Xlibris Writing Tips| The Space Opera Genre

With the recent release of Season 3 of the hit science-fiction series The Expanse, Xlibris has decided to share tips and suggestions for writing your own story within The Space Opera Genre.



Xlibris Writing Tips| The Space Opera Genre
How will space travel work in your Space Opera story?

A sub-genre of science-fiction, Space Opera consists of a combination of space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary conflict, and risk-taking. Stories within this genre almost as a rule take place in a science-fiction setting. Space Operas can range from focusing on a handful of characters acting within a single solar system, to a Russian novel’s worth of characters acting across a galaxy. Examples of books, series, and whole franchises set within this genre include Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, the Berserker series, Firefly, Ender’s Game, and of course The Expanse, to name a few.



Balance the Spectrums

A recurring element throughout this article will be finding and navigating the balance between key and central elements of a Space Opera. Consider these opposite (but not opposing) elements to be sitting on a spectrum. A good story should not purely be on one end of each spectrum, but nor does it need to always stay in the middle for the whole story. Where and when your Space Opera moves along these spectrums is ultimately up to you and up to the kind of story you want to tell.



The Science & the Fiction

At its most basic, the Space Opera is a work of science-fiction, a narrative tale wherein currently nonexistent science and technology play a vital role in the plot and the setting. Thus we get to the first balancing act, the first spectrum, that between the Science and the Narrative.



Xlibris Writing Tips| The Space Opera Genre
The stars can be the new frontier… or the new battleground.

Two works that occupy different ends of this spectrum respectively would be Star Trek and Star Wars. While the ‘science’ of Star Trek can be highly debated, it does often play a central and dominating part in the narrative. At times entire episodes and plotlines will deal with encountering and understanding a strange and new piece of alien technology. Whereas on the opposite end of the Science-Narrative Spectrum, is Star Wars, where the science is only loosely described if at all beyond, ‘We have spaceships, blasters, and lightsabers,’ serving primarily as backdrops for the narrative.



A recent example of a series that occupies the middle spectrum would be the new iteration of Lost in Space. This reimagining of the television and sci-fi classic, emphasizes both the science and the narrative with the characters often using their knowledge in various fields, including science, to solve problems and advance the story.



Xlibris Publishing will return with The Space Opera Genre in Part 2.


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By Ian Smith

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