A Long Spoon December 18, 2014 A Long Spoon Jonathan L. Howard A Johannes Cabal story. Burnt Sugar December 10, 2014 Burnt Sugar Lish McBride Everyone knows about gingerbread houses. Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North December 9, 2014 Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North Charles Vess Happy Holidays from Tor.com Skin in the Game December 3, 2014 Skin in the Game Sabrina Vourvoulias Some monsters learn how to pass.
From The Blog
December 9, 2014
The Eleventh Doctor’s Legacy Was Loss and Failure
Emily Asher-Perrin
December 9, 2014
Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2014
Tor.com
December 8, 2014
How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.
Chris Lough
December 8, 2014
Tiamat’s Terrain: Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange
Alex Mangles
December 4, 2014
Potential Spoiler Leak for Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reveals Awesome Details
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts tagged: writing click to see more stuff tagged with writing
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]

Fri
Dec 12 2014 10:00am

When My Wife Put Her Face in a Fireball for Epic Fantasy

The Providence of Fire

I won’t say I was happy when my wife opened the oven of our brand new stove and her head was engulfed in a fireball because (1) I wasn’t, and (2) She would punch me very hard in the eyeball if I said that. Still, I will admit to thinking, as we sat in the emergency room—me trying to keep our toddler from firing up the defibrillator, her looking miserable with a goopy looking salve all over her face—that the experience could be professionally useful. Not for nothing is my second book called The Providence of Fire. People get burned, literally and figuratively, and here I had first-hand experience with a burn victim.

[Read More]

Mon
Nov 24 2014 12:00pm

I Love Writing Books, So I Need to Get Better at Writing Them

War Kameron Hurley

I read a really spectacular Advance Reader Copy yesterday of a book called The Traitor Baru Cormorant (out Sept 2015. I’ll talk more about it then). I was hooked from the first page and cried through the first 40 pages. It’s a tragedy in the traditional sense, like Madame Bovary or Macbeth (or Mass Effect 3!). You know everyone is fucking doomed. You know it from the first forty pages, and the inevitability of that, of knowing that to “win” in this book, for the protagonist, means the endurance of staggering, brutal losses, was actually terribly comforting for me.

I dreamed about it when I went to sleep—about being stuck in these horrible political nightmares, of trying to untangle plots through bank notes and accounting, and desiring the wrong people, for all the right reasons, in a society that kept close watch on me, like a secondary world fantasy Big Brother, marching me inevitably toward my doom. I dreamed of trying to fight a system within a system that was horribly corrupt, and trying to retain my own sanity, my own decency, my own sense of self, while knowing the only way to win was to give all that up.

Horrible choices. A terrible bind.

And I admit that sometimes this is what is feels like to be a career novelist.

[Read More]

Thu
Nov 6 2014 4:00pm

NaNoWriMo Success Stories to Keep You Writing!

NaNoWriMo success stories National Novel Writing MonthOn November 1, National Novel Writing Month kicked off its 16th year of wonderful, terrifying, inspirational marathon writing! As a NaNoWriMo participant, you have a month to write 50,000 words—just writing, no editing or backtracking—while you’re cheered on by fellow writers both online and at in-person “write-ins.”

For some, simply hitting 50K is enough. But others take the post-NaNo time to revise their novels—and many NaNo-ers have actually seen their work published. And it’s not just unknowns: In recent years, more and more mainstream authors have revealed that they used the month of November to get started on what would become their bestsellers. What if we told you that a beloved book about fanfiction, a creepy circus story, and a radical retelling of Cinderella all started out as NaNo projects?

[Read more]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 12:40pm

Danny Strong, Frank Barbiere, and Ales Kot on Writing for Big Studios and Comics vs. Independents

New York Super Week Nerdist Writers Panel Danny Strong Frank Barbiere Ales Kot

At first glance, the three panelists on New York Super Week’s special edition of the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast seem to exist in very separate worlds. Actor-turned-screenwriter Danny Strong, who got his start with the HBO political movies Recount and Game Change, is now adapting the third Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, for the big screen. Frank Barbiere’s Image Comics series Five Ghosts is the weirdest mash-up of historical and fictional figures. And Ales Kot has been all over Marvel’s recent comic series, including Secret Avengers and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier (out now).

But while talking at Housing Works Bookstore about learning to write for specific mediums and the failures that got them where they are now, the three were able to share anecdotes about the difference between writing for a large movie studio or comics publisher, as opposed to more independent projects.

[Read more]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 11:15am

The Mary Sue at NYCC: Don’t Write What You Know, Fight It!

