The presence of space or an alternate world / universe may not be necessary to create a science fiction masterpiece. Right from the novels of George Orwell or movies like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – you can find ample examples. In this article, I am about to discuss some of the common aspects which make science fiction stories described on earth better than the average storyline.
Recently, I was watching a light-hearted sci-fi short movie on YouTube called “Future Boyfriend”. The short film chiefly had two characters. It appeared as if whoever was writing the plot put too much emphasis on the guy and not the girl. While I found the movie short and sweet, this is how one should not create the characters. The number one priority is to build overall emphasis on the characters and write down every little bit of detail about them. There should be vivid description of the chief protagonists and antagonists. The descriptions of supporting characters should be proportionate to their role in the entire story. A great character makes a great story.
If you look at Fahrenheit 451, you will come across a number of conflicts Guy Montag faces – from keeping up his job to joining the other side. We know less than 0.01% of what exists out there in the universe. Yet, we speculate and are more predisposed to write about the space compared to the earth, in a sci-fi setting. Why does this happen? This happens because the space is a territory where vast amounts of areas are uncharted. The more uncharted the area, the greater is the chance we expect danger. We need to understand this whenever we are writing our story in science fiction. This is the reason we need to involve copious amounts of conflicts.
The same notion can be applied to the twists and turns which exists within a novel. In one of my novels, “A Year Without Summer”, I did bring in the aspects of space. However, when the character was in the 19th century earth, he was faced with numerous twists and turns. At first, he had a life of luxury, followed by the life of a labourer – and then he was goaded off to marry because he had a match. This is required to let a reader be hooked to the plot. Remember when you were watching Interstellar? I actually watched this movie with a group of friends. None of them understood anything when the movie focussed on space. When the movie showed the parts where the character of earth, I saw all of my friends making gestures that they were bored. One even left the room and walked out to have a drag of cigarette. A reader may show considerably less degree of avoidance than when he is watching a movie. However, he or she might go on reading your novel for the sake of it. They may rate it one star out of five later on! I cannot remember about such a novel right off the top of my head but amongst films, one example which provided thorough interest with its twists is Inception.
Your inspiration also should not just be limited to science fiction. If we remember the book “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, it focussed on the times of Bowman. The book also provided us with an insight into political truths and commentary about humans and interactions with HAL 9000 at large. It also has stimulating dialogues. Same goes for Animal Farm by George Orwell. Get your reader involved. Provide relatable talks, without sounding preachy.
Another tip to write a story without the presence of space: Be careful while dealing with invasion literature and robotic protagonists. Such movies and books had been released in scores. People would believe that your work is uninspiring. Most probably, a rip-off too. If you want to involve robotic protagonists, you need to involve great care and create something which has not been the case so far. While writing about alien invasions, one must slow down the pace of the novel. The aliens need and their problems need to be told in such a manner that the reader gradually deconstructs everything you want to get across when talking about the trouble. Also, do not restrict the alien to its role as an antagonist. Who knows? It can be a better protagonist than the earthlings? Try to be different while describing about certain otherworldly kin, the kin of which has been overused multiple times.