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... ]

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... ]

The Craft of Writing: When I Ignore Science

Writing science fiction – especially hard science fiction, where you're expected to keep to what modern science believes is possible, rather than inventing force fields, lightswords, faster-than-light-drives, or other accoutrements of space opera – is a demanding task. It's not necessarily harder than writing, say, good epic fantasy; they're both equally difficult, in my view, just with different areas of difficulty. It does, however, have external demands that other types of speculative fiction don't really have to worry about. In my "day [ 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... ]

What is an Editor Good For?

       A lot of people who are not published authors don't have a clear idea of exactly what an editor does, or why they're needed by an author. In addition, there's a lot of stories out there about horrible things editors do or have done to people and their stories. This is becoming a VASTLY more important issue because so many people are going the self-published route and really, honestly don't understand why they might need an editor at all.           I want to talk about my own experiences and views of editing, garnered over the [ Continue reading... ]