Eneasz at library

Humanity vs. Monstrosity

Eneasz Brodski has a definite opinion about the importance of human values vs. soulless monstrosities. And so this is his tale of how his story “Flee, My Pretty One” published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 34 came to be. Check out the video interview below and Eneasz’s article that follows.

“Flee, My Pretty One”

This was originally written quite a while ago, for an open anthology call on the theme of “Start A Revolution.” I’ve been rabidly anti-corporation for most of my life. They’re soulless, profit-maximizing monstrosities, who know nothing of human values. Optimizers unfettered by concern for us. Stross calls them invaders from Mars. Many people have pointed out that they resemble the problem of unfriendly AI in their lack of human values + ability to alter their environment to fit their utility functions (including, infamously and recently, Ted Chaing). I agree, and I would love (or rather, once would have loved) to see a revolution bringing these forces to heel.

I call them Dragons. For two reasons. The first is that dragons are already known for their rapacious love of treasure, and their willingness to do anything to horde it. They are powerful, and non-human, so they make a good metaphor.

The second is that I’m racist against dragons. If that’s a thing? I realized this back when I was playing Shadowrun. During the course of a campaign, I realized that no matter what he did, I would never trust Dunkelzahn. He could be a saint for centuries, doing only good works, and die sacrificing himself to save me personally, and I still would say “Good riddance. You can’t trust a f**king dragon. He was obviously motivated by some evil plot, he held hatred for us all in his heart, and it will come to light eventually.” I’d be horrified if my offspring dated a dragon. Etc. I don’t care what they do, I know they’re evil.

Artist Alana Fletcher with Eneasz and the artwork for his story

Artist Alana Fletcher with Eneasz and the artwork for his story

And like, if you’re going to be racist, I think it’s probably best to be racist against a fictional giant lizard species, so you aren’t hurting anyone. And as long as I’m at it, I can maybe use that racism in my stories, so anyone who’s similar to me can get that same visceral revulsion.

Anyway, yes, the story is about starting a revolution against corporations, except that corporations are actual non-human persons(?) in the story. This makes it more satisfying to attack them, since violence against a person is always more meaningful than violence against “the system.” And giving your villains a voice and agency is more exciting.

Except, of course, violence is bad. And the real world is messy and fuzzy, so trying to apply sufficient violence to the correct target is never as clean as Hollywood and/or activists make it seem. So it all keeps spiraling into ever more chaos until everything is shit around you. And thus was born “Flee, My Pretty One.”

Of note: This story had a lot of near-misses when it was seeking publication, with editors saying “This is good, but it’s not quite right for us.” Then Trump was elected. And the next place I submitted to said, “Wow, this is great, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the society.” And I nodded and said, “Oh yes, yup, that’s exactly what I was doing.”

I’ve been pissed at the system my entire life, regardless of the political party in charge. Because it’s not about the political parties, for the most part. It’s about the entrenched powers that stay entrenched from one election to the next, regardless of whether the Reds or the Blues are nominally in charge that moment. I guess most people aren’t that upset with the system itself. So, on the one hand, it’s interesting to see so much of the population suddenly as riled up as I’ve always been. It helped get this story published, at least. But I’m dismayed that what they’re angry at is still the politicians. I figure this means that once the politician in charge is swapped out, society will return to how it was, and nothing will have changed.


Eneasz BrodskiEneasz Brodski lives in Denver, Colorado. He is active in the Bayesian Rationalist community, an eclectic collection of misfits who believe humans can do better. Through the powers of science and technology, he hopes all humans currently living can someday celebrate their 5,000th birthday.

Eneasz has a number of meaningful relationships, of many varieties. He was raised in an apocalyptic Christian sect, and while he has left that behind, that childhood colors much of his writing to this day. He’s been writing since he could hold a pencil, but has only begun professional efforts in the past few years. He just finished his first novel and hopes to see it in print soon.

When he’s not writing, podcasting, or blogging, he can often be found gothing it up at a local goth club. He’s willing to strike up a conversation with anyone in dark clothes and eyeliner.

Writers of the Future 1st Quarter Winners

Writers of the Future 1st Quarter Winners Announced for Volume 35


Here are the 1st Quarter Writers of the Future Contest Winners for Volume 35


Congratulations to you all!


First Place – Kyle Kirrin from Colorado
Second Place – Preston Dennett from California
Third Place – Kai Wolden from Minnesota



Rui Cid from Portugal
Derek Eklund from Virginia
K.R. Horton from Oregon
Kalen Kubik from Texas
Shedrick Pittman-Hassett from Texas


Jack Calverley from the United Kingdom
Jason C. Duke from Arizona
Jared Allen Jackson from Utah
William Bryan Layton from Mississippi
Craig Swapp form Utah
Dawn Vogel from Washington
Michael J. Winegar from Georgia

Silver Honorable Mentions:

Kevin Hallett from Texas
DW Harvey from California
C.H. Hung from Utah
Christopher A. Jos
Cassiopeia Mulholland from Arizona
Kurt Pankau from Missouri
Leonid Tarasov from the United Kingdom

Honorable Mentions:

