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How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction
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How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  128 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
The masters of speculative fiction share how-to instruction on writing stories about the weird, the fantastic, the unknown and the imagined, in 27 succinct chapters.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Writer's Digest Books (first published 1987)
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Jun 08, 2015 Charles rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dissappointment
This is an older book (1987) so most of the information is out of date in regards to editors and publishers.

I was surprised however, that the reference was also so out of date. Even at the time of the writing, it feels though they pulled even older articles from well known authors and bundled them together in one binding. And not very well I might add.

I think what would be a better read and more relevant is to have this entire book redone with articles no older than 3 years and compiled and recr
May 10, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring horror, fantasy, or sf authors
What sets this book apart is that rather being a advice from a single author it's a collection of essays by prominent authors. The introduction alone, by Robert Bloch, was a wonderfully written and entertaining read. I think that's the first time I've ever said that about an introduction. The contributors consist of a Who's Who of speculative fiction circa 1987. Science fiction, fantasy and horror all get attention. There seemed to be a little extra attention paid to horror. It seems it was unde ...more
Kourtnie McKenzie
Jan 21, 2009 Kourtnie McKenzie rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
This book, divided up into a collection of articles from different authors, literary agents, and editors in the field, provides a ton of useful information, even for its age (late 1980's.) Much of what is mentioned, when I was reading it, made me think, "That's just common sense," but it nevertheless was full of advice and methods to break writer's block and create fantasy worlds that I found particularly impressive. Horror is focused on heavily; so if you're like myself and only interested in f ...more
Timothy McNeil
While there is a fair amount of dated material (don't submit a dot matrix printed manuscript!), I was more surprised by how angry and resentful many of the contributing writers were. Quite willing to dismiss authors (sometimes named ones), they held themselves to be examples of the 'pure' kind of writing.

There wasn't much in the way of practical advice in terms of how to develop horror, fantasy, or science fiction stories, but the whole of the project left me feeling (and believing myself to be)
Jun 23, 2010 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic-writing
I'm not a huge fan of Williamson's own fiction but I thought this book was very well done. It helped me look at spec fiction writing from different angles and it was definitely a fairly easy read.

This book is edited by Williamson, by the way, and contains essays on writing by: Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Williamson (2), Mort Castle, Steve Rasnic Tem, Thomas Millstead, William F. Nolan, James Kisner, Ardath Mayhar, Dean Koontz (2), Charles Grant, Robert McCammon, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Darrell S
Edward Pissmeoff
Although a bit outdated, the core advice given in the articles is absolutely fantastic. A must read for any writer, novice or veteran, because a great writer never stops improving on their craft.
Jessica Baumgartner
May 22, 2014 Jessica Baumgartner rated it really liked it
Even being 20 plus years old and slightly outdated, this book has some helpful tips that still hold true today.
Feb 05, 2009 Patrick added it
Shelves: books-i-own, sci-fi
Not as good as Orson Scott Card's book on this topic, but mostly worth reading. This one features small articles written by various authors in the field. The general flow, therefore, is less coherent and the advice sometimes seems even contradictory. I guess this could be a good or bad thing depending on your view point.
Kerry Allen
Feb 05, 2011 Kerry Allen added it
Shelves: donated
Twenty-something essays from experts in doing as indicated in the title. The industry news is obsolete, given that the publication date is 1987 (so it's been obsolete since 1988), but the mechanics of story creation are pretty timeless and useful to filter through your brain at least once, regardless of your genre of choice.
A collection of chapters by a "who's who of speculative fiction" list of authors, each offering guidance and advice on a subtopic, e.g. plotting, character development, creating suspense, and others. I believe any aspiring author of fiction, not only in these genres but any other as well, would find this book very useful.
Scott Haworth
Apr 28, 2016 Scott Haworth rated it really liked it
Valuable advice, though individual results may vary. Like a series of guest lecturers on writing, which is just as much fun as it sounds. The material on the current state of fiction markets is, of course, dated, as this was published in the 1980s.
James Hurley
Oct 21, 2012 James Hurley rated it liked it
A rehash of other, earlier stuff, and leans mostly towards Horror than anything else. The Author has a couple of chapters in here that almost seem, well, self indulgent. But it's a good refresher on what to do and what not to do in writing.
Marie Zhuikov
Aug 27, 2012 Marie Zhuikov rated it really liked it
Even though it's dated, I enjoyed reading this book because it helped me to understand better how I write. My favorite chapter was "Fantasy and Faculty X" by Colin Wilson, which delves into the workings of the right brain and the left brain.
Greg Fisher
Jul 01, 2007 Greg Fisher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
This book is a collection of essays about many aspects of writing science fiction, fantasy and horror. In the back are lists of many authors' favorite books and an extensive compiled lists of must-read SF, Fantasy and Horror.
Mira Domsky
Mar 11, 2010 Mira Domsky rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Somewhat outdated, but some of the essays are written by by famous classic authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ray Bradbury, as well as current bestsellers like Dean Koontz.
Fredrick Danysh
Jul 06, 2014 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
A guide to writing by a master of science fiction and fantasy. There are many useful ideas for the beginning writer. It is easy to read and understand.
Dec 16, 2007 colleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 1990
read 09.23.90
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Gerald Neal Williamson (April 17, 1932 - December 8, 2005) wrote and edited horror stories under the name J. N. Williamson. He also write under the name Julian Shock.

Born in Indianapolis, IN he graduated from Shortridge High School. He studied journalism at Butler University. He published his first novel in 1979 and went on to publish more than 40 novels and 150 short stories. In 2003 he received
More about J.N. Williamson...

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