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5 Writing Prompts for Science Fiction Writers

Science fiction 000001w stories typically arise from a novum, a scientifically plausible concept that is a “reality” in the tale. The novum might be an mechanical device like robot servants, artificial intelligence, or faster-than-light spacecraft; it also can be a hypothetical idea such as “The Earth is a scientific experiment run by aliens to determine the meaning of life” or “The government outlaws books.” The author then asks “What if?” exploring how the world with this novum is different than ours.

Among the problems of many novice science fiction writers is instead of introducing a new novum they rely on used furniture – that is, they borrow novums from popular SF series. After all, how many novels have you read that use starships exploring the galaxy for the Earth-based Federation? Barely changing names to appear as if you are not appropriating – a starcraft seeking M-class worlds for the Earth-centered Alliance – still doesn’t cut it as original or fully using the potential that science fiction offers to examine our culture or humanity.

To help SF writers, here are some novums of potential near-future inventions from which stories could be built:

Biorepository and genomic information system
What if there were a national biorepository and genomic information system, holding data on every citizen? How would this transform healthcare? Could the repository and info system have other applications, such as serving as voting I.D.?

What if any object in our lives – from our motor vehicles to our toys, from our buildings to our furniture – could change their color or shape upon command? The use of catoms (aka claytronic atoms) could make this a possibility.

Deep-ocean mining
What if deep-ocean mining were widespread, made viable by advanced robotics and telepresence? Rare-earth metals and methane hydrate deposits would be the miners’ targets.

Flood barriers in coastal cities
With rising water levels, what steps can coastal communities take to save themselves from flooding? Focus on a single city, such as New York.

Virtual telepathy
What if brain-computer interfaces were commonplace? How would this change the way we communicate and access information?

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.


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