Hey! I’m dumb and I need knowledge

So I’m thinking about starting a book (series?). In it, there’s a lot of genetic manipulation science-y stuff, but I don’t know all the…the…science. Can I just make up most of it? I mean, a lot of it is fantasy-type stuff, so… what do you think?

  • You don’t need facts, just make some things up
  • Use facts to seem educated, and to make your story seem more realistic
  • I don’t care?
  • I don’t know…

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If you have an MC who isn’t into science, it can work because it’s over their head, so they would just except everything without needing complex explanations. For instance, think Scott Lang in AntMan. They didn’t have to over explain Quantum Physics because it was framed through what Scott knew. They still needed a minimum amount of research, but not as much as if the MC had an education in the right scientific field,


That’s a good point. I’ll keep it in mind.


I’d say that it wouldn’t hurt to do some research on it. If anything, it may give you some more ideas on how to go about it.

That said, I would agree with @SurferJulz. If your MC is into the sciences and studies/works with it, then I would definitely use facts and do extra research, maybe even find an online course or textbook or something in genetics. If not, then you can probably brush over a lot of the details.

Sometimes you don’t even need to bring up the details. They don’t usually add much toward the plot anyway. I know a lot of soft science fiction novels tend to never explain why something science-y happens. It’s totally alright to jump over the “why” when it comes to inventions in your book. I think that’s better than making up facts.


Thank you. Honestly, I’m hoping that I don’t have to do research, cuz I’m lazy. But I understand that I might have to do some.

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It varies greatly on if it’s something that is plausible as well as what exactly you’re doing. You don’t necessarily need to know everything on the science side, especially if your character doesn’t know how it works themselves. However, it doesn’t hurt to understand the basics of how it could be plausible or done. And this doesn’t always mean reading textbooks or articles because you may get confused along the way. You could always look up documentaries or YouTube videos that may explain it.


After reading the title of your thread, I wanted to say, “Get some education!”

After reading what you’re struggling with, I’d advise that you do at least basic research about genetic manipulation. You can build on acctual science to come up with something of yours. I think that if a person who does know some scienc-y stuff reads your book, she/he’ll probably quit reading if it’s too far from facts.


Ah, YouTube is a good idea. I practically live on there lol.

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That does sound true.

Better to have some science on hand to keep it grounded.

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Honestly? My primary inspiration is science and the natural world, and let me tell you, it’s wilder than anything I could come up with on my own. So I’m definitely on the side of learning the facts:

  1. Because the facts are damn cool

  2. Because if you don’t, you’ll probably lose an entire, otherwise potentially interested reader base—those who do know the facts and cringe when they’re ignored

  3. Because the best and most interesting magic is magic with limits

  4. Because it makes it more realistic—and detailed

  5. You’ll save yourself a lot of criticism

  6. You’ll learn something new!

  7. You’ll open up and understand a whole body of cultural discussion on the ethics of the topic, which if applied will make your story richer yet

Go crazy and enjoy it!


Wow, you sound like a vacation brochure or something lol

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It’s best to have some sense of actual sciency stuff in there, just allows for the reader to suspend disbelief when you get to the bullshit parts. If you have too much Mystic BS, your readers won’t buy into it, but if you give them just enough for a buy in maybe a hair more. you can run with it. And you don’t need to be super specific, for example, in one story I am communicating across interstellar distances. Works great with radio and video, signal degradation, time lag, so I had to figure out a way for instantaneous communication. Well I said Self how could I do that? Ah here we are something about Quantum entanglement, Spooky motion over distance. So if I could theorize that this could be measured then sure why not use it as a means for signal. Okay, and genetics isn’t super hard most of that crap is mapped out so you can easily dip into it just looking at a few papers.

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Normally I would say yes but if it’s fantasy, I don’t see the problem with making some things up. Though you might wanna look up some of the stuff you plan on using to get a better view, but a lot of the stuff you can just make up imo. It’s fantasy, a lot of things in fantasy are made up.

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Make sure you know the basics, but you don’t need to worry too much about the nitty gritty details. Have an understanding of how genetics etc work, but take creative freedom over the manipulation bit (technology is constantly evolving after all, but real life can serve as inspiration).

People will notice if you get basic facts about DNA and cells wrong, but they likely won’t know all of the methods used to manipulate it.


I think it depends on the audience you’re writing for. Are you writing for a Star Wars audience? Or a Star Trek one? Soft sci-fi? Or hard sci-fi?

If soft, then you don’t have to do much research. But it wouldn’t hurt to do so anyway. It’s not uncommon to pick up on a sliver of scientific information and then blowing it up and exaggerating it to entertaining proportions. There’s a Dwayne Johnson movie called Rampage. The movie focuses on CRISPR; an actual technology used for gene editing. Now, to my understanding, in no way, shape or form can it currently be used to create giant bat-wolves, boar crocodiles or gorillas with hyper-regenerative capabilities. But it’s cool, so…
Not the greatest movie, in my opinion, but I do think that there’s something there to be learnt.

If you wanna go hard sci-fi, then you gotsta do the research. The more accurate, the better. And you might find something very interesting in your research. ‘Reality is stranger than fiction’ is a saying for a reason.

Now, I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. I think it’s a scale. The more entertaining, the less accurate. The less accurate, the more bullshit which might annoy some people. And some people might actually find the scientific accuracy entertaining. So again, it depends on the audience you’re writing for. And due to your self-professed laziness, you might be more comfortable and inclined to writing soft sci-fi. But it’s up to you.

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As others pointed out, the basics are all out there on the internet. Use that as jumping off point and have

The one thing I still love to this day about Frank Herbert and Ursula LeGuin (who dealt w/climate change and aliens, etc. in The Lathe of Heaven) is that they took stuff they found interesting about science, boiled it down…and imagined amazing alternative worlds.

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I am an eight-year-old kid who has found valid adult excuses to keep imaginary friends and an unhampered fascination with biology alive and thriving into my twenties and still going strong :laughing:

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Personally I appreciate the use of some science - for example using lightning magic to make ozone from the air to choke someone or something.

Overall - it depends on what the focus of your story is - I’m writing a fantasy comedy so nobody can really blame me for not going in-depth about the economic state of the world and a very detailed run-down of all currencies and exchange rates.

If you’re writing a story about people fighting with science/magic - in my personal opinion, the science is kind of necessary - like I said, very loose logic is alright, as long as there is logic - remember you’re using magic - you’re not writing a 1:1 representation of our world.

Good luck!

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It depends on your story. Like you say its mostly fantasy stuff, so you might not need much of it. Also, whether your MC is a science person or not, and has a part in the genetic manipulation thing, like if they are a layman or a test subject they’ll probably be distanced from the scientific parts (and a side-character could just briefly explain the project for them and readers)

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