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How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
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How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy (Genre Writing Series)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  2,504 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Writing for science fiction and fantasy audiences can be the most exciting writing you've ever done. Your readers are curious and want you to take them beyond ""The Fields We Know,"" to help them explore the infinite boundaries of the worlds you create.

Here, science fiction great Orson Scott Card shares his expertise in these genres. You'll learn:

- What is and isn't scienc
Paperback, 140 pages
Published September 15th 2001 by Writer's Digest Books (first published July 15th 1990)
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Community Reviews

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Samir Rawas Sarayji
Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy (HTWSF&F) is published by Writer's Digest Books, which means it's sparse, focused purely on the topic and has an average price tag. These are not necessarily good things.

The book is about a 138 pages minus the index, implying that in 138 pages the beginning writer is expected to walk away with enough information on how to write speculative fiction. Hogwash. In addition to this, of the 5 chapters, only 3 are HTWSF&F, and of the
Jason Koivu
Hazy Shade of a Review: I remember reading this after leaving school with a journalism degree, putting a couple years of newspaper writing behind me and realizing I wanted to try something - anything - else. I remember thinking Card's advice sounded like good stuff. Hells if I can remember anything specific though. Still and all, the feeling I came away with, and what I still retain, is that this was a quality book, which I'd read again if I had the time and could find the dang thing again. I kn ...more
Marc Aplin
Sep 03, 2011 Marc Aplin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Science Fiction Writers only
Recommended to Marc by: Brandon Sanderson
Firstly, I would like to point out the reason as to why I picked up this book: I would like to one day become a published FANTASY AUTHOR. Therefore, my review will be from the perspective of a wannabe Fantasy Author.

Well Orson Scott Card is certainly a good writer. No one can really say otherwise. He was the first person ever to win both the Hugo and Nebula for the same book and is one of the best selling writers in the world today. In more recent times he has become a bit of a hated figure for
Tee Jay
I have owned Orson Scott Card's How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction since 2007 and have repeatedly tried to read through it. It's a tough go. Indeed, How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction is not as good as some of the other books on writing Science Fiction/Fantasy that I've read as of late. 'Tis disappointing, coming from one of the leading figures in speculative fiction.

It's not that How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction is written badly—the book is written well. And it's not
Evelyn Puerto
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy is a great primer that would be valuable for anyone just starting to write in these genres.

One valuable feature of the book is the numerous examples of well-written and not-so-well-written science fiction. These do tend to be more science fiction than fantasy, so fantasy authors may be disappointed. Another is the extensive list of science fiction and fantasy authors Card recommends.

This book seems to be geared to anyone new to writing science fiction or
Generally, I heartily recommend George Gopen's The Sense of Structure as the most important book on writing. But where I find books such as Eats, Shoots & Leaves entertaining and not unhelpful, owning more than one book of that type is generally unnecessary (though I own quite a few). Books such as How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, on the other hand, offer additional genre help and advice regarding writing groups, length of book, etc. Great insights, and I see my husband (who is a ...more
An older reference now, but a good one. In a relatively short book, Card gracefully fits together quite a bit of concrete guidance on technique (much of which applies to writing fiction of any kind), on why as well as how to do things in certain ways, and some useful context in terms of history of both genres. His style is clear and conversational. This is one of the better books on writing I've run across yet.
Eoghan Odinsson
Orson Scott Card's fiction is incredible, and Ender's Game is one of the classic scifi novels. Card manages to do a very good job of teaching the craft, with a very specific emphasis on speculative fiction. I wasn't expecting it to be this good, and I'm sure it will be a daily go-to reference.

Want to write scifi or fantasy? Buy this book, study it.
Orson Scott Card has written some amazing fiction in his time. Many of these have gone on to become movies, and in fact still do. Given the chance to pick this book up, I had picked it up years ago. The original review for that purchase has been lost to the sands of time, yet I was given the chance to revisit this short piece of writing advice thanks to Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-Of-This-World Novels and Short Stories. Thus, I decided to review this book again.

