Is Outlining for Hacks?

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When I first began writing I would sit in front of the computer for hours, staring at a blank screen.  I hoped that inspiration would strike, but usually it didn’t.  So I would force myself to type something, praying that it would turn out to be half-decent.  Back then writing was a long, tortuous process. … Read more

The Lost Finale: What Went Wrong?

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On May 23, 2010 one of my favorite television shows ended its six year run.  For me, the airing of Lost’s finale was something akin to a religious experience.  I had spent countless hours debating theories with friends and coworkers.  I was emotionally invested in the characters.  So when the finale began, I was filled … Read more

Beauty in Simplicity

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What does fantasy writing have in common with the culinary arts? One of my guilty pleasures is watching BBC’s Kitchen Nightmares with host Gordon Ramsey.  In each episode Chef Ramsey visits a restaurant on the brink of ruin, and attempts to salvage it.  In most cases the restaurant features a chef who is highly trained … Read more

Fantasy Writing and the Spiritual Quest

Many fantasy writers experience our craft as being more than a hobby, or even a career choice.  For us, it is a calling. On my tenth birthday I received a precious gift: a hardback edition of The Hobbit, illustrated by Michael Hague.  This marked my first foray into fantasy literature, and it irrevocably touched my life. … Read more

Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Expectations

When the first Harry Potter books were published I didn’t bother to read them.  I saw the films, but they didn’t strike me as especially significant.  Yes, they were full of magic and wonder.  But I failed to perceive anything of lasting substance. I dismissed Harry Potter as a fad. Yet as the series progressed, … Read more

Are Magic Systems a Distraction?

A fellow writer shared his dilemma with me.  He and his partner were starting a new project, and had invested much time in developing a magic system.  He had shared it with me before, and I was intrigued by their original spin on magic and spell-casting. But then something happened.  While flipping through the channels, … Read more

How to Design Your Diabolical Cult

In the summer of 1982 I had a life changing experience.  Although I was underage, I accompanied my father to see the new epic fantasy Conan the Barbarian, starring Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger.  While the film itself was amazing (especially the score), I was particularly impressed by its charismatic villain, Thulsa Doom. As portrayed by … Read more

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