All fiction contains similar elements, like an immersive experience and compelling characters, but speculative fiction must highlight certain aspects of each element.
Create a vivid and immersive world.
Speculative fiction often involves fantastical or futuristic settings. Take your time building an authentic, consistent, and unique world. Consider how elements such as geography, history, culture, technology, and magic systems affect the characters and show how these affect them through their attitude, trials, physical features, and even their clothing.
Consistency and attention to detail helps readers suspend their disbelief and become fully engaged in your story.
Balance world-building with storytelling.
While world-building is important, the story should always take center stage. Avoid overwhelming readers with excessive exposition or information dumps.
Introduce the details of your world gradually and organically as they become relevant to the narrative. The world should serve the story, not overshadow it.
Develop compelling and multi-dimensional characters.
In speculative fiction, strong character development is vital. Your characters should be relatable, well-rounded, and have unique voices as in all fiction, but the added elements of powers, the technology surrounding them, or alternative governmental control, separate them from our reality.
By exploring how the speculative elements of your world impact characters’ lives and shape their identities, your characters will have a depth and complexity distinctive from all other, making your characters more engaging and increase the capability for them to resonate with readers.
Use abstract elements to tackle social issues.
Speculative fiction provides a platform for exposing social issues in imaginative and thought-provoking ways. Consider how your speculative elements can serve as metaphors or allegories for real-world topics.
Thoughtful examination and evaluation can bring a new viewpoint or reveal issues readers haven’t thought of or experienced before. Tackling societal problems can elevate your story and add layers of meaning.
Do your research.
In speculative fiction, research plays a crucial role. Looking at history and how society handled problems will help your story be believable. Research how we succeeded or failed and how similar situations could appear in the future and how we could do better.
Your thoughts and your opinions on old and new outcomes are distinctive and will make your story unique.
While you have the freedom to create rules and systems, consistency within your world is key. If you establish certain laws or limitations, stick to them unless there is a deliberate reason to break them.
This consistency will help readers suspend disbelief and invest in your story.
Strike a balance between concept and plot.
Speculative fiction often involves high-concept ideas and unique premises. However, it's important to ensure that the plot remains engaging and cohesive.
Don't let the concept overshadow the need for a well-structured and compelling narrative. Develop a strong plot with clear goals, conflicts, and resolutions that keep readers invested from beginning to end. Your subplots should be strong and support the main plot, but add another concept. Keep in mind, the reason for subplots should be less obvious.
Remember speculative fiction is a vast and diverse genre, encompassing a wide range of subgenres and styles. Find your unique voice within the genre, experiment, and don't be afraid to take risks. Stay true to your vision and keep writing with passion and dedication.