5 Writing Prompts for SciFi Writers

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:

Diamond batteries
What if nuclear waste were placed in artificial diamonds that convert radiation into electricity? How does this new power source alter society?

What if self-assembling microelectronics, made from genetic material, lead to DNA-based supercomputers smaller than a laptop? How does this change our electronics devices and hence our culture?

Holographic pets
What if AI-based holographs were programmed to be pets? How would this alter people’s perception of reality?

70 Ophiuchi AB colonization
What if habitable planets circled both stars of this binary star system and were the sites of human colonization effort? What challenges would they face in planets orbiting K-type stars?

What if broad-spectrum antivirals, based on the ISG15 mutation and other genetic therapies, become widely available? How does the lack of influenza, HIV, herpes and hepatitis in society change our perspectives on those diseases and people who suffer from them?


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.