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

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  3,415 Ratings  ·  295 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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Hannah Greendale
Nov 04, 2016 Hannah Greendale rated it it was amazing
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy provides a brief yet informative education on what tools can be utilized to construct compelling speculative fiction.

This book is dedicated specifically to the information writers of speculative fiction need to know: world creation, alien societies, rules of magic, and imagining possible futures (readers who wish to learn about characterization, point of view, plotting, style, or dialogue are referred by the author to his other published works on writing
Samir Rawas Sarayji
Sep 04, 2012 Samir Rawas Sarayji rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 11, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
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
Aug 23, 2011 Marc Aplin rated it liked it
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
Dec 18, 2015 Erik rated it liked it
I had this friend, Phoebe, who believed in faeries. In order to receive advice from her fairy godmother, she completed a daily tarot reading and wrote her analysis into a journal. This was a habit she’d kept up for YEARS. Buncha damn nonsense, I thought.

Then I had a tarot reading of my own.

On one hand, I was right. It possessed no prophetic power. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. There was no fairy godmother.

But on a different hand, I was wrong. It was actually quite useful. In
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
Jun 26, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it
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 unless you're interested in literary history, all you need is t
Neil Hepworth
A good book, but not a great book. Mostly filled with okay advice, some good stories, some very outdated chapters, and a few golden nuggets (MICE in particular is excellent, as is most of Chapter 3: Story Construction). It’s a little clunky to read sometimes, especially when compared to the ultra-silky non-fiction of Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, but never impossible to read. I would think this book would best be used a reference book on the occasion that you find yourself in ...more
Katy Wilmotte
May 26, 2015 Katy Wilmotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will admit: I went into this book a bit smug, judging from the title that it was going to be far below my "level" of writing and that I would come out feeling completely validated in my world-building because the advice Card gave would be for beginners and I, though unpublished, was of course not a beginner.
However, I was pleasantly (and sometimes rather uncomfortably) surprised on many counts. To begin, I must say that Orson Scott Card is a good writer. I have never read a single one of his
Tee Jay
Mar 26, 2011 Tee Jay rated it liked it
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
Oct 12, 2010 Benni rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Apr 13, 2012 Eoghan Odinsson rated it it was amazing
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.
Livia Blackburne
May 13, 2010 Livia Blackburne rated it really liked it
I shared some tips from this book here:
Jul 06, 2011 sologdin rated it did not like it
the basic advice is:

a) have an annoying wunderkind,
b) ??????
c) profit!
Jul 21, 2014 Tarl rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
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.

Joy Pixley
Nov 19, 2016 Joy Pixley rated it it was amazing
I waited too long after finishing this to remember the details for the review, which was great because it gave me the excuse to go back and re-read it, which I enjoyed just as much the second time.

In this book, Card focuses on writing science fiction and, to a lesser extent, fantasy. He doesn't try to cover everything about writing, but the few issues he does discuss, he gets in deep in a way I really appreciated. There are five sections to the book, and all the writing advice is in the middle t
Sep 07, 2012 Alexandra rated it it was amazing
Of all the many "how to write" books around, this is the one that I have found the most useful. Although it is focussed on the particular issues involved in writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, his advice on conveying setting should be read by all who set novels in any 'exotic' setting i. e. one unfamiliar to the average reader.

When I have spoken to others about this book, their reactions have often been coloured by how they feel about his own fiction, or about him as a person. I am aware that
RE de Leon
Jan 02, 2011 RE de Leon rated it it was amazing
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
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
Ryan Rebel
Jun 11, 2011 Ryan Rebel rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Lacey Louwagie
There are so few books that specialize in writing science fiction & fantasy that I try to read the few that exist. I admire OSC's storytelling even if I disagree with his politics, so I tried to set aside his homophobia as I read this. The book was published in 1990, which means much of the submissions and business information is outdated -- the book especially dates itself by giving postal addresses rather than URLs for every resource listed. Afterwards, I did a quick check on which publica ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Alina rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
May 19, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-writing
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!
Dec 27, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
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
Aug 10, 2015 Jay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So sparse I didn't buy it, though it was the only book at the store on the subject. I checked it out from the library and thought it was ho-hum. No Beef with Card, in fact I recommend, "Characters and Viewpoint":
Sometimes I wonder if I should read it again and see if I missed something, but how would having more experience make a "How To" book more appreciable?

Seems like he didn't have enough pages available, or had to meet a deadline or some unknowable f
Fantasy Literature
Jun 02, 2013 Fantasy Literature rated it liked it
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
Jun 24, 2008 melydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
I've read a lot of books about writing, and while this one does not say anything I didn't already know, it does go into more detail specifically regarding the speculative fiction genre. For example, Card explains things like the use of metaphor in science fiction (very tricky); the importance of backstory, world history, and even alien evolution (and what happens if you skimp on it); and developing the rules of the universe you've created. This is a good book as far as writing speculative fictio ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Henry rated it it was amazing
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
Con un título así se podría esperar un completo manual de escritura, y no es el caso. Nos encontramos ante una recopilación de consejos y reflexiones, que nos pueden ayudar a plantearnos las cosas dos veces antes de emprender la aventura de escribir una novela.

Algunas partes son prescindibles, sobre todo la última en la que habla del mundo editorial estadounidense de los años noventa, por razones obvias me queda muy lejos y no me resulta de utilidad. Sin embargo, me ha gustado que haya entrevist
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  • Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • World-Building
  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Plot
  • Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Writing Series)
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Conflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Aliens and Alien Societies
  • Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: 6 Steps to Writing and Publishing Your Bestseller!
  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling
  • The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference: An Indispensable Compendium of Myth and Magic
  • The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Alchemy with Words
  • Writing the Breakout Novel
  • Description & Setting
  • How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel
  • Description
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...

Other Books in the Series

Genre Writing Series (6 books)
  • How to Write Horror Fiction
  • How to Write Mysteries
  • How To Write Action/Adventure Novels
  • How to Write Western Novels
  • How to Write Romances

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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
“Rigorous extrapolation, a gosh-wow love of gadgets, and mystical adventures in strange and mysterious places; every major stream in speculative fiction today can be traced back to authors who were writing before the publishing categories existed. From among the readers in the twenties and thirties who loved any or all of these authors arose the first generation of "science fiction writers", who knew themselves to be continuing in a trail that had been blazed by giants.” 1 likes
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