- Sympathetic Characters
Tack onto this characters that your audience can identify with. Science fiction is known for having aliens, robots, and other bizarre things as centerpieces to the story. If one of those oddities happens to be a significant character that you want your readers to be interested in, then you have to make them somehow "human." The readers need to sympathize with those characters, understand their struggles and motives, etc.
- Technology (or a damn good reason for the lack thereof)
Science fiction doesn't exist without technology. A story set in 1776 is not science fiction, unless you can make a convincing time travel story (but then, in theory, your story would have started in the future rather than 1776). If you have a complete lack of technology, then you should be able to justify that--dystopias can still be science fiction even if there is little to no technology present.
- The Future
Well, duh, right? This requirement is somewhat difficult, though, because for obvious reasons a lot of novels that are science fiction aren't set in a real future. 1984 is technically set in the past, now. So, to amend this, I will say that the future must be the future at the time of publication. Yeah, procedural-ish and annoying, but so be it. Science fiction is about the future, so it must be there.
Because what story can exist without some sort of conflict? Okay, so there are stories that have no conflicts, but those stories aren't generally remembered for being good, right? Science fiction stories do well with some sort of conflict. I've never read a successful science fiction story in which nothing happened. Ever.
- Something Interesting
This can be a conflict, a character, or maybe a fancy new technological idea. Regardless of the "interesting thing" you choose, it has to coincide with the plot and make us, the readers, interested. Think back to some of your favorite science fiction stories. What made them interesting to you? Cool tech devices? Space travel? Weird aliens? A clever dystopic view of society? Take the good things away from your favorite stories. They were successful for a reason!
The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website. If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!
Saturday, January 03, 2009
What makes a good science fiction story? What elements do you need? Well, the following list are what I think are necessary elements to every science fiction story, including elements that should be givens for stories in general. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section of this post. In no particular order: