Moving Along!


I appreciate the concerns, but I am certainly alive! To be honest, my family and I moved to a new location in our hometown. As such, I’ve not had internet for about half a week. Prior to that, my time was mostly spent at work and packing up the house for moving. Now that we’ve completed the primary movement, the unpacking now takes our entire effort.

All that to say, expect me to post more in coming days (assuming I have my office unpacked)!

Thank you,

Frank Ormond

If you would like to read some of my previous work, check these out:


Dodging Derivatives


Have you ever written a story that you soon realized was clearly lifted from another author’s work? Have you ever come up with an idea only to discover it was actually developed by someone else?

Science fiction is a genre that can easily fall into derivatives. Far too often writers of genre fiction either copy ideas from others without thinking about it, or develop ideas from the same source material.

Here’s 3 tips on how to avoid that:

1. Don’t Just Read the Science 

The “science” part of science fiction is important. But taking all your inspiration from the science periodicals is a recipe for disaster. Every submission season, it’s obvious when a new article came out with an interesting scientific breakthrough, because multiple people write about it!

Try breaking out the philosophy magazines and the histories and classics. Maybe there you’ll find inspiration that other people won’t also write about!

2. Take the Tropes and Twist Them

There are a ton of tropes in genre fiction. Science fiction especially suffers from the same sort of ideas time and again. Whether it’s the “AI will kill us” scenario or the “humans are their own enemy” story, it’s a recurring thing when these plot elements are used so frequently.

Take these ideas, and flip them around! Instead of AI being a killer, make it the one suspected of the murder. In reality, people killed and made the AI look like a murderer on purpose! How about the “humans are their own enemy” story? What would an alien race look like who was worse to themselves than humanity is to themselves?

3. Write Down Your Dreams

This seems silly, but I’ve had so many great ideas in the twilight hours! While I’m on the edge of consciousness, my brain just spits out random ideas and thoughts. It’s helpful to write them down so you have unique images and ideas to work from!

I hope you enjoyed that! Let me know in the comments below if anything else has helped you avoid falling into the “same old, same old”. Thanks!

Going from Outline to Manuscript

Writing ToolsIn developing a story, you will often hear the advice that outlining organizes your thoughts and makes the story more coherent.

This advice is valuable.

However, how do you get from the outline you’ve created to the manuscript?

Here are five tips I have for you writers who struggle to go from the outline to a full manuscript:

1. Follow the Outline.

This is basically step one. You should have added enough to the outline so plot threads you introduce actually have conclusions. If you follow this outline well enough, you will not forget about certain characters or plot elements. It drives me crazy in stories when authors forget about entire characters!

At the same time, don’t let the outline redirect you from creative ideas! Let ideas flow naturally, but let the story read naturally as well. It’s a tough balance.

2. Write Like You’re Reading.

When I say this I don’t mean skimming details. I mean, “write like you’re reading the story word for word”. If it’s quick and the pacing is wrong, slow down. If it’s too slow, speed up! Outlines aren’t much help for this kind of thing.

Your outline won’t have any concern for word count either (though it helps!) so make sure you pay attention to how much time certain story elements take. A quick action scene shouldn’t take ten pages of descriptions about a space ship!

3. Keep Your Folder Nearby.

I think you know what folder I mean. When you start writing a novel, you collect your ideas in a book or folder to keep them all organized. Mine would always look like a packet of mismatched papers!

Look at this folder every time you write. Your outline will guide you, but this folder will flesh out your world. These little touches build a world!

4. Develop a Plan for Each Character.

Getting each character where they need to be is part of your outline (rather, it should be part of your outline). If you are missing this in your outline, then you need to go back and figure this out. Don’t forget about a single character!

But overall, the outline might be missing those specifics that make your characters unique. Your folder from above should contain a quick summary of your character for you to reference, something that you can glance at and remember how you imagine the character to be.

If they change over time, that’s fine! But make sure it’s believable. Why are they changing? What are they responding to?

