Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop:
Our residence and meeting hall: Rieger
Scholarship Hall. Photo gallery here (ours is similar
Go back to the
Spec-Fic Workshop page, the
SF&F Novel Writing Workshop,
or the YA Workshop page.
Here are the various and sundry resources McKitterick shares in his workshop sessions
during his short talks, plus
some more. Some are web pages (converting as I go along!), others are .doc files, and a few are .rtf or .pdf,
and some link to other sites. Much more to come over time - stay tuned! Let me
know if you'd like to see something I shared in one of our sessions, and I'll
make sure to add it here ( cmckit.SF@gmail.com
). These are for educational use only; please
don't share things that are attributed to others unless you use proper citation.
Most sections also have a couple links to relevant tags on
McKitterick's Tumblr writing-tips blog - lots of great reblogged content, a
bunch of commentary on those, plus some original posts. Lots
more at the bottom of the page.
First up, here's how you need to format your manuscripts so editors will take
you seriously (and so we don't get bogged down with minutiae):
(pdf), by Vonda McIntyre.
Proper Manuscript Formatting, by William Shunn.
Lots more resources (including market lists and related tools) linked from
my Web Resources page.
Advice, Rules, and Tips
7 Tips for Writers, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
60 Rules for Short SF (and Fantasy), by Terry Bisson.
"Gunnisms" - James Gunn's rules for writing.
Heinlein's rules for becoming a professional writer (and some discussion).
A deconstruction of said rules by Charlie Jane Anders of io9. And Patricia C. Wrede's excellent discussion of Rule #3.
How to Write, by David Ogilvy.
Neil Gaiman's Advice to Writers.
Pixar's 22 Rules for Phenomenal Storytelling.
Vonnegut's Rules for Writers.
William Gibson on "The Art of Fiction,"
an in-depth interview from the
My Writing Rules,
Quotes, and Writing
Tips tags on Tumblr.
Plot and Narrative Structure
Algis Budrys' Seven-Point Plot
- from Writing to the Point.
"Four Undramatic Plot Structures,"
by Tom Gauld.
Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey - only one version of the mythical hero
story structure, but an interesting analysis tool.
Kishōtenketsu - an alternative, conflict-free plot structure common in
China, Japan, and Korea. Two great articles on the subject: "The significance of plot without conflict,"
and "Kishōtenketsu for Beginners: An Introduction to Four Act Story Structure."
Plots and Story Structure - lots of types, structures, and shapes here.
tags on Tumblr.
Point of View
"Point of View," by Rob Sawyer
Filtering (aka using character POV as awkward exposition),
and Point of
View tags on Tumblr.
Character and POV
"Creating Characters," by Kij Johnson.
"25 Reasons I Hate Your Main Character,"
by Chuck Wendig.
"25 Things A Great Character Needs," also by Chuck Wendig.
"The Nine Archetypal
Heroines," by Tom Gauld.
Show, Don't Tell -
creating characters, by Chris McKitterick.
"We're losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome," by Tasha Robinson.
Rules for writing good female characters.
"Writing Women Characters,"
by Chris McKitterick. Women have long been neglected or mistreated in
speculative fiction... and, to be fair, all our cultural artifacts. Here are a
some tips on how you can be part of the solution instead of the problem.
Character Development, Point of
tags on Tumblr.
Workshopping and Critiquing
Critiques and discussions: How to get the most out of the Workshop, by Chris McKitterick
(.doc version, if you prefer).
Here's another in-depth critiquing page I created for my KU writing
students, which goes into greater detail - perfect if you've never done
Critiques of Ideas
and Where to Start, by James Gunn and Chris McKitterick.
How to Give and Get Good Critique, by Randy Henderson.
How to Be a Good Critiquer and Still Remain Friends,
by James Gunn.
The Writing Workshop
Glossary - by Amy Klein.
My Critiques tags on Tumblr.
Openings and Endings
Science Fiction Openings,"
by James Gunn.
(especially for hooking and immersing the reader).
"The MICE Quotient,"
based on the concept by Orson Scott Card.
"Openings and Hooks"
- by Young Gunn (Workshop alum) Kathy Kitts.
Openings and Endings
tags on Tumblr.
