Category Archives: Guest Posts

The Entrepreneur and Artist by Tola Makanjuola

Image by Gill Donnell from Pixabay

The Entrepreneur and Artist
The Importance of being Well Rounded

Do you choose to be a starving artist? Or is it a condition that befalls those who are inherently driven to create to the point of self detriment? In other words, do you choose to ‘starve’ or does ‘starving’ choose you?

It’s a valid and perplexing query, one worth unpacking with due diligence. Clarity on this issue would perhaps help to cultivate a healthy culture and mindset around creatives and monetising their endeavours.

Most of us would have heard of the denigration, “sell out”, an expression that describes the compromise of one’s integrity or betrayal to an allegiance. No where is this expression more commonly slung than in the realms of artistic endeavour. Why is that? Well, art is seen as a pure expression of self (whatever that means), and therefore, an artist who once immersed himself in the warm waters of artistic moral alignment, now pursuing financial profit ahead of critical acclaim, is seen to be driven by other motivating factors aside from the excellence of his/her art form, and is in effect, deemed a sell-out.

Name calling is unseemly, but there is an element of truth to this assumption which is almost trite. The pursuit of material gain, placed before the value that can derived from an endeavour not only diminishes the overall quality of the work, but does amount to much personal fulfilment.

So that’s the element of truth. Like most human enterprise, physical or otherwise, corruption sips in, insidiously. Being financial successful as an artist of any ilk, seems to almost inevitably come with label of industry sell-out, but not always for the reasons of compromise of artistic integrity, but more for a perceived betrayal to the notion of shunning success for the ‘sake of art’. This is destructive thinking, and while many are wise enough to question the credibility of this thought and it’s motivations, there are many, for reasons varied, who champion this perspective.

The question still remains. Do you choose ‘starvation’, or does ‘starvation’ choose you?

Proclaiming that there those who choose to ‘live for their art alone’, would not add much merit to this writing. That’s obvious, and good luck to them. One can infer some of the reasoning behind their choices, and while not all are invalid, one motive could certainly driven by pious commitment to ‘artistic integrity’. However, if we suggest that there are those who are chosen to ‘starve’, there-in lies a more engaging issue.

What distinguishes a liberal thinker from a conservative thinker ? Liberals are ideas people, high in creativity and openness, low in conscientiousness. Conservatives are not very creative, low on openness, but high in conscientiousness. Therefore, it can be certainly be argued that a highly creative person, is probably more likely to struggle in creating and enforcing a disciplined structure around his/her endeavours compared to a person driven to adhere by rules. But this bellies a critical point.

Great writers, artists, actors, poets reflect as much dedication and discipline to their craft, as do the best regulators, managers, corporate leaders and politicians. And while they may operate in fields that prioritise different traits, (creativity vs organisation ), it would be wrong to suggest that an artist could not develop the skill sets required to at the very least, understand the world of business in which his/her work is being marketed in. In fact, this article determines that an endeavour towards cultivating a well-rounded mindset is the more responsible, and less self indulgent course of action.

As previously stated, great artists like great managers employ discipline. It would seem that while, an artist may be predisposed to a unique mode of being, their ability to learn and master their craft is because of discipline and strength of character in overcoming inevitable adversity along the way. In order to manage your life and creative affairs appropriately, discipline and strength of character are qualities that are equally integral in achieving this aim.

That was a lot of unpack, but here are the essential points. There’s no value in conflating success with corruptible compromise. Of course, compromising on fundamental integrity for material gain will only lead to personal regret. Most importantly, there is a point at which material success and creative success meet. Establishing a place at this point means you are well-rounded, not a sell-out. It equates to being independent, self sustaining (you don’t necessarily need to become wealthy) and fulfilled. No one said it would be easy, but then again, what is?


