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How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy [Paperback]

Orson Scott Card
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 15, 2001 158297103X 978-1582971032
Learn to write science fiction and fantasy from a master

You've always dreamed of writing science fiction and fantasy tales that pull readers into extraordinary new worlds and fantastic conflicts. Best-selling author Orson Scott Card shows you how it's done, distilling years of writing experience and publishing success into concise, no-nonsense advice. You'll learn how to:

  • utilize story elements that define the science fiction and fantasy genres
  • build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world your readers will want to explore
  • develop the "rules" of time, space and magic that affect your world and its inhabitants
  • construct a compelling story by developing ideas, characters, and events that keep readers turning pages
  • find the markets for speculative fiction, reach them, and get published
  • submit queries, write cover letters, find an agent, and live the life of a writer
The boundaries of your imagination are infinite. Explore them with Orson Scott Card and create fiction that casts a spell over agents, publishers, and readers from every world.


Frequently Bought Together

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy + Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint: Proven advice and timeless techniques for creating compelling characters by an award-winning author + Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
Price for all three: $35.37

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Orson Scott Card is one of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy. He won both the Hugo and Nebula science fiction awards for best novel for two consecutive years - something no other writer has done. In addition, he was the first writer to ever win a Nebula and a Hugo for both a book and its sequel.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (September 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158297103X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582971032
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Orson Scott Card is the bestselling author best known for the classic Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow and other novels in the Ender universe. Most recently, he was awarded the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in Young Adult literature, from the American Library Association. Card has written sixty-one books, assorted plays, comics, and essays and newspaper columns. His work has won multiple awards, including back-to-back wins of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards-the only author to have done so in consecutive years. His titles have also landed on 'best of' lists and been adopted by cities, universities and libraries for reading programs. The Ender novels have inspired a Marvel Comics series, a forthcoming video game from Chair Entertainment, and pre-production on a film version. A highly anticipated The Authorized Ender Companion, written by Jake Black, is also forthcoming.Card offers writing workshops from time to time and occasionally teaches writing and literature at universities.Orson Scott Card currently lives with his family in Greensboro, NC.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT Just for SF/F Writers... March 6, 2003
Format:Paperback
Only the first two of Card's five chapters deal exclusively with SF&F. The other three apply to all genres. Card spends the first chapter defining just what is SF, what is F and how to tell the difference. SF&F have many sub-genres (space opera, hard SF, cyperpunk, sword & sorcery, etc.) and Card shows the reader that they all have several elements in common. The second chapter focuses on creating believable worlds that readers will want to explore. SF&F is not an "anything goes" genre; you must have rules and follow them, especially with regard to time, space, and magic. You also have to work out problems in your world's history, language, geography, and of course science.
Chapter 3, Story Construction, has already opened up new worlds for me (no pun intended). Almost every story, no matter what your genre, falls into one of four categories: milieu (the time or place of the story is the most important element), idea, character, and event. Knowing which your story is will help you write it better. Very helpful examples are given.
Chapter 4, Writing Well, shows how to unfold your story. True, this chapter is geared to the specifics of SF&F, but contains extremely valuable information. How much information should you share with the reader early on? How much is too much? Have you dropped enough clues or interesting pieces of information early on to keep the pages turning? This chapter answers those questions and more.
Chapter 5, The Life and Business of Writing, is probably the most honest look at the writer's life that I've ever read.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful reading December 8, 1999
By Alex
Format:Hardcover
I am not biased for or against Orson Card. I simply own the book, and I have the right to say that there is nothing wrong with it. I've noticed people complaining that the author doesn't keep up with science, is biased against Star Trek, gives nonsemsial info in order to confuse you, etc.
This is not true. Moreover, that is not what the book is for. The author encourages you, gives you examples, and makes you comfortable with writing fiction. Card doesn't give you specific advice ( insert character A here). He gives you examples of tone. He doesn't give you a compendium of data on the medieval world. He shows you what it feels like to write about it. He points you in the right direction, gives personal pointers, uses fine humor. You supply your own storylines. Enjoy this book.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Guide for Beginners & Intermediate Writers March 13, 2003
