What is the difference between science fiction and fantasy? So many people use the terms interchangeably but they are really two different things.
Fantasy stories take place in worlds with magic. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are all fantasy. Although science is there, after all the laws of physics still work, the story itself relies on elements of magic and fantasy.
I’ve written some fantasy and I look for inspiration in one of two places — mythology and my fertile imagination. One of the most difficult parts of fantasy writing is creating rules for your story universe. How does your world work? What are the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the magic?
Science fiction, no matter how fantastical it may seem, has science as its base. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern books may have had dragons but they had been genetically engineered before the tech collapsed and the people reverted to an agricultural society. Science not magic is at the core of this story. Marissa Meyers Cinder and Scarlet are futuristic retellings of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood but science is key with robotic elements being used to “rebuild” severely injured people.
Where do I turn to for science fiction ideas? I love reading blogs, especially science blogs. I look for stories on the latest findings in medicine or developments in robotics. There’s the article I just read about why one scientist believes that most aliens will be bear-sized. The astro-biology class that I took taught me about diamond planets. I keep a list of ideas not only for nonfiction articles but also for science fiction story ideas.
As I write this, I’ve realized why one of my stories doesn’t quite work. It’s science fiction but without enough science. You can’t just set a science fiction story in the future or use space travel. You need to do your reading so that you have the details that make a story feel real. Off to do a Google search on deep space travel…