Nicholas P. Adams from Utah
J.J. Adamson from Vermont
Bryan Aiello from New Jersey
M.F. Alfrey from England
Van Alrik from Utah
Steve Arensberg from Texas
Brandon Scott Argetsinger from New York
Aaron Ash from California
Abby Baier from California
Dawson Balencia from Texas
B.P. Barwick from Indiana
Christopher Baxter from Utah
J.A. Becker from Australia
Hayden Bilbrey from Oklahoma
Rob Bleckly from Australia
Matt Bosio from Florida
Z.T. Bright from Utah
Alicia Cay from Colorado
Chan Yuk Chi from Singapore
Michael V. Calianna from Connecticut
Paulo Da Silva from Germany
Benjamin DeHaan from Illinois
Peter Michael Diamantopoulos from Virginia
Juan Joel Diaz from California
Steve DuBois from Kansas
Robert B. Finegold, M.D. from Maine
Kathryn Fletcher from Texas
Jacob Foncea from Alabama
Monalisa Foster from Texas
Caroline Furlong from Virginia
Bruce Golden from California
Ian E. Gonzales from Washington
Emanuel Grigoras from Canada
Mel Haaser from Indiana
Clint Hall from Georgia
Belwoeth Harbright from Oklahoma
Brendan Hiles from Canada
Marc Humphrey from Austria
Levi Jacobs from Colorado
Kent A. Jones from Minnesota
K.D. Julicher from Nevada
Gwen Kauffman from California
Kevin Folkman from Washington
Colt Randy Leasure from California
Sussu LeClerc from Ohio
Dennis Lee from Australia
LindaAnn LoSchiavo from New York
William Mangieri from Texas
Jadon Mann from Texas
Robert J. McCarter from Arizona
Phillip McCollum from California
Shawn Robert McKee from Texas
Kenneth Meade from Georgia
Devin Miller from North Carolina
Ian Moore from Virginia
Daniel Morris from Maryland
Rhiannon Nee from Australia
George Nikolopoulos from Greece
John M. Olsen from Utah
Y.M. Pang from Canada
Stephen Patrick from Texas
Beth Powers from Indiana
Matthew Reardon from Canada
Melanie Rees from Australia
Juliana Rew from Colorado
Nim Riel from Texas
Glenn Rosado from California
Eric Schieber from North Carolina
Matthew P. Schmidt from Ohio
Maria Schrater from Illinois
Gary Sharp from Ohio
Camille Singer from California
Robert A. Smith from New Jersey
Robert N. Stephenson from Australia
E.C. Stever from Idaho
Vincent Sutherland from Arizona
Clive Tern from the United Kingdom
Dan Thurot from Utah
Rebecca Esther Treasure from Texas
Steven Tubbs from Florida
Jesse Weiner from Colorado
Luke Wildman from Indiana
JM Williams from South Korea
Elisa Winther from The Netherlands
Thomas Woodward from Minnesota
Ramez Yoakeim from Australia
James Yu from California
N. Immanuel Velez from Virginia


Writers of the Future logo

Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Winners Announced for Volume 34


Here are the 4th Quarter Writers of the Future Contest winners for Volume 34.


Congratulations to you all!


First Place – Erin Cairns from Texas
Second Place – Cole Hehr from Oklahoma
Third Place – Jonathan Ficke from Wisconsin



Lou Berger from Colorado
Aiki Flinthart from Australia
L.P. Melling from the United Kingdom
J.C. Pillard from Colorado
Gilad Seckler from Rhode Island


James Beach from California
O.E. Fine from Massachusetts
Samuel Marzioli from Oregon
Kessia Robinson from Utah
Robert Ryder from Arizona
John Walters from Washington

Silver Honorable Mentions:

Steven R. Brandt from Louisiana
Steve DuBois from Kansas
J.G. Follansbee from Washington
Kyle Kirrin from Montana
Allen Kuzara from Tennessee
Ellen Saunders from Oregon
Paulo de Silva from Germany
N. Immanuel Velez from Virginia
Neal T. Williams from Colorado

Honorable Mentions:

