Write…Edit…Publish (WEP) is an online writing community now partnering with the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). We post the third Wednesday of every second month. Check out our program for 2018 in our sidebar and Pages. WEP challenges are open to all. *Submit your name to InLinkz (free) on the first day of the challenge month. The winner for each prompt wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card with winners’ badges for second and third prize. *Scroll down to read previous winning entries. There is also a special Commenter’s badge.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Introducing the man who needs no introduction:
the founder of the 
Insecure Writer's Support Group,
author of 4 Amazon Best Selling books in Science Fiction, 
and the judge for the WEP - December Sci-fi Challenge

Take it away, Alex!

Writing Science Fiction –

It’s Not Really That Alien!

I’ve been a science fiction fan for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I read superhero comic books, watched television shows like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, went to every science fiction film, and read science fiction books by authors such as Heinlein and Bradbury. That I would choose science fiction as my genre of choice when I began writing was no big surprise.

But what if that’s not your genre of comfort? What if you’re not familiar with science fiction outside of Star Wars? What if the concept really is alien to you?

If you don’t know the difference between a plasma drive and a warp drive, don’t worry. While the setting and technology may be a bit different, the basics of good storytelling still apply. Beyond that, here are some tips for writing science fiction:

Study the genre. Read the books and watch the shows. It will give you a grasp on the elements of science fiction.

World building is very important in any speculative fiction story. If your story is set in the future or in another galaxy, you need to consider how that world came about and what sustains it – history, currency, politics, technology, social structure, etc. Most of it won’t end up in the story itself, but it gives you the background and a template for maintaining consistency.

Often you’ll feature technology that doesn’t exist. Sometimes you can take something that is a possibility now and make it real in the future. Or create something completely new. If there aren’t a lot of facts and theories to back up what you’ve created though, just be sure everything is at least plausible.

It’s all right to take ideas you’ve seen elsewhere and use them. Just make them uniquely yours and don’t reuse too many items or concepts. Tossing Star Trek, Star Wars, Avengers, and The Terminator into a blender will probably not make for a great story.

The characters are still just as important! Put just as much effort into character development. They still drive the story. And after all, even a robot has personality.

Does the universe speak English? Doubtful, so find a way to make it possible for races to communicate. Maybe they have all learned to speak the same language or they use a device to translate. Don’t include a lot of alien speak though. It works in the movies, but not so well in books.

Speaking of alien, make sure your names are easily pronounced! And don’t overload your story with so many alien sounding names and items that the reader has a hard time following it.

Now, what are some good science fiction concepts?

  • Taking a possibility to the extreme.
  • Tackling one of life’s big mysteries.
  • A breakthrough or discovery gone horribly wrong.
  • Changing the laws of the universe.
  • Merging with another genre. (Think Firefly, which is a mashup of Western and science fiction.)
  • Time travel.
  • Taking something normal and twisting it.

Now, are you ready to write a science fiction story?


Join us for December's challenge and find out!

Questions? Just ask the Ninja Captain.

Meet the Ninja Captain

Alex J. Cavanaugh & his avatar.

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

You can find Alex J. Cavanaugh via these links

Help us Spread the Word!
We'd love if you'd Tweet one of these:

Alex J Cavanaugh is discussing science fiction  #WEPFF Write…Edit,,,Publish @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-writing-science-fiction-its-not.html

Next Tuesday, look for the InLinkz sign-up list for the
December Challenge

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Hello again,

In The Dark was J Lenni Dorner's winning entry for the WEP  - October Halloween Challenge. I hope you've all had a chance to read it, if not the link will take you there. 

Today, as our guest, he's writing on settings and how it affects your characters.

Take it away J Lenni Dorner!

When asked if I'd write a guest post I thought, "Sure! What will be my topic?" I devoted myself to settings that become characters, so that seemed like the best well from which to draw. I hope to inspire you on your writing journey!

The most important function of any setting, or any item in a setting, is how it affects a character. 

