Most of the advice that I could offer aspiring authors is advice that was passed down to me.  Therefore, instead of rewording that advice as if it were my own, I’ve compiled the following links to advice by established science fiction and fantasy authors, much of which I found helpful in my early years of writing.  I hope it’s useful to you as well.


General Advice
Frequently Asked Questions for Beginning Writers, from the SFWA
TANSTAAFL and the Novice Writer by Elizabeth Moon
Letter to beginning writers by Robert J. Sawyer
• Writing Advice by Chris Moriarity
• Advice on Advice by Mike Shultz
• Advice to Aspiring Writers by Jeffrey A. Carver
Heinlein’s Rules by Robert J. Sawyer
The Basics by Melisa Michaels
How to Write by Holly Lisle
The Writer’s Craft by Ben Bova
Advice to New Writers by David Brin
Writing Speculative Fiction by Mary Soon Lee
The Writer’s Toolbox by Holly Lisle
Speculative Fiction by Heather V. Long
Aphorisms for Writing Science Fiction by David Alexander Smith
On Writing by Elaine Isaak

Avoiding Common Mistakes
Mistakes In Writing by Roger MacBride Allen
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them by Melisa Michaels
Writerisms and other Sins: A Writer’s Shortcut to Stronger Writing by C.J. Cherryh
• Writing Tips: A Cautionary Tale by Mike Shultz
Pitfalls of Writing SF & Fantasy by Vonda N. McIntyre
Excuse Me, How Much Did It Cost You? by A.C. Crispin

Writing a Novel
How to Start a Novel by Holly Lisle
How to Finish A Novel by Holly Lisle


Ideas: General
Plotlines and Ideas by Orson Scott Card
Inventing Stories by Orson Scott Card
Story Genesis by Mike Shultz
Ideas: A Hundred for a Dollar by Holly Lisle
Apples, Bananas: The Writers’ Need for Experience by Holly Lisle
A Little Bit of Me, A Little Bit of You by Holly Lisle
Where Do You Get Your Ideas by Lawrence Watt-Evans
How to (Legally and Ethically) Steal Ideas by Holly Lisle
A Tale of Two Art Forms by Alexandra Elizabeth Honigsberg
Putting Yourself In Your Writing by Patty Jansen

Ideas: Themes
Stories with Soul by Orson Scott Card
• Capture the Zing by John D. Brown
Finding Your Themes by Holly Lisle

Ideas: Creating Characters
A Conversation on Character by Orson Scott Card
Constructing Characters by Robert J. Sawyer
You and Your Characters by James Patrick Kelly
Creating Memorable Characters by John Hewitt
What “Type” Is Your Character? by Paula Fleming
• It’s All About the Characters by Mike Shultz
• Creating Characters With Purpose by Mike Shultz
How to Create a Character by Holly Lisle

Ideas: Naming Characters
Naming Characters by Orson Scott Card
More in Naming Characters by Orson Scott Card
What’s in a Name? by Moira Allen

Ideas: World-Building
Building New Worlds by Stephen Baxter
World-Building Questions by Patricia C. Wrede
The Fully-Realized World by Kate Elliott
Creating a Realistic Fantasy World by Penny Ehrenkranz
On Thud and Blunder by Poul Anderson
FAQs About Worldbuilding by Holly Lisle
What’s the Magic Word: Defining the Sources, Effects and Costs of Magic by Lital Talmor
• Sorcerers, Mages, Magic, Spells, and Wizards by Mike Shultz
Real Rules for Real Worlds by Holly Lisle
Laws of Fantasy by Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Alien Language Construction Kit by Mark Rosenfelder
Inventing Aliens by Orson Scott Card
Making Monsters by James Patrick Kelly

Ideas: Research
Research by Robert J. Sawyer
Science in Science Fiction: Making it Work by Joan Slonczewski
Playing God: Deus ex Machina and Writing Fantasy by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Research:”What are You Doing with that Broom?” by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Researching the Middle Ages by E. C. Ambrose

Ideas: Titles
The Theory and Practice of Titles by B. W. Clough
• Lux Desiderata of Titles by Luc Reid

Writing Skills

Writing Skills: Point-of-View
Point of View by Robert J. Sawyer
Point Of View by Nancy Kress
Third-Person Characters by Orson Scott Card
Time & First Person by Holly Lisle
Hot and Cold Third-Person by Orson Scott Card
Point of View in Fiction by Patty Jansen

Writing Skills: Description
Description by Robert J. Sawyer
• Six Superpowers of Description by Luc Reid

Writing Skills: Dialogue
Discussion of Dialogue and Style by Orson Scott Card
• Stage Directions by Mike Shultz
Speaking of Dialogue by Robert J. Sawyer

