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How Do I Become a Science Fiction Writer?

A science fiction writer working.
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  • Written By: Patrick Roland
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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Science fiction is one of the most popular literary genres around the world. No matter whether the subjects are light years away on a spaceship or living in a time and place similar to now, science fiction encompasses a wide range of imaginative ideas, settings and messages. If you want to become a science fiction writer, you will need to sharpen your writing skills, research past masters and get an agent.

An education can give you a big leg up when preparing to become a science fiction writer. A college degree is not required to become a writer, but in-depth English, composition and literature classes will help you develop the foundational writing skills. It also can be helpful to take biology, physics and math classes in order to learn about scientific theories and thoughts that could appear in your fiction. If you want to further your education, many schools offer a master's degree in creative writing that is an intensive two to three years of writing workshops and classes.

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No matter how you get your education, you will need to read countless science fiction novels and short stories in order to become a science fiction writer. This accomplishes two things in improving your skills as a fiction writer. First, it shows you what stories have been told and gives you an idea about how the genre functions as a whole. Secondly, and most importantly, reading helps inform your personal writing style by allowing you to absorb things you like and don't like about different books. Some of the most popular authors to start with include Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke and Phillip K. Dick.

In order to improve your chances to become a science fiction writer, you have be diligent about writing. There is no set number of hours that it takes to become an author, but you must write and edit your stories constantly. By writing and rewriting, you will see what works and doesn't work in your characters, plots and messages. Many writers also share their work with others to get outside feedback.

Finally, if you have a work that is strong, you should look for an agent to help sell your book to a publisher. There are many online sources that list agents, and you also can do a little research to find out who represents your favorite authors. If you want to become a science fiction writer, an agent helps bridge the gap between writers and publishers by finding a match for both.

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Discuss this Article

clintflint
Post 3

@Fa5t3r - It does depend on the person. Science fiction is not the best genre for younger people to try and break into because a lot of very intelligent, highly educated people read it. But there have definitely been cases of teenagers managing to break into the genre. Stephan King was selling stories before he hit 20 I believe. But he also made writing his life and kept it up for years before he got a hit.

Fa5t3r
Post 2

@Iluviaporos - I don't think there's anything wrong with studying creative writing at college, but I do think that the time has to be right. I ended up doing a high level degree later in life and I felt I had the skill and experience to make the most of it.

I just don't know if the average person fresh out of high school could have enough life experience and a wide enough reading experience to really take advantage of a decent creative writing program.

I'd say become a counselor or a nurse or a vet or something else first and get something to write about before you start.

lluviaporos
Post 1

Honestly, if you are thinking about doing a degree in English or Creative Writing in order to become a writer, I would almost always tell you not to do it. Particularly if you want to write sci fi. It's not going to give you any skills that you can't develop for yourself. And yes, it will help you develop them in a short period of time comparatively, but there are things you can learn at university that you just can't get anywhere else.

If you love science then study science. Even if you don't fancy working in the field, I think knowing the basics of science is crucial to decent science fiction. And you are much more likely to be earning a paycheck you can live from in five years if you study science. Creative writing doesn't pay very well at all.

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