Inspiration

Five More Underused Settings in Spec Fic

A skeleton facing a strange stone statue.

Novelty is one of the four critical elements that make stories popular, and in speculative fiction, settings are a great place to harvest a novelty crop. I’ve got nothing against castles, forests, and space battleships, but mixing things up creates opportunities for new kinds of … read more »

Classical Music to Set Any Scene

Most authors listen to music while they write. But, as anyone who’s assembled a playlist knows, picking the right pieces can be tricky. There’s a whole world of songs to choose from, but when writing a particular scene, a composition with a particular mood or … read more »

Seven Recipes for Heroes to Win Desperate Fights

The great ocean spirit towers over a building.

Grasping victory from the jaws of defeat makes a delicious ending. But after you establish your heroes can’t survive the millions of zombies swarming their cabin or overpower the villain who explodes cities with their mind, how can you create a satisfying victory? Well, you … read more »

Five More Dualities That Can Replace Good and Evil

Abby, Marcus, and Clarke stare at a shame-faced Bellamy in the 100

Stories about good and evil are classic, but black and white morality can rob a story of complexity and nuance. That’s why a couple of years ago, I provided some alternatives. Since one article can’t cover every source of gray conflict, I’m back at it. Look over these dualities the … read more »

Five Plausible Scenarios for Planetary Evacuation

We scifi authors love to write stories about abandoning Earth and colonizing space. We also love to write scientifically plausible stories. This is a problem, because most stories about evacuating our home planet are wildly implausible. Most planetary evacuation scenarios don’t work for two main reasons. The … read more »

Choosing a Weapon for Your Hero

Tausug weapons

Every story revolves around some type of conflict, but speculative fiction usually prefers physical fights. Yes, the sword is the queen, and hand-to-hand is king, but why not be a little creative? Let’s dive into the process of choosing the best weapon for your protagonist. Read more »

Five Underused Settings in Spec Fic

Speculative fiction has a wide variety of settings, genres, and subgenres, and some get more attention than others. Space opera and European high fantasy have been the top dogs for decades, with up-and-comers like urban fantasy and steampunk taking most of what’s left. But there … read more »

Six Subversive Heroes for Stand Out Stories

Today’s popular stories pick most of their heroes from the same narrow group of people, reinforcing destructive stereotypes and stripping characters of interesting variation. But storytellers get a silver lining: we have an easy opportunity to make our heroes stand apart by subverting convention. To get started, take some worthy people who … read more »