The Hell of It February 25, 2015 The Hell of It Peter Orullian What will he wager? Schrödinger’s Gun February 18, 2015 Schrödinger’s Gun Ray Wood Maybe in some other timeline it would have gone smooth. Acrobatic Duality February 11, 2015 Acrobatic Duality Tamara Vardomskaya The two of her are perfectly synchronized. The Language of Knives February 4, 2015 The Language of Knives Haralambi Markov They share the rites of death, and grief.
From The Blog
February 26, 2015
Introducing the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch
Keith DeCandido
February 23, 2015
Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed
Ilana C. Myer
February 20, 2015
Evil Eighties: The Paperback Horrors of Lisa Tuttle
Grady Hendrix
February 19, 2015
The Pinocchio Factor
Jen Williams
February 17, 2015
The Mummy was the Indiana Jones Successor that We Deserved
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts tagged: writing click to see more stuff tagged with writing
Mon
Feb 23 2015 10:00am

Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed

Starbuck

They should kick ass but have other talents; they shouldn’t necessarily kick ass because that’s been done to death; they should have agency; they should move the plot forward; they should be assertive but not obnoxious; they should hold positions of power; they shouldn’t be raped or die to give the hero incentive for his quest.

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the science fiction and fantasy community about “strong” female characters, with various authors weighing in about how to write them, what they are, and why the term is flawed in the first place. There are discussions of deadly tropes and how to avoid them. This is all fine, and I agree with the points made for the most part; the last thing we need is a rehash of eyerollingly blatant male fantasies. But with all the focus on writing techniques on the one hand, and political imperatives on the other, I wonder if we’re not losing sight of the big picture.

[Read More]

Fri
Feb 20 2015 4:00pm

Rainbow Rowell Says Carry On Isn’t Fanfiction, It’s Canon

Rainbow Rowell Carry On interview Simon Snow Baz fanfiction fantasyCan Rainbow Rowell’s next book Carry On be described as fanfiction if she’s writing about the magical adventures of her fictional characters’ favorite fictional characters? (She did create the mage-in-training roommates Simon Snow and Tyrannus Basilton “Baz” Pitch for her novel Fangirl, but as the stars of various fanfics.) And while she created a fantasy world detailed enough for her protagonist to write fanfic in, how does she make that fantasy world stand on its own?

Rowell answered these and other tricky questions in a new interview with Time, in which she discussed which fantasy tropes she embraced or discarded while writing Carry On, and why we should all thank the Harry Potter generation.

[Read more]

Fri
Feb 6 2015 10:30am

Keeping the Underwear Clean: The Art of Formal Constraint

Formal Constraint world building

I figure I’ve got the far ends of the literary spectrum covered: before diving face-first into the world of epic fantasy, I wrote poetry. At first blush, the two enterprises couldn’t look much more different. Although epic poetry has its share of gods and monsters, the work of lyric poets like Elizabeth Bishop, John Donne, and Anne Sexton tends to be short on orcs, fortresses, and magical glowing swords. Conversely, the verse contained in epic fantasy tends to fall into two categories: drinking songs and elvish; Dragonlance isn’t exactly replete with searing meditations in the tradition of George Herbert or Robert Lowell.

Given the disparity in modes and methods, the move from lyric poetry to epic fantasy seems to make about as much sense as heading into the Alaskan wilderness wearing Hawaiian leis and a grass skirt. I’ve found, however, much to my joy and surprise, that the hard won lessons of poetry are wonderfully useful; in the following series of posts, I’ll dig into the some of the most transferable lessons...

No one gets into writing for the spreadsheets.

When you sit down to write a book, you think it’s going to be all about character, and plot, and world building. These sorts of interesting artistic challenges are, of course, integral to the job. Alongside such challenges, however, comes another set of tasks that I can only describe as CRUCIAL BORING SHIT.

[Read more...]

