Books

Bestselling author Kelley Armstrong shares her tips for writing futuristic fiction

The judge of The First Page student writing challenge for 2019 shares some advice on writing about the future.
Kelley Armstrong is the bestselling author of more than 40 books. (Kathryn Hollinrake)

Kelley Armstrong has written over 40 books, including the bestselling young adult series the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising. Most recently, she published the YA book Aftermath, the middle-grade novel A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying and the adult thriller Alone in the Wild.

Armstrong is bringing her writing prowess to judge CBC's First Page student writing challenge. The challenge invites Grades 7 to 12 students in Canada to write the first page of a novel set in 2169 that imagines how a current-day event has unfolded in 150 years. 

Students can enter online between Nov. 4 and Nov. 25, 2019. Visit cbc.ca/thefirstpage to learn more.

To get you ready, Armstrong shared tips for how to approach writing futuristic fiction. See her tips for writing the first page of a novel here.

Visit cbc.ca/thefirstpage to learn more about The First Page student writing challenge. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

1) Build your world

"Before you begin, you want to have a good foundation for your fictional world. Consider all the systems required for a society, such as an education, politics, currency, family life. You do not need to know all of these before you start, but be sure you've worked out the ones that will affect your story."

2) Don't mistake procrastination for world building

"At some point, you may begin to realize that you're immersing yourself in world building to avoid actually starting the book. Hint: if you're designing futuristic technology that your characters won't actually use, it's time to stop world-building and start writing!"

3) Don't info-dump

"After all that work of world building, you'll be tempted to write full pages describing it to the reader. Resist the urge. Instead, show your characters inhabiting that world and allow it to come to life organically. For example, instead of a page explaining a currency system based on clean water credits, show a character worrying about whether they have enough of these credits to pay for groceries."

Dream big and let your imagination run wild.- Kelley Armstrong

4) Make your world believable

"I know bestselling futuristic fiction writers who painstakingly work out the science behind their world. I also know bestsellers who fully admit that their 'science' probably wouldn't work, but they've made it seem plausible, and that's what counts."

5) Be bold!

"You're writing about the future. You can make it whatever you want it to be, for better or worse. Dream big and let your imagination run wild." 

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