Breakthroughs in imagination

When thinking about human history, it's tempting to see some developments as inevitable.  Some certainly were, but the sheer amount of time before some of them took place seem to make them remarkable. The human species, narrowly defined as Homo sapiens, is about 200,000 years old.  Some argue that it's older, around 300,000 years, others … Continue reading Breakthroughs in imagination

The success of John Scalzi’s descriptive minimalism

One of the categories here on the blog is Science Fiction, mainly because I read and watch a lot of it.  Occasionally, someone wanting to get into the literary version of the genre asks me for recommendations on good initial books to start with.  My recommendation often depends on the person, but I frequently suggest they try … Continue reading The success of John Scalzi’s descriptive minimalism

Thoughts on knowing and targeting your audience

Writing can be a tricky business.  Whenever you do it, it has to be with an audience in mind.  When I do blog posts here, I'm usually aiming for a general audience.  I try not to assume that my readers know obscure scientific or philosophical terminology.  That's a decision I've made, hopefully one I've lived up to. … Continue reading Thoughts on knowing and targeting your audience

What is the crucial element of a story?

I've been reading a lot of science fiction short stories lately.  As an aspiring author, one of the things I've been trying to pay attention to are what the properties are of the stories I end up enjoying.  And, just as important, what are the properties of the stories I don't enjoy, particularly the ones I end … Continue reading What is the crucial element of a story?

Literary “rules” I wish science fiction and fantasy books would break more often.

Read any book on writing, or take a creative writing course, and there are certain pieces of advice that you are almost certain to encounter.  In many cases, the advice is good, but some have a tendency to take these tools of the craft and turn them into rigid rules.  And just about any rigid rule … Continue reading Literary “rules” I wish science fiction and fantasy books would break more often.

When to give up on a story

I've been reading a lot of science fiction short stories lately.  Many have been excellent.  But some have not been my cup of tea.  I've run into a fair amount of melancholic ambiance pieces where nothing much happens.  But the stories I tend to enjoy have action, dialog, or at least a steady stream of concrete information. As I've been … Continue reading When to give up on a story

The utter relativism of definitions

I'm always surprised how contentious definitions, can be.  How opinions about what are essentially sounds in language become matters of intense debate. When the IAU (International Astronomical Union) redefined the word "planet" to exclude Pluto, which came about due to the discovery of Eris, a similarly sized body, many people reacted with intense emotion, igniting … Continue reading The utter relativism of definitions