Creating a world in fiction is one thing, creating a person is another. However, they both spring from the little things.

(But ask yourself this: do you want believability or memorability?)

5. Find Time to Write.

This sounds so simple, but for those of us with careers, it’s difficult.

If you can’t write daily, then write every other day. If that won’t work, then write twice a week or once a week.

Time constraints are generally the only thing keeping your novel constrained to your mind.

I really hope that helps you! I found these tips specifically useful to me when I write. So if even one person gets some benefit from this list, I’m glad.

Keep writing!

Short Story or Novel?

books-683901_960_720I often share on Twitter the books I find at local book sellers. I love reading, so it felt natural to want to create my own books. I’ve seen recently the push to avoid going to novel writing, and instead sticking with shorter fiction.

While there isn’t anything wrong with short fiction, I really do feel like writing novels. This isn’t some misguided crusade into the glamour of the great American novel, but rather a desire of my own to write long form fiction because I feel the style fits my writing better.

I have written short stories. I just don’t feel as interested in them as I do in writing novels. When I get through a few chapters of writing, and see the wheels begin to turn, and the plot threads start to intersect, there’s something I love about it.

It’s almost like playing a strategy game like Chess or Go. In the end, the entire game is what gets me exhilarated, not just the moves in the game.

Figure out what you like best, not what others expect of you.

Good Questions in Science Fiction


It seems simplistic to say that “good” science fiction will pose a question, but I truly believe that. The greatest scifi books I have ever read has dealt with questions like “what would happen if…”

There is no requirement that scifi ask a question, but I think it helps.

So then, with that out of the way, how do you write good questions?

Oh it’s very easy to have your protagonist muse over the question while sipping coffee. But is that the best way? Maybe it’s best to make the readers pose the question themselves as a result of your writing?

I think the best questions in science fiction are asked by the author and answered by his or her work. That is how you write great science fiction.

Pursuing Your Dreams

realm-of-dreams-28Chasing after the long shot is what made America into what it is today. Entrepreneurs who built businesses, engineers who built bridges, and artists who imagined the future created the future we’re in today.

I sometimes think the division between “wealth” and “dreams” is too wide, unless you desire wealth as your dream. For me, I want to have my work read. I want to be published to the masses and my books to be discussed. I seek readership.

That’s my dream. I think I’ll keep fighting for it.

The First SciFi Book I Read

2029615When I was ten years old there was a book in my school library that caught my eye. I don’t remember the cover now, but the name will always stick out in my memory: Interstellar Pig by William Sleator.

The story involves a board game in which your goal is to hold on the the pig card by the end. By doing so, you can save your planet. However, it turns out to be more than just a board game and the characters themselves are caught up in it.

The book was fascinating to my young mind, with a fantastical story of aliens and an interstellar game played on a huge scale. The features of the game lent itself to interesting action sequences. The fact that it started as a board game, in the story, meant that the rules and motivations could be explained.

I may not be remembering certain elements correctly, but I still look back on that book with fondness.

Is Writing Every Day Necessary?

writing-923882_960_720Stephen King seems to support writing every day (“at least 1,000 words”). Far be it from me to question one of the greats, but is it really necessary to write every day to be a successful writer?

I’ve noticed improvements in my writing and thought process when I write fiction once a day. I believe King is right about that. However, the word count seems to vary.

Writing every day is one option to get into a different mindset in your writing, but it’s not the only one.

I would suggest the following, at least:

1. Schedule writing time for yourself. 

This is important for any writer to have a schedule. Yeah, I know, you can write without a schedule. It seems like I write more often when I actually have it on my calendar to write. Try it out!

2.  Try to write before bed.

This can work, although I’m not one that can do this. For me ideas flow freely before bed, but they’re a malformed blob of creativity. I need a critical eye to sort out what I can do with these ideas. For me, writing at night results in rambling, ranting blocks of text!

3. Write every day.

You can at least try it. I tried it for NaNoWriMo and it worked wonders! I started to think differently about things in my life. However, it also caused me to burn out hard after November. So much so that I hardly blogged in December!

