Category Archives: characters

WHAT I MEAN BY “OFF SCREEN”

When I’m editing a work of prose fiction (a novel or short story) I tend to use “bookish” terminology because, y’know… that’s what I’m actually working on. But in one case I do tend to fall back on a movie … Continue reading

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DON’T KEEP YOUR CONTEMPORARY REALITY OUT OF MY SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Though it’s been a while since authors like Orson Scott Card and J.K Rowling have come out publicly as being on the wrong side of history, and the whole Sad Puppies fiasco has thankfully long fizzled out, an article posted … Continue reading

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DO CHARACTER ARCS ACTUALLY MATTER?

I’ll answer that right away: No. But let’s look at them anyway. According to all the advice on how to write a screenplay in fifteen minutes, or whatever, there are three types of character arcs and no matter what, you … Continue reading

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OUTLINE!

“No battle plan,” said Helmuth von Moltke, “survives contact with the enemy.” But that doesn’t mean you go into battle without one. For authors, the outline is our battle plan and the enemy is the writing itself. When you start … Continue reading

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TOM SWIFT AND HIS FORGOTTEN TECHNO OPTIMISM

I started writing the title of this piece, a take on the templated titles of the Tom Swift and Tom Swift, Jr. series, and got past the word techno then for the life of me couldn’t think of the word … Continue reading

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FIRST, SECOND, OR THIRD… PERSON, THAT IS

First person, second person, or third person is, fundamentally, a creative choice on the part of the author. Simply put, “person” is a matter of point of view, expressed via pronouns. In a first person narrative, the story is coming … Continue reading

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BOOKS FOR FANTASY AUTHORS XXXIII: EVERY BOOK YOU’VE EVER READ AND EVER WILL READ

From time to time I’ll recommend—not review, mind you, but recommend, and yes, there is a difference—books that I think authors should have on their shelves. Some may be new and still in print, some may be difficult to find, … Continue reading

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WE ARE TOUR GUIDES IN THE LANDS OF MAKE-BELIEVE

In “On Fairy Stories,” J.R.R. Tolkien warned us against conjuring “the dreamlands,” saying, “Next, after travellers’ tales, I would also exclude, or rule out of order, any story that uses the machinery of Dream, the dreaming of actual human sleep, … Continue reading

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HE WHO CONTROLS THE PAST, CONTROLS THE FUTURE, OR WHY REVISING OLD RACISTS IS A TERRIBLE THING

On February 27th, the estate of author Ian Fleming released a statement in which they made a lackluster effort to defend the indefensible, and that is their program to rewrite at least one of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books in order to … Continue reading

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DESCRIBING WOMEN (AND MEN)

All the way back in March of 2017 I cautioned you not to describe characters in terms of numerical statistics (height, weight, age) or obvious features (hair and eye color, etc.), but reading some more “vintage” (1950s-1960s) fiction and running into the perfectly … Continue reading

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