How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Overview

Learn to write science fiction and fantasy from a master

You've always dreamed of writing science fiction and fantasy tales that pull readers into extraordinary new worlds and fantastic conflicts. Best-selling author Orson Scott Card shows you how it's done, distilling years of writing experience and publishing success into concise, no-nonsense advice. You'll learn how to:

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Overview

Learn to write science fiction and fantasy from a master

You've always dreamed of writing science fiction and fantasy tales that pull readers into extraordinary new worlds and fantastic conflicts. Best-selling author Orson Scott Card shows you how it's done, distilling years of writing experience and publishing success into concise, no-nonsense advice. You'll learn how to:

  • utilize story elements that define the science fiction and fantasy genres
  • build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world your readers will want to explore
  • develop the "rules" of time, space and magic that affect your world and its inhabitants
  • construct a compelling story by developing ideas, characters, and events that keep readers turning pages
  • find the markets for speculative fiction, reach them, and get published
  • submit queries, write cover letters, find an agent, and live the life of a writer
The boundaries of your imagination are infinite. Explore them with Orson Scott Card and create fiction that casts a spell over agents, publishers, and readers from every world.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
From one of the all-time bestselling authors of science fiction and fantasy writing comes an excellent resource for beginners or pros. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card covers topics such as the creation of worlds and alien societies and the use and rules of magic, topics specific to the genre. Learn creative science fiction and fantasy writing from one of the masters.
School Library Journal
YA-- Card does not discuss how to write in general, e.g., plotting, style, dialogue, point of view, or characterization, but instead covers creative writing as it relates to the science fiction/fantasy genre. He includes such diverse topics as inventing a world, creating alien societies, the rules of magic, etc. This well-written volume is an excellent resource for beginning writers or a refresher for those already on their journeys to other worlds and other stars.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582971032
  • Publisher: F+W Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Pages: 140
  • Sales rank: 193,665
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card
With a raft of science fiction awards and a dedicated following, Orson Scott Card writes imaginative and compelling novels that also explore questions about morality and religion. His Ender series is the most popular; but he also offers a fresh take on the Bible in his Women of Genesis books and has authored other history-based fantasy series.

Biography

Any discussion of Orson Scott Card's work must necessarily begin with religion. A devout Mormon, Card believes in imparting moral lessons through his fiction, a stance that sometimes creates controversy on both sides of the fence. Some Mormons have objected to the violence in his books as being antithetical to the Mormon message, while his conservative political activism has gotten him into hot water with liberal readers.

Whether you agree with his personal views or not, Card's fiction can be enjoyed on many different levels. And with the amount of work he's produced, there is something to fit the tastes of readers of all ages and stripes. Averaging two novels a year since 1979, Card has also managed to find the time to write hundreds of audio plays and short stories, several stage plays, a television series concept, and a screenplay of his classic novel Ender's Game. In addition to his science fiction and fantasy novels, he has also written contemporary fiction, religious, and nonfiction works.

Card's novel that has arguably had the biggest impact is 1985's Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ender's Game. Ender's Game introduced readers to Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a young genius faced with the task of saving the Earth. Ender's Game is that rare work of fiction that strikes a chord with adults and young adult readers alike. The sequel, Speaker for the Dead, also won the Hugo and Nebula awards, making Card the only author in history to win both prestigious science-fiction awards two years in a row.

In 2000, Card returned to Ender's world with a "parallel" novel called Ender's Shadow. Ender's Shadow retells the events of Ender's Game from the perspective of Julian "Bean" Delphinki, Ender's second-in-command. As Sam to Ender's Frodo, Bean is doomed to be remembered as an also-ran next to the legendary protagonist of the earlier novel. In many ways, Bean is a more complex and intriguing character than the preternaturally brilliant Ender, and his alternate take on the events of Ender's Game provide an intriguing counterpoint to fans of the original series.

In addition to moral issues, a strong sense of family pervades Card's work. Card is a devoted family man and father to five (!) children. In the age of dysfunctional family literature, Card bristles at the suggestion that a positive home life is uninteresting. "How do you keep ‘good parents' from being boring?" he once said. "Well, in truth, the real problem is, how do you keep bad parents from being boring? I've seen the same bad parents in so many books and movies that I'm tired of them."

