Writing Advice

My stories have been published in a variety of places and I’ve been an Aurealis Awards finalist.  Here are some of my thoughts on the writing process. I also maintain a brief list of  SF/F/H markets.

Making Time to Write

The most important thing for a writer: make the time to actually write. Writing: Find the Time Or Don’t (John Scalzi on making time to write).

Writing Workshops

Attending Clarion South, a 6-week science fiction writing workshop, was one of the most useful things to improve my writing.  Not just in terms of craft, but also in terms of making a peer group of others that are serious about writing science fiction.   The workshop is based on the US Clarion and Clarion West workshops.  The Internet Review of Science Fiction published my article about the experience.  Six Weeks at Clarion South The workshop was held once every two years, but is unfortunately on hold indefinitely at the moment.

Writing Short Stories

Start the story when an interesting character is in trouble. Give them a difficult choice to make. End the story when there is some kind of resolution.

Most readers will respond better to a memorable character than a cool idea.

Make sure you choose the right viewpoint character.  Are they active?  Do they act rather than just react?

Avoid changing point of view.

What is the point of change in your story?  Have you started your story there?

“Argument” openings (that explain what your story is about) can usually be cut.

 Start scenes as late as you can, and finish them as early as possible.

Avoid flashbacks unless absolutely necessary.

Circular endings are a good way to end your story (where the ending inverts or echoes the opening).

Useful Advice: How to Write and What Not to Write

Strange Horizons:  Stories We’ve Seen Too Often

Pixar: Story Rules

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine: A Comprehensive and Totally Universal Listing of Every Problem a Story Has Ever Had

io9: 8 Unstoppable Rules For Writing Killer Short Stories

Reflection’s Edge: How to Sell a Story

Reflection’s Edge: On Being a Better Author

Reflection’s Edge: Confessions of a Slush Monkey

Shimmer: Confessions of a Slush Reader: Why Should I Care?

Jack McDevitt: Twelve Blunders – How Aspiring Writers Get It Wrong

Nick Mamatas: How to End a Story

Elmore Leonard: Rules for Writers

George Orwell: Politics and the English Language

David H. Hendrikson:  Measuring Writing Progress

John Scalzi: Utterly Useless Writing Advice

Richard Harland: Writing Tips

Sean Williams: 10.5 Writing Commandments

Nathan Bradford: Writing Advice

Tobias Buckell: Writers and Pellets

Writing  Podcasts

Writing Excuses

I Should Be Writing

Books on Writing

There are gazillions of books on writing.  Here are some of the more interesting and useful I’ve read (in no particular order).

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
Orson Scott Card

Beginnings, Middles & Ends
Nancy Kress

Characters & Viewpoint
Orson Scott Card

The Elements of Style
William Strunk & E.B White

Story
Robert McKee

Screenplay
Syd Field

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King

Booklife
Jeff VanderMeer

Starve Better
Nick Mamatas