Learn Your ABCs: Constructed Scripts

A well-designed constructed language is a beautiful thing. It adds depth to your sci-fi or fantasy story, conveys a sense of realistic culture, and can even be considered a work of art. But if you want to take your conlang to the next level and really make it an artistic masterpiece, go ahead and scrap the English alphabet everyone’s used to. It’s time to build your own.

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Be a Biographer: Writing Character Profiles

I’ve tried writing characters before without ever really getting to know them until I’m about halfway through the story. It’s at that point that I realize they have no depth, no internal conflicts, and, worst of all, no personal history to speak of. And since I can’t stand bland, copy-and-paste people in real life, I end up having an equal distaste for my own cast of characters, and that’s not a good thing.

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When to Set Aside a WIP

I’m a huge advocate of channeling negative emotions into a writing project. As someone who naturally experiences a lot of undesirable states of mind – depression, anger, hopelessness, all thanks to bipolar disorder – I’ve got a lot of fuel to add to my creative fire. Pouring all those feelings out onto a page is a form of release. But there are times when what helps you in the beginning becomes a hindrance by the end.

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The Social Media Grind

Self-publishing is a far more intensive process than most realize – at least if you’re going about it in a proactive way. Writing the manuscript was just the first step; then comes editing, proofing, formatting, getting your hands on a good cover design, until you’re finally ready to upload it to Amazon. The last and ongoing step is marketing yourself on social media – or, as I like to call it, selling your soul to the masses.

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Organizing Your World

When I think of sci-fi or fantasy, I immediately imagine expansive universes, diverse worlds and peoples – a fantastic realm birthed out of the human mind. Even a small-scale sci-fi or fantasy world can carry the weight of something much larger, as it still requires the reader to expand his mind to accommodate new, perhaps completely alien, concepts and imagery. For the reader, this is a marvelous thing. However, for you as the author, organizing all those elements that make your world wonderful can be a headache.

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Short Story Time: Levi

Levi Thompson was originally a support character in a sci-fi horror novel I toyed with for a few months. When I tossed that project aside, I made him into the protagonist of Devils in Sunday Hats, but retained much of his background as depicted in this short story, with some notable adjustments. Much of this short story became the opening scene of Devils in Sunday Hats, and was my first step in writing my novel.

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Short Story Time: Reggie

Here’s another short story that I came to adapt for my novel Devils in Sunday Hats, this time featuring Reggie, a malicious drug addict. I actually used this short story as the foundation for a scene in the novel. I ultimately used Reggie’s name for the patriarch of the Skinner family, and changed this post’s character into Gabe Skinner, the main antagonist in Devils in Sunday Hats.

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Short Story Time: Valerie

I wrote a number of short stories in the past that eventually became elements of Devils in Sunday Hats. This one follows Valerie Fleitman, who over time became Val Skinner, the white trash mother of the even trashier antagonist Gabe Skinner. She and some of my other short story characters ultimately became incorporated into the novel, but this is Val’s earliest appearance in my imagination.

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Building a Universe

Readers pick up a sci-fi or fantasy novel as a means of escaping the real world. Often, the fictional worlds they enter when they open a book are drastically different from what they’re used to. Without a proper introduction and context, they could too easily get lost. It’s your job as the author to help welcome them into your universe, not overwhelm them.

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Conlanging 101

I have a lot to say about the subject of conlanging for a creative project. My primary piece of advice would be to take a minute and think about what you’ll need it for. There are three scenarios you could find yourself in, all of which will require a different level of detail and functionality for the conlang you’re about to build.

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