Explaining the No

Back in June, we opened submissions for the upcoming Weird West anthology, Lawless Lands, from Falstaff Books. We’ve had a lot of stories roll in, some of them great, some of them okay, and some of them pretty terrible. Yeah, I said ‘terrible’. Despite all the advice we here on Magical Words (as well as lots of other writing sites all over the net) have offered over the years, there are some writers who are just NOT. GETTING. IT. And that breaks my heart. As an editor, what I hope to find every time I open a story file is that incredible story, the one that makes me race through to the end and then read it again because it was that good. The one that leaves me in tears because it touched me so deeply. THAT story. But sometimes writers send in pieces that make me stare at the […]

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The Same Old Song

Several years back, I swore to myself (and to my husband, who was trapped in the car with me and unable to avoid hearing my rant) that I would never, ever sit on a panel called “Strong Female Characters” ever again. I had just been on one at a con, and while the discussion was perfectly reasonable and the audience attentive, we were rehashing the same old crap that’s been said thousands of times. And none of it changes anything. A panel called “Strong Female Characters” tends to affirm the often unspoken rule that white heterosexual male characters are the norm, and women are somehow different.

The same problem lurks with all sorts of commonly scheduled panels on diversity. Another that bugs me is “Writing the Other”. In an ideal world, a panel about writing the other would focus on how each of us is both different and alike, and […]

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R. S. Belcher: Building Character

When I began work on my first novel – The Six-Gun Tarot – I made a decision to make as many of the characters in my tiny little town of Golgotha, Nevada, as unique as possible. I wanted everybody in the town to have some dark secret, some special gift, or some unique history. I have received some very positive feedback on my characters in Six-Gun, but I don’t think it was just giving the shop-keep a wife who was a head in a jar, or making my female protagonist a member of a secret Lilith cult, and a living weapon to boot— I think the reason my characters breathed for people was because I tried to make them, well…people.

At this year’s RavenCon, I was fortunate enough to be a guest and to have the honor of being on a panel with some very cool folks discussing the concept […]

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