on writing


The Devil's in the Details is an article that appeared in Vision's 2003 worldbuilding issue.

Building the Perfect Beast is a lengthy paper I wrote in 2002 on the philosophical issues involved in artificial intelligence. You can also read Part One and Part Two of an article that I wrote for Vision a year later on the same subject. The information is occasionally dated, but I hope still useful.

Brothers and Others: Creating Aliens that Aren't Alienating is another Vision article, this one on the pitfalls of alien creation.

Writing Hooks (Not Crooks) is a Vision article on writing a good story opening.

What Do You Do With a First-Draft Novel? is an article on revising novels which appeared in The SF and Fantasy Workshop's newsletter in November 2005.

Who is Mary Sue? is a Vision article on avoiding self-indulgent characters.


The Writer's Mary Sue Test tests whether you've written a self-indulgent character.

The Speculative Fiction Muse is a random story idea generator, intended to get your creative juices flowing. Or to help hardened novel writers like myself come up with ideas that don't require 80,000 words to express.

The Random Name Generator generates made-up names that (usually) parse as real names, rather than odd collections of syllables.

The Book of Names, on the other hand, randomly selects from a database of over 9000 names from across the world. It's built to loosely (very loosely) follow actual world demographics, so that the most widely spoken languages will in theory throw up the most names. Useful for when you've just realized half your cast is named some variant of "John."

The Character Etch-A-Sketch generates brief, random character descriptions.