How to Build an Alien: Extremophiles

A few columns ago, I took you on a tour of the solar system in search of world building ideas. I hope you’ve had a chance to explore some of these ideas to create new worlds of your own, because this time on Speculations, we’re going to look at populating those imagined worlds. Just like… Read more »

Four Ways to Protect Your Creative Brain

Last year, after reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work, I decided to start tracking my time. Specifically, I wanted to start tracking how many hours a day I was spending in what Newport calls a state of “Deep Work,” focused on one important, rather than urgent, task. However, I soon decided to take it a step… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Vehicles for Showing Emotion

With so many books on the market (upwards of a million published each year), maintaining loyal readers continues to be a priority for authors. We not only need to get them reading our books, we’ve got to keep them reading—to the last page and onto whatever else we’ve written. Discussions abound on exactly what magical… Read more »

Creating Authentic Details: Keeping Secrets

This is the first of a set of articles I plan to do from time to time on ways to provide details that immerse the reader ever deeper into your story in a way that is fully authentic for the time period. I chose this one first because it’s near and dear to my heart,… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Steps to Creating Characters of Color

Creating characters of color, especially when you yourself are not of that ethnic group, is an issue most writers will grapple with at some point in their careers. While we could debate the issues of cultural appropriation that occur when white authors produce diverse characters—or how those efforts impact writers of color attempting to share… Read more »

Resolving to Draw More

It’s a new year and maybe you made a resolution to draw more. Or to start drawing. Then, like most new year’s resolutions, the task overwhelmed you and you’ve already begun to dial back your expectations and replace your efforts at self-improvement with guilt and shame. Take a moment from beating yourself up to read/look… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Cutthroat Tips for Writing Killer Action

Scenes depicting violence may prove difficult for some writers, since our artistic medium lacks a visual component. We must work doubly hard to keep the audience invested through vivid descriptions and sharp pacing. Smart authors also aim for techniques that channel tension and elicit emotion. In this post, we’ll outline five tips to help achieve… Read more »

Ten Rules for Writing Killer Romance: Part Two

Hello Readers! If you missed the first article of this three-part series, check it out right here. The romance genre is unique in that writers follow a set of plot points and deep characterization to deliver an enticing story with an emotionally satisfying, happily ever after (HEA) ending. Let’s talk about how that is accomplished…. Read more »

Ask the Editor: Beat Sheet FTW!

Dear Editor, There’s something missing in my manuscript, and I can’t quite figure out what it is. But I know it’s missing. My beta-readers know it, too. I keep getting feedback that the pacing is off. I have tried outlining my story so that I know what’s there, but that’s not helping. What do I… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Create Writing Magic

Fiction writers have been called many things, but to me “magician” seems the best description. They dip into the black hat of their imagination and produce an endless variety of characters, situations, images, genres, events, and styles. The effect on readers is nothing less than magical, the reader also becoming a magician and an important… Read more »