Write what you know. Have you been given that advice? Most likely. And it can be great advice. If you’re a neurosurgeon and you’re writing hospital thrillers, you have an inside scoop on the details that can make a story rich.
If you live in New York or Paris or a tiny rural town in British Columbia and you set all your stories there, you have insight into the smells,… read more
One of the marvelous things about being a writer is the ability to tell any story, set anywhere. However, when your create characters and writing settings that don’t approximate your lived experience, there is potential danger that you may appropriate or misrepresent someone else’s culture and life.
Whether maliciously or accidentally, we can sometimes perpetuate harmful biases… read more
My last post on this topic covered worldbuilding with a purpose, so now I'd like to explore the opposite approach. The truth is that not all stories need extensive worldbuilding, especially when they take place in familiar settings and not on imaginary worlds or some high-flying epic environment. But sometimes you want to do it anyway. Maybe you do it because it's fun, or you're… read more
Genre is a literary term used to describe categories of fiction. You'll recognize the popular ones, which turn up as special sections at your favorite bookstore: science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, and horror. It's is a handy way to group similar types of stories, but genre is often misunderstood. For example, many authors and readers assume that genres are fixed and… read more
Unpublished writers often wonder how putting some of their work up for free online will affect their writing career. Will it hurt or help? Well, in my case it eventually led to my first book deal. Here’s how everything went down.
In 2017 I started serially posting a novel to Wattpad (the world’s leading online story-sharing site) and as of January 2020 that same book became… read more
Fiction writers often strive to draw readers deep into the pages of their works. We know the best stories are the ones that make time seem to stop. So what makes a fictional world seem so real readers forget where they are? It’s in the details.
Whether your writing style is rich with description or close and efficient, well-placed details are what bring a world to life. A common… read more
Short stories are a great way for up-and-coming writers to get some publishing credits and start to build buzz around their names. But don’t be fooled into thinking that since short stories are well, shorter, they’re easier to write or get published.
As a slush reader for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science fiction, I can tell you editors get hundreds, even thousands of… read more
I'll preface this post by saying that if you write straight-up action or pure fluff because that's what you enjoy writing, you can probably skip this week's lesson.
Still here? Great, then let's look at theme from a fresh perspective. We'll start at the beginning.
Themes. They're core building blocks of nearly every story, but they're also the… read more
Stories are, fundamentally, all about conflict.
In most stories, your protagonist wants something—to change a law or the government itself, to avenge a death, to hook up with the cutie, to dispel a curse—and your antagonist usually wants something that is in direct opposition of whatever the protagonist wants.
From those opposing wants come the narrative conflict and thus… read more