Mike Adamson from Australia
Kia Addison from Oregon
Sarah Allen from Utah
Van Alrik from Utah
Michael Anderson from Ontario, Canada
Jaymie Andre from Maryland
Julia V Ashley from Mississippi
Charity Ayres from Virginia
Nikki Baird from Colorado
Robert Bagnall from England
Taylor Banks from Texas
Matthew Baron from Georgia
Corey Barracato from Pennsylvania
Ryan W. Benson from Georgia
Scott Benting from Oregon
Mark Bilsborough from the United Kingdom
Rebecca Birch from Washington
Amy Bisson from South Carolina
Stephen J. Blake from New Hampshire
Matt Bosio from Florida
Morgan Broadhead from Ohio
Victoria Brock from Australia
Diogenes C. from Thailand
Diane Callahan from Ohio
Alicia Cay from Colorado
Tracy Cembor from Georgia
Jordan A. Chase from Oregon
Harriet Clifford from North Carolina
Mary Coldren from Colorado
Alexei Collier from Illinois
Tyrell Collins from Louisiana
James A. Conan from Ontario, Canada
Stephen J. Cooper, Jr. from Virginia
Leigh Ann Cowan from Arkansas
Coleman Cox from California
Brennan Craig from Kentucky
Claire Czotter from Massachusetts
Brenden Kahil Davis from Wisconsin
Lance Dean from California
Benjamin DeHaan from Illinois
Hillary Dodge from Colorado
Iona Douglas from Spain
C.P. Dunphey from Mississippi
Frank Dutkiewicz from Michigan
Jason Evans from Illinois
Mckayla Eaton from Nova Scotia, Canada
Judith Everett from Utah
Brianna M. Fenty from New York
Michael Feramisco from North Carolina
Anne Fleeson from North Carolina
Cassiopeia Fletcher from Nebraska
Courtney Floyd from Oregon
Leah Marie Fox from Alabama
Jennifer A. Friedl from Indiana
V.H. Galloway from Texas
K.L. Garzone from Tennessee
Amanda H. Geard from South Africa
Jude-marie Green from California
Faustine A. Guerrero from California
Leslie Haig from Maryland
Brian C. Hailes from Utah
Philip Brian Hall
C.J. Harper from Florida
Carolyn Harris from Ontario, Canada
John-Michael Hawley from Texas
J. D. Haymaker from Minnesota
Russell Hemmell from Scotland
Brendan Hiles from Ontario, Canada
Cathy Humble from Oregon
Ife J. Ibitayo from Indiana
Rebecca Inch-Partridge from California
Mitchell Inkley from Utah
Bascomb James from Michigan
Stephan James from Missouri
Jeran Jenks from Idaho
Ashley N. Johnson from Virginia
Cameron Johnston from Scotland
John F. Keane from the United Kingdom
Christopher Keene from New Zealand
Kian Kelley-Chung from Maryland
Thom Kenison from Utah
Seth W. Kenney from California
Joshua Kidd from California
Benjamin C. Kinney from Missouri
Cass Sims Knight from Oregon
HRT Knight from South Africa
B. Koch from Illinois
Andrew Kooy from Louisiana
Marysia Kosowski from California
Megan Kraus from Connecticut
Andrea Kriz from Massachusetts
Kalen Kubik from Texas
Xavier Lastra from Spain
Laura Lavelle from New York
Sam Lefar from Georgia
Colton Long from Maryland
Roger Mannon from Colorado
Robert J. McCarter from Arizona
Phillip McCollum from California
Durwood MacCool from Washington
Guy McDonnell from Texas
Shane Patrick Meagher from Florida
Rebecca Mix from Michigan
Kathleen Monin from Pennsylvania
Wulf Moon from Washington
Marta Murvosh from Washington
Ethan Nahte from Arkansas
John Noel from Illinois
Arella Noreen from Texas
David O’Hanlon from Arkansas
Rosie Oliver from England
Kirstie Olley from Australia
Tyler Omichinski from Ontario, Canada
Sarah Ortega from Texas
Toluwani Osibamowo from Texas
Kurt Pankau from Missouri
Vernie Pather from South Africa
William C. Peragine from Pennsylvania
Karen Pepin from Virginia
Brittany Rainsdon from Idaho
Vani Rajh from Malaysia
Avery Ramuta from Washington
Melanie Rees from Australia
Nim Riel from Texas
Sarah Rose from Utah
Jelena Rutter from New Hampshire
Sebastien Sacre from Ontario, Canada
Edward Sammons from Florida
Caroline Sciriha from Malta
Spencer Sekulin from Ontario, Canada
Gary Sharp from Virginia
Camille Singer from California
Robert Anthony Smith from New Jersey
Joshua P. Sorensen from Utah
Robert N. Stephenson from Australia
Blake Stone-Banks from Colorado
J.P. Sullivan from California
Troy Tang from New Zealand
Clive Tern from the United Kingdom
T. Tate Thorpe from Utah
Joseph Tyrrell from New Jersey
Jack M. Ventimiglia from Missouri
Emefa Victorious from Florida
R.W. Warwick from Japan
Kristi Weisgerber from Alberta, Canada
Robert Christopher Weissenberg from California
Thomas Michael Welsh from Washington
Melvyn R. Windham, Jr. from North Carolina
BJ Wingate from Arkansas
William R.D. Wood from Virginia
Michael J. Wyant, Jr. from New York
Neil V. Young from California
Tannara Young from California
Bill Zaget from Quebec, Canada


Defining yourself

Defining Yourself

I’m going to talk a bit about audience analysis. It’s always good before you begin to write to really understand who your audience is and that their needs are so that you can better meet those needs. But it’s also important to understand who you are as an author, and what it is that you want to achieve.

Yesterday I was helping an author write a query letter, and as I did, I was thinking, “Now what more can I say about his book? What sets this apart from other books in its genre?” Those are the same questions that I ask myself anytime I’m looking at a query letter, but I don’t just ask them about the book. I ask them about the author.

A few years ago, an author I knew flew to New York to be interviewed by the legendary agent Al Zuckerman, the founder of Writers House Literary Agency. As they spoke, Al suggested that the author “define his niche in the marketplace.” For example, you might say, “I’m the John Grisham of Middle Earth.” By that, you might mean that you’re writing political/legal thrillers in a brilliantly devised fantasy setting. Is there a market for such books? Maybe. And if you think of a potential mixture that excites you, one that energizes any agent or editor that hears about it, you can instantly command a fortune in advances.

For example, years ago my former student Dan Wells mentioned that he wanted to be the “Stephen King of young adult fiction.” I thought that was an odd and interesting combination. Yet when his first novel, I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER came out, it earned him huge advances overseas and led to the start of a brilliant career.

So you as an author, when you prepare to write a book, might consider whether you want to brand yourself.

Just as importantly, you might want to look at your novel and brand it. What does that mean? It means that you set goals for your story—goals that have to do with understanding how it fits in the genre and what kind of qualities you want to achieve. When I began the Runelords series, one goal that I set was simple. I said, “I want this to start out like a traditional medieval fantasy, but by the time that a reader finishes the series, I want them to realize that there is nothing ‘traditional’ about this.” So I set out to work on biological world creation, magic systems, and so on in ways that I hadn’t seen before.

In a similar way, when I wrote my novel On My Way to Paradise I set a list of goals. At about spot number twelve I wrote, “I want to write the best battle scenes ever put into a science fiction novel.” Now, I had a lot of other goals, ones that were more important. But I was gratified when I got a gushing review from one young man who seemed not to notice all of the other cool literary things that I did: he just talked about the mind-blowing fights which he described as “the best battle scenes ever shown in science fiction.”

So ask yourself the questions: “What kind of writer am I? What do I want to achieve that is similar to some of the bestsellers of all time? How am I going to carve my own unique niche in the world? As I write this coming book, how will it help reach that goal, or does it take me off in the wrong direction? What kinds of goals do I want to reach with this novel?”

As I set my writing goals, I find that it’s best if I actually write them down, turn them into concrete, specific goals.

Give it a try!


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

two wooden men figures amongst chess pieces

Giving Up

Sometimes it seems that your life has a theme. In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard from several authors the words “I’m thinking about giving up.”

I worry about that. No one ever won a race by giving up.

At least when it comes to writing, I’ve never been good at giving up. My parents advised me against a career in writing. I didn’t listen. Sometimes my wife has even suggested that I go find another field—even in years when I was making fantastic money.

