Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
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April 13, 2014
Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”
Theresa DeLucci
April 11, 2014
This Week’s Game-Changing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Was Exactly The Problem With The Show
Thom Dunn
April 8, 2014
Let’s Completely Reimagine Battlestar Galactica! Again. This Time as A Movie!
Emily Asher-Perrin
April 4, 2014
The Age of Heroes is Here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
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A Spoonful of Music Makes the Nanny: Disney’s Mary Poppins
Mari Ness
Showing posts tagged: writing click to see more stuff tagged with writing
Apr 14 2014 11:05am

Author Randy Henderson has won L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award for 2014! Henderson, who had previously amassed a series of honorable mentions, won with a story called “Memories Bleed Beneath the Mask,” which will be published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 30.

Henderson’s describes his debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, as “a one-two punch of Awesome by a robot gorilla wearing enchanted gloves of Happiness.” Look for it from Tor Books in February 2015! Find out more about the book below.

[Necromancy! Murder! Black Humor!]

Apr 8 2014 11:00am

Diane Duane The Door Into Sunset In all her genres, Diane Duane is one of my favorite writers.

She spreads her talents around, too. She writes in multiple genres and forms—scripts to novels, tie-ins to original fiction, young adult urban fantasy to historical fantasy to science fiction to second-world fantasy. And whether she’s writing Y.A., as with her Young Wizards series, or Star Trek media tie-ins, she always brings an inimitable playful voice and a startling sense of “Yes; that’s right; that’s just like people.” to her work.

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Apr 3 2014 11:00am

Dream London Tony BallantyneFrom Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London:

There used to be an underground station opposite my building. Over the past year it had metamorphosed twice: first into a railway station, then into an inn. I remember the landlord holding court with his customers, telling us about the staircase leading down from his cellar into the tunnels through which the trains had once travelled. The tunnels had shrunk, he said, tightened like sphincters. What remained of those narrowed, fat-filled arteries was choked with black and green beetles, walking back and forth in long lines beneath the city, preyed on by silver snakes and cock rats.

A piece of writing like this is a lot more difficult to achieve than it might appear. We can all generate weirdness, but it’s a much harder thing to be able to generate weirdness that feels convincing and right.

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Feb 11 2014 2:30pm

Winter's Tale Mark Helprin

This book. Did you know it was a book? Did you know it’s going to be a questionable movie this week? There’s a magic horse in it.

Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is such an odd brick of a thing. It’s essentially a fantasy novel set in a New York City that isn’t New York City, except actually it’s a character drama steeped in magical realism and the actual character you’re following is the coming and going of New York City itself. And maybe not even that.

I think the magic horse is supposed to represent God?

[You can’t truly know it until you’ve regretted reading it.]

Feb 3 2014 1:00pm

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke is a big, thick book. About a thousand pages, in paperback. I’ve heard several people say the size alone intimidated them. Some of those did start reading anyway, only to be put off by its other notorious feature: the footnotes.

Now, I personally enjoy a really good footnote.1 And it was clear from the first few sentences that Clarke knew what the heck she was doing. That first description of the Learned Society of York Magicians was enough to tell me not only what sort of a book this aimed to be, but also that Clarke had very likely hit her target—the period language, the gentle snark, all harder than it looks, and she’d nailed it. I was impressed before I finished the first chapter. I admit I paused a bit over the three-quarter-of-a-page footnote that’s essentially an anecdote about a pair of boots, with barely any connection to the matter at hand. Still, the anecdote was amusing, and the writing excellent. I was willing to keep reading, to see if the promise of the beginning would hold true.

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Jan 24 2014 3:00pm

Chiliad Clive Barker

For more than twenty years, Clive Barker was terrifically prolific. During that period, a year without a new novel by the author seemed—to me at least—incomplete. Sadly, when Barker started work on the Abarat, that was that. Since the first part of the series was released in 2002 we’ve seen, for various reasons, just two sequels and one short novel in the form of Mister B. Gone.

That may change in 2015 with the belated publication of The Scarlet Gospels: a return to Barker’s beginnings by many measures. A sequel, indeed, to one of his very earliest novellas—no less than The Hellbound Heart, which found fame later when it became the basis of the film Hellraiser. Before that, though... this: an amoral meditation on humanity’s spiralling history of violence which certainly whet my appetite for more from the man who helped define dark fantasy.

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Jan 3 2014 6:00pm

Mary Robinette Kowal puppet

Somebody get that puppet a Regency dress! Author and puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal recently auditioned for a (professional level) puppetry workshop that will be held by the living saints that bring us Sesame Street. After being accepted, she didn’t just shout from the rooftops that she’d gotten in. Instead, she used her practice and audition process as an opportunity to talk about how the craft of writing relates to her puppetry work, and to encourage all of us to dedicate ourselves to our work, whatever that work might be.

