What makes the science fiction and fantasy genre so appealing is that anything can happen – the sky’s the limit! Even when you’re writing about an imaginary world, it’s still possible to incorporate elements that are familiar. When director James Cameron conceived the natural environment of Pandora for the movie Avatar, he drew heavy inspiration from his dives in tropical coral reefs. And multilingual lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz adapted words from Latin, Egyptian, Greek, German and Italian to create incantations for Wicked Witch Elphaba in the musical Wicked.

When planning a fictional world, sometimes it also helps to set it down on paper. Who are your characters, and how do they think or interact with their environment? If your characters speak a unique language, what are some of the words?

Before letting your imagination run wild (which we fully encourage), here are a few tips to remember when submitting work to the Science Fiction & Fantasy category of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

  • Jurors are looking for inventiveness, originality and a unique writing style. Be sure to only submit works that are your absolute own creation.

  • Any written pieces (poems, dramatic scripts, short stories and short short stories) with science fiction or fantasy themes are encouraged.
  • Submissions should be between 600 – 3,000 words.
  • Careful proofreading and polishing goes a long way to strengthening a work.
  • Only written pieces are accepted. Graphic novel excerpts dealing with science fiction themes can be submitted to the Comic Art category instead.
  • Some of the best advice on the subject comes from 2010 Science Fiction juror Alex Carr: “Read more. Read more Science Fiction & Fantasy and other genres, but save room for contemporary fiction as well. The more you read, the more you understand how writing works.”

    Good luck!

    Image credit: Judicial Branch Inquest into Flight of R. Byrd. Elizabeth Peterschmidt, Grade 12. 2010. Silver Medal, Art Portfolio.

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