So, you want to write a sci fi novel but don’t know where to start…
If you’re a huge sci fi fan who has read all the books and watched all the movies, it may well feel like every idea has already been written.
The joy of being a writer is that YOU are writing the story, which means even the most unoriginal trope can be made unique and original because you have given it your own special twist. But you still need an idea.
In this article, I will be sharing tips on where to find sci-inspiration, and giving you 110 sci-fi ideas to use as a starting point for your own science fiction story. Yes, 110 FREE ideas!
What Is Sci Fi?
Many people mistake sci fi for fantasy, which is understandable. Both are full of things that don’t yet exist in real life.
The simplest way to define sci fi is to remember that although it is about something outside of our known reality – ie life on another planet or living among cyborgs – most sci fi stories are based on existing concepts; science and technology. Fantasy, on the other hand, is completely made up and often uses inexplicable concepts such as magic.
Although, you can mix sci fi with other genres.
Star Wars, for instance, is set in space but also includes a magical system – so it’s often described as sci fi fantasy. And you can have dystopian sci fi which shows our real world in the future and how our actions have caused it to change for the worse.
Science Fiction Story Ideas
When it comes to finding inspiration for your sci fi stories, ideas can be found absolutely anywhere. Here are just a few places where you can start looking:
- Old newspaper articles
- Current news
- Scientific developments
- Science and history museums and exhibitions
- Environmental concerns
- Animal and plant life (the more you know about mushrooms, for instance, the more you realise you wish you didn’t know)
- Space travel
- Planets and the solar system
Science Fiction Writing Prompts
If that’s not enough to get your imagination going, I’ve put together some one-line prompts for your writing.
These ideas are categorised by themes, and feel free to add your own twist or mix them up. The joy of writing sci fi is that there are no limits, so take your sci fi story to places no one has ever gone before. To infinity and beyond!
Let’s start with alien races and all the fun that theme can bring…
Aliens aren’t scary, in fact they are already living in our house. We just have to find them.
An alien planet looks to earth to save it. When it comes to ask for help it divides human kind between those who want to save them – and those who want to kill them.
A woman keeps seeing visions of an alien world. She thinks she’s going crazy, until she realises they are memories and she’s not human.
Every galaxy is destroyed and planet Earth becomes the prize that five alien races are fighting over.
A man with no womb finds himself pregnant. Is it a miracle? Or has he been implanted with an alien child?
A young girl has a special ability – she can communicate with other planets. But can she be trusted to tell scientists the truth?
An alien invasion is imminent and humans must come together to protect our planet. Can they put their differences aside forever and unite?
Archeologists discover an old relic buried deep in the desert. It’s an alien ship.
The pyramids are not what we thought they were – hieroglyphics are in fact an alien language, changing the course of history as we know it.
Scientists have been keeping a big secret; they have an alien in captivity that can reverse death. Who will it bring back first?
A planet called Earth has been discovered. Is it worth investigating? Or are humans best left to destroy themselves?
Environmental Disasters Prompts
The planet is getting hotter and some humans have evolved to withstand extreme temperatures. But how long until the world completely burns itself out?
Global warming melts all the ice caps and half the planet is about to drown. Will humanity survive the destruction or learn to adapt to a watery world?
After a giant nuclear war humans have been living in the earth’s core for five hundred years. It’s safe to go back up now, but how has the planet changed in that time? And what creatures are awaiting them?
Humans have cut down that last tree and are manufacturing oxygen in factories. But then the factories are destroyed. Is humanity about to take its last breath?
Animals and fish refuse to be eaten by humans anymore and begin to fight back.
We’ve been burying our waste for too long and now huge sink holes are appearing all over the world – some large enough to destroy entire cities!
Water is about to run out on Earth and the race is on to find another alternative… or another planet.
Volcanoes which have been dormant for centuries have started erupting, and, as if the lava and smoke they produce aren’t devastating enough, the creatures they’ve been concealing rise with them.
Outer Space Prompts
Crew members of a spaceship sent to explore a new planet discover that it’s exactly like earth. Except for one fundamental difference.
A distant planet is discovered that has oxygen and water, the only problem is that it also has monsters.
A space station full of scientists trying to save the planet is under attack by its own government which is benefitting financially from the destruction of the human race.
A spaceship travelling at light speed finds itself in a parallel universe where Earth is very different indeed.
A space pirate finds himself aboard a ship containing the one thing that may save humanity.
Science And Technology Prompts
It’s 3000 AD and humans survive solely on genetically modified food. Then one family learns to grow their first real tomato putting them in danger from the government, the media, and those who will do anything to get their hands on it.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, there are no human cops left. Yet the AI police force become sentient and realise they are the bad guys.
Some humans have started to grow wings and others have begun to breathe underwater. What is happening?
A scientist discovers a way for us to read the minds of dogs – and it turns out they weren’t man’s best friend after all!
A scientist clones his ex-girlfriend after she breaks up with him, leading to a series of hilarious but unfortunate events.
A hundred years after the invention of human flight, things start to go very wrong.
Time Travel Prompts
A time traveller from the year 2998 tries to warn those living in 1998 of what will happen if they continue to treat the planet badly. Do they listen? A Sliding Doors-type movie where we see the world in two ways.
What if we had the ability to swap lives with someone? Memories, bodies and souls? Would you do it?
Two people living in parallel universes fall in love. Except one is suffering from a serious mental illness. Is this real?
A teenage girl’s boyfriend goes missing. 15 years later she becomes a scientist and invents a way to go back in time and look for him.
A time traveller who has had a family with a woman from one hundred years ago must discover a way to bring them back to the future.
