Get Sharp: Craft Articles and Listens

A Writing Craft and Publishing Industry Resource Round-up

Howdy everyone! Most of this newsletter is for the writers in the bunch! But first…

PodCastle, the podcast fantasy magazine that I co-edit, has the great honor of being shortlisted for the inauguratory IGNYTE awards with FIYAHCon, alongside a few other great genre fiction podcasts. Voting is open until September 11, so if you like what we do in the castle, please consider voting for us!

Okay. To business. I’m writing my third novel ever (Unbroken 2, aka #CrankyMagicPrincess) and I’m trying to level up in the process. Part of that is reading some of my favorite “book twos” and trilogies (Kingdom of Copper, Monster Baru Cormorant, Obelisk Gate, The Trouble with Peace). More of that is brushing up on craft techniques.

In celebration (and maybe solidarity) of this, here are a few articles/links that have been helping. (In a later post, I’ll share some of the books.)

Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders at

  • A great combo of craft and personal experience (with writing), applicable to a wide swath of folks and the current world. If you’re struggling with writing because the world is making you/your life feel like a trash fire, this might help. Even if it doesn’t get you writing immediately (but let’s be honest, I have to take my pen out to jot notes with every article), it can give you some more hope about picking up the pen later—and skills to practice for when you do.

Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions by Patricia C. Wrede at SFWA

  • It’s okay not to read the entire thing or even answer the entire thing, but going through it and at least giving the ideas some cursory thoughts will help you ground your world when you need to—as well as provide fodder for interesting plot developments. As Charlie Jane mentions in one of the installments of “Never Say…” relationships are some of the most interesting aspects of fiction, and that goes for the relationships between nations, too—and those are driven by joint histories, economies, and natural phenomena.

Key Conditions for Suspense - The Story Cycle Dynamo by John D. Brown at SFWA

  • I’ve used this story cycle to teach basic plotting and it really helps to hammer out how tension can drive a story forward. It works even with characters who aren’t fighty and swimming through battles and major conflict. It helps when you’re stuck figuring out how to ‘make something worse’ for your character in an interesting way. I’d also recommend reading through the entire Key Conditions article series because it taught me a lot about story making, though your mileage may vary.

  • Great for getting through a scene and knowing what comes next

Writing Excuses Podcast with Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and various guests

  • Recently, a writer looking for craft and industry help told me they weren’t familiar with this podcast and I screeched to a halt. Listening to this podcast through the years has been one of the single most useful things I’ve done for my career. In 20 minute episodes, you’ll learn character and worldbuilding, plotting intrigues and battles, and how not to f*ck up writing about people who are not like you.

  • If you’re new to writing, try starting with Season 10. The whole thing (homework included) will take you from ideation to revision and submission of a creative piece. If you’re not new, search for whatever topic you want: Querying? Agents? Editors? Cons? Writing intrigue? Writing fight scenes? Romance? If you want it, they probably have it.

  • Each cast also has a recommendation to read/watch/learn from!

Publishing is Hard by Dongwon Song

  • Like it says on the tin, publishing is a hard industry. Dongwon has a lot of posts about surviving and even thriving in this industry, and as an agent, he has a lot of insight to offer writers.

Got anymore to add? Any that have changed the way you write or read? I’d love to read them, too. Just drop them in the comments.

Stay sharp, my friends.


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