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A Writer's Opinion Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

Updated on June 28, 2018
John Nelson III profile image

John is a self styled Writer and hopeful author who enjoys doing his writing in his spare time. He hopes to one day be a published author.

My opinion guide to writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

I want to start by saying that my opinion is my own and I strive to share it with you, my fellow writers, in the hope that, as where I have learned much from others, you can learn something from me.

I have written some of my personal tips below in the hopes that it can help those who are stuck, or even those just starting out with writing fiction.

6/12/16 - I have updated the links section with a new Generator site that I found that has a lot of random generators and it very helpful.

I also added some stuff to each section

Some helpful tips on 'World' Creation

So when writing fiction of some kind or another, be it Fantasy or Science Fiction, one thing you need is a 'world' or to put in simpler a place for your story to take place in, even if that is just a town, city, or across an entire planet, that is your 'world', your setting for your story.

When I'm going to write, that is my first step in writing it, I figure out the setting for the story to take place in, where is the story going to start, go to as it progresses, and end.

It is common knowledge that description is everything in writing, I agree with this 100% and have often spent hours trying to get a description down to perfection, and I have 2 examples below, the first example is a mild description of a castle that appears in a work of fiction i'm currently writing, and the second example is a description of the same castle, with much more detail.

Example 1: The large stone castle did not show its age, the banners hung proudly from its outer wall. The Knights stationed at the gate stood with pride.

Example 2: The large gray stone castle did not show its age, despite being built over 100 years ago, the red and gold banners of the Kingdom hung proudly from its outer wall, gently swaying in the breeze. The Knights stationed at the gate, with their well kept armor and swords, stood with pride as members of the Knights' order.

I don't know about you, but even reading my second example I pictured a better vision of that castle.

The best way, personally, to create a memorable setting is describe it with as much detail as you can, without drawing attention away from your characters and make sure the places and things that your characters see are engaging and can create a vivid picture in your head.

I'll be covering Characters in the next section.

Some helpful tips on 'Character' Creation

I've been writing since I was 12, my first character I ever created was nothing to write home about, as it was not even something I could publish, which at 12 years old wasn't even on my mind anyway, and my first villain was, a joke, to be honest.

As I grew both in age and wisdom, attended creative writing classes in college and continued to edit my writing, I was able to refine my creativity and create memorable heroes and villains, I'd like to share a few of the tips I've picked up along the way.

To make a memorable character, you need to be able to let your readers associate with the character, or let your reader see the world through your characters eyes when ever possible, without losing focus on the rest of the characters.

For example, you make a main character, he's a simple farm boy who hates the idea of killing, but when a murdering bandit kills his brother/sister/parent/significant other, they go after the bandit to get revenge, maybe meeting new friends along the way and learning from them, so when he meets the bandit again, he spares him and instead turns him over to the authorities, as he learned from his friends, and I know its cliché, that vengeance won't bring a loved one back.

To make a Memorable villain is similar, but you sometimes need to go an extra step, and you need to give your readers a reason to either hate this villain, or feel sorry for them and maybe even sometimes both at the same time. Maybe your villain isn't really evil, they are just doing what they are doing because they feel that it is the only way to reach a goal of their own.

For example, say your villain is Immortal, and nothing can kill them, so they decide to destroy the world because they feel solitude is the answer they seek, because the world will not accept them because they are immortal, so he decides to 'reject' the entire world by bringing about it's destruction.

Another example could be that they are in love with someone who does not reciprocate the feelings, so they kidnap them in an attempt to win them, and that sets up the story for the main character to go after the villain.

Supporting characters should be created the same way as main characters, as a supporting character can be just as important as a main character, without becoming a main character themselves.

Really, once you have these concepts, you can actually start writing a compelling plot, which I'll cover in the next section.

Some helpful tips on 'Plot' Creation

A Human male Knight is on an epic quest to find a legendary magical sword, he is accompanied by a talking cat, a female elf who the knight slowly falls in love with and a surprisingly intelligent ogre.

