion, which creates an incredible experience for the reader.
All science fiction stories will be different, but I believe the most important aspect of making your world feel alive is to have the gears turning before the protagonist even enters.
You can do this via an "in medias res" method, or by starting with a bang to begin the story.
You can do this via an "in medias res" method, or by starting with a bang to begin the story. A good example would be starting in the middle of a battlefield and then flashing back to previous events.
Another way to develop world-building is by how the characters of the world think and act.
This can be shown through their appearance, the way that they talk, the clothes they wear, what they eat, what they do for fun, etc.
Putting work into characters adds a lot of development to your world-building.
Uniqueness is not guaranteed to make a story good. However, having a good concept can give your story a push in the right direction.
On Commaful, everything is free to read, so there isn't much merit in writing something new. However, I believe it is of great value to the reader to go beyond the typical zombie apocalypse.
Uniqueness is not limited to the concept of writing. Some weeks ago I began the Destiny 977 trilogy (part 3 coming out tomorrow hopefully).
The uniqueness of the story came mostly from its unique narration style from the perspective of an AI. It is emotionless and is simply a machine designed to accomplish a task.
Nevertheless, it is intriguing to watch the process of the AI figuring out its mission along with the one-sided interaction with a mysterious operator.
That is not to say that you are not allowed to get inspired. Everyone has good ideas. Getting inspiration is a fantastic way to cultivate our creativity and bring it to the foreground.
However, I do not condone copying and pasting someone's unique idea unless you have their permission or the idea is so general that it's hard not to be copying it. That's called plagiarism.
Final tip. You have to balance simplicity with complexity. Stories that are too simple are boring. Stories that are too complex are confusing.
It is only by finding a balance of the two that a story can be great.
This has a particular prevalence in a science fiction story as it is easy to let your science fiction slip into very complex territory.
For Commaful sci-fi, I'd say that a good rule of thumb is to be able to deconstruct your story into one or two sentences.
There is a candle to be held to avoiding simplicity. For me, it is far more engaging to read something that takes some time to piece together.
I don't like a story that starts by laying all of its cards on the table. The reader would feel rewarded when they figure it out.
One thing that I dislike about most Commaful stories is a lack of depth. I much prefer stories with hints and traces of complexity strewn throughout that can provoke the thoughts of the reader.
One thing that I dislike about most Commaful stories is a lack of depth. I much prefer stories with hints and traces of complexity strewn throughout that can provoke the thoughts of the reader. Maybe that will change at some point though.
This was my first installation of Commaful advice. This is a series I hope to post twice a week. If you liked it, be sure to give the post a like.
Be sure to comment your thoughts on how I can improve this series going forward. Whether it should be longer, shorter, less rambling, etc.
I'm also looking for recommendations on what topic to cover next. If none are presented, I'm going to default to science fiction vs. science fantasy.
That's all for now, and thanks for reading! Also, be sure to follow @commafultips if you haven't already. They are who inspired me to start this series, and they are really helpful when it comes to backgrounds and formatting.