10 Can't Miss, Surefire Secrets Of Torturing Fictional People

Everybody loves a sadist. At least, when it comes to storytelling. The more pain and misery a writer puts her or his characters through, the more we adore it. But how can you torment your characters without going too far, or falling flat? Here are 10 killer rules for how to bring the pain. » 4/03/14 10:13am 4/03/14 10:13am

10 Things That Every Brand New Creator of Science Fiction Should Know

Being a science fiction creator is the most amazing adventure — you get to invent whole new worlds, brand new futures, and fantastic technologies, and you get to tell the most incredible stories about them. But it's also a tough and heartbreaking career path, whether you're in books, comics, movies or television. Here… » 3/06/14 10:31am 3/06/14 10:31am

Why is it so hard to write a decent ending?

Endings define stories. A great ending can make everything that's come before seem retroactively great. A weak ending can ruin everything. But why do they have to be so impossible to write? And is there any trick for crafting a strong ending that doesn't involve endless misery? » 1/22/14 1:05pm 1/22/14 1:05pm

How to Write Descriptive Passages Without Boring the Reader or Yourself

Describing stuff can be the hardest part of writing prose fiction. You have a scene in your head, with all the dialogue and action, but now you have to fill in what everything looks like. There's nothing more boring to write, or read, than a long descriptive passage — but here's how to spice it up. » 12/09/13 11:55am 12/09/13 11:55am

10 Ways to Make Everyone Root for Your Amoral Protagonist

One step beyond the anti-hero, there's the amoral or morally challenged main character. Sometimes, a protagonist is so dark, you can't even use the term "hero" to describe him or her. But how do you get your audience to root for a character who might throw an old lady under a bus? Here are 10 ways. » 10/15/13 10:04am 10/15/13 10:04am

The Only Kind of Sentence You Should Use in Your Fiction

People will advise you to write all sorts of sentences. Snappy sentences, lyrical sentences, Hemingway-esque short sentences, long Faulknerian sentences. But there's really only one kind of sentence that actually works: a sentence that carries the reader forward from the previous sentence. This is harder than it… » 8/20/13 3:19pm 8/20/13 3:19pm

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding is an essential part of any work of fiction. But especially for science fiction or fantasy, it's the lifeblood of storytelling. But when worldbuilding fails, it can wreck your whole story, and leave your characters feeling pointless. Here are seven deadly sins of worldbuilding. » 8/02/13 12:00pm 8/02/13 12:00pm

What does it mean when people say your story's “tone” is wrong?

Writers and creative people talk about tone all the time. But what does it mean? Is it just the difference between a comedy and a drama? Is it just light versus dark? When you write a story, how do you figure out your "tone," and keep it from lurching from one thing to another? Here are some ideas. » 7/15/13 1:08pm 7/15/13 1:08pm

How to turn a high concept idea into an actual story

Every story begins with an idea. What's amazing about science fiction stories is, they often start with a cool idea. Like a spin on space travel or robots that nobody's ever thought of before. But how do you turn an idea into a story, with memorable characters and powerful moments? That's often the hard part. » 5/14/13 10:12am 5/14/13 10:12am

What it Means When Someone Tries to Tell You THE Rules of Good Writing

There's only one rule for how to write a story, and that's: "Write a good story." Apart from that, anything goes, as long as you can pull it off. (And some things are harder to pull off than others.) But sometimes, people will try and teach you ironclad rules of fiction writing. Like, avoid an omniscient narrator, or… » 2/01/13 12:45pm 2/01/13 12:45pm

How to Tell if the First Draft of Your Novel Just Isn't Worth Salvaging

It's almost the end of November, which means one thing: tens of thousands of you have just finished a novel. Congratulations! Now for the heart-breaking part — looking at the hundreds of pages of action and emotion that you wrote in a feverish daze, and figuring out how to revise it. Or whether you really even want to. » 11/26/12 1:18pm 11/26/12 1:18pm

How to Write an Omniscient Narrator If You're Not Actually Omniscient…

Many of science fiction's greatest novels are written in third-person omniscient. And this should come as no surprise, because nothing lets you depict a complex situation full of people (and creatures) with their own points of view, like a narrator who can view the whole scene from outside. » 7/11/12 12:20pm 7/11/12 12:20pm

Must Read: 20 Essential Tips on Rewriting Your Story Until it Shines

A big part of the revision process in fiction-writing really is re-vision, seeing your story anew. And over at Necessary Fiction, this month's "Writer in Residence," Matthew Salesses, offers 20 absolutely indispensible tips on making your fiction much, much stronger. Including a lot of stuff I've never seen before, and… » 7/03/12 7:30am 7/03/12 7:30am

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she's received working for the animation studio over the years. It's some sage stuff, although there's nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts. A… » 6/08/12 12:10pm 6/08/12 12:10pm

10 Books Every Fantasy Author Should Read

Fantasy novels don't arise by magic. An aspiring fantasy author has to learn the craft, but also discover the roots of fantasy literature, as well as history and mythology. The more you've read, the more you know — and the better equipped you'll be for your journey into the lands of imagination. So we asked some of our … » 3/29/12 10:01am 3/29/12 10:01am

10 Secrets to Creating Unforgettable Supporting Characters

Creating one interesting character is hard enough — but when it comes to writing a whole novel or series of books, you have to create dozens of them. How can you keep your supporting cast from seeming like cookie-cutter people? There's no easy answer, but a few tricks might help you create minor characters who don't… » 3/27/12 10:00am 3/27/12 10:00am