The Writer’s Craft

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 […]

A Believer in Babylon

How do you write a Christian in a world without Christ? In the world of Babylon Blues, the New Gods systematically destroyed or subverted all competing institutions that could oppose them, including the old religions. They stole the mantles of the old faiths and undermined them, through a combination of cultural warfare and public demonstrations of […]

The Romance of the Sword

In the age of the gun, the romance of the sword lingers in pop culture. From wuxia novels to martial arts flicks, heroic fantasy tales and stories of sword and sorcery, people enjoy stories of blademasters cleaving their way through hordes of enemies. On first glance, this seems strange. These stories hardly have any bearing on modern […]

Writing the Prepared Professional

One of the reasons I love thrillers is the genre’s dedication to authenticity. Cops talk and act like cops, spec ops guys see the world much differently from ordinary people, and so on. The genre provides a dramatised window into the lifestyles and activities of these professionals, and how they see the world. Key to […]

Designing for Games vs Designing for Stories

A week ago, PulpRev author Jon Mollison wrote a Twitter thread about the role of clerics in Dungeons and Dragons. Among the key insights was this: Wrong. Clerics are a great #dnd class because they fill a proper function within the game – secondary brick with defensive tac support. Designing the class to reflect a literary archetype puts the […]

Mechanical Versus Mythical Magic

Corey McCleery, Alexander Hellene, Xavier Lastra, Rawle Nyanzi and Misha Barnett recently opined on the de-mythologicisation of magic in contemporary fantasy. All five pieces are worth a read, but the thesis running through the heart of the conversation is that de-mythologicisation robs the mystery from magic in contemporary fantasy, making it feel empty. Comparing the works of the pulp-era grandmasters and […]

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