Analysis

Five Characters Coded as Autistic

A few weeks ago, I discussed some helpful tips on successfully portraying an autistic character. In that article, I mentioned characters like Sheldon Cooper, who aren’t stated to be autistic but who are coded as such. Since there were some comments about this, in this … read more »

Six Ridiculous Cultures in Speculative Fiction

Building new cultures from scratch is a cornerstone of speculative fiction. From the fictional nations of high fantasy, to the interstellar empires of space opera, to the shadow kiths of urban fantasy, we authors are always crafting new societies to thrill and amaze. But for … read more »

Six Magic Systems That Need Stricter Limits

Giles in a silly wizard hat from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

When building a magic system, authors are faced with a balancing act. If they restrict their magic too much, then it won’t be cool and interesting. That defeats the whole point of magic! On the other hand, if an author doesn’t put enough restrictions on … read more »

Five Plot Twists That Are Too Obvious

A ship using WWI dazzle camouflage.

Plot twists are tricky business for us storytellers. They need to be foreshadowed so they aren’t jarring, but they also need to be subtle so they don’t feel telegraphed. Then you have to consider differences in your audience. Trope-savvy readers can spot even the subtlest … read more »