The Mary Sue Fight What You Know panel NYCC 2014

In their first of three New York Comic-Con panels, The Mary Sue exhorted their audience to resist the old adage of “write what you know.” Editor-at-Large Susana Polo quoted Nikki Giovanni when explaining the impetus for their panel, Fight What You Know:

Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t… If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.

Admitting that writing something that’s not your experience is scary, is a great place to start. Asking for tips? Even better. The panelists—including one of the co-writers of the new Batgirl and a Buffy alum—laid out the steps that every writer should go through to make sure your work is diverse and empathetic.

[Read more]

Thu
Sep 25 2014 9:40am

Amtrak Residency Writers Include Fables Creator Bill Willingham and Other Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors

Amtrak Residency Program writers Bill Willingham

Amtrak has announced the winners of its inaugural Amtrak Residency Program. Over the next year, these lucky 24 residents will get a free Amtrak train ride during which they can compose their next (or, in some cases, first) great work.

While the full list includes a BuzzFeed editor and a former CIA agent, we took special note of the five writers representing for sci-fi/fantasy and geek culture. That’s about one-fifth of the writers—not too shabby. Read on to learn more about the Amtrak residents—one of whom has already decided what she’s writing about, and it sounds amazing.

[All aboard!]

Mon
Sep 22 2014 1:50pm

Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow

Last First Snow Craft Sequence Max Gladstone

Fantasy is the genre of hope.

It’s the genre of the Grail Quest, where the King is the Land, where Lancelot can heal with a touch, where nine walkers just might stand against the nine riders that are evil, where a few farm kids set out from a small town between two rivers to stop the Dark One, where no man can defeat the Nazgul lord so good thing Eowyn’s on our side, where Aerin bests Agsded and Maur to free her city, where Tenar finds her name and Aang can save the world.

But if fantasy is the genre of hope, it’s also the genre of a particular kind of danger. To hope is to commit, and commitment’s scary because we’re never hurt so much as when we care. Saving the world is hard. You lose people along the way.

[Read More]

Thu
Sep 18 2014 8:00am

Cultivating Wonder: Robert J. Bennett’s City of Stairs

City of StairsI’ve been trying to read Robert Jackson Bennett’s books for some time. He’s got one of the most entertaining Twitter feeds around—a blend of absurdist, weird, nonsensical , and occasionally on the edge of off-color humor (I’ll sometimes find myself laughing at a tweet while thinking, “I don’t dare retweet this”). But there are all sorts of writers I like in other venues whose fiction just doesn’t do it for me.

Bennett writes a variety of books in a variety of genres, and is a two-time Shirley Jackson Award winner and winner of the Sydney J. Bounds Awards for Best Newcomer. Yet I’m not much of a horror or gothic fan outside a few classics, and thus his previous work was not quite up my alley. I’m terribly particular about what I read: lush writing, secondary world or seriously far-out science fiction, strong worldbuilding, dynamic characters. I need to have it all for it to work for me.

So when I heard Bennett was writing a secondary world fantasy—City of Stairs—I was intrigued. When early reviewers compared its themes to those in my own new epic fantasy, The Mirror Empire, I was doubly intrigued.

[Read More]

Tue
Jul 22 2014 1:30pm

Lloyd Alexander’s Tales of War and Youth

Lloyd Alexander Prydain The Book of Three Long before I fell in love with writing I fell in love with reading. Sometimes, honestly, I feel like I’m cheating on my first love when I settle into my office chair to start work on the latest manuscript. Back in my younger years I read an average of a book a day. That was when I was going to school full time and working a job after school 30 hours or more a week. Even now, years later, there are stories that I remember vividly. Some of them I remember so well and love so deeply that despite never having enough hours in the day I go back and read them again.

One series that I’ve done that with several times is Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain, including The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King.

[Read More]

Mon
Jul 21 2014 2:30pm

A Love Letter to Carl Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Darren McGavin Carl Kolchak the Night Stalker

Carl Kolchak: Anybody important here today?
Receptionist: No, just a bunch of reporters.

—from “The Energy Eater” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker

A lot of things contributed to me ultimately being a writer, but one of the most crucial was a guy in a bad suit and straw hat, with a camera and tape recorder slung over his shoulder. Yep, I mean the night stalker himself, Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin.

[Read More]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 8:00am

Humorous Exposition: Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October

Roger Zelazny A Night in the Lonesome October

“I like being a watchdog better than what I was before [Jack] summoned me and gave me this job.”

When I encountered this line for the first time, on page 2 of Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, I cracked up. I didn’t get the line’s full genius, though, until I finished the book.

