1. Research your topic thoroughly – know the science, technology, and social issues you write about.
Reading scholarly articles, watching youtube videos, and sometimes even finding lessons on a topic is necessary to learn the information you will be presenting in your story. In the novel MIMIC, the author had to research the science of sound. The main villains in the book often use sound as a weapon, but to understand how they do so, you must first understand why.
Edward Boye-Doe, the author, spent weeks researching sound and its effects on the body and other solid matter through hours of google searches and youtube videos. He watched footage of explosions due to sound and read articles on the potential dangers of soundwaves to humans to understand how this could and possibly would be used by the villains in his story. For example, with MIMIC, the villains use sound as a force field. Did you know that according to research conducted by Jurgen Altmann, a blast of 210 decibels or more affects the inner organs, such as the lungs, and could cause internal injury that could lead to death? Scary stuff!
2. Have a clear theme and message in your story.
In the upcoming novel The Native, by S. Hayes, Kaneta is thrust into an adventure during the war. The novel's theme isn't the story's details. It is the general message that the story is trying to convey. To understand the theme, you must read and bring the story together. For The Native, Kaneta wants to save her tribe from their oppressive chieftain. To do so, she goes on an adventure. By the end of the story, she realizes more about herself than she had ever taken the time to know, impacting her character significantly. The story's overarching theme is that the things we think we want aren't always the things we need.
One thing to remember as a writer is to WRITE THE STORY FIRST. Writing a novel to capture a theme can often be too obvious. Allow your storytelling to work through entirely and then analyze the themes. That allows the story to remain good while having a complete and recognizable theme.
Here is an example of a story based on a theme instead of a theme that comes from a good story. The Rabbit and the Hare is a story based on a theme. It is trying to compare characters in a race and what is more important. It works when trying to teach a lesson, but not necessarily to make the story developed and enjoyable. It's too on the nose.
An example of the latter is Fury. The movie is still a story. It creates a connection with the audience, and through the lens of the characters, the audience learns many lessons. These lessons may not have been intentional, but they were adequate. A unique theme in the movie (In my opinion) was that courageous men face their enemies without fear of death. By the movie's end, the cast was defeated by the incoming threat; however, they fought their hardest. Their efforts slowed the enemy army, resulting in victory for the allies.
3. Create compelling and unique characters with real personalities.
Back to the point of themes, characters can often feel underdeveloped when the writer writes to get to a specific scene in mind instead of writing a complete and captivating story. Creating developed characters requires thought and patience. Treat yourself as an actor that is acting out a character. Think critically about how they would react in certain situations. What would they say? What would be their body language? To do this, you must design characters with depth.
A great example is in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi when Luke is asked to decide whether or not to kill the Emperor. His training, skills, strength, and weapons could not decide for him. His ability to let those things go and do what was right had to be the deciding factor. When he did lower his weapon and choose to defy the Emperor, it inspired Darth Vader to see the light again and give up all his power over the galaxy to do what was right and defeat his Master. Luke's decision inspired the character filled with the most hate to choose love. That is excellent character development.
4. Use vivid descriptions to create a realistic and believable world.
Be specific! Details are a great way to create an image in someone's mind. Think visual, auditory, and physical when writing the details of a scene. That makes a one-dimensional or two-dimensional story feel like the real world. According to Goodreads, Coraline, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and Circe are some books that use fantastic imagery.
5. Be creative with your plot and setting.
People reading a fictional story often want to enter a new world. Being creative and designing a memorable setting is great for your audience. In the story, D-Voyant: The Forgotten Hero Rises, by Hutchinson Boyd, the author created a world vastly different from what we experience today. Imagine a world where demons roam freely through the streets and attack anyone they see without remorse. Imagine your government creating flying cities and then picking and choosing who can live on them for safety. Imagine having to live in rebel camps surrounded by camouflage technology so that you can sleep at night. Those are all things that the characters in D-Voyant know all too well, and when you enter the world of D-Voyant, you will be able to experience it (thankfully only in your imagination.)
6. Read science fiction books to get ideas and inspiration.
Read, read, read. Reading other science fiction novels to get a feel for structure and give yourself ideas is a good plan, but please try to be original. Don't duplicate other authors' work.
7. Develop a strong plot structure.
The plot is one of the most important aspects of a story. Think of the plot as a roller coaster track. It has ups and downs and twists and turns, and by the end, you should feel satisfied because you experienced a fun ride. Books with no rhythm and just one long tune are boring. On the opposite end of that spectrum, you may find that some plots are too convoluted and lead to a reader leaving the book behind and ending the book feeling like nothing was accomplished. Think "beginning. middle, and end", then add nice bumps along the way.
8. Don't be afraid to take risks and explore new ideas.
This is self-explanatory, so I won't go into detail. Just remember, if no one ever took risks, books like Dune and Star Wars would not exist.
9. Always edit and revise your work.
My books are my babies. I treat them with care and constantly check on them to ensure they are okay. If you treat your books like a baby, you will double-check, triple-check, and quadruple-check. You will always find errors! Trust me.
This was a fun ride. We discussed creating a good science fiction novel from the research to the development stage! Always remember to have fun writing your stories. The way you feel about them can often be felt through your words and the effort you put into creating them. Take care!
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