Atsiko’s Speculative Fiction Alphabet

20 Jul

There’s a lot of material out there about writing, but most of it is general: how to use adverbs, dialogue tags are bad, mix up your sentence length.  Then there are less general posts and articles and discussions: race and ethnicity in fiction, how to design a magic system, how to world-build, three act stories.  These things get a lot of traction and a lot of focus.

What don’t get a lot of focus are more specific issues of plotting.  Tropes, plot devices, themes.  So, for the next little while, I’ll be exploring these less-appreciated elements of fiction.  And since this is a spec fic blog, I’ll be exploring their applications in that genre.  There’ll be more than one post for each topic, so think of it as a series of miniseries.  I hope you’ll find something useful in these posts.


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5 responses to “Atsiko’s Speculative Fiction Alphabet

  1. Nicole Grotepas

    July 25, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    Yesterday I read some Top Ten List of things for writers to do. It consisted mostly of “vary your sentence length,” “put in concrete details,” and “make your sentences sparkle.” For some reason it depressed the crap out of me and then when I went to write for the day I couldn’t. Instead I anguished over my terrible sentences. Then I smoldered internally over lists for writers. It was written by some published writer. But that’s all garden variety, isn’t it? Who do those lists really help? I guess some of us still struggle with the basics. I mean, it’s good to be reminded. I’m sure my reaction to the list was the sugar crash and nothing to do with the contents of the list.

    Looking forward to your tropes and plot devices posts.

    • atsiko

      July 25, 2010 at 4:26 AM

      Did they have examples? Lists like that are useless without examples. They’re just too general.

  2. Nicole Grotepas

    July 26, 2010 at 5:17 AM

    No examples. Not really. It was definitely very general.

    • atsiko

      July 26, 2010 at 5:24 AM

      Those are the worst. Context is the most important thing to a writer, so why bother with tips lists if they don’t have it? 😦

  3. Nicole Grotepas

    July 26, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    Agreed. I posted a blog about it today (wrote it Friday). It’s helpful to read about the act of writing when one is in the proper state of mind. But for me that’s best at the revision stage. If I need to feel creative, then it’s no good. So that’s the frame of mind I was in when I wrote my post about.

    And anyway, there are writers whose prose is straight-forward and uncluttered (sentences don’t sparkle), but the writing is still excellent, the plot is great, and the ideas are enthralling. There are writers whose sentences sparkle but their plots drag. Still…..I guess the lists are helpful in some cases.


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