Tue
Feb 3 2015 12:00pm

How Star Wars Helped Me Finish My First Epic Fantasy Trilogy

Stormtrooper reading

I signed my first writing contract at the beginning of 2012; a three-book deal for The Powder Mage Trilogy with Orbit Books. The trilogy was sold off the strength of the first book, Promise of Blood, as well as a several page summary of the two subsequent books in the series. At the time of the sale I felt like I was in a pretty good place—I had ambitious plans for the second and third books with new viewpoint characters, new cultures, and a whole different continent to explore.

I started writing the untitled book two later that year and immediately ran into a problem: I hated everything that I wrote.

[Help me, Obi-Wan!]

Mon
Feb 2 2015 3:00pm

Everything I Needed to Know about Writing Monster Horror I Learned from Alien

Alien

I wish I could say I saw Alien on the big screen in 1979, and experienced the glory of Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger’s chest-bursting, face-hugging terrors before they became property of pop culture and parody. Alas, Alien was years before my time. The film was nearly thirty years old before I borrowed the DVD from a friend and watched it alone in a small, dark room. Mistake.

What my tiny, flickering television experience lacked in silver screen quality, it made up for in atmosphere, intense claustrophobia, and the eerie sense of being isolated in the universe. Space is already a terrifying, incomprehensible void to me; adding Alien’s Xenomorph only made me check my locks thrice and start looking up how to make homemade napalm… at least for fiction’s sake.

I watched the film countless times, breaking down the movie down into its basest parts, trying to understand why it succeeded to frighten audiences so thoroughly with its modest budget, low performance expectations, and a fairly lukewarm critical reception. Nowadays, the film is widely considered a classic.

[Here’s what Alien taught me about writing horror.]

Wed
Jan 28 2015 11:00am

Rocket Talk Episode 41: Myke Cole

Rocket Talk Myke Cole

In this episode, Myke Cole visits Rocket Talk to discuss the challenges of writing things outside his experience. He and Justin discuss Cole’s newest release, Gemini Cell, and how a writer can and should push themselves.

[Listen Now!]

Fri
Jan 23 2015 12:00pm

Michael Moorcock Talks “Experimenting” with The Whispering Swarm and the Appeal of the Multiverse

Michael Moorcock Tor Books videos The Whispering Swarm The Eternal Champion Sequence multiverse

Science fiction and fantasy author Michael Moorcock’s newest novel The Whispering Swarm is autobiography through the lens of the lens of his own work and how it has impacted him. In a series of videos, Moorcock speaks with Tor Books about “try[ing] something new” with The Whispering Swarm, his first independent novel in nine years. He also discusses the impetus of the Multiverse that links his Eternal Champion Sequence, and reads from one of his early novels.

[Watch the videos]

Thu
Jan 22 2015 10:00am

Midnight in Karachi, Episode 4: Adam Roberts

Midnight in Karachi Adam Roberts

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a bi-weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

This week's guest is Adam Roberts—academic, critic and prolific writer with a number of pseudonyms and a couple of dozen novels. He’s been nominated for the Clarke Award three times and has won both the BSFA Award and the Campbell Memorial Award. Adam talks about writing in various forms, Tolkien, judging awards, and how all his books are secretly outsourced to someone else.

[Listen Now!]

Wed
Jan 14 2015 11:00am

Rocket Talk Episode 39: Brian Staveley

Brian Staveley Emperor's Blades Providence of Fire

In this episode of Rocket Talk, Justin interviews fantasy author Brian Staveley about what it was like to have one of the most heralded debuts of 2014 and how he’s adjusting to life in the community. The conversation covers some writing techniques, discussions about his first two books—The Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire—and whether or not authors can have “the juice.”

[Listen Now!]

Mon
Jan 12 2015 4:00pm

“With Luck We Shall Make It, and Without Luck We Shall Not” — The Left Hand of Darkness

Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K Le Guin Two strangers on a distant planet—separated by culture and species—haul a sledge across a glacier in a desperate flight to safety. This is the simple yet compelling premise behind the climactic sequence in Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The idea of a long, treacherous journey transcends literary traditions. Many stories have that “third act” set piece—a battle, or fight, or some other fraught situation—that pushes the characters to their limits and forces them to make the hard decisions that will resolve the story.

