To my sister Janice,
Who taught me how to read,
Which was the beginning of wisdom,
And how to be charitable,
Which is wisdom's end.
About the Author
No one had ever won both the Hugo and the Nebula Award for best science fiction novel two years in a rowuntil 1987, when Speaker for the Dead won the same awards given to Ender's Game. But Orson Scott Card's experience is not limited to one genre or form of storytelling. A dozen of his plays have been produced in regional theatre; his historical novel, Saints (alias Women of Destiny) has been an underground hit for several years; and Card has written hundreds of audio plays and a dozen scripts for animated videoplays for the family market. He has also edited books, magazines, and anthologies; he writes a regular review column for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; he publishes Short Form, a journal of short-fiction criticism; he even reviews computer games for Compute! Along the way, Card earned a master's degree in literature and has an abiding love for Chaucer, Shakespeare, Boccaccio, and the Medieval Romance. He has taught writing courses at several universities and at such workshops as Antioch, Clarion, Clarion West, and the Cape Cod Writers Workshop. It is fair to say that Orson Scott Card has examined storytelling from every angle. Born in Richland, Washington, Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He lived in Brazil for two years as an unpaid missionary for the Mormon Church and received degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. He currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine, and their three children, Geoffrey, Emily, and Charles (named for Chaucer, Bronte, and Dickens).
A writer never knows who's going to be reading his book, but I've made a few assumptions about you, anyway. I figure that you're probably not yet an established writer in the genre of speculative fiction, or you wouldn't feel a need to read a book on how to write it. Still, you have a genuine interest in writing science fiction and fantasy, not because you have some notion that it's somehow "easier" to make a buck in this field (if that's your delusion, give it up at once!), but rather because you believe that the kind of story you want to tell might be best received by the science fiction and fantasy audience.
I hope you're right, because in many ways this is the best audience in the world to write for. They're open-minded and intelligent. They want to think as well as feel, understand as well as dream. Above all, they want to be led into places that no one has ever visited before. It's a privilege to tell stories to these readers, and an honor when file:///E|/Video/how%20to%20write%20science%20fiction%20&%20fantasy/sf1.htm (1 of 19)25/4/2004 17:25:36
they applaud the tales you tell.
What I can't do in a book this brief is tell you everything you need to know about writing fiction. What I can do is tell you everything I know about how to write speculative fiction in particular. I've written a whole book on characterization and point of view, so I hardly need to cover that same material here; nor will I attempt to teach you plotting or style, dialogue or marketing or copyright law or any of the other things that writers of every kind of fiction have to know something about. But I can attempt to tell you the things that only the writers of speculative fiction need to worry about: world creation, alien societies, the rules of magic, rigorous extrapolation of possible futures - tasks that don't come up in your average mystery or romance or literary tale. To do that, I've divided this book into five chapters of varying length. Chapter I deals with the boundaries of speculative fiction; it's an essay on what science fiction and fantasy are, so that you can get an idea of the range of possibilities and educate yourself with the literature that has...