There's a sunrise. It's the most beautiful sunrise ever seen. Hues of orange and yellow drift into blue as night is vanquished from the sky. You know what? That's not the quality writing publishers (or most readers) are looking to buy. Give us a character who was blind and is experiencing a sunrise for the first time. Or a kingdom that was cursed to darkness for twenty generations and let that sunrise be the first sign of freedom. That's getting closer. Do more by having your point of view character feel something because of the sunrise. Don't just tell me Jane felt happy. Show me. Make the reader feel like they're sharing the experience.

 A popular example of a great setting is the arenas in The Hunger Games series. Those of you who read the books know that those arenas are monsters. Yes, President Snow is the main antagonist. But the arena tries to kill Katniss. There are passages that discuss players who have died because of an arena. It's a person-versus-nature element.

 Now imagine if The Hunger Games didn't have an arena. Katniss and Peeta are sent to modern day New York City and have to outlive their opponents. Would the books be as popular? There are plenty of books about a NYC character figuring out how to survive and thrive there. Taking away the arena changes the story. That is a great example of a setting that is a character. The reader is presented with a place they've never imagined before, and that place offers an emotional challenge to the point of view character.

 Your writing journey might be different. Perhaps your setting is a well-known location. I'll use New York City as an example again. Rockefeller Center presents a myriad of emotions for characters. Has that location made your character reminiscent of watching the tree lighting with their family, all of whom were killed this year? Is it the place where she fell on the ice and a McHottie picked her up, held her close, and whispered, "amateurs should stick to the outside lane" before skating away? Maybe there's a bench here where his great-grandfather ate lunch every day after coming to this country to escape the concentration camps. Or the character has to go this way to get to work at NBC, but is allergic to pine and thus looks like Rudolph all winter long.

Loui Jover; Pen and Ink, 2013, Drawing "the red umbrella":
Saatchi Art
 Each of these are examples of how a setting can affect a character. It isn't about Rockefeller Center - it's about what Rockefeller Center means to your character. So go ahead and let the rain fall on that dark and stormy night, but be sure to make the reader feel like it's something they're experiencing through your point of view character. Maybe a shivering puppy who hasn't eaten properly in days, is soaked to the bone, and has been ignored by the world huddles under a massive tree for shelter. A lonely young character lost her dog and has come to the Rockefeller Center's tree to wish that Sprinkles comes home. The rain turns to fluffy flakes of snow as the two are reunited.

 I have farmed potatoes. But I've never had to grow taters to survive on Mars. Yet, while reading Andy Weir's "The Martian," I felt like I had. That's another great story with a setting that can't be swapped. Mark Watney wouldn't be as compelling if the book were "The Idahoan." A story where the majority of the population is in favor of spending billions of dollars to help one farmer out doesn't seem plausible. But put him on Mars and it works.

So I encourage you to take some time with your settings. Find the sights, smells, textures, tastes, and sounds that make this place unique to your story. Use the setting as a tool to reveal traits of your character. Let it be a challenge or a comforting friend. Give the reader a reason to care about your setting (to the point that there would be a trending Twitter riot if Hollywood tried to put your characters elsewhere). It will pay off.

I'm J Lenni Dorner, winner of the 2015 Youthful Frights and Adult Fears WEP Halloween Challenge, and author of "Preparing to Write Settings that Feel Like Characters" (Amazon, Smashwords).

 Socialize online with 
J Lenni Dorner: 

Help us Spread the Word!
We'd love if you'd Tweet one of these:

J Lenni Dorner is guest posting - the subject is settings #WEPFF Write…Edit,,,Publish @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-winner-j-lenni-dorner-talks.html

J Lenni Dorner talks setting and characters at the #WEPFF Write…Edit…Publish. @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-winner-j-lenni-dorner-talks.html


A guest post by Alex J. Cavanaugh
'How to Write Science Fiction'
just in time for
December's Challenge - Sign up Dec 1st!