Animated author shouting at his laptop

Cultivating Our Author’s Voice

What is an author’s voice, and how can we cultivate it? An author’s voice is the unique way we share and express our story, using an imaginative framework of words to develop characters, settings, ideas, and emotions. A cultivated writer’s voice immerses readers in the story, making them feel like …

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Speculative Fiction and Nightmare Rescripting

In one of my recurring nightmares years ago, I walked through the barracks at Air Force basic training while nondescript men leered at me. I ran but found no way out. I froze in terror and rage as they assaulted me. The Science According to researchers, approximately 2-8% of adults …

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Trademark Law for Writers

Using a trademarked product in your fiction can set a scene or tell the reader about a character. Sure, you can have someone drink a soda, but so much more is conveyed to the reader if that soda is described as a Coke, a Pelligrino blood orange, or a Kroger …

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Shadows of people inside a tent

What Are Sensitivity Readers?

Sensitivity Readers: What They Do and Why You Need Them Learn From My Mistakes It all began with my fascination with the Navajo Code Talkers. Their ability to rapidly send messages in a code they invented, using their native language, provided a huge advantage to U.S.Forces fighting in the Pacific …

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Add Emotion to Fictional Characters

Expression of emotions in speculative fiction writing is crucial to engage readers and create a vivid, immersive experience. As a novel writer who struggles with adding emotion to my characters, I did Internet searches on the topic to help me. Lots of writers and educators have suggestions. I asked chatGPT …

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Add Emotional Depth to Characters

Character Symptoms: emotionless, bland, and uninteresting Imagine a critique partner reads your first chapter and says: DIAGNOSIS: Your character is not relatable It’s time for a transplant of personality, humanity, emotion, and agency. Character’s Emotional Reaction to the Plot Characters should show emotion in how they react to situations confronting …

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Keeping the Words Flowing with Flow State

I attended the recent RMFW Gold Conference looking for ways to increase my creative output. It takes me months to write a 4k-word short story. Unless I become more productive, completing a novel will be Herculean. Nikki Terpilowski’s session on flow state promised a solution, but flow state sounded kind …

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Non-Humans as Round Characters

Speculative fiction writers often cast non-human characters in their stories. Those aliens, elves, fairies, and pointy-eared Vulcans are among a large number of possible strange creatures. As they write, spec-fic authors must live with their creations for many months and readers must read about them for many hours. Neither group …

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Dots and Dashes for Fiction Writers

In a recent critique session, the subject of punctuation arose. Should a fiction writer use exclamation points, colons, and parenthesis? What is the right way to use the hyphen (-), dash (—), and ellipsis(…)? Experienced fiction writers rarely use exclamation points. It has the same problematic effect as typing in …

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