So I found an article about authors who didn’t give up, and would like to repost much of it. It was written by Janeen Elite, and much was taken from Jack Canfield. I can think of other authors with similar stories, but this will suffice:

While many writers lament that facing a blank page is the most difficult part of writing, others will disagree and state that it is getting “that” rejection letter that really makes writing torturous. This is because “that” rejection letter can hit right where it hurts; the old ego. “That” rejection letter can make a writer doubt their own abilities, possibly may even make them rethink their dream career and even their life’s purpose.

Well, take heart dear writers and don’t give up. Just because a strange “someone” didn’t like your piece does not mean it is not good.
The following is a list of writers who also received “that” letter. Many even received it more than once, but they didn’t let that stop them and you shouldn’t either.

Margaret Mitchell received “that” letter 38 times. The book? Gone With The Wind.

This “poor” woman spent six years writing the first installment of a series of books she wanted to publish. You would think that after 9 rejections she might have thought she was wasting her time. Children all over the world are grateful that J.K. Rowling didn’t feel that way. Her Harry Potter book series has sold over 400 million copies around the globe and even as far back as 2003 the BBC news announced that Rowland was already “richer than the Queen.”

Talk about rejection! James Joyce’s Dubliners was rejected 22 times! And even after it was published, only 379 copies were sold in its first year. To make matters worse, Mr. Joyce admitted that he purchased 120 of those copies himself.

This quote from author Judy Blume pretty much says it all. “I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.” It took Ms. Blume two  years before any of her work was accepted.

Ouch! That Hurts!

It’s one thing to receive the standard rejection letter that states that a publisher is “not looking for this kind of book at this time” because then an author can at least console themselves in knowing that it is not personal and it is not their writing that is the problem.

Quite often an author can also convince themselves that maybe their book wasn’t even read very carefully by a publisher to begin with. But how would you feel if you found out that not only was your book read, but a publisher actually took the time to tell you why it was so horrendous?

The following are actual excerpts famous authors have received in their rejection letters that turn out to be so laughable in hindsight.

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” The book—The Diary of Anne Frank.

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA” in a rejection letter regarding the book Animal Farm.

“A very bad book…” Told to Pierre Boulle about his Bridge Over River Kwai.

“The book is not publishable,” regarding the novel Who Killed Virginia Wolfe?

“…too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling” told to Dr. Seuss, about his book And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

“This is a work of almost-genius—genius in the power of its expression—almost in the sense of its enormous bitterness. I wish there were an audience for a book of this kind. But there isn’t. It won’t sell.” told to Ayn Rand about her book The Fountainhead.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull will never make it as a paperback” the book written by Richard Bach ended up selling more than 8 million copies.

“… she is a painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer whose every sentence, paragraph and scene cries for the hand of a pro. She wastes endless pages on utter trivia, writes wide-eyed romantic scenes … hauls out every terrible show biz cliché in all the books, lets every good scene fall apart in endless talk and allows her book to ramble aimlessly …” The author was Jacqueline Susann and the book was Valley of the Dolls.

“An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would ‘take’… I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book’.” This was written about The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Here is another wonderful critique Mr. Wells received about The Time Machine, “It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.”

“This will set publishing back 25 years,” written about The Deer Park by Norman Mailer

“We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” Written about Carrie by Stephen King.

“Do you realize, young woman, that you’re the first American writer ever to poke fun at sex.” Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos.

“I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny—possibly even satire—but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.” The author was Joseph Heller—the book was Catch-22.

“It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.” Was in the rejection letter that Ernest Hemingway received regarding his novel The Torrents of Spring.

“An absurd and uninteresting fantasy,” regarding Lord of the Flies.

And probably one of the all-time greatest ironic rejections is:

“You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character,” told to F. Scott Fitzgerald

As you can tell from the quotes written above, some publishers just don’t have a clue. So start saving those rejection letters. Who knows? Maybe one day you can show them off when your book hits the best-seller list?


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

Small kids handing soldier a ball

Character Traits

As we read stories, we are constantly making judgments. We may admire an author’s style, even as we are annoyed by a plot twist that we saw coming; or we might get creeped-out by the foreshadowing, while we’re annoyed by the author’s cynical tone.

It seems to me that one thing that we are most critical of is characters. Is a love interest likeable? Does he or she work as a protagonist?

I thought about this a good deal yesterday as I was reading a story. A young man in the story was filled with hubris beginning on page two. He had a nice sense of humor, he was hard-working, and he was intelligent. So he had some virtues, but he was tainted. My immediate question was, “Is this author going to kill this character, or humble him?” You see, pride is such an ugly trait, I knew that the author would try one or the other. As it turned out, the author did both, beautifully.

Again, a couple of days ago, I watched a movie, a comedy, that was well written. The protagonist was a naïve young man, trying to make friends. There was a lot of humor in the piece, but much of the humor featured sexual jokes that made the viewer nervous, and I found myself wishing that, despite the excellent acting and directing, the writer had come up with better material for his jokes. You see, the young man’s friends came off as . . . creepy. Even his closest friend left me feeling a bit icky—to the point that instead of recommending an otherwise excellent movie, I won’t even tempt you by telling you its name. This is an example of mischaracterization.

“Mischaracterization” is a surprisingly common problem.

Here are some red flags in stories:

Profanity. If you open your story with a protagonist uttering profanity, the reader has to ask, is the character too profane for my tastes? A lot of readers don’t use profanity or tolerate it in others. If your use of profanity would earn a movie an R-rating, then you have a problem. If your characters are profane in every sentence, as an editor I will probably reject your story.

Now, there are some types of characters and some types of situations where profanity is almost inescapable. For example, if you’re writing about mercenary soldiers in Iraq, I would expect profanity. I’m not worried about those stories, I’m more concerned when the profanity is laid on thick in a vulgar or shocking way where it is unwarranted.

Dark Humor. If your characters use humor that is too violent or sexual in nature, then once again you risk offending readers. With humor, you may have dozens of humorous incidents or lines in a story. If one in three of those tend to be too dark, if they make the audience queasy, your mix is probably too dark.

