A beginners guide to writing science fiction, fantasy, etc for male literary fiction writers who have decided to give it a go, possibly for financial reasons, despite having no real knowledge of, or interest in, the form. 

Lesson Two. Style

I would love to take the time out to explore the history of science fiction and fantasy with you – the way writing styles came into and fell out of fashion, how different readers expect different balances of story and prose, how genre fiction should be written with the same integrity and ambition as literary fiction – but there is no point, is there? You have already decided you are going to use ‘spare prose’. Again. You think it exposes some deeper truth in the story, or something. It doesn’t, but whatever. You do you, yeah? I guess it’s easier to eliminate adverbs from your writing than it is to learn how to use them effectively.

But if you are going to do all that, “The big man thought about the past and was sad,” bullshit, at least give it a twist.

Like this…


In a big ocean, somewhere, let’s say the Pacific, a volcano rises up from the deep. But this is not just any volcano. Oh no. This one is a massive Ernest Hemingway’s head. And what is that? Lava? Heck no. Those are Hemingwaves. And what are Heminwaves? Only a previously unknown phenomenon that makes people bury their emotions beneath a masculine veneer while at the same time hinting at their true depths by muttering something vague about ‘the war’ in a gruff manly voice.

Just imagine it! What would a world be like where everyone was built like a lump of redwood and couldn’t share their feelings properly? Would it be awesome? Maybe. Or would it be the absolute worst? It’s a matter of opinion, I guess.

Or the waves could work the other way. Perhaps the big Ernest Hemingway head is sucking up, and stealing away, people’s ability to write spare prose? You could reflect this by making the book less boring as it progresses, as the massive Ernest Hemingway head steals all the bland prose and the narrator rediscovers a half decent vocabulary, jokes, and the ability to write decent female characters?

Just a thought. It’s your book, mate. Do whatever you think is right.

As usual, first person in the comments to request this idea can have it. Good luck!