However, the most important thing is to find what works for you.

Do We Have to Pick Between Fun and Art?


This is something I’ve been thinking about for some time. In science fiction, the “hard” sci-fi is considered the artistic works while the “soft” sci-fi is considered the “fun” works.

This dichotomy doesn’t help.

When you go to pick up a book, whether it’s Elizabeth Moon’s Trading in Danger or David Weber’s On Basilisk Station, there’s no shortage of creative ideas and interesting characters. However, these are considered “soft” due to their lack of literary merit. However, they contribute much to the story of science fiction, and writing them off because they’re not Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is unfair.

When I studied philosophy I was mystified by the concept of “art”. Within philosophy the concepts of beauty and art are tackled in the realm of aesthetics, but I always just stayed at the basic concepts and tried to argue those.

I truly believe something is artistic when you enjoy it for its style. Because of this, it is completely subjective and the concept of “high art” doesn’t exist but in the cocktail lounges of the fanciest hotels. That is to say, a group of people with social status can get together and declare something “high art” that isn’t. See, that was the entire point of Andy Warhol’s pop art movement.

Book Review: Into the Black (Odyssey One) by Evan Currie

41asp2blhal-_ac_sl230_Into the Black was a book I bought blindly. I knew I liked ship-based military science fiction, so I thought I’d read it based purely on its reviews on Amazon. I was not disappointed. This is another story that was either self-published or published through Amazon’s online system.

The story follows the ship The Odyssey captained by former pilot Eric Weston. Captain Weston is the main character of the book, among a few other POV characters that are focused on throughout the story. He takes his ship on what begins as a rescue mission for a human bridge officer, but slowly transforms into a battle against instectoid aliens.

The technology is interesting, as is the setting. In this universe the Earth vessel finds that there are alien lifeforms who are human in all ways. However, these people hint at a past with the people of Earth that the Earthlings are unaware of. In addition, this book paints Earth as having a unique culture (or cultures) that causes a unique evolution of technologies that differ from the rest of humanity. I’ve always loved science fiction that explores the nature of civilizations or humanity. I also really liked the reactions of the alien humans to the military skills and strength of the Earthlings.

The technology gives The Odyssey the ability to travel instantaneously over light years. This is, of course, shocking to the alien humans, as is the advanced state of the Earthlings’ weapons systems. Otherwise, humanity lacks any technology on the scale of the aliens.

The main villains, as I mentioned, are an insectoid species that bear similarities to ants. Their ships are huge carriers and seem to give the alien humans problems, but the Earthlings seem capable of fending for themselves. They come to the aid of a bridge officer who was left adrift in space, which sets off the entire adventure.

This is not a perfect book, however. Oftentimes we would see the ship in combat and the Captain planning some heroic maneuver only to shift focus and see what a single pilot is doing flying around outside the ship, or we track an engineer through rescuing a person in her section of the ship. It threw off the pacing and seemed to exist for no reason except for a diversity in viewpoints.

In addition, two complete characters were developed and their relationships hinted at without any kind of closure by the end of the book. The characters were the weakest element in the story. It would have been better to keep perspective with simply the Captain and Milla, the alien bridge officer.

Another problem would be the pacing. The story goes from rescuing one alien to visiting two other planets. However, with instant travel they could have easily traveled home to Earth to communicate the situation and return to their mission with minor delays. The Captain waves off this suggestion in the book and it’s poorly explained in story. It was a glaring problem for me, but not enough to ruin the book.

I should mention I read the “Remastered Edition”, which corrected most of the typos and grammatical issues that apparently plagued the original. I can understand how those problems would taint an otherwise enjoyable read, but in my case the book was mostly devoid of any major issues.

Despite these criticisms, I would say this book was definitely one of my favorites in recent memory. If you liked either David Weber’s “Honor Harrington” series or Jack Cambell’s “Lost Fleet” series, I would recommend this book for you.