So You Want to Write YA Sci-Fi?

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NOTE: Today I'm guest posting at the wonderful Writer Diaries blog where I'm discussing how to prepare for The Call! Definitely check it out and say hi! :)

What is it? 

Space ships, aliens, inter-planetary travel, time travel, alternate universes, robots, futuristic technology…the list goes on.

The realm of Sci-Fi is enormous—there are so many possibilities and sub genres (Space Opera! Dystopia! Apocalyptic!) and the possibilities are pretty near endless. What often gets confusing, however, is the line between Sci-Fi and Fantasy. The way I see it, if the elements and events are remotely possible and grounded in science (rather than magic & mythical creatures), then it’s Sci-Fi.

Pros/Cons of Writing YA Sci-Fi: 


  • Loads of variety. Like I mentioned above, there’s just as much variety in Sci-Fi as there is in Fantasy or anywhere else. Aliens, robots, spaceships and time-traveling men in blue police boxes only just scratch the surface. 

  • Imagine the possibilities. One of the many cool things about Sci-Fi is technically, the stories could actually happen. Because they’re grounded in reality and science, many Sci-Fi stories, hypothetically, could happen in the future (and many older Sci-Fi stories have technology that didn’t exist then, but exists today, which I think is awesome). 

  • They’re often action-packed. From space battles to wars to end-of-the-world scenarios, YA Sci-Fi novels are rarely boring. 


  • Sexism. This is a rather ugly truth, and thankfully things are changing, but sadly there are people out there who won’t pick up a Sci-Fi novel written by a woman. (There are also people out there who won’t pick up any novel written by a woman, but I digress). It’s something I hope, if you’re a female Sci-Fi writer, you never encounter, but the truth is, it’s still out there. 

  • Tough world building. Like YA High Fantasy, there’s a lot of massive world building necessary to really make your YA Sci-Fi novel shine. But world building is fun (at least, to me), and while it’s difficult, it’s pretty incredible to see what you come up with when you push yourself (or have others push you). 

Recommended Reading: 

I’ll continue to repeat that reading in the genre you’re writing isn’t optional. But the good news is there are plenty of awesome books to enjoy.

Note: While I haven’t read all of these, the ones I haven’t read I either want to read, have heard good things about, or were rating highly on Goodreads (or all three).

For more, check out Goodreads’ Science Fiction shelf, with breakdowns for each category (aliens, apocalyptic, cyberpunk, robots, space opera, etc.) and YA Science Fiction shelf.

Helpful Links: 

Do you enjoy reading or writing YA Sci-Fi? Share your experience! 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Thinking about writing YA Sci-Fi? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips, recommendations and more. (Click to tweet)  
Do you write YA Sci-Fi? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae’s So You Want to Write series. (Click to tweet


Jen Donohue said...

Somehow, it doesn't seem like I've read very much YA SciFi. Nancy Farmer's HOUSE OF THE SCORPION, I guess, but that was a few years ago. Oh yes, and Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT books. Neither of those are super "hard" SciFi (and not space SciFi), though I guess that really just emphasizes the point that there is SO MUCH variation in science fiction, YA and otherwise.

And really, I feel world building is just as important for SciFi as it is for fantasy, if only for the author's benefit. There are thing which might never hit the page but are still important to know in order to lay out the story.

Ava Jae said...

There's so much variety in Sci-Fi out there, which I think is fantastic. Dystopias are actually often considered a subgenre of Sci-Fi, as are many time travel novels (when it's not magic making the time travel possible). The variety is really wonderful.

I agree that world building is just as important for Sci-Fi as it is for fantasy. Both require intricate worlds with a different set of rules (usually), and it's absolutely important for the authors to know details even if they don't end up in the book.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jen!

SJ Mitchell said...

I LOVE world building! I'm working on a YA Sci-Fi right now and between military structure, alien races, planets, star systems, weapons and ships I think I've spent more time building than writing!

Ava Jae said...

World building can definitely be a lot of fun! A lot of work, but totally rewarding and enjoyable along the way. :)

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