This Week in Speculative Fiction

 

Check out the latest in Speculative Fiction!


SpecCraft 8-8-14

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Issue #5

Issue #5 is here! Check out our Spotlight on The Tandem Region Times, plus an interview with its creator Nick Rayner. Also, take a gander at the latest craft essay, In the Name of a Hero.

Interview with Nick Rayner

Tandem Region Times is a rather unique form of horror, how did you go about constructing the feel of the writing for the site?

You start by saying “this needs to be as objective as possible.” When writing horror, it’s easy to start writing flowery prose and painting elaborate pictures. You need to suffocate that inclination. Once it’s gone, you can add some seasoning here and there, but always remembering that you’re describing this from the outside. When writing a news article, the idea is to get all the crucial information out right in the opening paragraph. Who, what, where, when, why. Read more here…

In the Name of a Hero

Your hero is poised to defeat the villain, save the kingdom, complete a quest or maybe he just wants to get through life. Maybe you’ve got your plot organized in an outline or you’re just going to start writing and explore where things go. But in order to flesh out your hero – and whatever other characters he or she encounters – you need to answer this question: what is your character’s name? Read more here…

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Spotlight on The Tandem Region Times

What they are looking for: Strong, bizarre concepts. Tandem Region Times is an online horror-themed newspaper, so you need to write your story in a journalistic format, or as a review or a column or classifieds entry. If you have a very original concept and an image in your head, the narrative can be worked on. You almost tell the story backwards; you give the most important information at the start and work your way backward to the least important, but more colorful. Read more here…

 

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Issue #4

Today we have an interview with Alma Alexander as well as her essay on Middles along with a spotlight on Far Off Places!

Interview with Alma Alexander

Why did you become a writer?

I hold an MSc degree in Molecular Biology and Microbiology. And for a little while I worked in that field, as a research scientist. But when it became obvious that to get anywhere in that area I would absolutely HAVE to get a PhD to get taken seriously – and that wasn’t on the cards – I kind of segued sideways into first scientific/medical writing and editing, then into more mainstream editing work, and finally into fulltime writing. Which I think is pretty much where I was headed all along. It was the true vocation, it was the only thing I really wanted to do, that I knew how to do properly and well. There are some things you are born for. This was mine. read more here…

Essay on Middles

It was a sign hung over a shop in a picturesque side street of a small Japanese town. Everything else – all the signage, everything pertinent to what it was actually selling – was in Japanese, and therefore beyond my comprehension – but this, the main shop sign, this was in English. And it said “Middles”.

To most people it might just be an amusing curiosity. But to me, with a writer’s mindset and worldview… this was potentially the Open Sesame cave of every treasure known to those of us who scribble. Because, you see, middles are often the DIFFICULT part. read more here…
Spotlight on Far Off Places

Why they started their journal: Partly to create a stage for emerging writers to strut their stuff, both traditional and experimental, but also to reach, enchant and grip readers who wouldn’t ordinarily pick up a literary magazine, which is why we publish across different media. We wanted to create a magazine in which equal care was given to the content and the design: we believe in bedtime stories and beautiful craftsmanship, where choice of font and paper type is an artistic decision.

Also because we were tipsy with elderflower wine and drunk on literature. read more here…

Issue #3 is up!

Check out Issue #3, we’ve got an interview with Gregory Maguire, a spotlight on Fantasy Scroll Magazine, and an article on constructing languages for your story!

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Interview with Gregory Maguire

Why did you become a writer?

I had a great aversion to working in offices, as I grew up during the period hallowed by MAD MEN—boring drunken men in white shirts and ties, all with the same sort of impenetrable macho stiff-upper-lipped mien (at least it seemed so to a small kid). I decided by the time I was about 6 that I would rather make things than sell shoes or insurance and have to go to an office and be manly in that only-variety-of-manliness way available for me to examine. Read more here…

Spotlight on Fantasy Scroll Magazine

What they are looking for: I am looking for great stories more than anything else. Great stories, to me, are built around interesting plots and memorable, strong characters. Because we are talking about short fiction here, there’s not a lot of time to spend outside of the story, so I expect a manuscript to start strong and hook me early. If the story drags on I will lose interest. On the same token, if the ending is flat and leaves me unsatisfied, the story won’t work either. So, I am looking for a strong story through and through, where great characters do something that holds my interest. Read more here…

Creating Languages

Language is an important part of world-building. The inhabitants of your world use language to communicate, exchange thoughts and ideas, archive and pass information from one another.

You must think about language in the beginning of your world-building, because the decisions you make about it, will influence a lot of your future work. Of course, this post is not a tutorial on how to create a language itself, given that the subject is extremely wide, but more as to guide you through the various options you have as you are creating your world. Read more here…

New Content – Butcher and Flash Fiction

The next round of content is up, including an Interview with Jim Butcher, a spotlight on Flash Fiction Online, and an essay regarding a way to start your story without starting with a character.

Interview with Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher

Why did you choose to be a writer over other careers and were their other careers that you considered?

Yes, there were several other careers that I considered. I started off trying to go through computer programming, and electrical engineering, and then I met engineers and that went out the window, so I decided to come at computers through managing information systems, and then I met accounting mathematics and so that went out the window. So then I thought it would be nice to be a teacher, since I always thought that would be something nice to do, but then I had to observe teachers in their natural environments for the courses, and I realized that teachers were some of the most miserable people I had seen in my life. So then I sort of bottomed out in English…read more here!

Flash Fiction Online

What they are looking for: Great stories with heart, beautiful writing, and deft storytelling. It also makes me very happy when authors read and heed our guidelines…read more here!

Character Foremost, Not First

Open any book on the craft of writing and you’re going to see some familiar advice. Try to write every day. Read more work from writers you admire. Seek out feedback from readers you trust. Character, not plot, must always come first and foremost in your writing…read more here!

How Sci-fi has warped our view of robots

As you eagerly await the second round of content from us, check out this fascinating article in Popular Science about just how little the general population knows about robots. Essentially, sci-fi has been lying to us for years about the little robot’s ability to function and reason and now we expect robots to be able to fulfill those expectations when, in reality, robots are just like any other computer still: garbage in, garbage out.

Read Robots are Strong: The Sci-Fi myth of Robotic Competence here