Poet Tola MakanjuolaTola Makanjuola was born in Lagos, Nigeria. When he was 16, he and his family moved to the UK, where he finished high school and went on to study Media and Communications at Aberystwyth University in Wales. After graduation, he went on to study an Msc. in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management at Imperial College London (2013/14). From then, he went to work in IT Consulting for a period of two years, before branching out to start his company, Circleturn ltd. Under Circleturn, Tola has created the website circleturn.com, which he curates by writing poems, drawing comics, writing book overviews and articles on design thinking. Tola also founded Squishy in 2019, a travel pillow company looking to make the most personable and comfortable travel pillows on the market. He went on to create the Poetry Bores Podcast in April 2020. On Poetry Bores, Tola analyses poetry with his friend Filippo with humour and insight, and also interviews folks who are doing wonderful things such as writing, serving others, building businesses, etc.. Tola has written poetry religiously for the past eleven years, and has published three poetry collections , the latest in March 2020, called ‘Lonely Ways to Change the World’. You can purchase Tola’s first two books on Amazon, and the third in ebook version on his website.

Tola’s Amazon Author Page
Instagram: Poetry Bores Podcast@tola.mkja@onelineandbookmark
YouTube: Poetry Bores Podcast

 

World Building by Bill McCormick

World Building
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Before we get into the meat of the subject I’m assuming you’ve read Strunk and White and learned grammar and studied Steven King’s On Writing and learned how to craft content. If not those specific tomes then I’ll presuppose you’ve read, and devoured, similar. It all comes down to this, world building isn’t where you start your journey as a writer. You need to have the basics well in place before you throw yourself off this mountain.

When you create the world your characters are going to live in it can be something simple, like Toledo, Ohio, or something amazing like the gas clouds of Orbius Prime. No matter which, you’ll need ground rules to get started.

  1. Let’s say you picked Toledo; you’ll need to mention the Mud Hens, the city’s devotion to sausages, the national museum of the great lakes, lunch at Grumpy’s and so on.
  2.  If you picked the gas clouds of Orbius Prime, then you need to let readers know about how light refracts in the gasses, what does , and does not, work as a means of propulsion, whether or not the beings living there are corporeal, and how communication is achieved. I would assume varying shades of illumination would work best, but you have options.

In other words, it’s not just a name you toss out it’s a place you bring to life. When the reader closes the book they should feel like they were there. Maybe even bought some souvenirs.

I have found that detailing the world I’ll be creating first, and then adding characters works best. I didn’t do that for my first novel and ended up having to go back and do so since there were glaring inconsistencies in locations and tone. I, literally, had a desiccated desert near a lake.

Before you ask, yes, that was a huge pain in the ass.

So, to save yourself the irritation, lay things out in a simple graph.

  1. Where: Name your place and then detail, at least, ten things which make this place unique.
  2. When: Based on a current reader’s perspective, is this something that happened before or after their existence. If it’s current, try and avoid pop culture references. Since they won’t be current when your book comes out they immediately place the story in the reader’s past.
  3. Tech: It’s well known that any tech sufficiently advanced enough would appear to be magic to a less developed society. The same holds true in writing. If you introduce the “multi phased Frombulator” you have to be clear as to what it does, why it exists, and be able to give a rudimentary idea of how it works. You need not get into the physics of the thing, unless you feel it’s required, but you do have to be able to make readers believe it could exist. Contrariwise, if you’re setting is medieval Europe, you can’t give the princess a Buick to make her life easier. The tech you add has to fit the rest of your universe.
  4. Consistency: Despite popular tropes, it is not the hobgoblin of little minds. Foolish consistency is. Now, whether you’re creating a magical fairy kingdom, interplanetary battles featuring alien warlords, or a whimsical a rom/com starring Satan, you need to set out the rules that guide your universe. And those rules need to apply to every character, and in every event. Remember, it’s not the suggestion of physics, those are laws for a reason. If your characters can violate them, you need a believable reason. This is less true in comic books where characters can fly unaided. Yet, even then, the rest of the universe follows basic physics leaving the flying people as outliers.