Dialogue, by Kij Johnson.
tag on Tumblr.
Don't Write What You Know: Authors Explain Why to Discard the Old Adage.
"How Do People Get New Ideas?"
by Isaac Asimov.
Me and Alfie, Part 3: Ideas and The Demolished Man
- from Frederik Pohl's wonderful "The Way the Future Blogs" site.
Ideas tag on Tumblr.
Writing Better Sentences
The Science Fiction Sentence - overview, examples, Delaney,
Self-Editing for Writers - series of articles by author and editor Bridget McKenna - useful stuff!
2 Stammer Verbs to Avoid in Your Fiction," by
Jessi Rita Hoffman.
tags on Tumblr.
Setting, Scene, and Senses
"Scene - the Smallest Dramatic Unit," by James Gunn.
Senses - a pretty complete list,
by Kij Johnson and Chris McKitterick.
on the sequel-scene, by
Van Vogt on the Scene.
the Perfect Scene," by Randy Ingermanson.
Setting, World-Building, and
Worldbuilding tags on Tumblr.
Show Vs. Tell and Exposition
Don't Write What You
from a Workshop talk by Barbara Webb.
Showing vs. Telling, by
James Gunn, short and to the point.
Story-development talk - from Alpha Writer's Workshop (high-level
notes), by Chris McKitterick.
Thought Verbs, by Chuck Palahniuk: A brilliant analysis of "show, don't
tell" with lots of great examples of both.
Exposition, Filtering (aka using character POV as awkward
Show Don't Tell tags on Tumblr.
Writing Process and Professionalization
Find The Thing You're Most Passionate About,
Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life: The Onion's brilliant exposition about how
not to become a successful [insert your passion here].
The Heinlein Maneuver - Theodore Sturgeon wrote to Robert Heinlein,
bemoaning his writer's block. Heinlein responded with this fabulous letter, in
which he offered his colleague tons of great ideas. If you ever get stuck, find
some inspiration here!
How to be a writer editors want to work with, by Camille Gooderham Campbell.
Drafts," by Anne Lamott.
"Rethinking the Shitty First Draft," by George Dila.
Think About Your
Story exercise - 14 questions to ask that will help you focus your
story. By the Clarion Foundation.
Thoughts on Book Tours, by John Scalzi.
Writing time - who has it? and
Writing Experiment: Day One Report, wherein yours truly seeks a way
to actually get writing done while working too damn much. You can, too:
There's no magic to getting more words on the page; it just takes time and
discipline. If you have almost no time, and writing is important to you, you
need to make time! Just 30 minutes/day,
every day, will yield a story in short order, or a novel in a year. By Chris
Write a cover letter that sells your book - by Victoria Strauss.
Writing Process tags on Tumblr.
About Science Fiction
Defining "Science Fiction,"
by Chris McKitterick.
The History of Science Fiction Infographic, by Ward Shelly
More Writing References
Story lengths - important
when publishers only accept one type! Also relevant for awards. By Chris
Writing tips - McKitterick's Tumblr
collection, full of great articles,
commentaries, infographics, and so forth for writers. I add new items
(mostly reblogs of great stuff) here almost every day, so check back every so often
for additions. Some of these are just gifsets people put together just
for fun but which offer useful insights, examples, and advice, while
others are massive collections of hardcore writer-reference materials.
Most are just filed under the general tag, but I often add specific tags, too; if you want to
go straight to a specific topic, check out these sub-collections. These are a few tags I use most often, in addition to
writing tips tag:
Don't miss the variety of super-useful material for writers you can find
linked from my
Web Resources page.
the recently updated short-fiction market list, though many more
SFWA-recognized markets continually appear. Let me know if I'm missing
Grinder, a fantastically useful (and free) resource for writers looking for
markets: "The Grinder is a submission tracker and market database for writers of
fiction (non-fiction and poetry coming soon!). Use our extensive and powerful
search engine to find a home for your work. With new features
being added periodically we hope to provide a permanent and stable home for your
another useful source of information on markets, including response times.
On a related note, here's a page listing local museums, theaters, and such.
Stay tuned - TONS more coming as I continue to write up my workshop-talks notes in readable format!