science fiction

5 Science Fiction Writing Prompts

"Individual science fiction stories may seem trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today - but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all."

- Isaac Asimov

Science fiction is a wonderful genre because it not only asks the question of why, but also concerns itself with humanity's future. Will it be positive or negative? When writing science fiction, whether hard or soft consider what technological, political, and social advancements might affect your characters and story.

Here are some prompts to help you get started.

1.

Your character is on an important peace mission. They must meet with the world dictator of a powerful planet whose people are prone to destruction. Linguists from all over the world have spent decades dissecting the language and your character has been taught it for the last three years. It's too bad that that they got some of it wrong. For instance, "peace" might inadvertently be replaced with "war."

2.

In the future, brain mapping can show a person's past, present, but also their future. People are paying top dollar to learn who they fall in love with, how they will die and so forth. After all, the future can be changed. What people don't realize, however, is that every aspect that is changed simply creates a new timeline. Soon it's all going to catch up with them.

3.

It is estimated that 99% of the world is now a cyborg of some sort. An unnamed character is the last of a dying (literally) breed. It comes as quite the shock, then, when they are threatened with deactivation

4.

Your character wakes up, strolls into the kitchen and then walks out the door of a 1700s saloon. Panicking, they run out of the door of the saloon and stumble into their living room. They run back into their kitchen and walk out into the mission control room of the space station. Their whole house has become a series of wormholes!

5.

The future is a dark and desolate place. 3/4 of the world's population has been destroyed along with most species on Earth. However, a small group of survivors remain. Amongst them, your character is foraging for food when they stumble into a deep hole in the ground. Not only do they manage to survive, but they happen across an entire ecosystem that has been protected. Including a new race of people!

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Did you know that I have a book of even more science fiction prompts? 1,001 of them to be exact! There are a host of different categories, from aliens to space exploration. They are also completely different than the five prompts above.

Available in print, ebook, and soon to be audio.

Check it out here!

A Quiet Place (2018) Film Review.

Make a sound. You die.

It’s an interesting premise, but what makes “A Quiet Place” especially unsettling is that the film (directed by John Krasinski) carries that mantra directly into the audience. If you see this in theaters, you’ll do well to forgo the popcorn, candy, or any other common noise-makers. The silence is almost palpable and almost immediately the audience is drawn into a world where communication is done through American Sign Language. The film opens 89 days after skeletal, humanoid aliens have already landed. A small family is foraging for materials (namely medicine) when the audience is pushed into the horror of the film’s reality – even the slightest noise can cause these monsters to appear and ravage the poor soul who dared make a sound. There’s a lot that works in the film. The cinematography allows one to envision a forgotten world. One in which even the survivors must muster the strength and fortitude to continue going. Survival, for example, means the family constantly has to monitor their noise level, which means pouring lines of sand for them to walk in and having a color-coded system in which to warn each other of danger.

The acting, usually a horror miss, is deserving of applause in this film. Evelyn and Lee (played by real life couple, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) not only have obvious chemistry, but there is no questioning the love the characters have for their children. It’s a love that is honest, which means there are times when the parents make mistakes, grave ones, and thus, the audience is left pondering their own decisions. In equal vein, the son, Marcus (played by Noah Jupe) does a remarkable job playing a child who fears what’s out there and wants to shirk any future responsibilities he might have in a bid for safety. This acts as a good counter to stand-out character, Regan, (played by Millicent Simmonds) who wants desperately to secure a role in keeping the family safe and protected as daughter and sister. Since Regan is deaf, she must not only take a backseat role to this, but her deafness becomes its own crutch. Krasinski, as a director handles this especially well and I found myself wanting desperately to see her have some kind of victory, even if it meant drawing in more monsters. It is also worth noting that Simmonds is deaf in real life which is a wonderful bit of representation.

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Perhaps one of the biggest failings of the movie, for me personally, is the creatures themselves. The skinless humanoid trope has been seen time and time again. We saw them in Signs, Pan’s Labyrinth, Stranger Things, and I Am Legend just to name a few. In addition, the design also causes the creatures to open their strange heads to take in more sound frequencies. It’s both bizarre visually and in a technical facet. I wish designs would have drawn more from bats (other than the creatures’ large ears) or other echolocation-using creatures. Moreover, while I could appreciate the B-movie feel of the piece (newspapers, for example, alert both the audience and characters to the rise of these monsters), there are times when some of the technical details, or the lack therefore, caused me to over-analysis and question some what was happening on film.

In addition, there were also moments where the tension was halted to let more exposition seep in. For example, there is scene between father and son where they openly talk about the daughter’s feelings and how the creature’s hearing works (louder sounds drawn out smaller sounds). This felt like too much hand-holding for the audience and was placed to have a platform for a latter plot point. Although, unnecessary I could forgive this flatness because of the way that the rest of the piece unfolds.

Overall, A Quiet Place is a piece of masterful storytelling by Krasinski. The focus here is on the family and their will to survive. It is through that lens that the director can use our own senses against us and give us a piece that is not only memorable, but one that requires further analysis and thought.

Run Time: 95 minutes

Production: Paramount Pictures

Director: John Krasinski

Screenplay: Bryan Woods & Scott Beck