One easy out from all this, that lazy writers like to use, is to create a universe of gods. Since their characters are all gods they can do whatever they want. Unless you have multiple iterations of Yahweh, that won’t fly. And if you do, where’s the conflict? Even Satan doesn’t directly challenge God. In fact, in many interpretations, he’s fulfilling a function required by God. So, you’re back to needing some rules, and characters to live within them.

Another thing to look out for is accidentally creating multiple generations of morons. A wildly popular series of books, and a related TV show, have characters who, according to numerous plot points, have been at war, and fighting dragons, for eight thousand years. In that time the only weapons they have come up with are variants of a pointy stick. Some large, some small, some metal, some wood, but, at the end of the day, they’re all just pointy sticks. You would think that, given the fact there were constant airborne threats, someone might have given artificial flight a try. All of the needed materials are right there. And the inspiration is literally eating their livestock.

However, there was also an abundance of naked boobs, so that made up for a lot.

World building can be, and is to me, fun. There are lots of guides you can use to help they’re just not marketed as such. Books on mythologies will help you create believable powerful beings. Dungeons and Dragons is a great guide for your magical realm. NASA.gov has tons of free research online that will help you build realistic alien homes. And, if you want to bend some brains, don’t neglect the various conspiracy sites.

Once you have your feet firmly on the ground, let your imagination loose and see what it brings home.


Author Bill McCormackBILL McCORMICK is a critically acclaimed author of several novels, graphic novels, comic book series, and has appeared in numerous anthologies. He began writing professionally in 1986 for the Chicago Rocker Magazine in conjunction with his radio show on Z-95 (ABC-FM) and went on to write for several other magazines and blogs. He currently writes a twisted news & science blog at WorldNewsCenter.org. That provides source material for his weekly appearance on The Big Wakeup Call on WBIG 1280 AM (FOX! Sports). You can find out more about him at BillMcSciFi.com.

Splice by Bill McCormack

There’s No Finish Line by D.H. Aire

No Finish Line
Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash

Over Memorial Day Weekend I was on an online panel as part of Balticon, which was held virtually. The topic of the panel was “There’s No Finish Line.”

I keep thinking about that panel as I continue to feel like I’m living the topic.

You see, I began trying to get published in earnest about ten years ago. It’s not that I hadn’t tried before, but I gave up submitting to forego the pleasure of so many rejection letters.

However, as hurt as those letters left me feeling those many years before, I kept writing, but at that point I was just writing and rewriting for myself. Then, as can happen, well, life happened. I was told I had to grow up and stop this writing stuff. Other obligations in life were far more important—and stopping was killing me inside. Oh, I don’t disagree that priorities need balance, but “growing up” doesn’t mean you should give up doing what you love. No matter if you face rejection even from those closest to you.

I learned something from taking that and fantasy is part of who I am. I had stories I needed to write and share, and I found I couldn’t let that part of me not be expressed.

So, the moment came when my life dramatically changed and I knew it was time to dust off the stories I liked the most and I proofed, edited, wrote and rewrote again. Then, I guess, you could say “I rinsed and repeated.” I began submitting again and this time, well, some editors didn’t send me rejection letters. Oh, plenty of others still did, but, well, those rejections didn’t hurt like they had before. Actually, I think I just didn’t care about the rejections. I just kept writing and started going to science fiction and fantasy conventions, which offered workshops on writing. The editors started liking what they were seeing, I guess–especially the ones who offered me my first book contracts.

Subsequently, I came to the point where going Indy made more sense, which led to my selling enough books and making enough money at it that I qualified to join SFWA, the science fiction and fantasy writers association.

I love aspects of self-publishing, commissioning cover designs, formatting for print,. while other aspects like self-promoting, not so much… Now I’ve 19 books in print. Over the years, I’ve met people who wrote and published one short story or book and stopped. I don’t really understand that. Or, perhaps, I do. Writing’s a business and not exactly profitable—except, well, when it happens to be profitable. But profit’s not everything. There’s something about it that let’s my soul sort of fly on the winds and across the stars. Fine, as an author I’m delusional… but such delusions of life on Mars or among elves really aren’t so bad for a fantasy and sci fi writer..

