The Science in Your Science Fiction: Future Space Travel

My first order of business this time around is to offer a disclaimer. I am not a scientist, though I am married to one. What I am is an author of science fiction and fantasy who understands the importance of research in creating verisimilitude in fiction. In my last science column, I detailed the perils… Read more »

How Themes Are Presented in Short Stories

We concentrate so much on novels here in Theme: A Story’s Soul that we’ve yet to discuss shorter forms of literature. This wasn’t a conscious decision, though. Novels contain an incredible variety of examples of literary themes in action, which makes them fantastic resources for studying a particular theme in depth. Yet short stories radiate… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Develop Strong Writing Habits

Writers can have unpredictable days. On some, writing pours out effortlessly (and it’s beautiful when this happens). Yet on others, sentences require more determination. Certainly, writing doesn’t get any easier if you don’t start. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a fool’s errand, and even when that chapter wasn’t finished as quickly as expected, just… Read more »

How To Write About Family in Creative Nonfiction

In Hunger, Roxane Gay faces a litany of uncomfortable truths: the way we body shame, dismiss rape victims, and look to families who can sometimes increase the weight of our most private suffering when they don’t understand the entirety of the situation. Sometimes oversimplified as a memoir about gaining and losing weight, Hunger is so… Read more »

Five Movies About Master Writers

If you could ask Charles Dickens one question about writing, what would it be? Would you ask him how he thought up memorable character names such as Scrooge and Miss Havisham? Or, would you simply request to look over his shoulder, quill in hand, as he plots out “David Copperfield?” Thanks to filmmakers, who are… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Break the Rules and Make it Work

Writing a book is both exhilarating and terrifying. There will be times of blissful creative abundance and periods of deep wordless frustration. Surrounding yourself with a support network of family, friends, and other writers is vital to weathering the emotional storm of novel crafting. But what happens when our cheerleaders become hecklers? Kind words of… Read more »

Ask the Editor: How Do You End a Book?

I’m nearing the end of a novel–or, I’ve been nearing the end of a novel for some time–and each time I hit the 90k mark, I have an uncontrollable urge to throw the whole thing out and start over. (Uncontrollable as in, I already have. Several times.) Basically, I look back through the draft under… Read more »

Signpost Scenes — The Care Package

In my article last month, we discussed the first of James Scott Bell’s signpost scenes in his plotting masterpiece Super Structure: The Key To Unleashing The Power of Story. We went through how first chapters must incorporate some sort of disturbance that upsets the routine of the protagonist’s ordinary world. But readers won’t care about… Read more »

The Structure of Romance

There’s no one way to plot a romance. Everyone has their own system of structuring. Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes is a popular one many romance writers swear by. I’m not great at following anyone else’s mold. The way I work is making things up for myself, and finding the way I need to… Read more »