So what makes Le Guin’s use of this technique so special that I have to give people a dirty look when they tell me they’ve never read her work?

[Read More]

Mon
Jan 12 2015 2:00pm

Altogether Elsewhere; or Enough About the F**king Feast Already

lord of the rings pacing

I figure I’ve got the far ends of the literary spectrum covered: before diving face-first into the world of epic fantasy, I wrote poetry. At first blush, the two enterprises couldn’t look much more different. Although epic poetry has its share of gods and monsters, the work of lyric poets like Elizabeth Bishop, John Donne, and Anne Sexton tends to be short on orcs, fortresses, and magical glowing swords. Conversely, the verse contained in epic fantasy tends to fall into two categories: drinking songs and elvish; Dragonlance isn’t exactly replete with searing meditations in the tradition of George Herbert or Robert Lowell.

Given the disparity in modes and methods, the move from lyric poetry to epic fantasy seems to make about as much sense as heading into the Alaskan wilderness wearing Hawaiian leis and a grass skirt. I’ve found, however, much to my joy and surprise, that the hard won lessons of poetry are wonderfully useful; in the following series of posts, I’ll dig into the some of the most transferable lessons.

[Read More]

Thu
Jan 8 2015 3:45pm

The LEGO Movie 2 Will Be Meta, But Not About Its Sequel-Ness

The LEGO Movie 2 plot hints

Screenwriting team Phil Lord and Chris Miller currently have the market cornered on hilariously self-aware movies: Last year’s The LEGO Movie was a surprise hit with all age groups for its commentary on conformity, creativity, and imagination; not to mention that 22 Jump Street skewered itself for being a sequel rehashing the laughs of the original, thus managing to become something entirely new.

Now, Miller and Lord have to find a way to write The LEGO Movie 2 without going the 22 Jump Street route, while still retaining the Specialness of the original. And they’ve given some hints as to how they’re going to do it.

[Read more]

Wed
Jan 7 2015 4:00pm

Three Ekphrastic Dialogues; or, No Dual Wielding Until Book Three

The Providence of Fire

SCENE ONE
Setting: Book One of the Epic Trilogy

In the first scene the WRITER is bright-eyed, fresh-faced, and recently showered, perhaps even wearing a jaunty blazer. The CHARACTER looks confused, wary, even a little frightened.

Character: Hey! Who are you?

Writer: I’m the writer. I made up your world. I made you up.

C: That’s impossible.

W: Amazing, right? But it’s true. That beard you have—I put it there. That mysterious dude over there—the one in the black cloak; I made him up. That suspicious ancient ruin; I made that up, too.

[Read More]

Tue
Jan 6 2015 10:30am

Ghosts of the Insane Dead

the ghosts of heaven marcus sedgwick

The little inmates of the orphans’ home at Greenport, under the supervision of their matron, gathered a lot of wild flowers, and decorated the graves of the insane dead, who have been buried at the asylum cemetery. The deed was a worthy one, and to the little ones is given a great deal of credit for doing this act of mercy to the unfriended dead.

The above are lines I used in a section of my latest book, The Ghosts of Heaven. I cannot take credit for them however; they came from a small newspaper article written in the early 20th century, something I came across in my research for the book.

This research opened up for me a lost world of forgotten dead, as well as a great deal of poignant imagery of dereliction.

[Read More]

Mon
Dec 29 2014 5:28pm

Margaret Atwood Talks Her 2114 Novel and Coping with Real and Fictional Dystopias in Her Reddit AMA

Margaret Atwood Reddit AMA highlightsMargaret Atwood’s dystopias are starting to come true—and as disconcerting as that may be, at least we get to talk to her about them. In addition to predicting the future, Atwood is also very keen at getting with the times: Her Twitter account is filled with witty gems, and more than once she’s been game to talk about her work with her fans on Reddit.

For two hours today, she chatted with the folks at r/books about her newest project, writing a book for the Future Library project that won’t be read until 2114; how The Handmaid’s Tale reflects current legislation around the female body, and some of Oryx and Crake’s science and technology have changed from theoretical to actual; and which of her dystopias most frighten her. We also learned fun facts about the author, including which of her book covers she designed, and that time she reviewed one of her own books under a pseudonym. Read on for the highlights of Margaret Atwood’s Reddit AMA!