All I know, is there’s really no finish line.

What gives me hope for a wider readership one day are people telling me how George R.R. Martin would attend some of the conventions I have, participating on panels, and would walk down the halls unrecognized for years and years until everything changed for him. Another author I’ve come to know, who shall remain nameless, sold his first book to a major press after twenty years of publishing short stories and novels and was introduced as a new author by that publisher. He chuckled, telling me how after twenty years he was an overnight success.

Funny thing about that phrase… I watched a biography on A&E about Jeff Dunham. He too became an overnight success after twenty years and shared he was rejected as not yet ready to be on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson eight times. The ninth time he made it and found himself headlining around the country from then on… but that was only a major step toward success for him. Because he was a ventriloquist, Comedy Central wouldn’t offer him a special. They didn’t understand his appeal or that a man with dummies could truly be funny… He decided to pay for producing a special himself (he said it cost him over $100,000) and his business manager had to beg to get Comedy Central to air it. The day after it aired they called and said something was wrong with the ratings. It turned out that his special had the highest ratings they’d ever had.

That didn’t just happen. He did everything he could, practicing his skills for years, writing jokes, being creative—including sculpting his own dummies. What really echoed in me was how he’d built his “overnight success.” Like authors need to, he built a mailing list. He collected the names and addresses of those who came to his shows and when he was returning their area. Today, it’s about building an email mailing list and twitter following, but then it was about sending out postcards when he was going to be performing within 50 miles of where his fans lived, encouraging them to buy tickets and bring their friends. That’s how he built his fan base, so when that Comedy Central special aired, they were watching… Jeff Dunham’s a story teller. I’m a story teller–I just throw the voices on the printed page and have a lot more work to do until I hit that twenty year benchmark hopefully can become an overnight success.

I have to keep telling myself, write, write, edit, rewrite, edit, proof, submit stories, self-publish as I choose, and most of all keep dreaming… telling myself the day will come.

So I promote my books as best I can—while the day job pays the bills, provides the medical insurance, and try to keep balance in my life as best I can.

So I speak on panels at conventions—even if must be virtually these days, do a talk on science fiction like one I recently did on Zoom, write, rewrite, edit, proof, and repeat. Oh, and the recipe includes promote, promote, seek out a new advance reader while I’m at it—and seek precious reviews. Oh, what the other authors on that panel at Balticon with me included from their own experience — work on more than one project at a time. One book may be with a publisher for months, while another is being written and others already published need to continue to be promoted.

There’s one other thing. The more I write the better I get at it. The characters and stories just keep whispering in my dreams, becoming more real as I write them. Truth be told, those pesky characters keep wanting me to share their tales and won’t let me stop.

Oh, along those lines, I’ve a number of book projects about ready for publication or just launched. I recently published Lessers Not Losers, a Young Adult novel with an unusual take on an origin story for would-be Superheroes, which I hope to become the first book in a trilogy or series.


D.H. Aire likes to blend genres, mixing his science fiction with a touch of fantasy, and especially blending his epic fantasy with a science fiction twist, which has found expression in his writing of his Highmage’s Plight Series and The Hands of the Highmage Series, and the more contemporary Dare2Believe series. He is also the author of the space opera series, Terran Catalyst. His most recently published book includes Nowhere to Go But Mars, a novella, and the forthcoming Knight of the Broken Table. His short stories have appeared in ezines and anthologies.
D.H. Aire is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. To learn more about Lessers Not Losers and his other projects, visit the author’s website, www.dhaire.net, or follow him on Twitter at @dare2believe1 or Dare 2 Believe on Facebook.