Shocking characters. Many authors try to shock their readers or offend them by using disturbing imagery, metaphors, or by showing graphic sex or violence. If a tale starts off with these, it can grab a reader’s attention. But the problem arises when the author feels that he has to keep escalating the sexuality or violence. I often have to reject stories where the author is trying to disturb the reader with every sentence, to the point where the tale becomes unbearable.

Negative Traits. Is your protagonist deceitful, proud, reticent, shy, lazy, foolish, vain, boorish, jaded, pompous, jealous, depraved, insipid, cruel, or depressed? While we do have to have some negative traits in order for a character to feel balanced, just about any negative trait can be carried too far.

In fact, some positive traits can become negative traits. An honest man can be too honest. A compassionate person can give entirely too much.

So what is the acid test? How do you know if your characterization has gone wrong?

Years ago, I was reading a story by an author whose style I really admire. However, when I was halfway through his novel, I realized that I wouldn’t want to meet any of his characters in a dark alley. They were universally nasty, universally disturbing, but each in his own way.

So I’ve learned to ask myself early in a tale, “Do I want to spend time with this character? Am I invested in his tale? Do I care what happens to him?” If the answers to the questions are a resounding “yes,” then I’ll go on.

But let me take it a step further. Should I even have to ask those questions? The stories that I’ve loved the most are the ones where I become so invested in the characters, I never consciously think to ask my questions. I’m a jaded old author and editor. So I often ask the questions. But did I ever stop and wonder how I felt about Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games? Of course not. I loved and admired her too much, too soon, to ever even think about it.

The same can be said of a host of novels that have gripped me over the years. I loved Ender Wiggins in Ender’s Game, and Frodo in Lord of the Rings, and so on.

So perhaps the goal shouldn’t be to simply avoid “mischaracterization,” but to look for opportunities to create great characters.


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

Thumbs up

A Guide to Critiquing a Story: Seven Vital Elements Every Story Must Have

Frequently authors ask if I have a “form” that I used to help me critique a story. Given the large number of things that I look at in a story, any form that I had would simply be too long to be workable. Yet it makes sense to try to codify the critiquing process.

There are of course people who don’t believe that art can or should be measured. They might say, “Sure, this author uses the passive voice so much that his tale flows slower than cold tar, but his stunning insights are unsurpassed in literature.” They’d be right. Yet if you’ve ever had to judge stories professionally, you soon find that you have to devise some logic for deciding how to gauge the relative merits of tales, and I’ve been judging stories for contests and classes for some twenty years.

So I’m going to create a form that I might use to judge a story:

Story Critique Form

1. Originality. On a scale of 1 to 10, how original was this story? A 1 means that the story is cliché while a 10 means that it has at least a couple of ideas that I haven’t encountered before. ______

2. Setting. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well was the setting developed? A 1 indicates that the setting was poorly developed. This means that is almost completely disappeared from the story, or that I felt confused as to where and when the tale took place in one or more scenes. Of course, the author should involve all of the senses in describing his or her setting. A 10 means that not only is the setting well-developed, but it informs every aspect of the story—from character development to tone and narrative style. In a story that rates a 10, the setting itself is a powerful draw for the story, and the author succeeded in transporting me into the tale. ______

3. Characterization. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well-drawn are the characters in the story? Good characters should convince us that they grew up in the world or setting that we’ve placed them in. They should have complex motives and be imbued with conflicting attitudes about life, ethics, politics, and so on. The characters should have friends, enemies, acquaintances, secrets, desires and fears. The character should have a physical body, with a physical history. The character should have a family, of course, and some type of history, along with a place in society. In short, with a poorly drawn character, we know virtually nothing about him by the end of the story. With a well-drawn character, we feel as if we know him intimately by the end of the story. ______

4. Conflict and Plot. On a scale of1 to 10, how interesting are the conflicts? Since the characters, along with their motives and abilities really lead to a plot, then one must also consider the twists and turns of the plot. How inventive are they? How exciting? How engrossing? ______

5. Emotional/intellectual payoff. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well did this story arouse powerful emotions? If it did arouse powerful emotions, were they the proper emotions for the intended audience (as gauged by the age and sex of the protagonists)? Remember that the author shouldn’t be hitting the same emotional beats over and over again. Instead, the author should be creating an emotional symphony, where counter-beats help raise the emotional payoff. ______

6. Theme. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well did this story speak to the reader? Does it raise interesting questions about life and provide profound insights? A rating of “1” means that I don’t really see either one. A rating of “10” means that the author astounded me. ______

7. Treatment. On a scale of 1 to 10, how masterfully was the tale written on a line-by-line basis? A poor story, a tale that earns a 1, might be difficult to read simply because of something like “pronoun reference problems,” or it may be marred by typos and grammatical problems. A tale worthy of a 10 will be written not only in language that is beautiful and evocative, but it will also move with effortless pacing. Too often, authors who write beautifully work too hard to impress the reader and end up cluttering the tale will too many metaphors or overwrought pacing. In doing so, they struggle to draw attention to themselves rather than tell a story. ______

These are the big-ticket items that I look for in a story. You’d think that there would be more, but as you can see I lump things into large categories. For example, an author’s “treatment” can include hundreds of items. An author might have a surprisingly large and facile vocabulary, and that would be a plus. Yet the same author might labor to create clumsy or artless similes and thus mar his work. General pacing and story flow might be part of the author’s style, or I might rank it under plotting, but it is taken into consideration.

There is one other consideration. How do you weight different categories? Is one element more important than the others?

Personally, I want a story that scores perfect tens in all categories, but I know authors who feel that in fantasy and science fiction, for example, a story with an original concept is solid gold. So a story that is fresh and original will beat out one that is beautifully written.

Similarly, in a genre such as romance, where you might well be writing with very strict guidelines, you might not be free to create radically unusual characters or unusual settings.

In short, the audience is looking for a product that delivers a powerful emotional charge. So in that genre, the story might be weighted toward emotional power.

