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Donkey Kong Country – Where Setting Makes All the Difference

As a child of the 90s, the Super Nintendo played a distinct part in my elementary school life. There was Mario, sure, jumping along on mushrooms and pipes in worlds full of fireballs, turtles, and Bowser. But, when compared with the lush jungles, dark caves, and haunting seas of Donkey Kong, I couldn’t help but […]

A Monster Calls – How to have children handle adult issues without losing childhood

There’s a perception, particularly with books like Harry Potter or Pixar films, that they effectively treat their young characters the same as adults. In other words, the children aren’t shielded from complicated and difficult problems just because they’re not eighteen years or older. This, of course, is a closer mirror to reality, in which random circumstance doesn’t […]

Choosing the Weapons – Five bits to keep in mind when deciding how your hero will vanquish their enemies

Take just about any action-based property and you’ll find, somewhere within it, an iconic weapon. A lightsaber in Star Wars. Frodo’s glowing dagger in The Lord of the Rings. Harry’s wand in Harry Potter. Ash’s ‘boomstick’ in the Evil Dead series. So on and so forth. Because of the outsized place a weapon holds as a hero’s instrument of justice […]

Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From

The past couple of posts have been about shorts, namely stories for anthologies. However much you can learn by writing them, though, it’s best to complement your own scribblings with those of a master. At least, a master of the short form. Carver might not write science fiction, might not explore the elven realms of […]

Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead

Ursula Ruiz does something clever with her short story – it’s arranged like a Kickstarter with all the usual elements, cleverly structured to provide the exposition, conflict, and growing horror that something terrible is going to happen. There’s a risk with inventive formatting of fiction that Ruiz is taking here. For one, there’s a lot […]