Here’s the link to book cover on Amazon:
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/41nYjoMdOhL.jpg

How Spec Fiction Helped Me Earn My (Rainbow) Wings by Deanna Rasch

Hello, Fellow Readers and Writers of Speculative Fiction!
Wendy and I were guests together on a recent recording of the Sci-Fi Roundtable Podcast. The episode centered around women writers of SF/Fantasy. Terrific conversation. A great connection between the guests. I’m jazzed to have been a part of it and hope that you tune in when it airs : )

Here’s the thing. I nearly didn’t raise my hand when the invitation to participate came out. It was a knee-jerk reaction to just step back. Bow out. Something I’ve gotten used to doing when something’s labeled “for women.” Because I identify both as a lesbian in orientation and beyond my female biology in gender – queer, genderqueer, non-binary are each cool with me.

Sometimes, it’s my own discomfort that gets in the way in certain circles of women. Sometimes it’s that of the women in the circle. Either way, it doesn’t always feel worth the trouble in some social situations. In this situation, I’m glad I raised my hand. Grateful for Wendy’s warm “come on in.” Not to mention her invitation to do this guest post.

Now, you came here to read a post about speculative fiction. And it’s Pride Month as I’m writing this. So, here’s the connection.
Like many queer folks—especially young adults of my generation (think Star Trek: The Next Generation)—I knew without a doubt I was not altogether comfortable in my female body. Along with the expectations of the time about being female. There weren’t identities available at the time to describe my experience.

Except in the world of spec fiction.

In retrospect, it’s no wonder I was drawn to alien species on my television screen. The ones who either refused or worked hard to fit in. To the stories in the classic SF novels slipped to me in school by the kindly nun who seemed, on some level, to get my difference. In them, I found glimpses of potential identities, relationships, family—even if it took backflips of translation to get there.

In a time and a place (Midwest, U.S.) without resources for folks of similar experience, those books and shows literally saved me. Transported me until I could resource myself. Until the wheel of time could turn a few more times to allow for changes and broader acceptance. Growing up and living in the margins like that is an experience of isolation and search for community. These stories—as story does—taught me the power of imagination in creating your place in the world.

These stories also gave me wings. Starting with the dragon wings of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. Not only did they refer to the first gay relationships I’d seen in print; but a world with telepathic dragon companions in a lifelong bond with their riders was a balm to the loneliness of a queer teen.

That world inspired me to write the (very closeted) essay about SF/Fantasy that earned me a scholarship to a private high school my parents couldn’t afford. Which led to unanticipated opportunities for college and, eventually, an MFA in Creative Writing, which currently supports both my own writing and my work coaching writers and editing their work. Wings.

Ursula K. LeGuin and John Varley asked important questions in their stories about binary gender. Sexual orientation. And about relationships that defied the binary in a variety of ways. They each explored the concept of transitioning, as well, each through their unique lens. Reading The Left Hand of Darkness, The Telling, The Titan Series, and Steel Beach as a teen/young adult gave the beginnings of form to feelings I’d nursed for some time. A sense of freedom. Encouragement to keep exploring them, redefining them as culture allowed. Wings.

I’ve never stopped going to spec fiction for it’s brave explorations—and, yes, speculations–when it comes to the possibilities of relationship, cultural, racial, and personal identities. To Octavia Butler, Nicola Griffith, Margaret Atwood, Poul Anderson—the list goes on. How those identities often intersect with magic, technology, science, sociology in spec fic, to me, only expands the potentialities. Keeps giving me hope for a more accepting future. Authors like Charlie Jane Anders, Kameron Hurley, Becky Chambers, Akwaeke Emezi, Noelle Stevenson, J.Y. Yang, Tamsin Muir, and so many more are exploding that future into the present.

I hope you don’t mind that I got a bit personal in this post. Maybe it’s not what you were expecting. It may have even been a bit uncomfortable, for some. It’s important, I feel, as writers, to be reminded once in a while that we’re always writing for an audience—not only a market. That our audience can be counting on us to take risks and still be mindful in our representations. That our stories may be what some need, as well as what others want. To create space for #ownvoices. And when we, inevitably, show our growing places, our less-than-conscious spaces, that we accept feedback from those affected with grace, openness, and discernment.