[Read More]

Tue
Jul 8 2014 4:00pm

How Did You Come Up With That?: Bygone Worlds as Springboards to Fantasy

Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza

When I was in fifth grade I had to do a social studies report on the Mayans. As a ten year-old my report, of course, included a hand-drawn map of the Yucatan peninsula, descriptions of Mayan architecture, government and money, religious practices, food and farming, their calendar, and maybe if I was lucky, I ripped a few pages out of a National Geographic with some pretty colorful pictures of their ruins being eaten up by the jungle. (Sacrilege, I know…)

It’s been a long time since I did that report and I can’t remember every detail about the Mayans, but I do remember one thing: my research couldn’t tell me what happened to them. It was a mystery which delighted my ten year-old self. It seemed that they had simply vanished off the face of the earth. There were even delicious musings that the Mayans had been aliens, and beamed up to their mother ship because they were done with Earth. An advanced civilization, pfft. Gone.

[Read more...]

Tue
Jul 8 2014 8:00am

Gallimaufry: Short Fiction and My Writing Process

Ellen Klages Imagine holding a small carved bowl, its weight and shape and size a perfect fit for two cupped hands. The grain of the wood flows with the bowl’s curves, the interplay of light and dark pleases the eye, the texture is silken against your skin. You turn it, admiring the craft, the artistry, the attention to detail.

“It’s lovely,” you say, handing it back to its creator. “Now when are you going to make something real, like furniture?”

Now imagine the bowl is a short story.

Why do so many readers—and writers—consider short fiction to be some sort of training wheels? As if writing a short story is just a way to wobble around until you find your balance and center of linguistic gravity and are ready for the big-girl-bike of a novel?

[Sigh.]

Mon
Jul 7 2014 1:00pm

Defining Character: The Opening Scene of The Clockwork Dagger

The Clockwork Dagger Beth Cato

“Octavia Leander’s journey to her new source of employment was to be guided by three essential rules: that she hide her occupation, lest others take advantage; that she be frugal with her coin and avoid any indulgences that come with newfound independence; and that she shun the company of men, as nothing useful or proper is bound to happen.

Not ten feet from being let out of her carriage, Octavia was prepared to shatter Miss Percival’s most strongly advised first rule.”

There’s an impressive and savvy opening scene in Beth Cato’s forthcoming debut novel The Clockwork Dagger that does at least three important things for a fantasy novel first chapter: present an immediate challenge, reveal character, and explain the magic system.

[Read More]

Wed
Jun 4 2014 12:00pm

Entanglement: Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial

Agelica Gorodischer Kalpa Imerpial translation Ursula K Le Guin Here’s the first sentence of Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire that Never Was, translated from the Spanish by Ursula K. Le Guin:

The storyteller said: Now that the good winds are blowing, now that we’re done with days of anxiety and nights of terror, now that there are no more denunciations, persecutions, secret executions, and whim and madness have departed from the heart of the Empire, and we and our children aren’t playthings of blind power; now that a just man sits on the Golden Throne and people look peacefully out of their doors to see if the weather’s fine and plan their vacations and kids go to school and actors put their heart into their lines and girls fall in love and old men die in their beds and poets sing and jewelers weigh gold behind their little windows and gardeners rake the parks and young people argue and innkeepers water the wine and teachers teach what they know and we storytellers tell old stories and archivists archive and fishermen fish and all of us can decide according to our talents and lack of talents what to do with our life—now anybody can enter the emperor’s palace, out of need or curiosity; anybody can visit that great house which was for so many years forbidden, prohibited, defended by armed guards, locked, and as dark as the souls of the Warrior Emperors of the Dynasty of the Ellydróvides.

[I quote it in full because what was I going to do?]

Fri
May 2 2014 8:00am

Balancing on a Precipice: The Gothic Reach

William Styron Sophie's Choice I was given a leather-bound embossed journal with cream-colored pages which I was quite reluctant to ruin with my scrawling draft work. Instead, I decided to use it for a learning exercise by copying, in longhand, one of my all-time-favorite novels. Initially, I intended only that, but what has developed is an engagement with the text, sometimes veering into David Foster Wallace-like ruminations. (Though I claim none of the brilliance of the authors mentioned here.)

My novel obsession is Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I was fortunate enough to read this story the first time with no prior knowledge of it; thus, Styron taught me the skill of misdirection with his deft telling of Sophie’s many choices so that when it came to the choice I was socked in the gut, though—and this is important—I did not feel tricked, because I was not tricked. Misdirection, done well, is an honest art.

[Read More]