4 Authors Share Their Best Tips for Writing Fantasy & Science-Fiction

In advance of our 4th Annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Virtual Conference, four of the participating presenters share their best quick tips for writing fantasy and science-fiction.


As a lifelong lover of science fiction and fantasy, I am thrilled to tune into Writer’s Digest’s 4th Annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Virtual Conference, coming July 21 and 22, 2018. This exclusive event is back and better than ever: Seven of our favorite experts on sci-fi and fantasy will present for an hour each on topics including world-building, writing dystopian fiction, crafting action-packed scenes, and infusing your out-of-this-world fiction with real-world believability. Plus, four experience sci-fi and fantasy literary agents will be waiting to review and critique attendees’ query letters.

In advance of the event, I’ve been exploring tips from the authors and experts who will share their expertise with conference attendees. Check out some of their top tips and insights for perfecting your sci-fi and fantasy fiction:

Making the Unbelievable Believable

In terms of the SF and fantasy genres in particular, consistently applied internal logic is absolutely essential. Genre readers want to believe, and your readers are happy to suspend their disbelief while your characters travel through hyperspace or battle the twenty-headed liger, but where they’ll start to turn on you and begin to complain that your SF and fantasy is “unrealistic” is when your characters spend three days in hyperspace to travel eight light-years in chapter one then get home again in fifteen minutes in chapter nine. You’ve established that the trip takes three days, how can they suddenly go faster and why didn’t they do that before? Now our entirely created FTL drive is “totally unrealistic.”

– Phil Athans, New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation, as well as Writing Monsters

Developing Your Dystopia

The key to a dystopia is the breakdown in self-policing. In a sane society, people keep each other in check. When that self-policing breaks down the State replaces it with something—surveillance drones, Robocop, brain implants replacing violent thoughts with a compulsion to dance the Macarena—standard Dystopian stuff.

– Jeff Somers, author of nine novels, including the Avery Cates series of noir-science fiction novels, as well as Writing Without Rules

Exploring Character Evolution Amid Revolution

[Try] playing with the idea of what makes a hero. Who takes a stand against the enemy, what decisions do they make when civilization is falling apart, and how are they affected by it all? My characters have to suffer, fall down, fall in love, and most of all evolve. If I’ve done a good job, readers will want to follow them into the next book!

Tabitha Lord, Award-Winning Author of the Horizon series

Crafting a Three-Part Series

If you’re writing a series—especially a sci-fi or fantasy series—the trilogy is a wonderful format. It provides a natural story structure to which genre fans are already accustomed. … When writing a trilogy, you need to continue the story from book one while escalating everything—conflict, tension and stakes—to pull readers along to the finale.

– Dan Koboldt, author of the Gateways to Alissia trilogy and the editor of Putting the Science in Fiction (WD Books 2018)

Learn more from these authors and more in a virtual experience like no other: Join me at the 4th Annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Virtual Conference, July 21 and 22, 2018. All you need is a computer, a draft of your query letter, and your imagination.


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