We all love characters who are good at what they’re doing. Nobody wants to root for someone who screws up constantly or walks into traps we can see a mile away. But at the same time, it can be hard to love someone who’s too perfect. So how do you make us believe in, and love, a major badass?
“I’m bored.” These two words are the hardest thing to admit, when you’re writing your deathless novel, or screenplay, or short story. You’re supposed to be creating a work of timeless brilliance. How can you be bored?
Hollywood people often say that it’s a miracle there are any good movies at all. Because so much can go wrong, and so many random things have to go right, for a movie to avoid being a hopeless disaster. I can believe this, because in general the difference between the good and bad versions of the same story is often…
The amazing author (and io9 reader!) Greg Cox faced a huge dilemma recently. And he solved it, thanks to science! No, wait. Sorry, thanks to his invaluable experience with toy model kits!
Screw movies. A great novel can be just as exciting and thrilling as a big-budget Hollywood tentpole. A novel can contain massive, insane action, that movie-makers could never even afford to bring to life. But how do you create an action movie on the page? We talked to 10 of our favorite authors, and here’s what they…
Rejection is part of being a writer. Unless you’re that one-in-a-billion wunderkind who gets “discovered” while you’re still in high school and goes on to become a literary sensation. Almost everybody who writes stories (or anything) has their work dismissed and sent packing, over and over. And learning to deal with…
Writing is a messy business for most of us—even if you’re one of those people who outlines everything in advance, there’s always going to be some parts that you make up as you go. And sometimes, a first draft will include stuff that you know you’re going to have to change later. But what happens when that stuff takes…
There’s nothing more vulnerable than the act of making up stories. Whether it’s an introspective personal story or a seat-of-your-exploding-pants thriller, you’re taking something out of your unfiltered imagination and putting it into the form of a product. That people then criticize. How do you handle that?
Zen Cho’s new debut novel Sorcerer to the Crown is getting all kinds of buzz (and we’re dying to read it.) But it’s not her first novel. She wrote two others, which she “binned” before even trying to publish them, as she explains her blog.
The best science fiction and fantasy stories are impossible to tear yourself away from — and often, that thrilling sense of momentum comes from the sense that the danger to the world keeps getting bigger and scarier. But how do you raise the stakes without sacrificing your characters?
Geeks been debating the use of rape as a storytelling device for years, but that debate has come back to the fore in the past couple days, for obvious reasons. Author John Scalzi (Lock-In) offers a useful perspective, based on a lesson he learned early on from a mentor.
There’s no one secret formula for a great story, even if Pixar has its rules and other people have their own ideas. There are as many great shapes for a story to take as there are stories. But Chuck Wendig, author of the Blackbirds series, has a pretty great example of how to structure a kick-ass story.
Writing about the world to come is a scary proposition, because nothing becomes obsolete faster than futuristic visions. Especially if you're writing about a decade or two from now, your story risks looking ridiculous within a few years. So here are 10 tips to keep your near-future setting from looking too dated.
Max Brooks has had a pretty amazing career, including the acclaimed novel World War Z. But he has one regret — that he didn't start publishing way, way earlier. In a new interview, he advises writers not to let fear of judgment hold them back.
When people talk about how to write a great story, you hear a lot about structure, and how to lay down the track so that the audience is swept along. But writer Frank Cottrell Boyce has some fantastic advice about the true secret of writing a story (or movie) that people can't get enough of: make it a collection of…
Theodore Sturgeon, who would have turned 97 today, was one of the all-time great science fiction writers. And he came up with a great maxim that defines much of what SF authors do to make their work extraordinary: "Ask the next question." Some current authors explain how this maxim shapes everything they do.
Anne Leonard's fantasy novel Moth and Spark comes out in paperback today. To celebrate, Leonard's written us an essay about how the "mundane" and everyday things are even more important to include in a book about dragons and heroic quests — because without them, you'll never understand the scale of magic.
Unless you've commanded a starship, fought off an alien invasion or survived a global disaster, your life experiences probably aren't too science-fictional. But still, the most powerful stories are often rooted in things that actually happened. Here are 10 tricks for turning your personal true stories into science…
It's one of the most common pieces of writing advice: Write the first draft of your novel in a hurry, just to get it down, then fix it later. It's the idea behind NaNoWriMo, too. But how do you fix that first draft? Joe Abercrombie, author of Half a King and its sequel Half the World, has some excellent advice.
Worldbuilding is the bedrock of science fiction and fantasy. We obsess about it constantly, because characters and plots are often only as compelling as the worlds they inhabit. We've decried bad worldbuilding before — but what makes worldbuilding great? Here's one key factor.