A Writer’s Tool Shed

[Guest Post] Spirituality and Magic in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

I'm delighted to introduce Ed White, writer of creative and visionary fiction, who's contributing to the blog this week with an insightful post on a significant subject in SFF: spirituality and religion. Enjoy!

5 Invaluable Pieces of Writing Advice

Not long ago I read an article, the title something along the lines of "The Best Books for Aspiring Writers". One of them was a book you may have heard of: Letters to a Young Writer by award-winning writer, Colum McCann. Each time I pick it up it fills me with inspiration to write, its pages filled with practical and philosophical advice on the craft, some of which I've found tremendously helpful. There's a chance you may do too. So in this post, you’ll find five of my favourite bits of advice so far.

Clitheroe Castle: A Case Study for the Fantasy Writer

Last week I took a drive up the motorway to the Duchy of Lancaster and to one of the smallest castles in England: Clitheroe. The purpose of this post is to give you some ideas for your world-building and writing. We’ll first look at the castle's features before exploring what life would have been like in the castle back in ye day.

The Myths of GDPR

There’s been a hell of a lot of confusion over this rather significant change in the law, with people offering different advice based on their interpretations of the regulations. It’s fair to say a few people have panicked too, and who’s to blame them with threats of million pound fines for non-compliance. The aim of this article is to quell those nerves and to offer some practical advice for writers on complying with the new laws.

An Approach To Editing

A good story is grown. It takes weeks, months, of careful nurturing, uncovering the meanings hidden within, fixing characters so they leap from the page, refining plot and prose to make it gripping and immersive. Just like growing a plant, a story requires patience and dedication.

The Length of Stories

I see many people seeking guidance on how long their novels and stories should be. Having compiled lists of publishers of short and long fantasy fiction I've noticed a few trends. This article looks at the lengths publishers seek for fiction in their various forms: micro, flash, short, novelettes, novellas, and novels. But it begins with a few words of caution.

Killer Diseases of the Middle Ages

Diseases ravaged the lives of millions of people throughout the Middle Ages. A combination of bad diet, poor hygiene, inadequate sanitation and an ill-informed understanding of medicine left many people vulnerable to fatal infections. Given many fantasy stories have a medieval setting, similar circumstances would give rise to diseases in a secondary world. As we'll see, this presents interesting opportunities for the fantasy writer.

Character Development

Thank you, kind people at Writing Bad, for the opportunity to write for your wonderful website. I only hope my nonsensical ramblings don’t persuade your followers to flee. If you’ve never checked our Writing Bad, forget about the next few hours. It’s full of tools helpful to writers. You won’t be able to hit that bookmark button quick enough.

This article is all about character development. In it, I look at three tools I’ve found tremendously helpful when it comes to developing characters—sliding scales, the superman vs the everyman, and the secret snapshot approach.

Enjoy, or don’t.

Writing Bad - Official Site

Tools for Developing Characters

Many tools exist to help you craft believable and engaging characters. Below you’ll find some of the best I’ve encountered and a very helpful technique called the secret snapshot approach which can help you discover and reveal your character’s inner most self in a way which readers will love.

Sliding scales

Bestselling fantasy author Brandon Sanderson promotes a helpful and somewhat fun tool for developing characters—sliding scales.

He posits that each character has three core features which we can measure on sliding scales: competence, likeability, and proactivity. Each scale links with the others. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

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Villains tend to be competent and proactive but fall low on the likeability scale. Darth Vader for instance, is hell-bent on destroying the rebels and he’s not too shabby at it.

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Everyone loves a trier, but despite their efforts they never succeed ,or end up…

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How to Write a Proper Short Story Cover Letter

A superb insight into the world of short story cover letters!

Alex Shvartsman's Speculative Fiction

As an editor I see a lot of bad cover letters. I can’t help but think folks are following some bad advice out there, so I wrote a thing that might help. It’s long and it’s a little ranty and cranky (because I’ve seen a lot of bad cover letters in the last month), but I hope it will also be helpful.

Note that this advice is specific to genre magazines and anthologies and short fiction. Novel submissions play by a different set of rules, and there may be a slightly different etiquette in literary submissions and other genres. But, if you write and submit science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories, the following essay is for you.

How to Write a Proper Short Story Cover Letter

The most important fact to remember about cover letters is this: the best cover letter in the world is not really going to…

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Religion in Fantasy

Religion and belief systems feature a great deal in the fantasy genre, and it’s unsurprising why. Religion, faiths and beliefs shape our own lives in a multitude of ways, providing purpose, meaning and structure.