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December 2014 ISSUE

Another Word: Endings

Endings are hard.
There are a lot of reasons for that. First off, figuring out just technically how to stick an ending is nearly the last thing that a writer has to figure out. All the other stuff—writing a good sentence, writing a good scene, the tricky bit with adverbs, avoiding infodumps, celebrating infodumps, being confused [...]

October 2014 ISSUE

Another Word: What You Know

One of the many, many times I started figuring out how to write fiction, I was early in my college career. I had a couple of resources: creative writing classes and how-to-write books whose titles I will omit here out of an abundance of charity. One of the things that I found back then was [...]

August 2014 ISSUE

Another Word: Obstacles and Style

My father is a songwriter and has been since before I was born. Many of the songs he writes take the form of stories with narrative arcs, characters, and resolutions at the end. One of the things he told me was that personal style—as a musician or a songwriter or a novelist—is made from all [...]

June 2014 ISSUE

Another Word: Chasing the High

When you start out wanting to be a writer, you’re screwed. You haven’t read enough to really understand what writing is. There are all sorts of different genres, and you may not know if you’re better at detective novels or literary vignettes or personal essays. You’re pretty impressed by some of the stuff you’ve done [...]

April 2014 ISSUE

Another Word: Killing Rage

I’m not telling anybody what they should do.
I’m guessing that since you’re here reading essays on Clarkesworld, you’re most likely a fan of genre fiction and maybe spend a little time on the Internet. Seems pretty safe as assumptions go. And because of that, you’re probably aware of the conflicts that have been troubling [...]

February 2014 ISSUE

Another Word: Debts

There are only a few books that I reread. Walter Tevis’ The Queen’s Gambit, some of Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Camus’ The Plague, and a few others. They’ve become like having coffee with an old friend or watching Casablanca again; a place of comfort and familiarity. A way to reconnect with part of [...]

December 2013 ISSUE

Another Word: Two and a Half Writers

My attitude toward pseudonyms has always been a little idiosyncratic. I started off using them as a way to tell readers what kind of book to expect. Daniel Abraham? He writes third-person epic fantasy. MLN Hanover? First-person urban fantasy, complete with the tramp stamp tattoo and complicated love life. James SA Corey (of whom I [...]

October 2013 ISSUE

Another Word: What Are You Doing Here?

One of my favorite movies of all time is 2007’s The Lookout. It’s a gorgeous, twisty little noir that manages to co-opt all the expectations of the genre and do something just a little different with all of them. In particular, there’s a scene where Jeff Daniels’ blind protector-figure Lewis sits down with love interest [...]

August 2013 ISSUE

Another Word: Circles Rise Again

I was in Seattle a few weeks ago for the Locus Awards, and I had the very real pleasure of meeting a few of the students who were attending the Clarion West workshop this summer. I attended the workshop back in 1998, and it was a watershed both in my artistic and commercial careers. The [...]

June 2013 ISSUE

Another Word: The Techs Can Do It

“Consider greatness as a business strategy.” —Michael Swanwick
I worked front-line tech support for a little mom-and-pop Internet service provider for almost ten years. I started off as the guy who asks you to check if your caps lock key is on. Slowly, I advanced to being Director of Technical Support, which in the context of [...]