Worldbuilding

Six Ways Guns Change a Fantasy Setting

We’re all looking for ways to make our fantasy setting stand out. One great way to do that is with an iron tube packed with explosives and a round ball of lead. I’m talking about guns, of course. Despite being a major force in human … read more »

Land Travel Before Engines

Many fantasy stories involve traveling from one city to another, often in worlds without engine technology. Before cars and trains, traveling over land was exhausting and dangerous. The logistics of a trip were completely different from today. Here’s what you should know. Read more »

Four Questions to Ask When a Character Is Clever

Everyone loves a character who solves their problems with brains instead of brawn. We want our characters to figure out the solution to an intractable problem at the most dramatic possible moment! But if you’re not careful, your solution might come off as cheap or unrealistic. Read more »

Five Uses of Real Science in The Expanse

If you’re not already familiar with it, The Expanse is a science fiction series by James S. A. Corey,* with an upcoming television adaptation on Syfy. It’s a sprawling, epic story of political intrigue in space, with five books already out and more on the … read more »

Matriarchies, Patriarchies, and Beyond

Mythcreants hosted a panel at this year’s GeekGirlCon in Seattle. Chris, Oren, Rhys, and I discussed gender in spec fic and how you can create matriarchal, patriarchal, or egalitarian societies for your stories. It was a lively event with many challenging questions from the audience. … read more »

Creating a Fresh Vampire Antagonist

Living in spooky castles or just next door, vampires provide excellent antagonists for speculative fiction. They’re humanity’s predatory reflection, something that looks like us and yet isn’t. Unfortunately, they’re also overplayed. Vampires are so common in fiction that the novelty has worn off. Even when … read more »

Six Consequences of High Magic

Some fantasy settings, like anything written by Brandon Sanderson, impose strict limits on what magic can do. Others – like The Wheel of Time,* The Malazan Book of the Fallen, and just about any D&D setting – do not. In these worlds, magic is both … read more »

Using Taboos in a Culture

Every society has different norms of behavior. Friendly greetings are expected; eating with your hands is frowned upon. Failing to follow the norms will make you stand out in negative ways, but you will probably be left alone by most people. Unless those norms are … read more »