Format:Paperback
If you're looking for the ultimate tome and guide that will take you from simply reading science fiction and fantasy to a best-selling writer of it, then this book is not for you. However, NO book fills that role, nor can it, as writing is something best learned by doing, not following a formula in a book.
Card, like most writers, is well aware of that fact and does not take the pretention that his book is a how-to that will have you churning out sci-fi and fantasy like a pro. However, for those enthusiasts who aren't sure where to begin or what mistakes to avoid, Card's guide is a good, if ill-titled, one; it describes the different types of stories (idea, character, event, etc.), plus offers tips on building a world with consistent and believable rules, what constitutes sci-fi/fantasy, etc.
More advanced writers or even rather astute readers may find some of the book's guidance obvious or a matter of common sense, and the book is not the only one an aspiring writer might wish to own (Writer's Market, various plotting, characterization, marketing, etc. books also being invaluable), but it is a good starting point for the average sci-fi enthusiast.
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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
If you are familiar with Orson Scott Card's Hatrack River site, you know that there is nobody in the field of science fiction and fantasy who is more committed to helping new writers. If that is news to you then certainly his resume as a writer is well known to any one interested in writing in this field. This is one of the thinner books on writing you are going to fine and that is because Uncle Orson is extremely focused in explaining his craft. Consequently, there are but five sections to this volume in The Writer's Digest Genre Writing Series. (1) The Infinite Boundary looks at the spectrum covered by science fiction and fantasy with some attention to the distictions between the two as well. (2) World Creation details how to build, populate and dramatize your new world, including working out all the necessary elements such as history, language, geography and customs. (3) Story Construction deals with finding the right character for an idea or the right idea for a character (and do not forget about "the MICE quotient"). (4) Writing Well is a collection of fundamental tips, otherwise known as the "don't do this at home" section. (5) The Life and Business of Writing deals both generally with the business but also the specifics of science fiction and fantasy. I find his use of examples, especially when he lays out a series of variations on a theme, to be helpful because they demonstrate in practice what his theoretical points and show how many additional ideas each idea generates. Perhaps most importantly, Uncle Orson is having a conversation with you; he is neither lecturing nor pontificating. His non-fiction is as readily as his award-winning fiction, and that should come as a surprise to no one. There are other books better suited to getting into the nuts and bolts of constructing brave new worlds, but I have yet to find a better book at covering the basics than this one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Useful, Including the Outdated Sections
If had to sum up the main benefit of this book, I would say that it gives the reader a brief and introductory crash course on a few industry highlights that may be considered... Read more
Published 1 month ago by AbeG
4.0 out of 5 stars Still referring to it, all these years later
Very useful, even just for understanding the structure of stories and how to begin and end them, etc. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Vrinda Pendred
4.0 out of 5 stars You Still Need to Listen to a Professor
An okay book but it did not give me anything new that I had not already learned in creative science fiction and fantasy writing class. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kieran
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect!
I'm working on my first fiction (YA novel) and Card packed this little book full of good stuff for the beginning sci fi writer. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Michelle Alberigi McKenzie
4.0 out of 5 stars great starter
great gift for someone who has been thinking to put pen to paper and can't quite get started...basic and simple guidelines!!
Published 5 months ago by steven vieser
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it = four stars
because Card does cover both.

To me, the most helpful chapters were "Story Construction" and "Writing Well. Read more
Published 6 months ago by JMD
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
This book was priced very reasonably and delivery was prompt. I really enjoyed this book as it was very useful in my research and will be sitting in the reference section for years... Read more
Published 6 months ago by crasin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great intro for a novice. Informative and inspirational for most.
This was a great introduction for me. My copy is heavily highlighted, dog-eared, and underlined, but I am a novice in this genre. This is my official entry into this domain. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Laura Metzger
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
This book was bought for a class and gives some useful information on how to write sci/fi and fantasy which I would expect nothing less considering.
Published 6 months ago by WASP
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide to world-building!
I'm actually re-buying this book since I loaned my original to a friend... never to see it again. So of course it's 5 stars if it's good enough for me to re-purchase! Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dustinian
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