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Top 3 tips for writing sci-fi and fantasy stories

Top 3 tips for writing sci-fi and fantasy stories

Hi, my name is Andy Prentice. I’m a writer and editor for Usborne books, but I’ve also published stories about demons, magic and space ships. I’ve recently written Write Your Own Sci-Fi and Fantasy Stories, which is packed with tips, tricks and ideas so you can start writing your own.

I thought it might be a good idea on this blog to give a little taste of some of the advice you can find in the book. So without further ado, here are my TOP 3 TIPS.

1) Read all the books 

There are so many amazing worlds out there to explore. I love opening up a book and suddenly finding myself in a riot on the Moon, or chasing a magic monkey through an underwater city, or hearing the sad song of the star whales. That’s not to say I don’t like books set in the real world too, but nothing beats going somewhere extraordinary for a little holiday.

But there’s a practical reason for reading if you are going to do any kind of writing. Books are like rocket fuel for the spaceship of your imagination. (Or super hay for the unicorn of your dreams if you prefer a fantasy simile). Don’t be afraid to borrow good ideas from your favourite authors. You’ll find too that the more you read, the better, stranger and stronger your own ideas will be. 

(And make sure to read comic books too! They’re awesome.)

2) Magic matters

Magic in stories is a powerful thing.  You can do anything with it – and sometimes it’s tempting to go all the way. I once wrote a story about a flying, fire-breathing camel that defeated a dragon and took over the world. But there’s a reason that story never made it into a book.

Magic works better when it is difficult, and you have to pay a price to use it. If you can just wave a wand and make any problem disappear, you will not have a very interesting story. But if your characters need to give something up to cast a spell (like their soul, or a finger – for example), then they have to make a hard choice. Good stories are all about hard choices. So make sure your wizards pay a price for their power.

3) Keep at it!

The best way to get better at writing is to write lots. But sometimes, even for experienced writers, that can feel really hard. An empty page is a scary thing.

The main thing to remember when you face an empty page is that it is absolutely fine to make mistakes. I made loads of them just writing this blog post! So when you finish any piece of writing set it aside and come back to it a little while later. I’ll guarantee you’ll see ways to make it better. 

Another good idea is to get someone else to read it. Listen to what they have to say – but don’t make changes just because they say you should. Your opinion is the most important one. Just like with reading, the more writing you do, the better you’ll get!

Write your own sci-fi and fantasy stories

Write your own sci-fi and fantasy stories

Have you ever dreamed of zipping to distant stars, jumping through time or setting out on a deadly quest? This book has loads of inspiring ideas for amazing stories and plenty of space to write them down. With lots of helpful tips for building new worlds, and links to websites for more writing tips, activities and inspiration.


Buy or find out more 

Andy Prentice, Usborne Editor/Writer

Tags: creative writing

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