Alternate History: Picking Out the Threads

Alternate history: love reading it (here are book suggestions), and love writing it. History plus alternate timelines plus a measure of fantasy if needed or desired: what’s not to love? This is Part I of a series looking at why a writer might choose this approach, and how it can incorporate “historical fact” into the “alternate” part of the equation.

Fairy Tales, Symbols, and Readers’ Expectations

Fairy tales are powerful, and symbols from them need to be used with care in a story. Here are 5 tips for using folklore symbols and allusions in a way that doesn’t derail a tale.

COGs in the Machine: Shallow Bad Guys

Why do ‘bad guy’ encounters often feel repetitive, derivative, or shallow, especially in rpgs and CRPGs, but also in much genre fiction? The “COG” model explains that dynamic, and suggests how to stop it from dragging our stories down.

Derek or Meredith? Taking Sides With Characters

Are you a black-and-white person, or a grey area person? How do these attitudes affect characters and readers’ relationship to them? Some thoughts on the subject in this post.

Life on Mars – Finale Fail

Life on Mars was a re-working of the hit BBC series of the same name. I thought it creative, unique, challenging – until the last 15 minutes of the series finale. In a heavy-handed act of juvenile storytelling, the creators managed to pull the rug out from under a great story arc, and leave us with a flat and unsatisfying ending. FAIL.

Continuity: staying in one (M)ainline

Thoughts on continuity in story worlds by Deborah Teramis Christian. Continuity in complex story universes is essential so that the story resonates as true. It is also a work of scribe integrity, of “seeing it there” so the author can “bring it here”, correctly. Challenges include the attention to detail needed, and the real need for serious tools to search and manage reams of notes and background material that chronicle these worlds.

Lack of storytelling in free online rpgs

I’m noticing a severe lack of real story lines, much less storytelling, in free online rpgs.  The problem isn’t only found in free online rpgs – it’s in many paid rpgs as well –  but the free ones are ubiquitous these days, especially in their MMO and MMORPG forms. Fans of science fiction and fantasy have increasingly entered […]