Get Out of the Car

Writing a long tale can feel like an elaborate (and hopefully rewarding) road trip, using a map if you have one [or not], following directions, obeying the rules of the road. But the landscape looks a lot different if you get out, climb the hills occasionally, and look around. You might discover magic. Or something behind you, growling. (I never promised curiosity would always be safe. [insert cat joke here])

Synopsis: Hell or Just Purgatory?

I love writing a synopsis. There, I said it out loud.

Hard to believe, right? It is excruciatingly difficult to take 90,000+ words and distill them into three or four hundred, or less, and still keep what remains sufficiently interesting. There is a famous quote by Mark Twain and others, which I will here bastardize: I didn’t have time to write a synopsis so I wrote a novel instead.

Writing a Synopsis is not just work,  more like like murder. All your secondary plot lines are disappeared with a stroke of the delete key. Vital supporting characters cease to exist. Subtlety and nuance? Vaporized. All the ingredients you had cooked together for readers to feast upon are sucked away: Your seven-course meal of delight reduced to a common bowl half full of watery soup.

But hey, some people like bouillabaisse. And now, I realize, I do too. Hmm, maybe I’m having a cognitive dissonance moment, a Stockholm syndrome thing where, having been captive and put through hell, I’m in love with the devil now. Continue reading “Synopsis: Hell or Just Purgatory?”


The following is probably not entirely true. —The Editor

To say that authors of speculative fiction are agents of the future is to state the obvious. Sufficiently compelling ideas generated in the mind of a reader will most certainly influence his or her individual outlook to some degree, perhaps his or her future, and even more the world in which these readers live and have the power to change. Works which deal in alternate worlds, unimagined technologies, fantastic civilizations, and the magic of human possibility can’t help but be persuasive.

This agency of which I speak however does not – as we authors most hubristically believe – arise merely from sparks of insight triggered within our own meager brains. No. I say we are not the freethinking creators we imagine ourselves to be. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been infected. Continue reading “Infection”

Little Voices

One of the first things you notice when embarking on a creative endeavor are all the little voices in your head. A beginner’s head, especially, is full of advice, and rules, and lists of do’s and dont’s. For a new writer, there’s an entire industry out there, in case you hadn’t noticed, bent on helping you become published and/or more successful.

Now, I’m not saying all these how-to advice books and columns of tricks aren’t helpful. It’s a common saying that when starting out, one first needs to learn the rules, only to know better how to to break them. And that’s fine. I like to think of that as surveying the terrain. But there are so many boulders, and trees, and fences, and hyenas out there, it is sometimes kinda’ tough to see the landscape.

What advice is useful and important, and what advice is simply tying you down, boxing you in, and caging your creative spirit? Continue reading “Little Voices”