Writing Skills: Plot
Essays on Plot by S. Andrew Swann
• Using Index Cards to Plot a Novel by Marilynn Byerly

Writing Skills: Style
• Your Writing Voice by Holly Lisle
Banishing Boring Words by Mike Shultz
• Powerful Nouns Are Important, Too by Mike Shultz
On Rhetoric and Style by Orson Scott Card
The War on Was by James Beamon

Writing Skills: Conflict
When is Conflict Good? by Orson Scott Card
The Ten Commandments of Fight (Part 1) by Mike Shultz
The Ten Commandments of Fight (Part 2) by Mike Shultz

Writing Skills: Suspense
• How To Send Chills Down Your Readers’ Spines by Mike Shultz
The”Maguffin” by Orson Scott Card

Writing Skills: Humor
• How To Be Funny by Mike Shultz
How To Write Humor by James Beamon

Writing Skills: Structure
Beginnings by Orson Scott Card
Great Beginnings by Robert J. Sawyer
Writing an effective opening line by Robert J. Sawyer
If You Can’t Start Something Nice, Don’t Start It At All by Mike Shultz
How to Screw Up The Opening Line by Mike Shultz
Middles by Holly Lisle
Parallel Storylines by Orson Scott Card

Writing Skills: Length
Chapter Length by Orson Scott Card
Novel Length by Orson Scott Card
Breaking Into Print: What Length Sells Best?by Melisa Michaels

Writing Skills: Show vs. Tell
Show, Don’t Tell by Robert J. Sawyer
Thought vs. Action by Orson Scott Card
Showing Character Motivation by Orson Scott Card
Show vs. Tell by James Beamon

Writing Skills: Revision
Murder Your Darlings by James Patrick Kelly
How to Revise a Novel by Holly Lisle
Revising Your Story by Leslie What
Wordprocessing Tricks by Robert J.Sawyer

Writing Psychology

Writing Psychology: Writers Block
On Writers Block by Orson Scott Card
Writer’s Block: A Definition by Example by Michael Bracken
Writers’ Block I by Holly Lisle
Writers’ Block II by Holly Lisle
• Ways to Recapture Authorial Delight by Mike Shultz
• The Writers Trance and the Four Trance Breakers by John D. Brown
• Writers Block: Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself by Luc Reid
• Avoiding Your Story by Luc Reid
Seven Surefire Ways to Beat Writer’s Block–and How I Made Them Work for Me! by Terry Bisson<
Chip Off the Writer’s Block by James Beamon

Writing Psychology: Career
Jump-Starting a Stalled by Or Dead Career by John Gregory Betancourt
A Twelve-Step Program for Writers by Bruce Bethke
Writing and Selling Confessions by Michael Bracken
Stalled Careers, Writer’s Block, and Monsters Under the Bed by Melisa Michaels

Writing Psychology: Focus and Dedication
How to Stay Focused by Orson Scott Card
Moving a Story From Your Head to the Page by Orson Scott Card
50 Strategies for Making Yourself Work by Jerry Oltion
Rejection by Patricia Duffy Novak
Everyday Courage and the Writer by Holly Lisle
Your Book Is Not Your Baby by Holly Lisle
Business of Writing by Holly Lisle
Could vs. Should and the Price of Your Dreams by Holly Lisle
Say What You Mean by Holly Lisle
Perseverance, Publishing and the Urge to Write by James Van Pelt
Finding Silence by Holly Lisle
Busman’s Holiday by Holly Lisle
Impossible Goodness by Holly Lisle
Destroying Distraction by James Beamon
Handling Rejection by James Beamon
Rejectomancy: Don’t Feed The Beast by Patty Jansen

Writing Psychology: Inspiration
Writing Changes Life by Holly Lisle
Exceeding Our Grasp by Holly Lisle
Saving the World by Holly Lisle
One Good Enemy by Holly Lisle
Quiz–Are YOU Right for Writing? by Holly Lisle
Experts, Professionals, and College by Holly Lisle
Who WON’T Make It by Holly Lisle
The Urge To Quit by James Beamon

The Business of Writing

The Business of Writing: General
Does a Writing Career Always Mean Novels? by Orson Scott Card
The 39 Steps to Getting Published by Tara K. Harper
• Getting Published by Jeffrey A. Carver
Writing Full Time: A User’s Guide by Robert Weinberg

The Business of Writing: Submitting: General
How to Submit A Manuscript by Roger MacBride Allen
The book’s written, what now? by Robert J. Sawyer
Myrtle the Manuscript by Tappan King
Publishing by Holly Lisle
Where Do I Send It? by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Media Tie-Ins by Roger MacBride Allen
Selling to Foreign Markets by Douglas Smith
Why Did my Story Get Rejected? by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Business of Writing: Submitting: Manuscript Format
Manuscript format checklist and complete sample manuscript by Robert J. Sawyer
Format a Manuscript by Holly Lisle
The Obligatory Manuscript Format Article by John Gregory Betancourt
Manuscript Preparation by Vonda N. McIntyre
Manuscript Format by Chuck Rothman
Manuscript Preparation by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Business of Writing: Submitting: Query Letters
The Complete Nobody’s Guide to Query Letters by Lynn Flewelling
Query Letters: Do Them Right! by Lori Foster
Cover Letters and SASEs by Robert J. Sawyer

