Category Archives: How to write fiction

Building a Web Presence for SF&F

Madgeniusclub has an interesting article for SF&F writers on building web presence: 1- Be you.  Don’t try to sound educated, or professorial or anything of the kind, unless that is who you are, naturally.  Just be you.  I swear readers can smell “Phony” a mile off. 

The Super Mario Bros. approach to #storyplotfail

Today I read an unpublished novelette that – in theory – was a page turner. A former mind-swap expert treks to a remote monastery to look for his ex-wife who’s hiding as a mind upload in a virtual-reality maze where she can never be found. This novelette – which

Fronting the 10%

Self-published eBook author? Want to convert samples into sales? Consider cutting the “front matter”: the testimonials, genealogy, pronunciation guide, foreword, epigraph and cast of characters: When you get a reader interested enough that they downloaded a sample, or are clicking “look inside” on a web page, you really don’t

Of post-apocalyptic SF romance with pirates, and other sub-sub genres…

Great tip for writers who plan to self-publish their books on Amazon Kindle (and similar).  ‘Writing to market’ used to mean writing  ‘teenage vampire stockbroker‘ erotica for publishers looking to meet the latest craze. For indie authors, ‘writing to market’ means: I’m going to look at the sub-sub genres, check the potential sales

[Talking point] Is short science fiction in crisis? A market review

Earlier this year I read short stories nominated for this year’s and the 2014 Hugo Awards, and some that missed out due to the Puppy kerfuffle. And I wondered: Were they the best that science fiction had to offer? And, if so, is short fiction – often seen as the core of

Thinking about writing a female protagonist? Hmmmm…

Erin Lindsey describes of the no-win situation as you dare to craft your female protagonist. She must be strong, but not so superhuman that she’s a Mary Sue. And she must be recognisably female, but not a feminine stereotype. When creating your heroine: balance is key. Like,

The trouble with hard SF…

Traditional publishers don’t like hard SF, says an author with a creative writing MFA: Which raises a question.  As writers decry the decline of hard SF, you’ve got to wonder how many traditional publishers think like her – that The Martian had no market? How many reject hard SF because they think

The Top 5 things you shouldn’t do in a Twine game

Anyone old enough in the 1980s will probably remember the computer game Zork and the Fighting Fantasy books by Steve Jackson. They’re examples of “choose your own adventure” stories where players make choices, and how the story ends depends on their decisions. Text-based games dropped out of fashion as

Heroism, message fiction and the countervailing point-of-view

I was fascinated to read a comment about message fiction (in film) on an article about free speech in the Spectator. The commentator, Sue Smith, argues that message fiction is where the text contains no countervailing point of view. There is only one ‘truth’ presented and emotional imagery,

How to get a literary agent

Amy Suiter-Clarke was on my MFA course and has just secured a literary agent for her novel. She’s blogged here about how she secured her agent – without a cold query. I participated in three Twitter pitching contests and sent out dozens of queries before I