If you want to write a sci-fi/fantasy novel but don't know where to start, this book has a lot of great advice. The best parts are the chapters on constructing fictional worlds in elaborate detail, as well as those that deal with the how to's of satisfying sci-fi fans and handling publishers. Card's advice pertains to both the creative and practical sides of being a novelist, thereby giving you the broad picture of what a professional writer's life entails. Like all good books on writing, it is ...more
If your genre is science fiction and fantasy, this book is invaluable. Orson Scott Card is both one of the best writers on writing and one of the most honored authors in the field. He brings his deep intuition and clear voice to the issues specific to speculative fiction, such as how to world build without doing an info dump, how to maintain believability when dealing with the fantastic, and how to handle metaphors when the world of your novel is so alien that what would be clearly metaphorical ...more
Although this book does not teach you everything you need to know about writing (what book could?), this is certainly one of the most useful books I've ever read as a writer and as a reader.

While mostly focused on Sci Fi and Fantasy, Card includes the gem of MICE. MICE explains how identifying the predominant thematic feature of your story will, in fact, guide you to the ideal structure for the story.

As soon as I read his explanation, I had an AHA! moment. "So THAT's why my story isn't working!
Ryan Rebel
Jun 11, 2011 Ryan Rebel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is even thinking about writing speculative fiction
Recommended to Ryan by: Myself
Shelves: reviewed
I am kind of obsessed with Orson Scott Card right now, despite having only read two of his books (so far...). When I found out that he wrote this book, I immediately ordered it sent to my local library. I felt that I needed to read it before I continued work on the fantasy novel I'm in the process of conceptualizing, and it turns out I was right--I did need to read this.

Forewarning: Despite the title, most of this book is about science fiction. This isn't surprising, as Card is a science fiction
RE de Leon
Jan 02, 2011 RE de Leon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone and everyone who wants to write Science Fiction and Fantasy
Recommended to RE by: bookfair purchase, 2007 Metro Manila Book Fair
It's time to add my 50th Goodreads book, and I didn't want to mark this milestone with just any book, so I spent some time scrounging around for a great book that I haven't posted about yet. And Orson Scott Card's How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy certainly falls into my list of great reads.

Mind you, that's a very very specific opinion. Obviously this book is only a great one if you're one of the few people who give serious thought to writing Sci Fi & Fantasy. But if you're one of t
This is kind of a tale of two books. The volume is only 137 pages long, and nearly half of it is useless. Chapters 1 and 5 (there are only five chapters) deal heavily with the state of the sci/fi-fantasy publishing industry, but a LOT has changed in the past dozen years. Hence you get gems like this one on page 113: "For your first novel, you don't need an agent unless you've got a contract offer from a publisher."


So if you're interested in literary history, check those chapters
Unfamiliar (alas) with Orson Scott Card's own career and production in the field of speculative fiction, I picked his guide on how to write sf at random from the book shelf of the local library. Thus I didn't have many expectations, though they did rise a bit once I learned that the author is a widely appreciated sf writer himself.

While the book is certainly well written and while given examples do serve the purpose of showing the reader how it's done, Orson Scott Card from time to time focuses
Fantasy Literature
Orson Scott Card is an award-winning author of dozens of science fiction and fantasy books, including the Hugo and Nebula award winning Ender’s Game. So who else would you turn to for instruction on how to write a science fiction and fantasy novel? I’m working on a novel — isn’t everyone these days? — and picked up How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy for some instruction. I’m used to writing for an academic audience, so bridging the chasm between peer-reviewed journals and publicly read boo ...more
This short book is essential for every writer of speculative fiction. Written by a very successful author, it starts with a nice essay on what is speculative fiction, where knowledge of the heritage of the genre is stressed out as a tool for the new writer. Then the book tackles story telling, specifically addressing challenges unique to the field, like world building, exposition, and language.