And for the readers in us all: consider this a challenge to read—or keep reading—stories that have themes that trigger you. Characters outside those you comfortably relate to. Cultures alien to your experience. After all, that’s part of what puts the spec in spec fiction, isn’t it? : )

Diversity in the genre is increasing exponentially. It’s an exciting era for our favorite genres and the exciting hybrids that are emerging. We can appreciate our old favorites. And we can acknowledge that there were limits in some of the stories that excluded the participation reading invites of readers-in-the-margins.
We can do better—are doing better—as writers and readers. Becoming open to inclusion. I mean, if an institution like the Star Trek franchise can finally move closer to it’s vision and potential by acknowledging that Seven-of-Nine likes the ladies (without the translation I made in the 90’s)…well, it gives me hope. And wings as a writer. In the way spec fic always has.


D.M. Rasch is an author of LGBTQIAAP speculative fiction (and a sometimes poet) who lives in the Denver, CO area with 2 sister kittens who are pretty tough in the editing department. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and balances work as a Creative Coach and Editor (as Deanna M. Rasch) with her writing in her business, Itinerant Creative Content & Coaching LLC . Find her work on the linked Amazon page and look forward to the upcoming publication of her YA novel Freedom’s Cost, as well as an appearance in the anthology, Innovation, Aug. 2020.
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Ten Rules of Time Travel by Ian Lehey

So you wish to include time traveling as part of your story? How hard can it be? Have a nutty scientist or brainy professor come up with a credible time machine, or stumble across one if you want to avoid some of the techy mumbo-jumbo, have them jump backwards or forwards to the time requested by the plot, and then, for the perfect Hollywood ending, everyone jumps back to their timeline and enjoys the cool effects of tweaking history.

Problems deriving from time-travel? There’s nothing so terrible about becoming your own father or mother (or both) that can’t be fixed with some counseling and some good parenting. (I think Douglas Adams said that.) It’s just like wiping a page from a history book and writing it again the way you want it to be, right?

Wrong.

The truth is that when it comes to time travel, the territory becomes rather uncertain if not entirely boggled. Here are ten things you should keep in mind when you start playing around with time.

1. If you are about to leap into the past, then it has already happened.

That’s right. The moment you allow your characters to jump back in time, then the alterations they will apply will already have taken place. This results in our first great dilemma: now that history has changed and the problem solved, what will motivate the heroes to jump back? When the solution is so effective that the problem never existed, who will need to think of a solution? One way to solve this is to conceal the fact that the current state of affairs is, in hindsight, a result of that jump, and that another, far worse, scenario would have ensued from not going back. In other words, the travelers’ motivations are not determined by something that will change, but something they have already changed.

2. Your traveler must, in no way, be connected to the facts he or she is trying to change.

As a collateral point to rule number one, any traveler altering events impacting their own timeline will automatically fail. This is because, by altering time, they will inevitably alter their own memory of what happened, and that will ultimately lead to different decisions the next time around.
“Wait what next time?”, you ask. Well that leads us to:

4. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

Get it?

3. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

A successful leap into the past is one that will always have happened. One in which the traveler will, at a certain point, either devise their own way to travel or be thrown back in time by a series of events which must, always, result in the same outcome. Time will not permit an ever-changing number of different outcomes, it will stabilize into a flow where the jump never happens, or where it does, but always follows the same exact script. The effects of this on the characters can be very dark, or also quite funny. Especially for short jumps. Just like this little joke.

5. Time is memory.

In other words, our only sense for the passing of time is our ability to keep a record of past events. As a result, altering time inevitably alters the record. There are only two ways out of this paradox, in my opinion: One way is based on the theory of alternative universes which is so popular nowadays. In this theory, when you travel in time what you really do is jump to a different reality where what you did has changed history, but you come from a universe where nothing was done, so your memory of that history remained the same. This theory has a few flaws, well pointed out by the Rick & Morty series, including meeting infinite yous intent on changing their histories, and infinite other yous content with their lot and suddenly buggered by all the goddamn people turning up at their door.

