Steal the World: The Antihero

Being a semi-edited dump of my thoughts as I prepare for a presentation at ROFCON later this month. Expect more in the coming days as I continue planning my talks.  The Antihero An essential element of many adventure stories is the hero… rather, the antihero. While there are certainly adventure stories that feature genuinely heroic characters (TinTin, Robert Langdon, Wil Turner in the first Pirates … Continue reading Steal the World: The Antihero

Adding Necessary Grime

Watching movies from the early days of cinema, one thing that is often clear: They were frequently filmed on studio sets, which were obviously sets because even a dirty back alley was often cleaner than the average teenager’s bedroom. It wasn’t until the 1970s that on location filming became more common and even studio sets began to be dressed to look like the disorganized, grimy, … Continue reading Adding Necessary Grime

Have Some Character

So you’ve decided you want to write a novel and you’ve picked your genre, remembering that it’s OK (even encouraged) to blend genres a little. Now it’s time to talk about the people who you will be writing about for the next 300-ish pages. The Third Thing: Characters Remember that story about that person who did that thing in that place? They were so something, … Continue reading Have Some Character

So You Want to Write a Book

I can hear you now, reviled dear reader: “I went to John Hodgman’s book signing in Washington DC last month and heard him gently mock a listener who insisted that he wanted to write a novel… so that he could say he had written a novel. What am I supposed to write about?” Ah. That grand question. As I recall, it was even the topic … Continue reading So You Want to Write a Book

Game Mastering: or, the art of herding cats

We’ve all been there: You spend the weekend reading the next chapter of your current role playing module, cross reference all of the NPCs and monsters with their stat blocks and lore connections, come up with a list of potential plot hooks, and build a complex dialogue tree for your players to explore as they interact with the lord of the manor. Or maybe you … Continue reading Game Mastering: or, the art of herding cats


I’ve been mildly obsessed with the story of Solaris for several years now. Originally told in a 1961 Polish novel which was never adequately translated into English, adapted into a thoughtful but painfully slow Russian film in 1972, and again into a 2002 American film which had the misfortune to be marketed as an erotic thriller, this is a captivating tale of miscommunication and existential … Continue reading Solaris

Revise that Story

After many days, weeks, even months, you’ve finally reached the end of your story. You have a first draft. Congratulations! Your work is just beginning. If writing is like archaeology, then finishing your first draft is the physical labor of digging up an ancient site. You find a site to dig at (get an idea), hire the best people to crew the dig (figure out your characters), and spend … Continue reading Revise that Story