Judging a book by its cover

We’ve all seen it – the dreaded fantasy cover that looks like…well…an explosion in a confetti shop with humanoid forms in the background. The story behind that cover can be anything – from hard-core military sci-fi to a fairy-tale. What that story does not include, however, are fireworks, half-naked ladies and buff barbarians. But theContinue reading “Judging a book by its cover”

My trouble with battles in genre fiction

Having moved back home (yey, I am back to writing stuff and paying bills), I finally found time to rearrange the books I’ve been lugging around, while visiting conferences and parents. Going through the shelves, I noticed an interesting pattern: half of my academic interests revolve around military matters and social networks, while everything elseContinue reading “My trouble with battles in genre fiction”

Romantic subplots in fantasy and sci-fi

Most genre fiction novels have romantic subplots. That’s an unwritten rule. The rare exceptions usually fall into the category of hard or military sci-fi. But even the toughest of those occasionally push a romance into the mixture of strategy and science. The Foundation series doesn’t do a great job at it. The Honorverse is aContinue reading “Romantic subplots in fantasy and sci-fi”

Villain VS Antagonist

‘Villain’ might be one of the most overused terms in media: we analyse villains in fiction, we write about best villains in film and television, we rate villains in comic books. As a result, the term has become so vague that the only definition that remains is somewhat moralistic. A ‘villain’ is evil. Whatever thatContinue reading “Villain VS Antagonist”

My trouble with Young Adult Fantasy

I repeatedly tried to get into young adult fantasy. Without success. Most of the time, I simply could not stand certain approaches that were not the fault of the authors, but rather the common trait of this specific literary niche. And, while I believe it is uniquely rich, inventive and has a lot to offer,Continue reading “My trouble with Young Adult Fantasy”

Point of View and why it matters

Point of view is the lens through which you either tell your story as a writer or discover your story as a reader. We don’t spend much time mulling over the differences between POVs unless we are trying to muster the craft. And, yet, they exist and they matter. First-person, second-person and third-person points ofContinue reading “Point of View and why it matters”

All Sides of Fantasy: Fantasy Settings expand

Given the genre’s Western origins, it is not surprising that works of classical fantasy rely on a pseudo-European setting to convey the story. The level of ‘crapsack’ in that setting depends heavily on the niche the author chooses – the pendulum swings from a ‘knight in shining armour’ to a ‘serial killer knight on drugs’.Continue reading “All Sides of Fantasy: Fantasy Settings expand”

Fantasy sins all historians notice

We all have our pet peeves and favourite tropes. In some cases, our professional inclinations determine them. After all, years of rigorous training in one field inevitably shapes the way we grasp and interpret fiction. We can’t escape it. Professional deformation is real. It makes us shout, “This is not how heavy cavalry works!” andContinue reading “Fantasy sins all historians notice”

Should a novel have a message?

I consider Foundryside interesting and well-written despite never being able to fully enjoy the novel as much as it deserves. Foundryside’s original worldbuilding is both subtle and detailed. Magic based on computer programming not only makes perfect sense, but also creates unique opportunities for unexpected plot twists and reveals. Above all else, I appreciated theContinue reading “Should a novel have a message?”

The beauty of unrelatable characters

Most tips for introducing the main character in fiction revolve around one important concept – relatability. A relatable protagonist allows the audience to get attached to them easily. Unlike most things in history and sociology, the theory behind relatable protagonists is straight-forward: if you understand the goals and desires of a person, you are moreContinue reading “The beauty of unrelatable characters”