45 Things I Want to See More of in Stories (Post-Apocalyptic Edition)


  1. Leftover inconveniences (braces, casts, etc.)
  2. Renewable energy
  3. Creative attempts at fuel
  4. Cooperation
  5. Warlords
  6. Increased infant mortality
  7. Change in hierarchy (laborers more important than white-collar workers, etc.)
  8. New governmental structures
  9. Mercenary groups
  10. Formation of…

Looking for Children's Books With Black Characters? There's an App for That


Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules for Short Stories
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.


Kurt Vonnegut (via chrisarrant)

Wow. Great advice.

- Mike

(via learnhowtoadult)




Sept. 12, 1992: Dr. Mae Jemison Becomes First African American Woman in Space

On this day in 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel through space. She served as Mission Specialist aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47.

WTCI’s Alison Lebovitz discusses the legacy of the first woman of color to travel beyond the stratosphere on “The A List with Alison Lebovitz.” Watch the interview here.

Photos: NASA

Jemison appeared on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me in 2013 and told host Peter Sagal how she geeked out about Star Trek as a young woman, relished dancing in the Space Shuttle Endeavour, abhorred using diapers in space, and much more.

She also described what it felt like to finally achieve her dream of visiting space:

And I remember one time actually we flew through the Southern Lights… They’re these shimmering curtain of lights. So there’s nothing that you could have ever seen in a science fiction movie that would even come close to seeing that in person.

Pretty stellar.



Types of Hat reference for writers (or anybody, really)


Okay, I just got pseudo-corrected on fashion in a fan fiction. I’ve been yelled at for this and people have tried to prove me wrong. Friends, I am here to correct those who have tried to correct me in the past.

With costume knowledge, and years of working in the theater…


So your robot character has no emotions programmed


What does that mean?

  • Hatred is an emotion. No hatred allowed.
  • Same with anger. “No emotions” also means “no negative emotions.”
  • They need a goal programmed in so that they don’t just sit around doing nothing.
  • It’s possible to have “don’t kill people” programmed and…



One of the first things I say when asked for advice on how to write screenplays is “Read them”. Read lots of screenplays. Lots and lots and lots.

You can learn so much from reading screenplays, so I think for the next few weekends I’m going to post links to whatever I’m reading at the time….


Advice: When Characters Have an Alias




How to have an unpopular opinion without being a douchenozzle


Ask yourself, why is this opinion unpopular?

  • eg. I hate pumpkin spice anything, but especially coffee and tea. It’s unpopular because lots of other people do like it.

Ask yourself, does my opinion contribute something of value to this conversation?

  • eg. Did anyone ask my opinion on pumpkin…
Anonymous asked

So I have this male character who looks very feminine, acknowledges this and enjoys dressing in traditional female clothing because he thinks he looks better in them and doesn't care about gender. He doesn't care if people refer to him with female or male pronouns but he refers to himself as male because of his sex. What word would I use to describe this?


Remember that gender presentation and gender identity are different concepts. Just because someone looks, dresses, or acts a certain way does not dictate what gender they identify as or what pronouns/gender nouns they prefer. That said, everyone has a different idea of what gender is and how it feels for them. You might like to look at these terms to see if one of them works for your character:

  • Nonbinary (an umbrella term for people outside the gender binary that encompasses NB gender identities as well as functioning as its own identity)
  • Androgyne (a nonbinary/genderqueer gender identity that includes both masculine and feminine characteristics)
  • Neutrois (another nb/queer gender identity that includes neither masculine nor feminine)
  • Agender (similar/synonymous[?] to neutrois, is neither masculine nor feminine)

We have a bunch of posts in the gender tag that might help you further narrow it down. Look around for a term that makes the most sense for your character and that feels right for them.


Anonymous asked

I'm having trouble conveying an overall sense of conflict in my YA realistic fic novel because everything else I've written is death/world-at-stake. I'm not sure if readers be satisfied with the threat of losing a relationship or a contest or something like that. What other kinds of conflicts are urgent enough that people will actively care about it? Will they follow interesting characters if nothing is truly at stake for them?


I disagree with the premise of this ask, and I am here to help you understand why.

Readers will be satisfied with stuff like that, if that’s what your story is about and you write it well. Empathy is an extremely important human quality and that’s what stories like these invoke in a reader - empathy. Like, I’m a really big Taylor Swift fan (I know, I know, shut up) and every time I’m going through a break-up or a happy time or a hopeless crush and I hear a song by her that I can relate to, it totally warms my heart. Like Nice! She gets me. Other people have been here, too. This makes me feel better. That’s just one thing you’re doing with stories like these. I don’t think realistic fiction gets enough credit sometimes. The world doesn’t have to end for everyone in order for you to write a truly awesome story - maybe just for one person, and maybe just for a day. 

What I’m really trying to say is that death and the end of the world are not the only things a person can have “truly at stake.” It is insulting and ignorant to the human experience to suggest that a relationship being at stake, whether it be romantic, platonic, familial or other, does not constitute something being “truly” at stake. Love is very important. One could argue there is nothing more important. People do actively care about love (or at least I do!), so please don’t worry about that. 

Domestic problems pose true threats to people. If it sucks, you can write a novel about it. Breaking up sucks. Losing sucks. School sucks. There are more issues that, in my experiences, are pretty devastating compared to “normal” domestic problems - addiction, death of loved ones, disease, running away. Those things all suck on like a nuclear level. 

Anyway, give your ideas about realistic fiction more credit, friend! Good luck, and welcome to the YA contemporary/realistic fic club. 



Advice: Daily Cigarette Consumption






We discussed the issue of describing People of Color by means of food in Part I of this guide, which brought rise to even more questions, mostly along the lines of “So, if food’s not an option, what can I use?” Well, I was just getting to that!

This final portion…



Novelist error messages.


This might be useful for some of you who are interested in surgery! Credit belongs to ASAPScience on Facebook. (Follow them for more cool science related facts and info!)


This might be useful for some of you who are interested in surgery! Credit belongs to ASAPScience on Facebook. (Follow them for more cool science related facts and info!)