7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read

Damien Walter writes on sci-fi & fantasy for The Guardian, BBC, Wired, Oxford University Press, IO9, Tor.com and elsewhere. He’s a graduate of the Clarion scifi writers workshop. Follow him on Twitter. At any given moment on the inter-webs there are probably dozens of irate Sci-Fi & Fantasy fans getting agitated about those damn literary authors comingContinue reading “7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read”

Write better sci-fi stories with this simple idea

When high-falutin people talk about sci-fi you’ll often hear them use words like novum and the like. Critic and academic Darko Suvin came up with novum to describe the…thing…at the heart of every sci-fi story that makes it sci-fi. Androids hiding as humans! A world populated by talking apes! A portal that leads to everyContinue reading “Write better sci-fi stories with this simple idea”

Stop using guns as a symbol of personal empowerment

We don’t like guns because we like guns. But we DO like guns. Gun manufacturers don’t make $billions every year selling guns to farmers or even armies. The AR-15, America’s bestselling gun, is a sexy-as-hell consumer item. Like a lethal steel iPhone but significantly less useful. I appreciate the vocal efforts of Hollywood A-listers campaigningContinue reading “Stop using guns as a symbol of personal empowerment”

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.

A good friend needed help facing the blank page. I found this quote for him. Now I present it too you. (It’s often attributed to Goethe, but in fact the authorship is unknown.) Please share with anyone you think might love it. “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back –Continue reading “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.”

What is the most important skill any writer can master?

Regular readers will know that I’m more that a little bit passionate about the power of storytelling. Over the summer I’ve been creating a course in The Rhetoric of Story, filming a series of seven video lectures in locations including Bali, France and Italy. The full course is almost complete, with just one more lectureContinue reading “What is the most important skill any writer can master?”

This exercise will make you a stronger writer (WARNING: it’s hard.)

My experience, during 6 years teaching creative writing to university students, is that most writers don’t want to do this exercise. To be fair, it’s hard work. But it’s also the single best way I know to develop your skills as a writer, or any other kind of storyteller. “But Damo,” I hear some folksContinue reading “This exercise will make you a stronger writer (WARNING: it’s hard.)”

Twitter is the protocol for human psychic communication

I’m a writer. And so, of course, I’m on Twitter. Somedays it feels like 90% of Twitter’s users are writers, and that I suspect is a big part of Twitter’s problem at this time. Problems which have lead in turn to the possibility of its sale to Google, or Salesforce, or Disney, or please dearContinue reading “Twitter is the protocol for human psychic communication”

The first rule of contract negotiation for writers

The reality of life as a jobbing writer is that, like anybody running their own business, you have to do a lot of negotiating. Which for writers, all too often, means getting walked over. The Society highlighted the case of Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon, who has not received any royalties from the television andContinue reading “The first rule of contract negotiation for writers”

Non-Aristotelian storytelling is a thing. Just don’t expect it to box office.

To make sense of the world we tell ourselves a story. That’s the starting point of the Rhetoric of Story. As storytellers we imitate the kind of story the human mind tells naturally, which makes our stories seem real to the audience. It’s a conjuring trick, but one with some truly wonderful uses. The first personContinue reading “Non-Aristotelian storytelling is a thing. Just don’t expect it to box office.”

Learn a lesson from the slush pile

​”the experience of reading mounds of badly written fiction gave him an an indelible lesson in what constituted badly written fiction” 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami There’s a lot to learn from awful writing. But the slush pile isn’t even awful. Awful writers, like great writers, don’t tend to submit their work to contests or openContinue reading “Learn a lesson from the slush pile”