The Writer’s Craft

The Art of Designing Nontraditional Monsters

When I began work on Dungeon Samurai, I challenged myself to employ only non-traditional monsters. They would not be orcs, goblins, or other such fantasy mooks seen in anime, manga and RPGs the world over; they would be monsters worthy of the name, dangerous and horrifying and bloodthirsty man-slayers that roam the dungeon seeking souls. Why […]

Is There A Place for Morally Ambiguous Characters?

Last week, Rawyle Nyanzi wrote about black and white morality in fiction, and JD Cowan expanded on why readers love them . Characters with clear moral codes make for compelling reading. Armed with an uncompromising view of right and wrong, they act decisively against evil wherever they find it. Yet, fettered by their same uncompromising […]

Lessons from Short Manga

Japanese manga is (in)famous for long-running series. Popular titles like One Piece, Hajime No Ippo and Naruto span hundreds of chapters and dozens of volumes. Even lesser-known titles may be graced with lifespans running to the low hundreds. This phenomenon is perfectly understandable: in the cut-throat profit-driven world of Japanese manga, the easiest way to make more money is to […]

Reflections on the Pulp Revolution

A fortnight ago, Jesse Abraham Lucas wrote a blog post that resonated with me. He wrote about what PulpRevvers call GroffinGate, in which an Internet commentator named Groffin said (among other things): And for all your glorification of the insular and self-aggrandizing indie-literature circuit, you have no minds of comparable skill or prestige, and will not for […]

Maintain Cohesion in Your Fiction Series

What makes for an excellent fiction series? For that matter, what defines a series? Persistent characters who develop over multiple stories. Conflicts, drama and story arcs that span multiple books. Story-critical concepts that underpin the series, be it magic, high technology, forensic science, and so on. Exploration and expansion of these concepts to facilitate the […]

When In Doubt, Go Epic

Whenever I plan a story, I occasionally run into hang-ups. The setting isn’t coherent, the technology and/or magic system isn’t evenly applied, the characters aren’t plausible, the plot lacks history or context, the stakes are too small. In every single instance, they are resolved by the use of a simple expedient: make everything bigger, brighter […]

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