Science Fiction Writing Prompts

Instructor: Nicky Davis
From titles like Frankenstein to The War of the Worlds, science fiction is a highly diverse and popular literary fiction genre, which stems out of the broader fantasy genre. Read on for creative prompts and tips to inspire your own science fiction writing.

Prompts for Writing Science Fiction

Based around scientific principles, both real and imagined, science fiction often creates stories about a future world, or alternate reality, in which new technologies alter the fate of humanity. Check out the prompts below for ideas on how to start your own sci-fi story. Follow the hyperlinked book titles to literature guides.

Artificial Intelligence

Intelligent technologies are already beginning to develop, with computers that can process human emotion, and answer any number of questions. Imagine a future society where this technology is common, with computerized people, homes, and animals. What new problems are faced? How does this new A.I. race integrate?

Compelling characters are vital to captivating your reader, and drawing them into an otherwise unfamiliar world. While the characters don't have to be people, the dynamics and struggles between them should be recognizably human.

Have a look at Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for a good example of how you can humanize a non-human character.

Space Travel

There has been a lot of discussion about the possible colonization of Mars. Create a story about the first group that attempts to travel to another planet and settle there. How does this other-planetary colony affect life on earth? Is the settlement successful?

You can draw inspiration for your science fiction from many different sources. If you're writing a space travel adventure, you don't have to be limited to Star Trek or Star Wars. Look to other genres, or real life events to help you craft unique ideas.

George Orwell's 1984 is a great example of how to use real life and politics to inspire a unique alternate reality, while A Wrinkle in Time can help you see how to use time travel in a fictional story.

Science Experiment

In a world where there is constant scientific research taking place, imagine a lab that stumbles upon a strange new discovery that could change the course of human history. What do they discover? Do they tell the public?

While not all science in sci-fi literature is real, it should still be somehow believable. The biggest difference between science fiction and fantasy is the conceivability of the premise. When writing, keep in mind real scientific principles, and make sure to explain the logic behind any new science you create.

See Lois Lowry's The Giver for an example of how to design a world with new scientific realities and technological capabilities.

Apocalyptic Adventure

After predictions of a zombie outbreak, a series of world-wrecking natural disasters, or an alien takeover, the apocalypse finally comes. What sparks it? What does it look like? How do people fight to survive?

No matter what decisions you've made about the world your characters are living in, you shouldn't break any rules you have established for that world. Staying consistent is crucial to keeping your readers engaged with your story. And be sure to follow through, fully exploring what a reality with those rules might really be like.

Check out Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 to see how a single rule can provide the backbone for an entirely new reality.

New Beginning

The apocalypse has come and gone. Now what? Imagine what has devastated the world, and then how civilization begins again. Who has survived the apocalypse, and how do they begin to rebuild? What technologies can they preserve, and what do they have to do to start again from scratch?

In order to understand the story's conflict, readers need a firm grasp on the order of this new reality. However, be sure that the description and detail of world building doesn't interfere with the flow of the narrative. Only include exposition when it is necessary and organic to the plot.

Study how Aldous Huxley builds the reality of Brave New World with carefully curated details and description.

Writer's Resources

Interested in learning more about writing fiction? has a variety of helpful courses, which provide interactive quizzes, video lessons and articles to bolster your prose reading and writing skill sets, as well as lessons to help you learn more about the science fiction genre. The resources below can help budding sci-fi writers get started.

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