Click through to see Kowal perform Lewis Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky” in about a billion different hilarious character voices. There is also some singing, but we’re assuming that was actually performed by Patrick Rothfuss.

[Gyring and gimbling below]

Dec 26 2013 11:00am

Oh, trilogies! How you beguile me. Spending more time with beloved characters is a siren’s song. More often than not I just want closure. Can’t we find satisfying conclusions without the bloated second and third course? I long for the days when one novel was enough. When writers like Joanna Russ and Robert Heinlein challenged themselves and their readers with something different every time out. How have we come to a day where the default is a regurgitation of sameness for three volumes (or more)?

I have a theory, but it’s going to take me a little while to get there… bear with me.

[Read More]

Dec 20 2013 11:00am

Choice of Deathless Max Gladstone

Let me tell you a secret. Once you know this secret, you’ll never look at your Game Master the same way again. (It’s a pretty nerdy secret. Stay with me.)

At some point in a recent gaming session your party of adventurers came to a fork in the road, and the GM asked if you wanted to go left or right. “Left,” you said, and the GM looked in her notebook, nodded, and continued: “Okay, around nightfall you come to a castle with a gaping drawbridge. You see a great fire flickering past the gates, and smell roast pork on the breeze.”

Thing is, if you’d said right? You’d have come to exactly the same castle. Ask your GM and she’ll deny this, but it’s true. Come on, who are you going to trust—your friend, or some guy on the internet?

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Dec 19 2013 12:00pm

NOS4A2 Joe Hill As storytellers we’re led to believe that people don’t have attention spans anymore. That their patience is blown out like the elastic in an old pair of tighty-whities. We’re cautioned to give readers no time to bow out. We have to grab them by their short-and-curlies right out of the gate or they’ll bail after five pages to go take a dirty Snapchat of themselves Vine-ing their latest game of Candy Crush.

And so we caution one another as writers to begin fast, go in hard, start with action. In the first five pages we need mystery and karate and explosions, maybe a car chase or three. Gotta be bodies on the ground. Fire in the jungle. Apocalyptic fol-de-rol. The promise of the premise punched into the brain of the reader. (This is told to screenwriters, too, though folks seem to forget that even with a high-octane damn-near-perfect action movie like Die Hard we get a whole first act full of toe exercises, domestic tension, and corporate socializing, devoid of Gruber-led terrorists.)

[Read More]

Dec 4 2013 3:00pm

Andrew Vachss Blue Belle My own writing comes out of two distinctly different literary traditions: fantasy and noir. Of the latter, I claim red-headed-stepchild kinship with both the classic (Chandler and Hammett) and the modern (Robert B. Parker) in my Eddie LaCrosse novels. 

But a deeper influence, and one of my favorite living authors, Andrew Vachss, caught me with a single sentence, the first line of his third novel, 1988's Blue Belle:

“Spring comes hard down here.”

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Nov 18 2013 3:00pm

Random Acts of Senseless Violence Jack Womack This spring I moved from Vancouver to Toronto, a relocation across three exciting time zones into an apartment half the size of the old one. An early stage of this process involved rehoming hundreds upon hundreds of books. We gave them to friends, to writing colleagues, to editors, and to guys in the housing project down the road. We gave them to neighbours, shop owners, and the guy who brought us our uber-green moving boxes. (He took about thirty titles, and left a note on my site recently to say he and his girlfriend got in a fantastic summer’s reading, and thanks. This made up, slightly, for having to let go of so many treasures.)

At the end of the purge, we had gone from floor to ceiling shelves, many of them stacked double, to having only three bookshelves left. As you can imagine, every single book remaining is a precious object, a pearl among prose drops, something that could never be given up, under any circumstances.

One of those books is Jack Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence.

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Nov 12 2013 3:00pm

Hild Nicola Griffith More than one review of Hild has characterised me as an sf/f writer who has left the fold to try my hand at this historical fiction thing. I’m not convinced I’ve left anything. If I have, I haven’t stepped very far.

When I first started reading I found no essential difference between Greek mythology and the Iliad, Beowulf and the Icelandic sagas. The Lord of the Rings, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Eagle of the Ninth all spoke to me with the same voice: the long ago, wreathed in mist and magic. My first attempt at fiction (I was eight or nine) was a tale of a hero with no name—though naturally his sword has a name, and his horse, and dog. I’ve no idea if there would have been any fantastic element or not because I abandoned it after the first page. A brooding atmosphere, it turned out, wasn’t enough to sustain a story.

[History is a story, and story is a kind of magic...]

Nov 5 2013 3:00pm


The imagination is not context-less.

The words and conceptual markers a writer puts on the page arise from thoughts and perceptions and interpretations rooted in our experiences and knowledge and assumptions. Writers write what they know, what they think is important, what they think is entertaining, what they are aware or take notice of. They structure stories in patterns that make sense to them. A writer’s way of thinking, and the forms and content of what and how they imagine story, will be rooted in their existing cultural and social world.