As the author states himself, parts of it may be outdated. For example, today fantasy, not science fic
Excellent book for anyone wanting to improve how they write. Even it it's not science fiction or fantasy. In my top ten of books on writing. I liked how he defined different types of books: character books, world books, solving a problem books. It helped explain to me why I've never gotten into The Hobbit. That whole series is a world book (look at how cool this world I made is and let me show you by moving these characters through it). I love the character parts of the book, which is why I thou ...more
The title of this book is somewhat misleading. If you are looking for a book which will tell you how to write, or how to write SF, this book is not the one for you. There are a few great gems of knowledge but this book reads more like a memoir of an SF writer than a manual of how to do it. In general it has a conversational tone, uses mostly anecdotes to demonstrate points, and is full of personal biases and opinions. that being said I think anyone serious about pursuing SF should read the book, ...more
Amanda Pate (Of Spectacles and Books)
Overall, I didn't find this book extremely helpful. I don't know if it was because I have been writing fantasy for about 6 or 7 years, but I think you can learn more from writing a book in your specified genre than reading about writing one. Everything Card said in this book I already knew (or was so outdated, that it almost didn't matter anymore). The only thing that I found helpful was the final chapter on the publishing industry. That was the only reason I gave this book 3 stars. It was so he ...more
Faith Justice
I read this book some time ago and copied this paragraph review from a longer article that appeared in The Writer in 2001.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card is a venerable but excellent resource. Card, author of books, plays and short stories, won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for a novel for two consecutive years—something never done by any other SF author. Card is also a talented teacher with good practical advice for writers of all kinds. He divides the book into f
Jul 06, 2014 Louis rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Would be writers

I had this and some other un-read “writing books” that I’ve wanted to get to. I bought them not because of a desire to write myself, but to have a better understanding of what goes into creating a work, such as a story.

While a nice overview it is not very detailed. Even the author admits this and suggests the “future writer” first read a lot of science fiction and points them to more specialized volumes in this writing series on plot, characterization, dialog, etc… that are not science fiction d
Sep 08, 2007 Don rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: writing
This book wasn't very good. Or, to be more accurate, it was almost completely empty of what I was looking for, the themes and matters of relevance of speculative fiction, instead concerning itself almost wholly with the surface elements. Supposedly he has a better and respected book about actual writing, but based on this I'm not running to seek it out.
Jordan Robison
A very decent book on writing science fiction and fantasy.
One very useful tool utilized throughout the book is the numerous examples of well-written and not-so-well-written science fiction. Since my interest was science fiction and not fantasy, I glossed over the fantasy examples. But if I ever decide to take a gander at Fantasy, I am most certain I will return to this book again to read Card's advice. He offers a huge list of authors for the would-be sci-fi writer to read. I would argue that t
Paul Spence
This is a pretty good book if you are just starting and need some direction. I thought it was okay 20 years ago when I read it. I still have it.

I don't agree with everything he says. I actually took offense to a couple of things. Stories with time traveling dragons are close to my heart, as Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey was the first book I ever read, so many years ago. Card evidently didn't like it since he slams the concept in this book.

Whatever, I read more of hers and liked them than I ha
I read this book sometime back in High School '94-96 I guess. I found it to be helpful and engaging.
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Descubriendo los entresijos del autor de "El juego de Ender"

Orson Scott Card es uno de los autores más relevantes a lo que literatura fantástica y de ciencia ficción se refiere y es conocido por su obra más famosa, "El juego de Ender". Yo la he leído y es una de las mejores obras del género, sin lugar a dudas. Así que cuando me enteré que Alamut sacaría un libro suyo donde nos contaría las vicisitudes del trabajo de escr
I've had this on my to-read list since high school. Clearly my dedication to the craft is as hard as plasteel.

It's a quick read, not only because it's short but also because of Card's breezy and (somewhat) informal style. As promised in the introduction, he sticks mostly to genre-specific elements of writing, such as world building, creating rules for science/magic (or both...), and so forth. He skips or glosses over aspects that apply to all writing, and even fiction writing specifically.

As you
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  • Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • World-Building
  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Writing Series)
  • Plot
  • Aliens and Alien Societies
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great
  • The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference: An Indispensable Compendium of Myth and Magic
  • Conflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
  • Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: 6 Steps to Writing and Publishing Your Bestseller!
  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
  • The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling
  • Description & Setting
Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series Th
More about Orson Scott Card...
Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet, #1) Speaker for the Dead (The Ender Quintet, #2) Ender's Shadow (Ender's Shadow, #1) Xenocide (The Ender Quintet, #3) Children of the Mind (The Ender Quintet, #4)

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“...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 honour when they applaud the tale you tell.” 1 likes
“What we've done is make the categories of science fiction and fantasy larger, freer, and more inclusive than any other genre of contemporary literature. We have room for everybody, and we are extraordinarily open to genuine experimentation.” 1 likes
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