Dystopian Sci Fi Prompts
A woman never knew she has a twin sister – or that both of them were created in a lab. They set out to discover more people like them.
The last human being on Earth hasn’t seen another human in 12 years. But then he sees smoke coming out of the chimney of a hut in the woods.
A group of women escape prison, only to find themselves in a world made up of only men.
No one has died in sixteen years. How is the world going to survive if no one’s life can end?
A man tries to find his best friend in the aftermath of a nuclear war. But he doesn’t realise that the man is out to kill him.
One woman fights to protect her child in a world where every baby is brought up in a farm and trained to work for an evil government.
A fight is on to find the last survivors of Europe after the entire continent was destroyed.
The world is either ocean or desert, but one man and his gang believe they can find the lost city of Londonburgh – their only hope for survival.
Combine Well-Loved Sci Fi Stories With One Another
Agents, editors and film producers love to ask writers for a ‘comp’ – a comparison title to position your own work against. So why not start with a well-loved comp or two when coming up with your idea?
Some of the most unlikely parings can make for the best ideas!
Alien and Children of Men: After years of no babies being born on Earth, a woman is finally pregnant. But it’s not human.
The Invisible Man and Men In Black: Special forces are sent out to find the invisible people living amongst us.
Independence Day and Attack the Block: Aliens are going to attack the Houses of Parliament, but only London’s street gangs can save them.
Planet of the Apes and The Abyss: Creatures from beneath the sea have evolved and have taken over the human race.
Ghost Busters and Donnie Darko: Humans are being haunted by the ghosts of people who are yet to die, visiting them from the future.
Godzilla and The Hunger Games: A group of children must fight for survival in a dystopian world full of giant monsters.
Frankenstein and Predator: A scientist creates a monster made up of all the bodies of notorious murderers – but the monster escapes! Who is hunting who?
The Fly and E.T: An alien hides in the basement of a family’s house. Except it’s not an alien – it’s their scientist father after an experiment went wrong. Will he be able to tell them before they kill him?
Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Robocop: A group of kids try to rescue aliens but it all backfires when it turns out they’re here from the future to arrest those who are about to commit a crime.
Jurassic Park and Back to the Future: A young man invents a time machine to mend his love life and discovers he’s gone back 5 million years instead of five!
Don’t Look Up and Alien. Experts warn the world that we are about to come under attack… but no one listens until it’s too late.
The Faculty and The Thing: A group of science students on a school trip to Alaska discover an alien presence, only to realise it’s been with them all along.
Romeo and Juliet and I-Robot. When a teenager falls in love with a cyborg, it creates a deadly battle between man and machine.
Science Fiction Fantasy Ideas
A secret society of scientists and mathematicians invent magic. But how long can they keep it a secret?
A scientist creates the world’s first flying unicorn, leading to an entire cast of fairytale creatures coming to life.
A wormhole leads a group of astronauts to a world full of magic.
A company starts to manufacture wands that can make any wish come true. The world is about to look very different!
Sci Fi Horror Prompts
A small town is invaded by what they believe are ants – until the tiny things start to grow into terrifying monsters.
An old lady on vacation takes a rare plant cutting from a holy site. After tending to it, the plant turns out to be something a lot scarier.
A family move into a haunted house and, one by one, they meet a gruesome death. Will the odd neighbour fix his ghost-hunting machine in time?
In this town nothing can be trusted – not people, not animals, and especially not household appliances.
A group of teenage girls discover a cave on a school trip. Inside that cave is a ship. Inside that ship is the answer to the salvation of the human race.
Kid Lit Sci Fi Ideas
Scientists realise they were wrong about gravity – and now all the children are floating away.
Two children compete to win top prize at the science fair, unaware they have invented something that will change the world.
A plague is sweeping through the world that only affects those over the age of 18. It’s down to the children to save the human race.
Two teenagers in love are separated when, thanks to global warming, their country is split in two and slowly crumbling into the sea. Will they ever find one another again?
Eric can control electricity – and it’s not as much fun as he thought it would be.
A boy and his friend are told not to touch his scientist father’s new invention. But they do – leading to one very big disaster.
Other Fun Science Fiction Ideas
Write a story based on sci-fi-sounding songs:
- The Killers – “Spaceman”
- Blondie – “Rapture”
- Flight of the Conchords – “The Humans Are Dead/Robots”
- Elton John – “Rocket Man”
- David Bowie – “Starman”
Think about a time in your own life, and give it a sci fi twist. ie What if, that time you found a stray dog… it was really a creature from out of space?
Look at old family photos. What would make them out of this world?
What if the inventions of the past had turned out a little differently? How would that look today?
Look at myths and legends and give them a scientific twist. How do they look now?
As yourself… What If?
- Animals could talk?
- The sun disappeared?
- The moon was really a portal to another world?
- Plants wanted to eat us?
- Scientists were wrong about how our bodies work?
- The Bible was actually written by aliens?
- All the countries in the world merged together?
- All world leaders were aliens?
- Schools became dystopian training camps?
- Everyone developed a superpower when they turned 50?
- Babies went straight from a year old to 21?
- Humans could fly?
- Animals swapped abilities?
- Your parents were really robots?
- Your pet was an alien?
- Fish decided to grow legs?
- Robots and aliens united to wipe out the human race?
Time To Get Writing!
After reading through all these ideas, you should now be inspired enough to go where no one has ever dared to tread before!
I hope you have found these 105 sci fi writing prompts and ideas useful for writing your next novel or short story. And remember, you don’t have to pick just one – why not combine two or three prompts and see where they take you?
Good luck with your next sci fi project. May the force be with you and the odds be forever in your favour!
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