Critical appreciation for Card's work often points to the intriguing plotlines and deft characterizations that are on display in Card's most accomplished novels. Card developed the ability to write believable characters and page-turning plots as a college theater student. To this day, when he writes, Card always thinks of the audience first. "It's the best training in the world for a writer, to have a live audience," he says. "I'm constantly shaping the story so the audience will know why they should care about what's going on."

Card brought Bean back in 2005 for the fourth and final novel in the Shadow series: Shadow of the Giant. The novel presented some difficulty for the writer. Characters who were relatively unimportant when the series began had moved to the forefront, and as a result, Card knew that the ending he had originally envisioned would not be enough to satisfy the series' fans.

Although the Ender and Shadow series deal with politics, Card likes to keep his personal political opinions out of his fiction. He tries to present the governments of futuristic Earth as realistically as possible without drawing direct analogies to our current political climate. This distance that Card maintains between the real world and his fictional worlds helps give his novels a lasting and universal appeal.

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    1. Hometown:
      Greensboro, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richland, Washington
    1. Education:
      B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Infinite Boundary 3
What is, and isn't, science fiction and fantasy, and by whose standards: publishers', writers', readers'
What basic concepts and approaches qualify a story as true speculative fiction, and how SF and fantasy differ from one another
2 World Creation 26
How to build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world that readers will want to share with you
Dragging ideas through "the idea net" of why, how, and with what result
Developing the rules of your world ... and then abiding by them and making them matter: the rules of Time, Space, and Magic
Working out the history, language, geography, and customs of your invented world
3 Story Construction 63
Finding a character for an idea, or developing ideas for a character to enact
Qualifications for the main character: who hurts the most? Who has power and freedom to act?
Should the viewpoint character be the main character? How do you decide?
Determining where the story should begin and end
The MICE quotient: milieu, idea, character, event--knowing which is most important in your story will help you decide its proper shape
4 Writing Well 88
Keeping exposition in its place
Leading your reader into the strangeness, step by step
Piquing the reader's interest
Keeping the "level of diction" appropriate to the story's imagined world
Using invented jargon sparsely and effectively
5 The Life and Business of Writing 104
The markets for short and long speculative fiction--magazines, anthologies, fanzines--and how to reach them
Classes, workshops, conferences and conventions
Collaboration, adaptation, and shared worlds
Professional writers' organizations
Awards in speculative fiction
Index 138
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2007

    Points out the path

    Unfortunately, no one will make you sit down and write, at least, not unless you have someone breathing down your neck, because you have a dealine to make. The best anyone can do is to point you in the right direction and make sure you have a nice map of where to go. OSC does that very well with this book. He is a fountain of knowledge, and I've learned a thing or two from him. Now, all I have to do is sit down and 'rewrite' my two novels. There, that sounds simple enough. :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Still one of the best writer's manuals

    The descriptions of science fiction and fantasy markets are dated. However, the writing advice is totally relevant and incredibly insightful. Orson Scott Card devotes his largest chapter to the subject of worldbuilding. He emphasizes the importance of setting up the rules for the world in which your story or novel takes place. "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" doesn't give you a formula you can fill in. Card tells you what you need to think about and what goals you have to accomplish to write a compelling story or novel. If you're committed to learning how to write quality science fiction and fantasy, then this is an excellent place to start.

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  • Posted October 9, 2009

    SyFy As It Was

    This is a nice retro perspective of how to write good science fiction & fantasy.
    The basic rules given here are still applicable, but some parts are truly obsolete. Gives you a feel for how quickly things have changed in last 10 years. Delightful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2005

    Freelance Reviewer for Midwest Book Review

    I'm always interested in how authors write their books. What techniques do they use to develop a character, create a believable setting, how do they hook their reader, unfold their plot and give the reader a resolution that will leave them remembering the story for days, weeks, or months? Most of us have read at least a few stories that seem to stay with us long after we have finished them and if you like to write it is something you strive for, hope for, in your finished book. I am attempting my first fantasy fiction novel and a fellow author let me borrow this book. I finished it quickly because it was well-written and highly interesting. It is written for someone who likes to read the fantasy fiction and science fiction genre but now is ready to try and write a novel for it too. I found all the information in Card's book highly useful, important, and insightful. I almost wish I would have read it before I started my first draft of my novel because it brought up so many things to think about, consider, and remember. Most people trying to write a science fiction or fantasy book will only improve their manuscript by reading this fine resource and applying its principals. I have purchased my own copy so I can constantly refer to it. A valuable writing reference. A. D. Tarbox, author of ALREADY ASLEEP (Oct. 2006)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2005

