31

To directly answer your question: The role of the supernatural in hard science fiction is that it doesn't exist. Period. There are no shades of grey to the laws of physics. You can't say "this one location is the Space Bermuda Triangle" or "this one alien race defeats time with their brain" and still claim that you are writing hard sci-fi. This is the old ...


27

The way you open a novel largely depends on what kind of novel you're writing. If you're writing a humorous novel, there should be something humorous right on the first page. Look, for example, at Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens: It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain ...


21

It depends on how "hard" you want your sci-fi to be. I think Larry Niven is a boundary case of sci-fi hardness. Niven writes about things that do not exist and most likely cannot and will never exist, but he approaches the topics with just enough science to keep things "hard". Some examples of Niven's suppositions: Safe Bussard ramjets - Bussard ramjets ...


19

The double adjectives might be creating a sentence rhythm that feels strong while you write because it seems to "double bounce" in a smooth way – in this case it's not a fast bounce that picks up speed, it is a slow bounce that causes the pace of reading to become deliberate, like when you take a deep breath and let it out. "One and two…, ahhhh" I'm going ...


19

There is a distinction that needs to be drawn here: are you talking about practice that helps you improve your writing, or are you talking about the kind of practice you can put in a CV to help you get a job in journalism or something similar? If you're looking for something to put on your CV, "I write a diary" is weak. "I write a blog" is stronger, because ...


16

Being original is more than just avoiding what everyone else is doing. In a sense, doing exactly what everyone else is doing, and doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing are equally derivative --both are just reactions to what you've read before. What readers are actually looking for is a unique sense of you as an author. That's something which ...


15

You know when you are going against the conventions too much when you are feeling forced to go against the conventions just for the sake of going against the conventions. The work then starts to feel like hard work to not be like everyone else instead of putting the effort into meaningful progression of the plot and working on the character traits of your ...


14

The convention is to always start a new paragraph when you change the speaker, change the place, or change the time. In this case, you're changing the speaker, so your first example is correct. In the second example it's unclear who's saying the second line - it could be Jack, or it could be Jill or Julia. EDIT: To clarify, if Jack's response is only ...


14

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. In other words, your main character probably doesn't see himself as a terrorist, so a first-person or close third-person story focusing on that character can present something more nuanced than "terrorist, ick". I've read stories where I know the main character is reprehensible in some way -- terrorist, ...


13

You can’t. What makes hard science fiction hard is the fact that it works within the bounds of what is known (or reasonably theorized) to be possible. Movies such as Star Wars are not hard sci fi; they’re science fantasy — fantasy stories with the trappings of sci fi. The Force is, for all intents and purposes, magic. Space ships do not, in and of ...


12

Because maintaining suspense over who will live and who will die is only one of a story's many goals. And in most stories, it's not even a very important one. The fact that The Protagonist Survives is the flip side of the truism that We're Telling The Protagonist's Story. Since what we're telling is the story of one person, or a small group of people, it ...


10

The rules say that if you think of it as a novel, it counts as a novel. If you don't think of the whole 50,000 words as a novel, it doesn't strictly fit the rules. I've known lots of people who write 50,000 words of short stories and call it good. It may not strictly satisfy the rules, but so what? You wrote 50,000 words of short stories and had a lot of ...


10

It is not that you can't add supernatural stuff, it is how you approach it. Take Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, for example; Solaris is a (small spoilers of the beginning of the novel ahead) living water planet that can communicate via electrical impulses, and even generate humans from the memories of members of the science vessel crew. This is, for all intents ...


10

A knowledgeable Writing.SE user once said you could write fifty thousand times the word 'meow' and call it a novel. Such a piece of writing would hardly be considered an account of anything, even less so a 'story'. If we dial back from the extreme, you could consider some random sentences, like the one that my computer can produce. The cow was being held ...


9

All the way back to A Wizard of Earthsea, the Names-Have-Power trope usually handles this by giving people nicknames for "public" use. Their real names are closely-guarded secrets. You can definitely give your protagonist a nickname; that's what people would do in the situation, because you have to call her something, and that also solves your problem. If ...


9

What I want in a story is a character I care about facing an issue I face and struggling with that issue. You say you have humans on another planet using magic. And it's fantasy. It sounds like fantasy to me. I have humans on another planet. And they are genetically modified to have remarkable abilities (and have access to remarkable pharmaceuticals). I ...


9

In Medias Res: in the middle of things. What you're referring to isn't commonly done (that is to say, starting your story at the climax or at the end of the story). That doesn't mean it isn't done, just not commonly. So. Let's tease this apart somewhat. In Medias Res typically starts the story in the action (not the climax, but simply action). The reason ...


9

It's often seen as too casual Consider the following phrase: As I stated earlier, Romeo & Juliet is a tragedy. The use of "I" in this statement implies that the author has a connection to the reader and that it's fairly casual. That's not always the case. If you were writing that on your AP Language test, the test taker isn't anybody who has ...


9

I don't think this will be a problem for several reasons. First, when I see Nick and Cole, I don't immediately think Nicholas. I didn't realize they could both be abbreviations for Nicholas until you mentioned. Second, if you have a character say something like "This is Nikon, but we call him Nick, and this is Colton but we call him Cole" I doubt the ...


9

It depends on how you handle it in universe. Let me give you two reasonings why it can work, if done well. First, let's look at Clarke's third law: any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic. I've seen examples used from our world where this makes perfect sense. Take cell phones. If you go back to the 1950s and talk about cell ...


9

As a reader, I think that adjectives are helpful in making a better image of what the writer is trying to say. But repeating adjectives that have almost the same or similar meaning (e.g. slow and monotonous, soft and warm, thin and frail) would be considered a bad style, as it would be counted as irrelevant explanation and waste of words, and would ...


9

I developed software for many decades for several organizations. The standards for versioning were varied, but there are some general guidelines that most of them followed. I will call the leftmost number in the version identifier, the Version. The releasing organization will change this number when there are major changes in the feature set of the ...


8

If everyone in the town is named by the leader, and a couple adopts her, then most people are going to refer to her as "the Kents' girl." To her face they might cal her "Miss Kent" or "Kent Girl," depending on their level of courtesy. She can earn a use-name later depending on what she does, what she looks like, or how she behaves, like Carpenter, Red, or ...


8

if I intentionally go against the genre conventions - for any genre, not just fantasy - where do I draw the line? I believe there are two types of conventions for any genre. Some are essential - without them, you don't have the specific genre you're after. Some are traditional - tropes, clichés or smart twists on those. Feel free to drop the traditional ...


8

My first instinct was to say "you can't" - the very essence of the science fiction genre is that things are not supernatural - they make sense within the in-universe rules, if not right from the start, then in the end, when we get to the bottom of the mystery. But then I thought of some examples to the contrary. Look at Star Wars - what is the Force, if not ...


8

I think the key to this question is to break down this phrase: ... writing fantasy instead of sci-fi Genres are not universally agreed things with solid boundaries, and fantasy and science fiction have a long history of cross-overs, sub-genres, and conflicting definitions. The terms "SFF" and "speculative fiction" are sometimes used specifically to avoid ...


8

I think you are not writing a story, you are writing a vignette that captures a moment; this is more akin to poetry or a painting or a song or photography, those all (aim to) capture a feeling, emotion, or dramatic moment. (I am presuming this is fiction, and not an academic essay detailing some process or proof.) This is still art, it is still writing, it ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible