Tag Archive | speculative fiction

Things I learned at When Words Collide, 2014

Every year I attend a writing conference in Calgary called “When Words Collide”. Every year I have an absolutely supreme time, and this year I thought I’d share some of what I learned with the internet at large. 


1) Desire + Obstacle = Conflict

This should be common sense, but I had never heard the question of conflict explained in such a way before! Thanks to Anna Maria Bortolotto for this lesson!

2) It pays to be friendly

Especially at a writer’s conference.  I guarantee that literally everyone there has one thing in common: they like to read. I guess if that fails, you can always talk about the weather. 

It also pays to be friendly in marketing–give first. Your mom was right, you catch more flies with free bookmarks than with vinegar. 

3) There’s a lot more to editing than finding new ways to tell people that they suck. 

I’m still convinced that “dental draft” is a euphemism for something. 

4) No one can agree on whether or not digital publishing is a good thing. 

5) Editors really like in medias res. 

6)  You don’t always get rejected because you’re crap. Editors are actually pretty nice people. Mostly. 

7) The cake isn’t a lie, but the chocolate might be

This one is a bit of a story: there was supposed to be a chocolate social on Saturday night of the conference. My gaggle of pals and I waited for about 2 hours. No chocolate. It was all a lie. 

They did let us have leftover cake from the banquet, so the cake? All truth. 




Mirror, Mirror: An examination of human representation in speculative fiction (Introduction)

The world of science fiction, fantasy and horror, collectively known as speculative fiction, is a world packed with fantastic beings. This is great, I guess. But all the stories are still about one thing.


Every speculative fiction story, if you really boil it down, is about humans. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, necessarily. Humans are writing the stories­–and all writers are told to write what we know.

Herein lies the problem. We humans don’t always like ourselves, and it shows in any fiction involving non-humans, even if humans don’t appear at all. Either that, or we humans believe in ourselves. A lot.

Like nature and nurture in psychology, there is a debate that has been argued since War of the Worlds to Dracula to The Walking Dead to Star Trek. That debate is pro-human versus anti-human.

Over the next three months, my sweetly snobbish self will be exploring the realms of fiction to discuss the world as seen through monster’s eyes, examining the whys the hows and the whos, and going where no man has gone before.

Gear up, friends! We’re going on a journey. This month, every Friday, I’ll be examining zombie fiction in anticipation of the Zombvenger. But, if anyone has any suggestions of works that they want me to look at, comment! I feed off of comments.


Not really.

Coming up next Friday: A rare example of pro-humanism in zombie fiction: Warm Bodies.


God bless, and happy Canadian Thanksgiving,

Kelsey J.