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 12:15pm

Terry Pratchett Based Crowley on Neil Gaiman, and Other Tidbits from the Writing of Good Omens

how Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote Good OmensWhen Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett published Good Omens in 1990, Gaiman says, they decided to tell people only a little bit about how exactly they collaborated on the beloved fantasy novel. But now, tied to the broadcast of the Good Omens radio play, Gaiman shares an in-depth look at the writing process, from his and Pratchett’s first meeting in a Chinese restaurant in 1985 to who is responsible for which characters.

There are long phone calls we wish we could have listened in on, character genders getting swapped, details borrowed from one of the authors, and doves. Yes, doves.

[Read more]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 4:23pm

The 2014 Black List Features Artificial Intelligence Thrillers, Space Angst, and Apocalyptic Family Dramas

The Black List 2014 genre movies sci-fi fantasy superheroes supernaturalSince 2004, every December has seen the publication of The Black List, a survey of Hollywood executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays of the past year. What started as a fun exercise has gained traction as a development tool for aspiring screenwriters; several movies that have appeared on The Black List have gone on to be produced, including 2014 films Transcendence and The Imitation Game.

Of the 70 screenplays featured on The Black List 2014, about one-quarter were genre stories. Read on to see which under-the-radar scripts—featuring moon colony murders, pill-popping superheroes, alien baby showers, and possessed newlyweds—might end up on the silver screen one day soon.

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 11:00am

The Infinite Points of Interest in Alternate History

The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocketwatch Conspiracy Jacopo della Quercia In many ways, any venture into alternate history ultimately begins with something simple: a single bullet, a stopping heart, or—perhaps most famously—the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in some distant, unknown past.

Such elements have played key roles in the literatures of countless writers, especially since such similarly minor factors have repeatedly redirected history as we know it. The fate of the American Revolution, for example, might have ultimately been decided by a poker game. Before the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the American Civil War hinged on a piece of paper wrapped around three cigars, found in a field. A wrong turn in a stalling car resulted in the assassination that triggered World War I, whereas World War III was narrowly avoided in 1962 thanks to one little-known Soviet officer’s presence during the Cuban Missile Crisis. As for World War II, let’s not even get started on how different the world would be if a certain vagrant studied painting instead of antisemitism while in Vienna.

[What if?]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 10:00am

Steven Erikson: On Compassion, Completing Malazan, and Looking Toward the Future

Malazan Reread of the Fallen Steven Erikson

As many of you know, our ongoing Malazan Reread recently reached the end of The Crippled God, the final novel in the series. To mark the occasion, author Steven Erikson graciously offered to participate in a Q&A covering both the novel and the series as a whole.

You can read the entirety of the discussion here, but for those who might have missed it, we wanted to share the following statement from Steven, addressing all the fans who’ve followed the series, as well as our intrepid Tor.com rereaders, Bill Capossere and Amanda Rutter.

[Read Erikson’s post below!]

Fri
Dec 12 2014 1:00pm

On the Masterful Creepiness of Merricat: Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Shirley Jackson We Have Always Lived in the Castle I came to the Shirley Jackson party late. The first thing I read was The Haunting of Hill House, and that was just last year. On my way to the park for a lunchtime walk and brain-clearing, I pulled a parcel from the post box. In the park I didn’t refrain from tearing open said parcel because, well, book. I did laps whilst reading this tremendously weird tale, and by the time I returned home there was a kind of strange translucent wallpaper over my vision, an image of Hill House superimposed on the things of my everyday life. That’s kind of disturbing.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about—Hill House (not sane, but brilliant) led me to We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and the thoroughly magnificently malignant creation, Mary Katherine Blackwood. Merricat, with her strange acts of sympathetic magic, her even stranger magical thinking, and her almost complete lack of conscience—I say “almost” because she does seem to know she’s doing wrong, but she shrugs and does it anyway because it’s all in the service of what she believes is required.

[Read More]