Science Fiction Writing Styleguide

Good writing is worth celebrating. This page organizes a collection of writing lessons gleaned from speculative fiction stories. From metaphors to character arc, no subject is too large or small.


Notes on sentence and inter-sentence style. Finishing touches, like similes and word choice, happen at the micro level.



Similes & Metaphors

A metaphor is an opportunity to draw the reader’s attention to something. Use them to pick out a detail that may be useful later.



Notes on how different sections of the story support each other. This section also examines the transitions between sections (analepses, prolepses, scene breaks, et al).




No story can survive on dialogue and action alone. The reader needs to have a world in their mind’s eye before the writer can start to fill that world with witty starship captains and enigmatic aliens.


A speculative story’s plot often springs from a novel idea: future technologies, strange natural events, etc. The writer must make extra efforts to describe these ideas clearly without boring the reader.

Exposition is the explanation of events or circumstances not given narrative or dramatic treatment in the story. Sometimes referred to as the “expository lump”—because, I suppose, it is so hard for the reader to swallow if presented clumsily.
 Paragons - Robin Wilson

Sometimes, the best way to add a block of description to a scene is to interrupt the main narrative with a flashback (or flashforward). Flashbacks are a familiar device, and hiding the exposition within one is often more palatable to readers than an unclear interruption of indeterminable length.


These are patterns that apply to each part of a story or to the story itself as a unit.

Plot Devices