The Writer’s Craft

Ingredients of Action Horror

Action horror. A fiction contradiction if there ever was one. Action stories are about agency: the character’s ability to act on the environment, to overcome all odds, to destroy all foes in his path. Horror relies heavily on a lack of agency: the inability to directly confront the horror, and with it, the despair that […]

The Fight Scene is the Last Scene

Action scenes are the most memorable aspects of any fiction. Fast-paced and intense, they sear themselves into the audience’s memories. Battles between the hero and the lesser mooks punctuate the plot, while the final showdown between the hero and the villain serves as the climax of the story. And that is what action in storytelling […]

Chasing Tropes

People enjoy the exotic, but not too exotic. People enjoy the familiar, but not too familiar. Reconciling these twin desires is the overriding concern of the modern-day fiction writer. A story where everything is formulaic, from characters to plots to setting, is predictable and boring. A story where everything is exotic and unfamiliar is disorienting, […]

A Pulp Perspective on Urban Fantasy

What is urban fantasy? A fantasy story set in a city. A simple definition. With that, you could have a story of jinni and magi in late 19th century Istanbul, an occult detective solving supernatural crimes in 1920s New York, a half-elf mercenary working a corporate contract against a clan of dragons in the Hong […]

Pulp on Pulp is Available for Preorder!

Last year, Misha Burnett and I put together a call for submissions for an anthology of essays on pulp fiction. Titled Pulp on Pulp, it collects tips, tricks and advice on the art of writing pulp fiction from some of the up and coming names in the growing PulpRev movement. Pulp on Pulp was meant […]

The Secret to Writing Powerful Action Scenes

Action scenes are the bread and butter of pulp stories. When the story threatens to get too boring, throw in a fight scene and you revitalize it with fresh energy, stakes and momentum. When the hero finally confronts the main villain, readers expect a climactic battle to wrap up the book. The art of the […]

Updated Call for Submissions: Pulp on Pulp

Misha Burnett and I are working on a free collection of essays for writers. Titled Pulp on Pulp, this collection offers practical advice on creating fun, fast-paced fiction. This collection is aimed specifically at writers who want to create pulp-style fiction, though writers from other genres may learn something new from this collection. This project […]

What Makes A Story Dark?

‘Dark’ is an oft-seen descriptor for books, comics, movies, games and television shows these days. These media are usually packed with violence, swearing, sex scenes and the like. But does that really make a story dark? As I made my way through old runs of the Punisher — specifically the MAX runs, the runs filled […]

How to Create Believable Character Flaws

Conventional wisdom states that characters should be flawed. Nobody can relate to perfect people. Flawed characters are more believable, more likely to gain the reader’s sympathies. But the conventional wisdom doesn’t teach how. In the hands of lesser writers, this usually manifests as a grab bag of random negative traits. Alcoholism, smoking, minor but not […]

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