In an upcoming post, I’m going to take the story form and break it down further, discussing some of the things that I look for when I’m considering each category.


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

Roberta and Jerry Pournelle

Jerry Pournelle Leaves a Legacy of Helping New Writers (1933-2017)

It was in 1986 that Jerry Pournelle heard about L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest from Algis Budrys, the famed science fiction editor and writer, who assisted L. Ron Hubbard to get the Contest started. Jerry agreed to be a Contest judge in the second year and started judging immediately.

Jerry was chosen for several reasons: he was a legendary figure in both science and science fiction—a truly Renaissance Man. This included his mastery of the épée as well as other deadly weapons, his two PhDs, his master’s degree in statistics and systems engineering, his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and his chairmanship of the Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy.

In the world of SF, his contributions included editorship of many anthologies and multiple New York Times bestselling novels, notably with fellow Contest judge Larry Niven—The Mote in Gods Eye, Lucifer’s Hammer, Footfall and Oath of Fealty.

Throughout the years, Contest organizers called upon Jerry to vote for the winning stories, to attend the annual awards event and Writer’s Workshop, and best of all, to impart his wisdom based on years as a successful writer to the newly published winners of the Writers of the Future Contest. In return, Jerry always enthusiastically accepted and presented very informative information.

Jerry will be remembered in his later years of the Contest for his lighthearted sense of humor with the winners on event day. Just ask most any first place winner and they will have a story to tell.

We will miss you Jerry, but your brilliance shines on, and will, way into the future.

Jake Marley being interviewed at LA Festival of Book


It’s been nearly a year since I found out I was a finalist for L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and very nearly five months since I was announced as the 2017 Golden Pen Award winner for my story, “Acquisition,” featured in Volume 33 of the annual anthology.

To say my life has changed feels like an understatement. I’ve signed literally hundreds of copies of our bestselling anthology. I’ve made connections and genuine friendships with writers I respect and adore. I’ve had opportunities to sign at the Los Angeles Festival of Books and the daunting and epic San Diego ComicCon.

The Writers of the Future experience has filled me with confidence as a writer. I sit at the computer every day and write, write, write. I’ve left behind all the neurotic behavior I had for years before, knowing now that I have the ability to rewrite it better, stronger, more beautifully. I’ve written the first draft of a novel and a handful of short stories since returning home, and each one teaches me something more about the craft. I smile at the blank page. I dream up worlds and characters and conflicts and grin as I type them into existence. I feel whole. Complete.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for 20 years, and this is the first year I’ve been published. It’s not hard to remember that a year ago I’d just about given up my dream. That I was finally going to surrender. To think it was never going to happen.

If you’re struggling, keep going. Find local or online writer groups. Never stop learning, or trying to get better. Submit to the contest, if only because it inspires you to finish something four times a year, and if you meet your goals it’s honestly a great and satisfying feeling to have.

More than anything, though: Persevere.

If you want to be a writer, then here are your steps: Write, rewrite, finish it, submit it. Repeat. Don’t stop. You have stories you have to tell. More over, you have stories that the rest of the world is going to want to read. You owe it to them, and to yourself, to try and to keep trying.

I’m in my dream. Living it. Loving it. I’m not going anywhere. It’s hard work, but an incredible joy, too. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

I’ve had the chance to speak with a lot of new creators—unpublished writers and artists—and I tell them all the same thing.

You might be only one submission away from your dream.


Author Jake Marley

Author Jake Marley

Jake Marley is a writer in Orange County, California, and winner of the Golden Pen Award with his story, “Acquisition,” published in Writers of the Future Volume 33.

Magic keyboard

“Boosting” Your Prose

I earlier mentioned that when I used to write for competitions, I would make lists of ways that judges might look at my work in order to grade it. For example, some judges might look for an ending that brought them to tears, while another might be more interested in an intellectual feast. A couple of you asked what my list might look like.

So here is a list of things that I might consider in creating a piece.

First, a word of warning. When I was very young, perhaps four, I remember seeing a little robot in a store, with flashing lights and wheels that made it move. To me it seemed magical, nearly alive. My parents bought it for me for Christmas, and a few weeks later it malfunctioned, so I took a hammer to it and pulled out the pieces to see what made it work—a battery, a tiny motor, some small colored lights, cheap paint and stickers.

Your story should be more than the sum of its parts. It should feel magical, alive.

But when we go through a checklist like this, we’re looking at the parts and not the whole. When you’re composing your story and editing it, you must be constantly aware of the whole story, keeping it in mind, even as you examine it in detail, making sure that one part doesn’t overbalance another.


My goal with my settings is to transport the reader into my world—not just through the senses, but also emotionally and intellectually. I want to make them feel, keep them thinking. This can often be done by using settings that fascinate the reader, that call to them.

1)   Do I have unique settings that the reader will find intriguing? In short, is there something that makes my setting different from anything the reader has seen before?

2)   If my setting is in our world, is it “sexy” or mundane. (People are drawn to sexy settings. Even if we place a story in a McDonald’s, we need to bring it to life, make it enjoyable.)

3)   Do I have any scenes that might be more interesting if the setting were moved elsewhere? (For example, let’s say that I want to show that a king is warlike. Do I open with him speaking to his counselors at a feast, or on the battlefield?)

4)   Do I suffer by having repetitive settings? For example, if I set two scenes in the same living room, would one of them be more interesting if I moved it elsewhere?

5)   Do my descriptions of settings have enough detail to transport the reader?

6)   Did I bring my setting to life using all of the senses—sight, sound, taste, feel, smell?

7)   Do my character’s feelings about the setting get across?

8)   Do I want to show a setting in the past, present, and suggest a future? (For example, I might talk about a college’s historical growth and importance, etc.)

9)   Can a setting be strengthened by describing what it is not?

10)   Does my setting resonate with others within its genre?

