Write Out There: 5 SciFi Writing Prompts

Science fiction stories typically arise from a novum, a scientifically plausible concept that is a “reality” in the tale. The novum might be an mechanical device like robot servants, artificial intelligence, or faster-than-light spacecraft; it also can be a hypothetical idea such as “The Earth is a scientific experiment run by aliens to determine the meaning of life” or “The government outlaws books.” The author then asks “What if?” exploring how the world with this novum is different than ours.

Among the problems of many novice science fiction writers is instead of introducing a new novum they rely on used furniture – that is, they borrow novums from popular SF series. After all, how many novels have you read that use starships exploring the galaxy for the Earth-based Federation? Barely changing names to appear as if you are not appropriating – a starcraft seeking M-class worlds for the Earth-centered Alliance – still doesn’t cut it as original or fully using the potential that science fiction offers to examine our culture or humanity.

To help SF writers, here are some novums of potential near-future inventions from which stories could be built:

Artificial pancreas
What if a device, via algorithms and dietary input, could program hormone treatments to ensure personalized care for those who need a new pancreas? Will this be an intermediary solution until pancreases can be grown from stem cells or cloned as replacements?

Plasma-based aircraft
What if plasma-based tech were used to improve aircraft efficiency by reducing drag and heating? Plasma shot out in front of the aircraft literally would punch a hole in the atmosphere as it flew at supersonic speeds.

Quantum probes
What if hundreds of millions of marble-sized probes, capable of repairing and reconfiguring themselves, were sent into interstellar space to explore for us, due to the limitations that the many light speed barrier places on our bodies and large spacecraft? Will the probes’ evolving purpose remain the same as the human creators’ reason for launching them?

61 Cygni AB colonization
What if a habitable planet were found around each star of this binary star system and settled by interstellar colonists? What relationship would evolve between these two planets and how does it parallel a current interconnection on Earth?

Skyscraper airports
With the advent of carbon nanofibers, what if airports could be elevated on platforms 15 stories above ground with the terminals, offices and other airport facilities on floors below the top where airplanes land and take off? What would be the advantages of a raised


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.