Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Course Outline

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7. Language and Style

Read This or Die!

Casting a Spell

Quick Launch


What You Need to Start

First Person?

Story Elements

Third Person?

Then you must work out

Author's Voice

Once You've Finished


1. On Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy


Why Write?

Keep It Strong!

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Keep It Active!

Where to Start?

Try This at Home!

Rewards of Writing

8. The Seven Deadly Perils of Style

Deeper Dimensions of SF, Fantasy, and Storytelling

Clichéd or Derivative Plot Lines

What is Science Fiction Anyway? Or Fantasy?

Bad Dog! Grammar, Spelling, and Usage

A Way of Thinking

Viewpoint Wobbles

Some Starships and Spells to Ride

Viewpoint Transitions



2. Getting from Idea to Story

AWAKS and Infodumps

Where Do You Get Your (Crazy) Ideas?

Xblmrph and His Evil Twin, Xblmrphe

Many Shapes and Sizes

Characters Step Out (of Character)

Collect and Remember

Bad Science, Bad Magic ... Bad Math

I Have My Idea. Now What?

Taking Liberties

Writing Is a Process

9. Research and Believability

What Tools Do You Need?

Getting Real

Plagiarism—Don't Do It!

How to Research


Internet and Other Electronic Sources

3. World Building

When to Fake It

The Three Laws of Robotics

Remember, Doctor!

Imaginative World Building

10. Finishing

Freedom to Do as You Wish?

Unfinished Work

Some Approaches That Can Help


Concrete Detail versus Implied Detail

Believe in Yourself


But Stuck Is Stuck. And I'm Stuck

Future Histories

Do Or Do Not—There Is No Try!

Brain Jag

11. Rewriting

Deeper Dimensions of World Building

Writing Is rewriting

A Tale of One Universe

The Basic Approach

Asking Questions


Further Explorations

More Self-Evaluation

4. Creating Human Characters

Be Ruthless

The Heart of the Story

Feedback from Others

Sounds Hard. How Do You Do It?

Using the Criticism

Give Them Personality

Put It on the Line

Discovering Your Characters (1)

12. Writing Workshops

Discovering Your Characters (2)

...And Other Pleasant Tortures

Bringing Your Characters to Life: Show, Don't Tell

Types of Workshops

Bringing Your Characters to Life: Dialogue

If You Can't Find a Local Workshop

Minor Characters

Important Workshop Ground Rules!

Don't Try This at Home!

Making It Work

Deeper Dimensions of Human Characterization

Available Workshops

An Illustrative Scene

13. Getting Published: Trial by Fire

5. Aliens and Other Creatures

Your Work in Print

Bellicose Beasts and Impossible Creatures

Manuscript Preparation

Imagination Rules!

Will They Steal My Work?

All Alien, All the Time

Learning the Market

Say Again? (Alien Language)


Excuse Me — Is That Your Alien Hatching on My Lawn?

Taking Rejection

Communicating to the Reader

Taking Acceptance

Try This at Home!

Electronic Publication/Agents/Scams

6. Conflict and Plot

Books and Agents

What Is a Story?

14. Resources for Writers

Originality Counts!

SF/F Web Resources

You Gotta Have Heart—er, Structure

Books Helpful for the SF/F Writer

Beginning: Set the Hook

General Writing Information

Middle: Reel 'em in

15. Recommended SF and Fantasy Reading

End: Land 'em in Triumph


What If I Don't Know What Happens?

Short Fiction

Other Times, Other Worlds

Award Winners

Choices Made by Your Characters

16. Get Books

You Can Try This at Home, Too

17. About this Course

Deeper Dimensions of Conflict and Plot


Dragons in the Stars: An Illustrative Scene


Conflict Becomes a Turning Point




Course content copyright © 2018 Jeffrey A. Carver
May not be reproduced without permission of the author.
Visit the Science Fiction Worlds of Jeffrey A. Carver.