Releasing in paperback and Kindle formats next week, The Best of Fantasy Authors Handbook, Volume I 2009-2013collects fifty-eight of the first five years’ worth of posts, most (at least a little) expanded, revised, and/or updated for this volume. Here is the complete table of contents and the introduction, just to tease things a little. And hey, if you need to save the cost of the book, this is the list of posts you’ll want to read here for free while you still can… you have maybe a week to do that. And, of course, still enjoy all the posts from 2014 on, which will remain here for a while.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I: GENRE
What is science fiction, fantasy, and horror and why should we care?
Hi, Conan, It’s Me, Phil
Cross & Mix Genres
Don’t Be a Snobby Reader (Like Me) or How Andy Gibb Made Me Want to Read a Romance Novel
Don’t Grow Out of It
I Geek, You Geek
Science Fiction Can be Fun Again
PART II: CHARACTERS
All stories are about people, and all people are about relationships.
What Moves Your Villain: Excuse vs. Defense
He Wouldn’t Do That
An Evil Genius, Bent on World Domination… But Why?
What Readers Respond to in a Hero
PART III: STORYTELLING
A story is what happens when two or more people disagree about something.
Excuse Me, Number One, I Have to Go Number Two
Show Me a Story
In Search of the First Paragraph
Wait… What Happened?
In Defense of Multiple Points of View
The Art & Science of the Title
Stealing from Your Own Experience
Funny You Should Say That
Character vs. Gimmick: A Tale of Two Short Stories
How Not to Open a Short Story
Write Down These Three Questions
PART IV: WORLDBUILDING
The one thing that makes fantasy and science fiction entirely different from all other genres.
Legion: A Study in Inconsistency & Implausibility
Happy Feast of the Moon
The Distance Between Here and There
Only Imperial Stormtroopers are This (Im)Precise
What Are You Wearing… And Why?
PART V: CRAFT
Now you have to actually write the thing, and it should probably make sense.
Details, Details, Details
Galen Blinked His Elbow
But it Just Isn’t a Rule
The Foresooth File
King of the Capital
Quotes in the Scriptorium
Beware of Typos Bearing Gifts
To Swear or Not to Swear
What Not to Say
First Things First
Typesetting Basics for POD
“Some Basic Dialog Tips,” Phil Suggested
PART VI: AUTHORSHIP
If you want this to be more than a hobby, pay attention.
Annihilation by Any Other Name
Save the Bullshit Excuses
Successful vs. Successful
Practice, Practice, Practice
The Hardest Part: Patience
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Author
Twenty-five Years After My First Sale(s)
Depression and Writer’s Block
Do I Have to Go to College?
Every Writer Must Have Intellectual Curiosity
No One Cares About Your Great Idea
What You Need and What You Should Have
What Else Are You Working On?
Six Ways to Break Through Writer’s Block/One Hundred Titles
I started Fantasy Author’s Handbook on June 15, 2009 for all the right reasons: to get people to buy my book The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, which was set for release in the months ahead. If you’re an author, or trying to become an author, and you think that sounds like a selfish reason to start a blog, well… good luck selling your book when the time comes! If not me, who? If not then, when?
Before beginning I did a little bit of research on the whole blogging thing, which wasn’t quite new in mid-2009 but was certainly new to me. Everyone seemed to agree on two things: release content on a regular basis, and make sure it’s actually, y’know… content.
Some bloggers post something every day, some once a month. I knew there was no way I could post something of even the slightest value every single day—I would never have kept up on that for twelve years and counting. And once a month seemed too long between posts. I was afraid I would forget all about it after a few weeks passed. So I went with weekly. I chose Tuesday because I used to work in music retail and that’s the day new albums are (were?) released.
As to content, a countdown to the release date of the book is not good enough.
Meandering political essays on the hot button topic of the day might have gotten some things off my chest but had nothing to do with writing science fiction and fantasy.
The content of a blog designed to draw attention to your writing should match the content and spirit of the books you’ve written. So I’ve tried my level best over the past decade plus to provide weekly thoughts on the art and craft of writing genre fiction.
What you hold in your hands is what has been voted on by me and the teeming constituency of (I hope) imaginary (or so the doctors tell me) people living inside my head. The criteria for inclusion within was quite rigid. If it seemed as though a greater than single digit number of people had read it, if I still think it’s at least mostly correct in its assertions, if on a second read I wasn’t embarrassed by it, and if it is actually on the subject of writing fiction of any genre at all, it made it in.
A lot was left on the table—or back at fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com, as the case may be. I’ll leave you to explore the “outtakes” on your own.
Herein are some opinions, observations, conversations, ideas, complaints, recommendations, warnings, and encouraging words on the subject of writing fiction in the genres I have loved my entire life.
Do with it as you will.
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Now available for pre-order on Kindle: The Best of Fantasy Authors Handbook, releasing June 15—paperback edition coming very, very soon!