Storytelling

Using Your Conlang Without Ruining Your Story

Octavia Blake from the 100 sits before a fire.

Years back, I wrote some rules for using fake words. Some people grumbled that it banned writers from using conlangs (constructed languages) altogether, and that’s not far from the truth. The bottom line is that your conlang won’t give your audience the same joy it … 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 Signs Your Story Is Transphobic

Three soldiers crossdress in Disney's Mulan

It’s time for a look at the most insidious messages targeting trans people. To improve how our stories treat trans people, we need to consider not only trans women and trans men, but the entire gender spectrum. That includes people who … Read more »

Six Tips for Sequels

Cover art from Ghost Brigades.

Everyone loves sequels. Audiences love them because a sequel means more of a story they’re attached to. Storytellers love them because a sequels have a built-in audience. But sequels are no cakewalk. They must live up to the expectations of the original, while adding something … read more »

Five Common Problems With Dark Stories

Dark stories are very popular these days, and it’s not difficult to see why. They have several advantages over their lighter cousins, and not just because of swearing and violence. It’s easier to craft a high-stakes plot in darker stories because you can put more on … read more »

Liberating Over-Burdened Stories

red car that's been crushed by huge rock

Even the longest novel series only has so much room for content. The length of a story not only limits the number of scenes but also how complex the story can be. Backstory, characters, plot twists, and a unique world all add to a story’s … read more »

Five Essentials of Historical Fantasy

A knight and a witch teaming up to battle a dragon.

Historical fantasy is all about the freedom of fantasy and the unique atmosphere only a past era can provide. Works like Maplecroft and Shades of Milk and Honey let us reimagine history with a fantastical bent. But combining the real with the surreal can be … read more »

Crafting a Winning Title

A book shelf full of speculative fiction titles.

Story titles are tough little nuts to crack. They have many of the requirements of a first sentence, but for titles, those requirements must be met in just a few words. While you may need a team of brainstormers to find the perfect title, understanding what your … read more »

Five Tips for Telling Stories of Resistance

Furiosa and Max aiming guns.

In a time when oppression is more visible than ever,* many authors wish to pen stories of resistance. They are inspired by films like Rogue One and novels like Marie Lu’s Legend, stories where the characters stand up to the evils of power. Such stories … read more »

Crafting Micro Stories

Micro stories are not only great fun, but excellent practice for writers. Creating micro stories forces you to tighten your prose – an essential skill for any kind of writing. Naturally, these tiny narratives come with challenges of their own. Let’s look at this unique … read more »