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.





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


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


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


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

Plausible Technobabble

The Distance Between Here and There

Only Imperial Stormtroopers are This (Im)Precise

What Are You Wearing… And Why?



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

Basic Training

Getting Started

Living Dialog

What Not to Say

First Things First

Typesetting Basics for POD

“Some Basic Dialog Tips,” Phil Suggested


If you want this to be more than a hobby, pay attention.

Annihilation by Any Other Name

Save the Bullshit Excuses

Review This

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, 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.

—Philip Athans

Follow me on Twitter @PhilAthans

Link up with me on LinkedIn

Friend me on GoodReads

Find me at PublishersMarketplace

Or contact me for editing, coaching, ghostwriting, and more at Athans & Associates Creative Consulting.

Now available for pre-order on Kindle: The Best of Fantasy Authors Handbook, releasing June 15—paperback edition coming very, very soon!

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
This entry was posted in authors helping authors, authors to writers, best fantasy blogs, best genre fiction blogs, best horror blogs, best science fiction blogs, best websites for authors, best websites for writers, Books, E-Books, fiction writing blog, fiction writing websites, help for writers, helping writers become authors, how to write fantasy, how to write fiction, how to write horror, how to write science fiction, indie publishing, POD, Publishing Business, Pulp Fiction, SF and Fantasy Authors, Story Structure, websites for authors, websites for writers, writers to authors, Writing, writing advice, Writing Community, writing fantasy, writing horror, writing science fiction, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jane L Nash says:

    I’m not a fantasy writer but i’ve found your info SO useful through your blog for writing that i am on the list for paperback copy – thank you for all your hard work – always quality from you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s