Writing Technobabble: H is for History

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

H is for History 

There are two different aspects of “history” that I’d like to mention when it comes to writing technobabble and sci-fi gadgetry: 

First, there’s the history of technological development itself in the real world. Certain levels of advancement came about during the Industrial Revolution; the World Wars led to further tech developments. The history of humanity is the history of scientific discovery and technological advancement, ever since we started using simple tools and invented the wheel.

Second, there’s the history of technological development in the fictional world of your story. One will probably matter more for your story than the other. It’s up to you as the writer, and the sort of story you’re telling, to decide which sort of history has a greater impact on what you’re writing. And of course no “history” of any kind may actually make it into your book—it may be just part of that research and development that you as the author spends hours doing but never writes about. And that’s okay, too.

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Writing Technobabble: G is for Genre

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

G is for Genre 

What is “genre?” Dictionary.com defines it as: “a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like.” Science-fiction is of course a genre of fiction, but even within sci-fi, there are numerous sub-genres: steampunk, dieselpunk, raypunk, technothriller, military sci-fi, science fantasy, and many more. 

Within each genre come certain expectations. Not rules, per se, but fans of specific sub-genres tend to have certain preferences for their chosen categories of sci-fi, and expect their books and films to meet certain standards. A lot of these genre standards or expectations come in the form of storytelling style and pacing; and emphasis on themes such as political espionage or large-scale war or exploration or social commentary. The types of tech, and the importance of tech, also differ from genre to genre. Therefore, the degree of explanation given for the science behind the tech can vary greatly. You can read “E is for Explanation,” where I discuss the difference between the science-heavy technobabble of Star Trek versus the lack of explanations in the science fantasy world of Star Wars

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Writing Technobabble: F is for Fiction and Fact

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

F is for Fiction and Fact 

If you’re writing science fiction or a related genre, then facts don’t matter, right? After all, it’s fiction! While that is very true, sometimes facts really do matter. 

Facts matter the most when you’re writing something that takes place in the here and now, or any time in history. For example, a cyber-thriller that’s set in present day needs to get some facts correct. If it’s sci-fi set in the real world, then places and things about life need to be presented accurately; and similarly, the real-world technology of today should be the baseline for any fictional tech or gadgetry in the story. That’s part of what would make a story like this believable. If it’s about fictional advanced tech in real world today, then the reader needs to recognize all of the elements of today’s world for the story world to be believable and the sci-fi element to make its impact.

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Writing Technobabble: E is for Explanation (or Not)

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

E is for Explanation

One of the fun things about designing futuristic tech or cool otherworldly gadgets is explaining how they work. To the super-nerds among us, explaining in a realistic and believable manner how every single piece of tech works is the best part of writing. And there are plenty of readers who love all those nerdy explanations.

It’s easy to explain too much, though. I’ll cover “infodumps” in a later post, and too much detailed explanation of how tech works would fall into the infodump category. Some stories, though, lend themselves to more or less explanation of the tech. 

For example, let’s compare the stories in the Star Trek universe versus the stories of the Star Wars universe. Both feature space ships, alien technology, and assorted cool gadgets that don’t exist in real life. But there’s a big difference in how the information about the tech is delivered.

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Writing Technobabble: D is for Details

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story! 

D is for Details

Have you heard the saying “the devil is in the details”? What this means is that the little details matter, and it’s the little things that can trip you up and create big problems. So for us writers, here’s a paraphrase: “the story is in the details.” 

“Story” is a lot of things—it’s characters, it’s plot, it’s theme, it’s voice. But what gives all of those things an extra punch, and can help turn an okay story into a great one is rich details. Details are an important element of world-building, and can add a lot to the believability element. 

In the sci-fi epic TV show Babylon 5, the Earth ships used rotating sections to create gravity, whereas most of the other alien races had more advanced technology to generate artificial gravity. Every time an Earth ship appeared, they were immediately recognizable because of the bulky spinning sections in the center. The explanation of the spinning center of the ship came up briefly only once or twice during the 5-year series, but the important detail of the ship design was consistent throughout, with or without an explanation.

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Writing Technobabble: B is for Believable

Welcome to my guide on how to write technobabble! Every post will start with one letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and cover tips and ideas for all you writers of sci-fi. Whether you’re writing about near-future science fiction, far-flung alien worlds, or historical steampunk adventures filled with advanced technology that never was – these posts are designed to help you write convincing and unique tech for your story!

B is for Believable

“Believable” might seem like an oxymoron when it comes to something like science fiction. After all, the point is for it to be fiction, right? Yes, but even in the world of fiction, it has to be believable for the reader. It has to make sense within the rules and boundaries of the story.

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