Archive for the ‘WRITING STYLE’ Category

Hello SpecTechnique readers. Today I’ve got a short but hopefully interesting entry about what I like to call evacuated descriptions. One of the most frequent notes I got when I started out writing was that my verbs were weak & wimpy. I preferred “was running” to “ran”; “was defeated” to “lost.” My verbs weren’t sufficiently active […]


Happy Monday, dear SpecTechnique readers. One of the reasons I enjoy reading 19th century novels (just like I enjoy reading old-school SF like E.E. “Doc” Smith & A.E. Van Vogt) is that I like seeing devices that have now fallen out of fashion. Because after that, I can try out ways to make ‘em new […]


One of the most powerful ways to generate delight for your reader while writing SF/F, or maybe just writing period, is the device of the unexpected explanation. To do this, begin with an expected, ordinary line, followed by an explanation rooted in your SFnal milieu. In M. John Harrison’s brilliant Nova Swing, a character enters […]


Are you worried that your secondary-world fantasy seems too modern, enlightened, and progressive? Are your characters overly aware and critical of the ideology of their setting, creating a frame-breaking Mary Sue effect by which they act as mouthpieces for your contemporary opinions about race, class, and gender? Do you sometimes struggle to write characters who, […]