Writing Specific Genres: Sci-Fi
Science-Fiction movies account for some of the most memorable films of all time. Why is this? It’s because the genre of sci-fi allows you to transport the audience into a weird and wonderful world with a colourful cast of characters, the type of which you can’t see anywhere else.
Sci-Fi has a strong cult following, and when it captures the imagination a franchise (ala Star Wars) can make literally billions of dollars. That is why Sci-Fi scripts are often in mind for a big summer blockbuster.
Like all genres there are some specific guides you need to follow and things you need to research. Before planning to write a sci-fi screenplay read through the following points and you’ll have a strong idea of the work you have in front of you.
1. Good vs. Evil
No other genre allows for such a black and white view of battle between Good vs. Evil. At the centre of most sci-fi scripts is the concept of good vs. evil and that good will always triumph.
This is often focused in on as an evil government, empire or organisation which is lead by an evil tyrant who wants to mould the world in his own image. To combat this force there is always a group of rebels with a leader who is honest and true.
These “total opposites” are often bonded together by a shared characteristic or belief. It could be that they both wish to save the world, they just have a different idea of how to go about it.
2. A Brave New World
To write a good sci-fi screenplay you have to have a strong ability to “world build”. It’s most likely that the world in which your story is quite different from the world we live in today. There could be space travel, alien beings, matter transporters and worldwide unity. On the other hand it could be a gloomy post nuclear holocaust future with little food, mutant people and a corrupt government.
There’s so many directions you can take this in and details to think about. Who’s in power? What is the political system? How is law and order kept? What’s the economy and currency? Where are we, Earth, an alien planet or in a starship?
3. Aliens Are People Too!
If you’re going to have various races of aliens within your story world then remember that not only do they possess certain characteristics intrinsic of their race but they have individual personalities too.
You might have a race of ignorant, violent and untrustworthy aliens but it can be an interesting twist to have a member of this race be an intelligent thinker who is extremely loyal and a friend of your main protagonist. This can lead to conflict between the leaders of the alien race who see this outsider as an abomination of the species who must be dealt with while the main protagonist might lose confidence in their loyalty after a failed mission.
4. Strange Bedfellows
One of my favorite aspects of science-fiction is the ability to make friends and companions out of types of people/beings that you wouldn’t normally see together. Take Data and Worf from the Star Trek universe. Data is a robot who wishes to develop the ability to have emotions and become more human. Worf a Klingon; an aggressive, emotion breed, which means he often has to quell his temperament to be acceptable crew member.
Worf and Data are often put together as part of the “away team” who explore strange planets and vessels. It’s fun to watch too opposites interact, the differences of opinion they have and the type of conflict this can create.
5. Even Sci-Fi Has a Budget
A lot of the appeal of sci-fi is the explosions and the wild and wacky scenery but try to take into consideration that if you want to sell this screenplay then someone has to pay for it. You can help trim the potential budget of turning your screenplay into a feature length film by using locations more than once, keeping the number of main characters down and not cramming in scene after scene of expensive CGI.
Of course you still need to follow the tried and tested guidelines of structure. Hopefully these ideas and concepts will help you in writing your sci-fi script and maybe, just maybe, you’ll come up with the next blockbuster franchise.
Remember me when you do, eh?