Yeah, I'm almost positive that's been done before in some way.

But there IS a point to that, and that point is this: Given the right description and telling the story from different directions, even this plot, which seems familiar, can be written 100 different ways and never truly tell the same story twice, sometimes just by changing the elements of the story ever so slightly.

Writing a plot for a story can literally be done by taking 15 plot points, throwing them in a hat, and picking 5 of them, if you want to do so, but its not always that easy to do, is it?

When I try to figure out a plot, I think of lots of things, which I'll go over.

One thing I decide on first is how will the story begin?

You might decide that your main character is going to be drawn into a conflict over a small piece of land that no one owns, lies right at the border of two powerful kingdoms/nations, and is so rich in resources that both side would die to claim it for their own.

You might decide that your main character has a person they love very much, but feels they are not worthy of that person. Because of this, your main character goes on a quest to 'find himself' and in the process comes to realize he had everything he wanted, but the extra skills he learned along the way won't hurt him either.

The second thing to figure out, and yes you should most of the time do it in this order, is figure out how the plot will resolve itself. The reason for this, as I'll explain, and I speak from personal experience, is that as you write, you might change your plot slightly, changing little ideas here and there, but if you set a firm ending in place, the rest doesn't matter as long as you make sure you always reach that conclusion.

For example, using that plot at the beginning of this section, the ending may be that the talking cat turns out to be a dark wizard who wanted to find the sword. Your ending may be that the 'talking cat' will claim the sword and it will be up to the Knight to defeat him and get the sword. By establishing that right away, you can change the way it leads to that as often as you wish.

The final, and most obvious thing, is you need to figure out how to get from "The Beginning" to "The End" and do so in a way that makes sense, keep people interested and make them WANT to see what happens next.

Going back to my previous example, our talking cat, as the writer you know, is the bad-guy, but as you write, you may decide that, instead of getting to the end and revealing his true nature, he'll reveal it at the middle, and that leaves you wide open to changing the rest of the plot, as long as it still ends with, Knight verses 'talking cat' Dark Wizard at the end.

A good plot is one that captures the reader, and also take you away to a far away place in your own mind, it draws you in and doesn't let you go until the very end.

Some helpful tips on 'Character Skill' Creation

So now, here comes something a little different.

Lets talk about "Character Skills" for a moment, before closing.

Now, when I say skills, I don't mean just 'normal' things like his running or weight-lifting ability, I mean the things of Fantasy that make it just that.

I've always been a firm believer that characters in a Fantasy setting should have a few skills that set them apart, do you agree?

If not, that's OK too, but I want to talk about it for a while.

Character 'Skills' can be anything from the ability to cast powerful magic spells to a strange proficiency with a type of weapon, and whatever else you mind can think of, no matter what, and you should never be afraid to give you character a skill you think of that might be interesting to read.

There are of course limits to follow too, for example you wouldn't want you character to be able to solve any problem or beat any foe, that actually makes it boring, which is the opposite effect.

A good example would be to have a character that can use Magic, but to give them a hard fight, create a villain that is either immune to the effects of magic, or also knows magic and can create powerful Anti-Magic zones where spells are useless.

Create a hero who is a master swordsman, but he could be evenly matched by a foe that is also a master swordsman.

When creating skills, as I said, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Some helpful tips in conclusion

Now we've gone over the things that I feel are important.

I hope you'll take something away from all this as I've taken something away from writing it.

I also hope I'm able to help someone, or everyone, who reads this improve, as others have given me ideas to improve.

A few tips in closing are as follows.

Read helpful articles and books, I've done this from the time I was in High School and continue to do so till this day.

Use the internet for help, if your stuck, the internet is great, and I've posted some links to my favorite "random Generator" sites on the internet, which are great resources for ideas.

Writing Poll

When writing, what is most important to you?

See results


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