Thursday, March 23, 2006


The editors of the webzine BEWILDERING STORIES, Jerry Wright and Don Webb, have released THE FIRST BEWILDERING STORIES ANTHOLOGY: "Twenty-eight illustrated stories drawn from the first 180 issues of Bewildering Stories Magazine."

My story "Sins of Our Fathers" is included in the anthology.

"Sins of Our Fathers" originally appeared in the Indian webzine ADBHUT (February 2004), then in Bewildering Stories #113, then in my self-published collection THE FACE IN THE DOOR And Other Stories (2006).

It is a straightforward "extrapolation" type of story: take a current tendency and project it forward in time. "If people in Asia keep aborting unborn girls and favoring the birth of sons, how will the gender balance have changed a generation from now?"

This subgenre is also often called the "If This Goes On..." Story.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"From Which Hell-Pit Of Despair Do You Get Your Ideas?"

Check out the blog Query Letters I Love. It posts actual "pitch letters" from wannabe Hollywood scriptwriters.

In movie-industry slang, a "pitch" is the brief summary of the plot. I think the quotes on the blog are real... because you can't make this stuff up.

These beyond horrible quotes prove that creative incompetence, laziness and megalomania go hand in hand. Reading them, I realize that most of these wannabes aren't really TRYING to write fiction.

Their foremost concern is apparently to "make big money" while having absolutely no idea how. It's like playing the lottery and believing it will make you rich without effort.

"Where do you get your ideas?"

In this case, it's more like "From which hell-pit of despair do you get your ideas?"

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Nebula Nominee short "A Rocket For the Republic"

American writer Lou Antonelli's short story "A Rocket for the Republic" is one of the nominees for this year's Nebula Award.

The story was published in ASIMOV's Science Fiction Magazine last year, but the author has now kindly made "A Rocket for the Republic" available for free reading on his website, here.

It's a fun story, and a prime example of the most natural format (or style) of fiction: the first-person account. This is how the art of storytelling began: someone says "You should have seen what happened when I..."

Maybe this is how everyone who wants to be a writer should begin: don't bother with the fancy stuff -- start with what makes it fun! As an exercise, tell a story first-person. Even if the character in a story isn't YOU, you can open your mouth and speak it: "One day I was walking through the forest, on my way to see a sick relative, when I saw an animal caught in a bear trap..."

If you're the parent of a small child, you may already be this kind of storyteller: if you improvise a bedtime story for your kid. The next step is to write your tale down. (Don't laugh: J.K. Rowling started out by making up stories to entertain her kids.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Science Fiction Plot Generator

Try this amazing (and very funny) Science Fiction Plot Generator and you'll never get stuck on the plotting again.

Speaking of which: Do you sometimes get the feeling "I've heard this plot before"? Chances are, you have. When all else fails, the writer can always fall back on clichés and plain cheating.
For further studies in Generic Science Fiction Plotting, read Nick Lowe's hilarious essay "The Well-Tempered Plot Device".

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Was, Was, Was...

Read this excellent post on Jonathan Sherwood's writing blog. It points out a problem I've had with my writing for a long time: excessive use of "was" and "were".

Quote: "Put the power of the sentence into the verbs."