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How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

(Genre Writing Series)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,367 ratings  ·  400 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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Jason Dickinson So, get a ghostwriter to produce a summary- who is going to write the novel?

As for buying a title. Wow.

Hiw about writing the book first? Often the b…more
So, get a ghostwriter to produce a summary- who is going to write the novel?

As for buying a title. Wow.

Hiw about writing the book first? Often the best way to come up with a title... Have a working title by all means, but often the title is the last thing to come through.

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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Hannah Greendale
Nov 04, 2016 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
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 these 3, only 2
Dec 18, 2015 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
Dannii Elle
Short but most definitely sweet. This provides a brief insight into the world of speculative fiction from one of its reigning masters. It begins with an introduction into the science fiction and fantasy genres before continuing with pointers to help in your own successful penmanship of them. I had feared this to contain a repeat of information found in any other conventional 'how to write' manual and was pleasantly surprised to find a good variation from the expected.

Whilst I did find that this
Jason Koivu
Mar 11, 2013 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
J.Aleksandr Wootton
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childhood
Overdue for a re-read.

I remember liking it, feeling that Card had made tangible many of the elements of good fantasy that I admired in favorite genre books, but couldn't clearly "see" because the authors were too adroit to let readers glimpse the scaffolds.
Marc Aplin
Aug 23, 2011 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
Jun 26, 2013 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
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fantastic (pun intended) resource for storytellers of all kinds, especially those writing speculative fiction. As you would expect, some of the market advice is dated, but the principles of storytelling are as true as ever.
Zachary Brown
Mar 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Really reinvigorates the writing passion dormant in me and im sure for other readers. The way he writes makes Orson Scott Card seem like a real swell fella!
Reading Through the Lists
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
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
Jul 21, 2014 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.

Much to b
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I read this, but some of Card's inspiration have stayed with me as I've honed my craft over the last decade. Great stuff! ...more
Tee Jay
Mar 26, 2011 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 like there i
J.M. Jablowski
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I went into this book already loving quite a few of Card's Sci-Fi and fantasy works and was happy to find that his writer's voice carried over from his fiction to his instructional book. I'm just a fan of his writer's voice.
But man this book was so informative for me. Yes, a lot of the publishing information is way out of date. We have the internet now for starters. (This book was published in 1990. It's older than I am.) But Card knows when he writes this that the market is bound to change beca
Oct 12, 2010 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 budding ...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. ...more
Eoghan Odinsson
Apr 13, 2012 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 rated it really liked it
I shared some tips from this book here: ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
the basic advice is:

a) have an annoying wunderkind,
b) ??????
c) profit!
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I read this book sometime back in High School '94-96 I guess. I found it to be helpful and engaging. ...more
Joseph Valoren
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy is Orson Scott Card’s guide to the craft and business of writing for these respective genres.

It’s impossible to review this book objectively, as it was first published in 2001 and the business of writing has changed a great deal. Therefore, my reading and review of this book primarily reflects my thoughts on how useful and entertaining it is to a contemporary audience.

Unfortunately, this renders as much a third of the book obsolete from the first, except a
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I picked up this book because Brandon Sanderson suggested it on his blog, and since he writes amazing books and Orson Scott Card writes amazing books, I thought maybe I could glean something useful. And I did. Just not as much as I hoped.

For one, the first printing of this book was in it's outdated. Skip any information about speculative magazines and publishing. Much more current information is online.

I did love the walk-through of some of his brainstorming sessions and how speculati
Kevin Potter
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
First, the ebook version I read was RIDDLED with typos and other errors. I'm not reducing my rating for that, however, as it is obviously not the author's fault (this book was originally published before the advent of eBooks), but that of the typesetter who quite obviously scanned the pages from the paperback into a pdf and converted to ebook without bothering to fix anything.

But I digress.

It's a fantastic introduction to world building and a number of other factors unique to sci-fi and fantasy.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
Though this book is a little outdated the information about how to build a world, give life to your characters, and organize your thoughts is valuable. I found my creative juices flowing as I read this book and look forward to continuing to work on my own work.
Brian Hogan
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So far, I've read and gone back over critical points in this book once, and there's still a lot more info I need to review.

If you aspire to write sci-fi or fantasy at pro-level, this book is a MUST READ.

So read it! You have to! No excuses! And I 'm not fuckin' around!!!


Stay healthy
Emilie Haney
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible! Or son Scott Card is a literary genius and I love his practical tips on writing sci-fi and fantasy! A definite recommend from me to anyone writing in these genres!
Interesting and enjoyable. Some of the publishing advice is out of date, but the rest is helpful.
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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

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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Mercurial gods are trapped on Earth in The Lost Gate, a new fantasy from a science fiction master.
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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.” 2 likes
“The truth is that good fantasies carefully limit the magic that's possible. In fact, the magic has to be defined, at least in the author's mind, as a whole new set of natural laws that cannot be violated during the course of the story. That is, if at the beginning of the story you have established that your hero can make only three wishes, you better not have him come up with a fourth wish to save his neck right at the end. That's cheating, and your reader will be quite correct to throw your book across the room and carefully avoid anything you ever write in the future. All speculative fiction stories have to create a strange world and introduce the reader to it - but good fantasy must also establish a whole new set of natural laws, explain them right up front, and then faithfully abide by them throughout.” 2 likes
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