By Patricia C. Wrede Copyright © 1996 General Do average people believe old tales, or do they dismiss some that have a basis in fact (e.g., Troy)? Do wild and rebellious young people dress any differently from anyone else? Are they allowed to? How do most people make a living here? Customs Does the weather […]
Archive for the ‘The Craft of Writing’ Category
Rules of Magic
What things can magic not do? What are the limits to magical power? How do magicians try to get around these limits?
By Patricia C. Wrede
I. The World
Are the laws of nature and physics actually different in this world, or are they the same as in real life? How does magic fit in? How do magical beasts fit in?
In which geographical areas will the story take place? How much ground will the story cover? What are the most striking features of landscape, climate, animals, etc. in thisarea? How will these features affect travel time, communication, etc.?
If you are writing fiction that’s set at any point in the real world’s history, the subject of research can take up countless hours of time. The nitty details can tie up you up while writing anything from alternate history to urban fantasy. Sometimes though, you just need to know a quick date to set the background of your story.
Check out the Google News Timeline, as a quick place to start your search.
One of the things that bothers me sometimes when looking at world-building is the way people don’t think about where objects come from. What is the industry that fuels the region? Where does all that paper come from in Battlestar Galactica? So this essay on the origins of a pencil tickles me no end, and […]
by Justin Stanchfield Is writing science fiction or fantasy for younger markets really different? Well … Yes and No. It’s true that children’s lit, especially for early readers, can follow a simpler format than mainstream fiction. But … Everything you know about writing, all the rules, guidelines and advice you’ve been given before still applies. […]
by Terry McGarry Originally appeared in the Bulletin of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Spring 1995. Copyright © 1995 Terry McGarry. Reprinted with permission. Many copyeditors prefer to spell the word “copyeditor.” I laughed when I got page proofs of a short story I had written about a copyeditor: the anthology’s copyeditor […]
It’s the nature of writers to fall in love with words, particularly their own. Clever turns of phrase excite us; we beam like proud parents when our protagonists take on lives of their own; a shapely plot twist can turn our heads. There is nothing wrong with indulging in the occasional fling-as long as it stops in draft. When time comes to make that final revision, however, you must harden your heart, sharpen the ax and murder your darlings.
by Alexandra Elizabeth Honigsberg It’s often said that nothing learned goes to waste. Certainly we as writers find this is true. Everything is grist for the story mill. I’ve also noticed that, as I read the bios of my fellow authors, we have chequered pasts and still tend to wear several hats. I am no […]