    An Interesting Paradox

    I ordered this book, oddly enough, to see if it was as bad as Alain made it out to be. The book is an odd paradox, I found. For someone who is a fan of science fiction, enough so to want to write it, the information in the book should be intuitive. I should hope that someone who likes SF/F enough to write it has read a lot of it. For someone who wakes up one day and randomly decides to write SF/F...well, you can't just wake up one day and write SF. I think you'd have to (and I think ought to) read a lot in the genre before writing it. But by that point, this should be intuitive! Basically what Card does is organize this intuition. That's not without merit. His section on creating worlds, where he explains different means of interstellar travel and their social and technological implications, for instance, provides good insight on what should go into the planning phase of a work of SF/F. The part I enjoyed most was on how he got ideas for some of his books. This part touched on the excellence of Stephen King's 'On Writing.' I think the book would have been better if Card did what King did. Too much of Card's book is spent analyzing the works of others. Most of one chapter analyzes to death the opening paragraph of Octavia Butler's 'Wild Seed.' A rambling analysis could have been summed up by a short list of bullet points that explain why Butler's opening paragraph is well done. That section reads more like a sales pitch for Butler's book. At the end, he provides career advice. He mentions steps like submitting to publishers and finding an agent, and an aspiring writer can never get enough advice in these areas. But then he goes on to write about collaborating with other authors, getting on to panels and getting awards -after- you're a successful author. That information is useless to the aspiring author and probably irrelevant to the successful author. This is one author's idea about how to write and his ideas on the writings of others. The title is misleading. It's not much of an instruction guide, and while it provides good tips, I don't think it will make much impact on my own writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2004

    A one sided focus

    You would think, judging by the title alone, that this book would be about both science fiction, and fantasy. You might also imagine a thick, in depth, everything you would want to know about a genre that has been developing for generations. At just a measly 140 pages, however, Card's 'how to guide' seemed to fall a little short of just about all of my expectations. Now don't get me wrong, Orson Scott Card is a very successful author. He's written dozens of books in the Speculative Fiction genre and I¿m sure he knows what he's doing. While the book was informative, I found it a little short on the juice I was expecting. Maybe if you woke up one day and decided to write a fantasy or science fiction novel without any knowledge on how to do so, this book would be for you. But as a young author myself, who is nearly done with the first draft of a story of my own, I found many of the tips and tricks of the trade a little tedious and generally common sense. Card writes this book with clarity, yet he doesn't present information in a typical, textbook way. Everything, from the introduction to the closing comments, is written in essay format. Vitally important advice is lost among sentences and paragraphs, instead of highlighted in bullets or side boxes. Also, just about every ounce of advice he gives has to be backed up with a long drawn out example, usually from his own life and work. By the time he's done, you have no idea what the hell he was talking about in the first place. Take out the examples and the long, term-paper structured paragraphs, and you have a very short book. Every time I think I¿ve learned enough to execute some of the advice Card offers, the chapter ends and he moves on. In short each chapter only skims the surface of a topic. Indeed, the most helpful chapter was entitled ¿Writing Well.¿ Since this book is about how to write, one would naturally think this chapter would at least be the longest, and consume a good percentage of the book. Quite to the contrary actually, Card admits that this is the shortest chapter in the book, at less than 20 pages. On the other hand, a much longer chapter is devoted to 'The Life and Business of Writing' and includes everything from publishers, to finances and handling money, conventions and awards. Awards! Are you kidding me? First of all, why is there a section devoted to Awards in a book on writing? One must first learn how to write well, and even then he has to be above all others. It would be like having a child's basketball camp teaching kids how to give interviews for ESPN and make layups fancy enough to be on the highlights. Basically, Card writes a descent book, but that's as far as my praise will stretch. No offense, but I see this as just another way for Orson Scott Card to monopolize on his own success.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2003

    Clarity

    OSC has a rare ability to communicate his ideas clearly--his prose is easy and entertaining. I recommend this book to anyone who is writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2008

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    Posted April 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

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