The Business of Writing: Submitting: Synopses
How to Write a Synopsis by Rebecca Sinclair
Outlines and synopses by Robert J. Sawyer
The Character-Based Synopsis by Barbara Karmazin

The Business of Writing: Submitting: Word Count
Word Count Redux by Melisa Michaels
Word Counts: What Is a Word? by Chuck Rothman

The Business of Writing: Agents
Do I need an agent? by Orson Scott Card
Do I Need An Agent? by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Landing an agent by Robert J. Sawyer
• How to Find a Literary Agent by Nathan Bransford
Hunting for a Literary Agent by Chuck Rothman
Literary Agents by Holly Lisle
About Literary Agents by Holly Lisle
Query an Agent by Holly Lisle
Hunting for an Agent with Sample Synopsis by John E. Stith

The Business of Writing: Editors
Editors by Holly Lisle
Work With Editors by Holly Lisle
The Road to a First Novel by J. V. Jones and Betsy Mitchell
Translations from the Editorial by Marion Zimmer Bradley
What Happened to my Manuscript? by Elisabeth Waters

The Business of Writing: Copy Editors
A Writer’s Guide to Understanding the Copyeditor by Terry McGarry
Notes for the copyeditor by Robert J. Sawyer

The Business of Writing: Self-Promotion
Self-Promotion by Robert J. Sawyer
More on Self Promotion by Robert J. Sawyer
Professionalism by Robert J. Sawyer
• How I Promoted My Book by David Louis Edelman
• How I Promoted My Book 2 by David Louis Edelman
• A Guide to Ethical Self-Promotion by David Louis Edelman
Tips for public readings by Robert J. Sawyer
Getting good press by Robert J. Sawyer

The Business of Writing: Career
How to Quit Your Day Job to Write Full Time by Holly Lisle
Money by Holly Lisle
Design a Career by Holly Lisle

The Business of Writing: Legal Questions
Copyrights by Orson Scott Card
Copyrights and Meteorites by Chuck Rothman
On Plagiarism, Borrowing, Resemblance, and Influence by Orson Scott Card
Rights: What They Mean and Why They’re Important by Marg Gilks
What Happens Next: The Contract by Lawrence Watt-Evans
What Happens Next: After The Contract by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Death and Taxes by Elisabeth Waters

The Business of Writing: Self-Publishing
How Much Does Self-Publishing Cost? by Patty Jansen
How Many Copies Will My Self-Published Book Sell? by Patty Jansen
Killing The Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith


OSC Critique by Orson Scott Card
Hardcore Critique Advice by Amy Sterling Casil
Some Notes on Critiquing Method by David Alexander Smith
A Checklist for Critiquing Science Fiction by David Alexander Smith
Critiquing in a Workshop Context by David Alexander Smith
A Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction by David Alexander Smith
Writer’s Workshops by David Alexander Smith
Staying Alive: The Hazards of Writing Workshops by Bruce Holland Rogers

How to Collaborate — and How NOT To by Holly Lisle
• A Method for Collaboration by Luc Reid

Fiction For Kids
Writing SF For Kids by Justin Stanchfield
On Writing F&SF for Kids by Sherwood Smith

F&SF Subgenres
The Subgenres of Science Fiction by Marg Gilks, Moira Allen
What Is Magical Realism, Really? by Bruce Holland Rogers
Writing Soft SF by Penny Ehrenkranz
Doyle’s SF Genre Rant by Dr. Debra Doyle (lit vs. sf)
Going Pro by Holly Lisle
Another Modest Proposal by Michael Chesley Johnson (trash your computer)
7 Reasons Fiction Writers Should Sell Nonfiction by Carol Ottolenghi-Barga

Author Interviews
An Eye for Detail: An Interview with Kate Elliott by Moira Allen
An Interview with Anne McCaffrey by Lynne Jamneck
Master of Punmanship: An Interview with Piers Anthony by Moira Allen
On Religion in SF and Fantasy: An Interview with Orson Scott Card by Moira Allen
Steering Her Craft: An Interview with Ursula LeGuin by Faith Justice
Writing Speculative Poetry: An Interview with Bruce Boston by John Amen
Writing the World of the Series: An Interview with Lynn Flewelling by Moira Allen
Writing with Bite: An Interview with Susan Sizemore by Moira Allen



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