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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


113/100: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy - Orson Scott Card

[REVIEWING MY LAST BOOK OF 2014! Can't wait to start my new year of books!]


There are so few books that specialize in writing science fiction & fantasy that I try to read the few that exist. I admire OSC's storytelling even if I disagree with his politics, so I tried to set aside his homophobia as I read this. The book was published in 1990, which means much of the submissions and business information is outdated -- the book especially dates itself by giving postal addresses rather than URLs for every resource listed. Afterwards, I did a quick check on which publications were still in operation, and found that most of them had folded.

However, the craft information, while leaning a bit heavily on the sci-fi side, is still helpful. I especially liked the section where OSC talks about different narrative structures, depending on the type of story you are trying to write -- a character story, a "milieu" story, an "idea" story, etc. I was surprised to realize that my 2014 NaNoWriMo effort is a "milieu" story -- a structure that I had never found all that interesting in the abstract sense. The examination on how to choose your viewpoint character was valuable, too. And I was strangely delighted by the "non-writing" advice in the last couple pages, reminding writers to get enough sleep, get physical exercise, and not to neglect their families. All important advice, especially since there's a tendency, after reading a writing advice book, to think you must devote EVERY spare moment to your craft if you ever hope to succeed.

It was a worthwhile read, although short, and would have been even shorter had a skipped the chapters that were no longer relevant. Will probably jot down my favorite pieces of advice and pass this on to another writer.