Category Archives: Story Structure

PANTSING MY WAY THROUGH AN OUTLINE

In an effort to dispel the ongoing nonsense “battle” between pantsers—authors who get an idea and start writing “by the seat of their pants”—and plotters—authors who write detailed outlines to which they slavishly adhere throughout the writing process—I’d like to show you … Continue reading

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BOOKS FOR FANTASY AUTHORS XXVI: STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE

From time to time I’ll recommend—not review, mind you, but recommend, and yes, there is a difference—books that I think fantasy (and science fiction and horror and all other) authors should have on their shelves. Some may be new and … Continue reading

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CHARACTERS SHOULD “MENACE” THEMSELVES

I’ve been reading Steven James’s book Story Trumps Structure, and that, combined with ongoing work with editing clients, has got me thinking about story structure, plot, and the driver behind all of those things: character motivation. James starts his book by … Continue reading

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THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “PLOTLESS” NOVEL, DAMN IT

This week I’d like to channel some of my COVID-19 quarantine frustrations by quickly and angrily debunking a bit of literati bullshit that has always pissed me off. One of many ways in which people without imagination try to belittle … Continue reading

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CAN YOU LEARN GOOD STORYTELLING FROM A BAD WRITER?

The next run of my online Pulp Fiction Workshop starts up day after tomorrow (March 5) and it’s got me thinking about pulp “master” Lester Dent again. The course centers around the famous “how to” article “Pulp Paper Master Fiction … Continue reading

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IN SEARCH OF THE MACGUFFIN

Apparently coined by screenwriter Angus MacPhail, maybe in the late 1930s, a MacGuffin is a story device that’s as old as stories themselves. Hell, the Golden Fleece is a MacGuffin. Let’s let Alfred Hitchcock, one of the all time masters … Continue reading

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LOVECRAFT’S NOTES ON WRITING WEIRD FICTION

For the first time ever, I’m turning Fantasy Author’s Handbook over to another author, and one who’s been dead for almost eighty-three years. Love him or hate him, H.P. Lovecraft is one of the undying masters of horror and dark … Continue reading

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PHANTOMS: EXPLORING WEIRD TALES Vol. 5, No. 1—PART 28

Well, we’ve done it. We’ve made it to the end of our months-long exploration of the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales  with the short story “Phantoms” by Laurence R. D’Orsay. Let’s take this story as a chance not just … Continue reading

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ARHL-A OF THE CAVES: EXPLORING WEIRD TALES Vol. 5, No. 1—PART 26

Continuing what has come to seem like an endless exploration of the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales we arrive at “Arhl-a of the Caves” by C.M. Eddy, Jr, author of “the Ghost-Eater,” “With Weapons of Stone,” etc., or so … Continue reading

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A CHANGELING SOUL: EXPLORING WEIRD TALES Vol. 5, No. 1—PART 22

Our next story from the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales is “A Changeling Soul” by Victor Lauriston—another name that didn’t ring a bell for me. I find it fascinating how this issue of Weird Tales features such a range of … Continue reading

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