Another way is to have time change from the old reality to the new rewritten one, but slowly. Slowly enough for the transition itself to be noticed and recorded. This is what I did in my short story “Hero of Stolen Time”. In it, the hero Ratscrap is the only one capable of jumping back two years into the past to stop the beginning of a terrible series of Viking incursions. When he fails to do so, partially because Ratscrap is a self-loathing coward, reality slowly begins to shift to a Viking-ridden village where everyone’s soon-to-be alternative is killed. Knowing this, Ratscrap must jump back to preserve his reality as well as his own miserable life.

6. The Bootstrap Paradox.

This theory was described quite beautifully in a Dr. Who episode and went like this:

Imagine your character is a Beethoven fanatic. He packs his collection of sheet music and jumps back to meet the man himself to discuss all things musical. When he finally sees Ludwig, our hero is horrified to discover the great composer doing nothing but sitting on the sofa and scratching his butt. (I think the Doctor put it more elegantly). Panicking, the time traveler shoves all of Beethoven’s sheet music in the loafing musician’s hands and hurriedly leaps back to the present to discover, to his relief, that the great Ludwig still is the world-renown musical genius.

The paradox is this: who composed the music? Our hero would swear it was Beethoven, but Ludwig would say it was a frantic looking man with a funny German accent who made it and gave it to him. You can’t jump back in time and hand J.K. Rowling a copy of Harry Potter. That’s worse than becoming your own parent.

7. I don’t have time for number 7.

8. Beware the uncanny valley. (Yes, there’s one in time travel too)

People who read sci-fi appreciate the imaginative way authors apply their scientific knowledge. A lack of scientific detail will undermine the credibility of your story. When it comes to time and time travel, science itself becomes rather iffy. To put it in other words, there’s a whole lot of fi in the sci already. Some writers will try to compensate this by adding even more details on exploiting naturally occurring nano-wormholes, strings, membranes and that ever-recurring buzzword, the quantum [insert something here]. The result is that, past a certain threshold, the authors themselves get so garbled as to put off even the most hardened geek. Make it scientzy, but don’t overdo it. Sometimes it’s preferable to simplify too much rather than overexplain it. Ratscrap’s time jumping ability, for instance, came from a simple magic potion.

A magic potion? Jeez, who am I trying to fool here? That’s almost as bad as quantum.

9. Forward jumps are ok. Sometimes.

Making your hero jump forward in time is absolutely doable. Unless you have the nerve to also bring them back. In that case, all of the above rules apply again. Knowledge of future events could potentially lead to attempts aimed at altering that future, but in that case, the original future never existed, so why change it? Headaches anyone? (One of Ratscrap’s side effects of time travel was a massive, sentient headache).

10. Alternatives to time travel.

There are a couple of more approachable alternatives to time travel, to avoid headaches, embarrassing family reunions and all that excessive mucking about with quantum and J.K.Rowling.

One way to travel into the past safely is to “tune in” to a past moment. This can be done by sending back a hidden probe, or waiting for when everyone will have a memory chip installed into their brains and simply playback their experience, or even sync present and past atoms to create a replica via, sigh, quantum entanglement. In all three cases, the past cannot be altered but only experienced as a hologram or virtual reality.
Another alternative to changing the past is even simpler. As stated in rule no. 5, time is memory. Do you really need to send your character back in time to hide the fact that they murdered someone? Wouldn’t it be relatively easier to alter everyone’s memory of the event, so that the murder becomes an accident? In this case, the hero’s memory would remain intact, as well as anyone’s they wish to preserve.

These are just ideas, not to be taken as absolute guidelines. Just make sure your plot holds, maybe catch a glimpse of the future to check how readers will respond and you will have seen – are going to have seen…

Truth be told, the hardest thing about writing time travel are the damn tenses.


Ian Lahey, author, dreamer, and Olympic-level binge-watcher, teaches English Language and Literature in Italy. Apart from writing arguably decent fiction, he also cooks with nearly edible results, tinkers with computer graphics, and does quite a lot of gardening, since he needs to replace all the plants he’s inadvertently killed.
https://ilahey.com