11)   Do my settings have duality—a sometimes ambiguous nature? (For example, my character might love the church where she was married, have fond memories of it, and yet feel a sense of betrayal because her marriage eventually turned ugly. So the setting becomes bittersweet.)

12)   Do my settings create potential conflicts in and of themselves that aren’t explored in the text? (If I have a prairie with tall grass and wildfires are a threat, should I have a wildfire in the tale?)

13)   Do my characters and my societies grow out of my setting? (If I’ve got a historical setting, do my characters have occupations and attitudes consistent with the milieu? Beyond that, with every society, there is almost always a counter-movement. Do I deal with those?)

14)   Is my setting, my world, in danger? Do I want it to be?

15)   Does my world have a life of its own? For example, if I create a fantasy village, does it have a history, a character of its own? Do I need to create a cast for the village—a mayor, teacher, etc.?

16)   Is my setting logically consistent? (For example, let’s say that I have a merchant town. Where would a merchant town most likely be? On a trade route or port—quite possibly at the junction of the two. So I need to consider how fully I’ve developed the world.)

17)   Is my setting fully realized? (Let’s say I have a forest. What kinds of trees and plants would be in that forest? What kind of animals? What’s the history of that forest? When did it last have rain or snow? What’s unique about that forest? Etc.)

18)   Does my setting intrude into every scene, so that my reader is always grounded? (If I were to set my story in a field, for example, and I have men preparing for battle, I might want to have a lord look up and notice that buzzards are flapping up out of the oaks in the distance, already gathering for the feast. I might want to mention the sun warming my protagonist’s armor, the flies buzzing about his horse’s ears, and so on—all while he is holding an important conversation.

19)   Are there any settings that have symbolic import, whose meanings need to be brought to the forefront?


I want my characters to feel like real people, fully developed. Many stories suffer because the characters are bland or cliché or are just underdeveloped. We want to move beyond stereotypes, create characters that our readers will feel for. At the same time, we don’t want to get stuck in the weeds. We don’t want so much detail that the character feels overburdened and the writing gets sluggish.

So here are some of the checkpoints I might use for characters.

1)   Do I have all of the characters that I need to tell the story, or is someone missing? (For example, would the story be stronger if I had a guide, a sidekick, a love interest, a contagonist, hecklers, etc.?)

2)   Do I have any characters that can be deleted to good effect?

3)   Do I have characters who can perhaps be combined with others? For example, let’s say I have two cops on the beat. Would it work just as well with only one cop?

4)   Do my characters have real personalities, depth?

5)   Do my characters come off as stock characters, or as real people?

6)   Do I know my characters’ history, attitudes, and dress?

7)   Does each character have his or her interesting way of seeing the world?

8)   Does each character have his or her own voice, his own way of expressing himself?

9)   Are my characters different enough from each other so that they’re easily distinguished? Do their differences generate conflict? Remember that even good friends can have different personalities.

10)   Have I properly created my characters’ bodies—described such things as hands, feet, faces, hair, ears, and so on?

11)   Do each of my characters have their own idiosyncrasies?

12)   Do I need to “tag” any characters so that readers will remember them easily—for example, by giving a character a limp, or red hair, or having one who hums a great deal?

13)   How do my characters relate to the societies from which they sprang? In short, are they consistent with their own culture in some ways? And in what ways do they oppose their culture?

14)   What does each of my characters want?

15)   What does each one fear?

16)   What things might my character be trying to hide?

17)   What is each character’s history? (Where were they born? Schooled, etc.?)

18)   What is my characters’ stance on religion, politics, etc.?

19)   How do my characters relate to one another? How do they perceive one another? Are their perceptions accurate, or jaded?

20)   Does each character have a growth arc? If they don’t, should they?

21)   How honest are my characters—with themselves and with others? Should my readers trust them?

22)   What would my characters like to change about themselves? Do they try to change?

23)   Do my characters have their own family histories, their own social problems, their own medical histories, their own attitudes? Do we need a flashback anywhere to establish such things?


One of the surest ways to engage our audience is through our conflicts. When a conflict is unresolved, and when the audience is waiting breathlessly for its outcome, the reader’s interest will become keen. They’ll look forward to the resolution unconsciously, and may even be thinking, “Oh, this is going to be good!” That state of arousal is called “suspense,” and it’s perhaps the most potent element of a tale.

1)   What is the major conflict in my story?

2)   Do I have a proper try/fail cycles for it?

3)   Is the major conflict resolved?

4)   Is it universal enough so that the readers will find it interesting? (Note that a conflict becomes far more interesting to a reader if it is something that he must deal with in his own life.)

5)   Have I brought it to life through the incidents that I relate? In other words, are there ways to deepen or broaden the main conflict.

6)   Do I have secondary conflicts? Most stories require more than one conflict. For example, a protagonist will often have an internal conflict as well as an external conflict. He may also have a love interest. He might have conflicts with nature, with god, and with his companions. So as an author, I must create a host of conflicts and decide how each one grows and is resolved.

7)   How do my characters grow and change in order to overcome the conflicts?

8)   Do my characters perhaps decide to adapt to a conflict, struggle to live with it rather than beat it?

9)   How ingenious are my character attempts to solve their problems? Ingenuity often adds interest.

10)   How driven are my characters to resolve their conflicts? Characters who will go to extremes are needed.

11)   Do I have any namby-pamby attempts that I should delete? For example, if I have a protagonist whose main problem is that she doesn’t have the nerve to talk to her boss about a problem at work, should I strike that entire try/fail cycle? (The answer is “almost always you should strike out the scenes and replace it with something better.)

12)   Is my hero equal to or greater than his task at the start of a tale? If so, then my hero needs to be weakened so that we have a better balance.

13)   Does my protagonist ever get betrayed?

14)  Does my protagonist have an identity conflict? At the heart of every great story is a character who sees himself as being one thing—charming, heroic, wise—while others around him perceive him as being something else—socially wanting, inept, fool.

15)   Do I have enough conflicts to keep the story interesting?

