So you fancy yourself as a great science fiction scriptwriter? Maybe the next Ursula K. LeGuin or Dan O’bannon? You’re not the only one. And that’s the problem – how do you make your screenplay stand out when there’s so much competition? Here’s a few tips on how to turn your average sci-fi manuscript into something special.
First of all, when you approach your writing it’s important to ask yourself why you’ve decided to write science fiction. For many of the greats, it’s because they started out with a “What if…?” And went from there, playing around with possible different realities in the fantastical worlds they’ve created. Through doing this, they can create analogies for concerns which are currently right at the heart of human concerns – whether it be globalisation, authoritarian governments or nuclear war. In this way, science fiction taps into our fears and makes them into something tangible, concrete and most of all – relatable. It can also shift light onto concerns which are out of our control. Look at how Orwell’s 1984 has affected discourse on Governmental regimes, and particularly surveillance? Works like this serve to add to a discourse and to a conversation. So – what is the concern which you want to bring to light? What is your “What if…?”

Another aspect to consider is, does your script fall into any genres outside of science fiction? For example, it may be a science fiction horror, a science fiction comedy or maybe even a science fiction romance. Knowing this will help you work out the tone and structure of your story, and it will also help with the dialogue. Most genres have a style and a specific kind of structure – also known as a story “beat”. It’s usually best, when you plan, to write out whatever genre you’re combining with sci-fi and then at the sci-fi on top, rather than the other way round.
If you’re going to write science fiction, then make sure you include plenty of surprising plot points and exciting, wacky scenes in order to throw in some fun and silliness. You can find ideas for these from other science fiction books, novels, or even from online bingo sites where many slots games have a science fiction theme. To find out more, check out other reviews like best bingo sites.
Create some rules for your science fiction world and make sure that you stick to them. Think about the time and the space, which doesn’t necessarily mean what year it is so much as what social and cultural stage in its development the world is at. In the sci-fi genre, the setting can often be divided into stages, which often take the form of the following:

First Stage – usually a very primitive world, no major building structures, hunter/gatherer society.
Second Stage – still quite primitive, but there are small communities with villages, farms and some technologies.
Third stage – you can find cities with their own entrepreneurial enterprises and trade links set up, as well as Governmental services. There is stability, but it is not over authoritarian.
Fourth stage – high poverty and crime, there is advanced technology readily available. Government is corrupt.
Fifth stage – post apocalyptic, full of pollution. Here the world is dying.
It is possible, and even preferable to have a world which sits between two of these stages.

As well as knowing the world that you’re writing, it’s also important to make sure that you’re aware of the rules which govern that world. Make sure that you know the actual science of the world that you’re describing – for example, if you’re on a spaceship, then what is standard procedure for leaving the ship and why? What’s more, if your character is justifying something with a scientific theory or principal, then make sure that you describe it correctly. This is the kind of thing which your target audience will pick up on immediately. But the most important thing of all is that you must be consistent. Audiences can accept an unrealistic world. It doesn’t matter if your science isn’t actually real, unless you break one of your own rules and create a hole in the story. If this happens, the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief will fall apart.
An important trap to avoid falling into is filling up your script with alienating jargon and over the top, nonsensical dialogue. Use dialogue and language which your audience can understand, and the plot will be much more memorable and easy to follow. Similarly, it’s usually best to avoid complicated and nonsensical sounding names for your characters, as these are unlikely to be taken seriously by audiences.
Finally, be realistic with what you can manage within the resources that you have. Most films struggle for budget, and with Science Fiction being one of the most expensive of all genres, you want to make sure that what you’re proposing is possible without having to resort to big CGI special effects and the suchlike. Apart from anything else, if your effects budget isn’t very high then this will just end up looking cheesy, tacky and embarrassing – better just to leave it out! Keep the content simple and instead use the action and the dialogue to tell your story and drive the main plot. This way, it will be much easier to get affordable funding for your film, meaning that it will therefore be much easier to get it off the page and on to the screen.
These are just a few tips to help you get your science fiction script off the ground. The only thing left to remember is to make sure that you do actually write it! There’s no point in having an idea if you never put it to page. Good luck!