Tips for writing longer SciFi works

by , Tuesday August 25, 2015
Tips for writing longer SciFi works


@The Intelligence Division has some advice for writing longer fiction


Why do people decide against creating longer pieces of writing?

Is it the fear that they will never finish it? Is it the thought of a long-term commitment to a single piece of work? 

Is it the amount of time it takes?

If you think about it, many of the things on bookstore shelves are novels – long ones.

So if you’re a writer who has never attempted to produce a piece of work more than, say 20,000 words, this guide is for you.

Maybe you’ve started a novel but have given up/never finished, or you’ve tried it and didn’t really enjoy it, this is also for you.

Also, if you’re looking to critique longer writing, this should be very helpful.


So, when does a short story become novel material?

Answer: it doesn’t. Shorter writing and longer writing are often almost completely interchangeable.

These variations can be connected to science-fiction subgenres, i.e. ‘true’ science fiction, science-fantasy and space opera.

This in mind, how do you plan to write a science-fiction novel?

(Note: The tips I am about to give will work for any genre, although they are targeted at the creation of new worlds and universes, as well as ideas that require massive development and much thought.)

Preparing to write a novel is all about drive – a novel-length text should be a goal. Aim for it with dedication and chances are you’ll end up with something close or better.

Inventing a universe is all about feeling like you could be part of it. If you feel part of a whole new universe, what better way is there to achieve the ‘drive’ necessary for writing a novel?

So, with no further ado:


The Five Steps

Step one: Jump right in

Am I kidding? No.

Jump right in, in some way, shape or form.

Write the first paragraph. (You can write more or less anything up to the first five chapters or so if you want, but know when you’re going to stop before you start.)

Write it again.

And again.

When you’ve decided you’ve finished with the opening paragraphs, don’t just copy and paste it in. When it comes to writing the first draft of the whole thing, write it again. This will help you fit it into what follows.

When looking to critique someone else’s work, be super-nitpicky over the opening of – well – anything.


Step Two: Go beyond the page

“All creativity is the same creativity. Progression in one media will eventually aid all others, targeted or otherwise.” (Quote me on that, it sounds super philosophical and I’m pretty sure I said it first.)

So this means writing a theme for one of your characters on Garageband is good planning for your novel!

People associate planning with long plotting lists or the snowflake method. These are important and almost always essential, but they’re not the only way, and they can become a bit of a drag. So separate the planning from the plotting; water down the arduous lists and snowflakes with work in other media. This leads us to step three...


Step Three: Plan and prepare your universe

Creative ways I have found for planning and preparing:

-Making and painting clay models. Working with your hands can really help you focus on something.

-If clay isn’t your thing, then digital 3D models work just as well. If you’re working with human characters, look up ‘MakeHuman’ at .

-Drawing and making animations is always helpful (Yes, you can draw. Stop underestimating your abilities.)

-Dressing up and actually pretending to be your characters (or do people call it ‘cosplay’ now? I’m not sure - I’m from the Mr Benn era myself).

-Writing their musical theme – imagine your work Is about to hit the big screen – so what if you haven’t written any of it down yet – open up some app on your phone, or print off some blank manuscript paper, or anything from your cello to a tin whistle you have lying around. That violin you gave up seven years ago may come in handy when trying to think – after all it works for Sherlock Holmes!

-Listen to music. Pretend that your favourite tracks are actually the score to the movie, or the movie trailer. Imagine through the events of the scene, sequence or trailer in question as the music plays. This is the easiest as you can do it in the car, or anywhere.

-Make the book trailer

-Make the movie trailer


If this is sounding strange to you, consider: why does Movellas have competitions that embrace other talents when this is a writing community?

I only joined Movellas in the first place because of Project Remix. Now I'm not saying multitalent is essential for writing, but it is important to be willing to jump into any hobby, talent, computer program, or other area, regardless of how good you are at it.  


Step Four: Try new things constantly

You may have your favourite way to express yourself, but don’t stop trying new things!

You don’t want to be driven to get started on a novel, you don’t want to be driven to getting to that awesome fight scene at the end - you want to be driven to do all of it.

A new ‘thing’ is a new perspective. Try stuff and you will collect ideas from different perspectives. This will build up your ideas and make them complex, detailed and engaging.

Creativity can come from anything. Do not, under any circumstances, take my list from step three as absolute.


Step Five: Keep Going!

Planning is not just the bit at the beginning. Plotting can only be done at the beginning, but planning goes all the way through.

Keep doing your drawings, finish that book trailer, keep imagining and re-imagining those scenes while listening to your music. It will bring with it new ideas, new concepts, and it will cut away writers’ block tenfold. Take regular breaks from your writing and try something else. That way, when you come back, you will feel brilliant and refreshed with a whole new set of ideas from a different perspective.

So, in the comments, feel free to ask questions and give feedback. This is my first ever blog post and I’m looking to get my own blog in the near future. If anyone so much as bookmarks this blog, I would be super-happy to hear about it, because I want to write more like this.

Suggest your own creative outputs in the comments.

Suggest ways to apply any of the above steps to a co-authored work in the comments, as I’ve never co-authored, and I’d be interested to see what people think.

Good luck with your future writing!


Keep going,

The Intelligence Division



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