Lying About the Future, OR Reality is Unrealistic

I've written, to this point, five hard-SF novels, with two more on the way – the Boundary Series (Boundary, Threshold, Portal), the Castaway Planet novels (Castaway Planet, Castaway Odyssey, and forthcoming Castaway Peril), and one tentatively titled Fenrir. As hard-SF novels, I worked hard to make these stories as accurate-to-known-science as I could, within the limits of dramatic necessity and the need to not bore my readers with calculations and details that they didn't really want. But even within hard-SF, the author has to make a lot of [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Tabletop RPGs 2: Effects Versus Causes, OR Why I Hate _Champions_

In my prior RPG discussion I talked about my basic approach to running a game – that the world is the important thing that I'm presenting, and the rules are the tools – often imperfect and clumsy tools – used to help the players (who are stuck in our world) interact with the game world through the characters, who live in the game world. But what makes a game world a functioning world rather than, say, a bunch of settings, people, and things? My simple answer for this is that it is a place with an underlying logic to it. Our world has the [ Continue reading... ]

On Writing: The Maintenance of Belief

Anyone heavily involved in SF/F fandom will have encountered something that shattered their "WSOD" – Willing Suspension of Disbelief – and kicked them out of their immersion in the story to say, in one way or another "What the heck? That made no SENSE!" As an author, of course, I have to be very sensitive to this; I don't want my readers cranking along happily and then suddenly having their train of thought derailed. This is not, of course, something it's possible to avoid in a universal fashion; things that won't bother 99% of readers will [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: The Black Stallion

When I was young, there were quite a few things that interested me, but aside from reading, I had two personal passions: volcanoes… and horses. I loved horses. I had multiple horse models. I imitated horses. And I read about horses, read stories about horses, fictional horses and real horses, racehorses and wild horses, little prehistoric Eohippus all the way to the many modern breeds that ranged from tiny miniature ponies to the gigantic Shire workhorses. One of the only live shows of any kind that I insisted on attending when I was young [ Continue reading... ]

Why I Write the Way I Do

  All authors develop a style of writing – something that makes their stories theirs. Some of the "signature" is in the way they use language – particular turns of phrase and patterns of prose – while other parts of the signature will show up in the themes they like to revisit, the types of characters they like – or don't like – the things they'll show or hide, and of course the plots they choose to do, or not do. Now that I've been doing this for well over a decade (which seems so strange to me – it doesn't seem that long, unless I [ Continue reading... ]

False Dichotomies of Publishing

I've touched on this subject in some of my prior posts, but after having yet another discussion on this general topic, I thought it might be worthwhile to visit this particular issue in a separate post. Often, both those published in the traditional fashion and those who are self-published present their approaches as though they were equal choices which need simply be chosen between (and naturally extol the virtues of their chosen approach while pointing out all the deficiencies of the other method). But this is, put simply, wrong. The [ Continue reading... ]

The Author and Criticism

One consequence of putting your writing up for sale and public view is that, naturally, people will express opinions about that writing. For most authors, their stories are pretty near and dear to their hearts, and so they always hope that people will say nice things about their writing. This is, of course, not always the case. More generally, this is always not the case for stories in general. There isn't a novel published that doesn't have someone expressing negative opinions about it. Even a book received with great enthusiasm will still [ Continue reading... ]

Authorial Musings: Ideas Are Not Valuable

  One of the most pernicious – and ultimately damaging – myths that newbie or would-be authors often buy into (and I do not exclude myself from this!) is that "my ideas are valuable!" Specifically, they think their ideas are so valuable that they must HIDE those ideas to keep other authors or publishers from stealing them. In almost all circumstances, this is utterly untrue. Believing this myth severely constrains a prospective author (or other artist) because they look at other authors and editors as, at best, competitors, and at [ Continue reading... ]

Music and Writing

       One of the key elements of the way in which I write is that I must have music playing. Quiet – as in dead silence – intrudes on my consciousness. I write best when I have sound that helps evoke emotions in me, so that I can try to evoke emotion in my words.      This has naturally evolved into a habit of constructing a "soundtrack" for my books as I go along. In many cases the soundtrack becomes quite detailed, with a dozen or even two dozen tracks each representing a character, piece of the setting, or event. This helps me keep [ Continue reading... ]

The Mechanics of (My) Writing

       I often get asked various questions about how I write, what my approach to writing is, how long it takes,and so on. This piece tries to cover all of these questions.      The simplest way to describe how I write is the wiseass version: I sit down, open my computer, bring up the file, and write until I run out of story or time.      Naturally, it's not quite so simple as that.      If I know what I'm writing – that is, I have the plotline clear in my head and I know the characters and so on – it can be about that simple. For the [ Continue reading... ]