How to Write Science Fiction Dialogue

Posted on Sep 15, 2023

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Writing dialogue in any work of fiction can be a difficult task. 

There is an unspoken acceptance amongst both writer and reader that the dialogue is not perfectly life like and filled with misspoken words, characters talking over each other and various other conversational inconveniences that often exist in real life social interactions.

To include these would undoubtedly interrupt the flow of the story and be a nuisance to read.

But it does have to be presented in a way that feels life like enough, or recognisable to anyone reading it in order to allow them to relate and imagine the story taking place.

On top of that, each fiction genre has its own nuances and specifics that whilst should not be followed like a rulebook, should at the least be in the writer’s mind as they put pen to paper.

Science fiction is a perfect example of the above and in this article we will provide a guide on exactly how to go about crafting dialogue in an effective and impactful way.

This guide on how to write science fiction dialogue contains:

  1. Establish unique vernacular
  2. Align the dialogue with technology
  3. Convey scientific concepts
  4. Explore ethical dilemmas
  5. Integrate futuristic slang
  6. Themes of transcendence

1 – Establish unique vernacular

Establishing a unique vernacular is key when writing compelling science fiction dialogue.

In the world of speculative fiction, language evolves alongside technology and cultural shifts, creating a linguistically distinctive world for your readers to explore.

Consider the influence of futuristic advances or alien encounters on the way characters communicate.

Whether it’s a post apocalyptic Earth with a new lexicon born of necessity or a galactic empire where the language reflects interstellar trade, dialogue can be a powerful tool for worldbuilding.

To achieve this, introduce specialized terminology, slang or other expressions that resonate with the story’s setting.

Avoid overloading readers with unfamiliar terms but instead, use them carefully to immerse them in the narrative. 

These nuances not only add depth to the fictitious world but also provide readers with a sense of the culture, values and history of the society in the story. 

2 – Align the dialogue with technology

Aligning the dialogue with the technology is crucial when writing science fiction dialogue. The technology you introduce must feel plausible and consistent within the context of your created universe.

Readers are more likely to suspend their disbelief and engage with your story when they can envision the technology as a logical progression or innovation.

Whether it is advanced AI, futuristic spacecraft or groundbreaking medical procedures, use dialogue to explain these technologies in a manner that is accessible yet maintains the sense of wonder and possibility that defines science fiction. 

Avoid excessive techno jargon unless it is integral to the plot or character development, and instead focus on how characters interact with and react to this new age tech.

By grounding your dialogue in realistic ways, you not only enhance the believability of your world but also create a foundation for exploring the ethical, social and personal implications of these advancements.

3 – Convey scientific concepts

Effectively conveying scientific concepts in science fiction dialogue is essential for ensuring readers understand the complex ideas integral to your story’s plot and world building. 

In this genre, writers often grapple with intricate scientific theories, futuristic innovations and speculative technologies. To engage readers without overwhelming them with technical details, your characters’ conversations can serve as a bridge between the narrative and the science.

Choose characters who can naturally explain these concepts to others in your story, ensuring that the dialogue remains accessible to a diverse readership.

Present these explanations in a way that aligns with your characters’ knowledge and backgrounds, allowing for genuine curiosity and learning moments.

You can also use analogies, metaphors and relatable comparisons to simplify abstract or advanced ideas. 

This approach not only clarifies the science but also enriches your storytelling by making complex concepts relatable and engaging. 

Striking the right balance between scientific accuracy and readability in your science fiction dialogue will help your readers navigate the details of your story with greater ease.

4 – Explore ethical dilemmas

Exploring ethical dilemmas through science fiction dialogue is a powerful tool for engaging readers and taking a deep dive into the moral complexities of the universe within the story. 

Science fiction often explores the profound ethical questions arising from advanced technology, extraterrestrial contact and the consequences of human actions.

Through dialogue, your characters can inhabit different perspectives on these dilemmas, allowing readers to witness debates and conflict. 

Engage your readership by presenting characters with difficult choices and let their discussions highlight the moral implications of their decisions.

This not only deepens character development but also adds layers of complexity to the book.

Consider the ramifications of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering or interstellar colonization and use dialogue to explore the ethical implication of these themes. 

Allow your characters to question the consequences of their actions, challenge societal norms and confront their own values and beliefs. 

By doing the above, you encourage readers to reflect on these issues within their own lives which will create an impact from your work that goes beyond the story itself.

5 – Integrate futuristic slang

Integrating futuristic slang into your science fiction dialogue creates a feeling of authenticity and helps to immerse readers into your created world.

In the distant future or across alien landscapes, language will naturally evolve and should reflect the sub cultures and technologies that have emerged.

Developing this specialized language will not only enhance worldbuilding but also enrich character development.

Consider how characters use slang or idioms to express emotions, social status or affiliations. These nuances can reveal insights into character backgrounds and the societies they inhabit.

However, it’s crucial to strike a balance when incorporating futuristic language. Avoid excessive or confusing jargon that might alienate readers. Instead, introduce these elements gradually and provide context to help readers understand their meaning.

6 – Themes of transcendence

Embracing themes of transcendence through science fiction dialogue is a hallmark of the genre’s intellectual and philosophical depth.

Science fiction often invites readers to contemplate the boundaries of human potential, the evolution of consciousness and the consequences of scientific and technological progress.

Your characters can serve as conduits for exploring these themes.

Engage them in dialogues that dive into existential questions, such as the nature of identity, the possibility of post human existence or the ethical implications of augmenting human abilities through advanced technology. 

Use their conversations to spark philosophical debates that resonate with the core ideas of your story. 

Characters might question the limitations of their physical bodies, the potential for digital or interstellar exploration or the pursuit of utopian ideals. 

On top of this, consider the chance to explore the emotional and psychological dimensions of transcendence.

How do characters cope with the idea of transcending their current state?

How do they grapple with the fear or excitement of change on such a fundamental level? 

How to write science fiction dialogue – final thoughts

As we can see from the above points, science fiction is not merely a genre that provides entertainment, it also has potential to provide reflection and deep philosophical musings.

The dialogue a writer chooses to include in their story, is a key component of facilitating this process and so must be done carefully.

But by using the above guide as a reference point, reading some sci fi classics and bringing fresh ideas to the table, writers will be well placed to create a great work of science fiction and the dialogue within that will have played a large part.

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