[Who chooses what amount of world building is acceptable in fantasy literature? ]

Oct 30 2013 11:00am

Prophecy, as a general rule, tends not to be very helpful.

In the midst of the Second Persian War, for example, the Athenians sought the wisdom of the Oracle at Delphi, pleading for Apollo to guide them in their fight. The fact that they did so tells us two things: first, they could be a religious folk, and second, they were totally screwed. After all, it’s not for nothing that “delphic” has entered our English lexicon as a synonym for “utterly unclear.”

[Read more]

Oct 17 2013 11:00am

Katherine Kerr Daggerspell Art by Keith Parkinson

There is nothing an author today has to guard himself more carefully against than the Saga Habit. The least slackening of vigilance and the thing has gripped him.
–P.G. Wodehouse, writing in 1935

How little things change! I, too, am a victim of the Saga Habit. Fifteen Deverry books, four Nola O’Gradys—and I haven’t even finished the Nola series! Now Sorcerer’s Luck, which I meant to be a stand-alone, is insisting that it’s only the first volume of a “Runemaster trilogy.” Over the years, a number of people have asked me why I tend to write at this great length. I’ve put some thought into the answer, and it can be boiled down one word: consequences. Well, maybe two words: consequences and characters. Or perhaps, consequences, characters, and the subconscious mind—above all the subconscious mind. You see what I mean? These things multiply by themselves.

[The making of a saga, from Middle-earth to Deverry]

Oct 16 2013 2:00pm

Stephen King The Dark HalfWhen someone decides to sober up, they often eliminate people from their lives who stuck with them through their drunk years. It’s a cruel, necessary housecleaning and one Stephen King embarked on between 1988 and 1989, the year he finally stopped drinking (snorting coke, swilling mouthwash, popping pills). First, King fired his longtime agent, Kirby McCauley, the man who put together the ground-breaking deals that made him rich. Next, he abandoned his longtime editor, Alan Williams, whom he’d followed to Putnam (for The Tommyknockers) and returned to his regular publisher, Viking. Then he stepped back and let his vanity project, hard rock radio station WZON, go from his preferred rock n’roll format to a more conventional, noncommercial public radio station format. Then he stopped publication of his popular Castle Rock fan newsletter.

But there was one person he couldn't get rid of without a fight, his pseudonym, Richard Bachman. The more King tried to lay this ghost to rest, the more Bachman struggled, and the result is one of his most mystical and violent books. It’s deeply uneven, but The Dark Half is like a rough draft for his nonfiction memoir, On Writing. Only more people get beaten to death with prosthetic arms.

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Oct 11 2013 10:00am

There’s a striking moment near the end of the twenty-first canto of Dante’s Inferno, one that almost all readers tend to remember, when the demon Barbariccia “avea del cul fatto trombetta.” It’s hard to put it delicately: he turns his ass into a trumpet. Not the kind of thing you expect out of a writer recording the steps his salvation, but the image stays with you.

Likewise, readers of the Divine Comedy remember Ugolino, who, for the sin of eating his sons, is forever frozen to his neck in ice, gnawing on the brains of Archbishop Ruggieri. In fact, Dante has no trouble at all depicting sinners in the various postures of their suffering, and for seven centuries readers have kept turning the pages. Corporal violence sells. Electronic Arts even has an eponymously titled video game in which Dante looks less like a poet and more like a Muay Thai Knight Templar. The EA people are no fools—they understand that there’s a ready market for brain eating and ass trumpets.

When it comes to the celestial realm of heaven, however, Dante runs into trouble.

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Oct 11 2013 9:00am

My mother’s classroom is a happily crowded place. The walls and countertops are crammed with museum posters, maps of the solar system, scientific curios—everything you could want in an astrobiology class. Public school budgets being what they are, her lab tables are often overfull, holding as many students as the room can fit. One day, a few months back, her room was even more jam-packed than usual. Every spare seat and patch of lean-able wall space was occupied by administrators, district representatives, and myself, lucky enough to be in town.

We were there to see the astronaut.

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Sep 20 2013 10:00am

Blade Runner Noodle Bar

This article is about the ways in which authors—particularly those in SFF—can more sensitively write about cultures other than their own, and touches upon issues of racial and cultural sterotyping. It was originally posted on Aliette de Bodard’s personal blog on September 13th.

This is a collection of stuff I’ve already said elsewhere, but for what it’s worth, the usual disclaimer applies: these are my personal opinions and my personal experience (I know not everyone has the same opinions and I certainly don’t pretend to speak for everyone!). I also don’t pretend to have easy solutions for everything I mention here (and God knows I made some of those mistakes myself, and will continue making them, but hopefully I’ll improve on that front as time goes by); but I think it’s better to know all this stuff and then decide how to handle it rather than go on being blissfully unaware of it.

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