16)   Should some of the minor conflicts be deleted, or resolved? (Remember that not all conflicts need to have try/fail cycles.


Themes in the story might be called the underlying philosophical arguments in your tale. A story doesn’t need to have a theme in order for it to be engaging. Likable protagonists undergoing engaging conflicts is all that you need in order to hold a reader. But a tale that tackles a powerful theme will tend to linger with you much longer. Indeed, such tales can even change the way that a reader thinks, persuade him in important arguments. Shakespeare made every story an argument, and the “theme” was the central question to his tale.

Some people will suggest that dealing with themes is “didactic.” Don’t be fooled. Those same writers will put themes in their own works, and usually, they’re taking stands that oppose yours. For example, if you argue that morality is innate and central to what a human is, they’ll argue that it’s situational and we’re all just animals. They don’t oppose the idea of stories having themes; they may just be opposed to your views. So make sure that your arguments are rigorous and persuasive.

1)   Can I identify themes that I consciously handled?

2)   Are there themes that came out inadvertently?

3)   How universal are my themes? How important are they to the average reader?

4)   Are there themes that need to be dealt with but aren’t? For example, if I have a policeman who is going to take a life, does he need to consider how he will feel about that?

5)   Are there questions posed or problems manifested that bog the story down and need to be pulled?

6)   Do my characters ever consciously consider or talk about the main themes? Should they?

7)   Do my characters need to grapple with important questions? If not, perhaps they should.

8)   Do my characters change at all due to the influence of new ideas or beliefs?

9)   If my theme is going to “grow,” become more important as the story progresses, do I need to add or modify scenes in order to accommodate that growth? In other words, do I need to let the theme help shape the tale?

10)   As your character grapples with a theme, does he find himself led down false roads? For example, let’s go back to our cop. Let’s say that he shoots a boy at night, and feels guilty when he discovers that the boy wasn’t really armed. What the cop thought was a gun turns out to have been a cell phone. Would other characters try to influence him? Perhaps a senior officer might take him out to get a drink—because alcohol has been his salvation for 20 years. Another officer might suggest that the kid was trying to commit suicide by cop, and our protagonist that he ‘did the kid a favor,’ and so on.

11)   Does my character ever have to synthesize a thematic concept—come to grips with it intellectually and emotionally, so that it alters the character’s behavior?


There are five elements that will come into nearly every scene in your story—setting, character, conflict, theme, and treatment. Your “treatment” is the way that you handle your story. The number of items that come into play in your treatment is so long, I can’t get into all of them. We get down to the real nitty-gritty of putting a sentence together.

You’ll want to create your own list of items to look for in your treatment. If you notice for example that you’re creating a lot of long, compound sentences in a row, you might make it a goal to vary your sentence length. If you find that you’re using weak verbs, you may want to go through your tale and search for instances of “was” and “were.” If you find yourself using the word “then,” you might want to go through in your edits and make sure that incidents in your tale are related in sequential order, so that you don’t need the word “then.” If you find yourself stacking modifiers in front of nouns and verbs, you might want to watch for that in your editing. If you tend to over-describe things, you might want to watch your descriptions.

In short, whatever your own personal weaknesses are in writing, you’ll want to create a list so that you can think about them when you write.

But here are a few elements to consider in your treatment.

1)   Is your tone appropriate to the tale? For example, let’s say that you want to invest a bit of humor into your story. You start it with a joke. Do you maintain the tone throughout the rest of the tale, perhaps layering the humor in, scene after scene?

2)   Do each of your characters speak with their own unique voices? You’ll need to do a dialog check for each character before you’re done.

3)   Do you as a narrator establish a voice for the piece, one that you maintain throughout?

4)   Is every description succinct and evocative?

5)   Do your descriptions echo the emotional tone of the point-of-view (POV) character?

6)   Do you get deep enough penetration into your protagonist’s POV so that the reader can track their thoughts and emotions? If not, is there a good reason why you neglected to do so?

7)   Is there music in your language? Do you want there to be? Ernest Hemingway once said that “All great novels are really just poetry?” With that in mind, listen to the sounds of your words. Consider changing them as needed to fit the meter and emphasis that you need.

8)   Do you use enough hooks to keep your reader interested?

9)   Could you strengthen the piece by using foreshadowing?

10)   Do you use powerful metaphors or similes to add beauty and resonance to your work? (If not, you’re in trouble. Your competition will.)

Story Parts

Sometimes when you’re looking at a story, you need to think about it in “chunks.” Here are a few things that I think about when creating a tale.

1)   Is the basic idea of your story original and powerful? (In a contest, entering a story with a mundane concept probably won’t get you far. For example, if you enter a story about a young man fighting space pirates, it probably won’t do well—unless you come up with some new technology or angle that sets it above all other space-pirate tales.

2)   Do you establish your characters swiftly? We should probably know whom the story is about within a scene or two, and we should probably be introduced in a way that tells us something important about the characters.

3)   We also need to establish the setting in every single scene.

4)   Do you get to the inciting incident quickly and cleanly? (The inciting incident is the place where the protagonist discovers what his main conflict is going to be.)

5)   Are there any storytelling tools that I could use to make this tale better. (For a discussion of storytelling tools, see my book “Million Dollar Outlines,” which is available at

6)   Does my story escalate through the following scenes, with conflicts that broaden and deepen?

7)   Does my story resolve well? Do I have a climax that really is exciting? Is the outcome different from what the audience expects?

8)   Do I tackle all of the resolutions in a way that leaves the reader satisfied?

Writing a story can be an exhausting exercise—intellectually challenging and emotionally draining. When you’re in the throes of it, it may seem daunting. But you’re never really done until the outcome feels magical, and if you take care of all the little things that you should, the outcome will indeed seem wondrous.

Happy writing!


David Farland

David Farland

Guest Blogger, David Farland, Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future Contest.

David Farland is an award-winning, international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language” for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year” for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and many more awards for his work. He is best known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.