Category Archives: Genre

Details Make the Story-Genre Specific Research

The story’s magic is in the details, and details come from good research.

It may seem like common sense that a writer should and must do research for any story containing experiences or places the author has not experienced. However, it can be a step that is sometimes skipped in favor of just getting the story written. No matter what genre you are writing, this is a mistake.

When I first started writing, I was straight up romance all the time. In that vein, my shelves were lined with romance novels not only because I loved to read them, but also as research for what I was writing. The novels provided me what I needed for research. I learned which tropes I hated and vowed to avoid as well as those I loved and planned to use. I learned the beats of a romance that way.

When I switched genres from romance to horror and paranormal, I had to change my research methods and materials as well. While I still have shelves of romance novels, now I have a bookshelf dedicated to writing research and  lined with books on mythology, witchcraft, the history of murder, Irish folklore and so much more. These books are important to my craft and are lined with sticky notes and tabs, penciled in scribbles and the odd story nugget here and there.

The thing about genre specific research is it varies. And while those variations are sometimes microscopic, they also can be huge. The scope of your research will vary. No matter how much research you do, the important thing is for you to be as accurate and in depth as you can. For me this means not relying solely on one medium.

Yes, the internet is a great thing. Google and Wikipedia are your friends, but not the only ones. Let us not forget the library. A true friend to a writer. And a writer owned library (if possible) is even better.  While many veteran writers may suggest that you start your writing library with craft books, I strongly believe research books are an important buy for a writer as well.

You can’t believe everything you read…

Though the internet is convenient, we all know we can’t believe everything we read on it. Wikipedia is super helpful, but since it is curated by the public, it is not always 100% accurate. So when doing research, whether it’s as wide a topic as clothing worn in the 1800s to something more specific such as the most well recognizable supplier of chloroform in 1875, just be sure to double check. Triple check even.

As writers, we share our work with readers. As a whole, the general public is a smart entity that wants to know that before you wrote those words, you did the leg work. This is when the library or the bookstore can come in handy. Finding multiple books on the subject you are researching will help to ensure that you have the proper information you need to write true to your subject matter.

Now I’m not bashing the internet at all. It is convenient, and I use it often. If a library is not accessible, but the internet is, there are other options aside from Wikipedia.  Here are some of my favorite.

Other Online Resources:

The Library of Congresswebsite

The “ask a librarian” feature is fantastic here and can help if you are stuck on a particular research topic.

Smithsonian Institutionwebsite

They have a lot of information about animals and foliage local to whatever area you are writing about. Also, the Smithsonian Libraries and Galaxy of Knowledge is a fantastic feature on this site.

The British Library website

If you are writing about England at all, this site has a lot of resources. It goes back a fair way and has a wide array of information.

Whichever genre you write in will most likely dictate how you do your genre specific research. If you are writing romance then romance novels are a good way to go. Though there are books on writing romance and the beats you need and the arcs you should follow, these are more craft than story. If you are writing about serial killers in 1800’s London, then researching the time period is the way to go. And this is where the library, the bookstore and the internet are your friend. A mixture of all three will give you your best shot at writing your best, most historically accurate story.

As a writer, it is our job to transport our readers into our stories, proper genre specific research is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. Please take the time and do your research, it really does matter.

Sheri Williams is an author who laughs in the face of genre. She always knew she would be a romance author one day, until she found the macabre that lives in her heart and her brain. Equally as comfortable in her own imagination as she is in the real world, she finds inspiration everywhere. Her stories range from light to dark, then very dark, but always with a touch of romance.

Sheri is a wife and a mom, which bring her great joy. She is also a geek and an avid Netflix binger, which also brings great joy. She always has multiple projects on her plate and if you want to stay up to date, be sure to sign up for the newsletter on her website. You can also follow her author page on fb, on twitter, pinterest and Google+

Writing Historical Fiction, or “Holy Cow, This is Harder Than it Looks!”

So you’ve decided to write a historical fiction novel.

You enjoy writing, and you adore history, so combining your two loves is a natural step. But before you take that leap into the past, there are a few things you might want to think about…

Writing Historical Fiction, or "Holy Cow! This Is Harder Than It Looks!"

What are you bringing to the table?

As most historical fiction readers know, there is already a LOT of choices out there. Take the Tudors for example. There are thousands of books on Henry the Eighth (famous for his six wives, two of whom he had executed), Anne Boleyn (his most notorious wife), their daughter Elizabeth I, her sister, brother, cousin, their favorite cat, ‘Persil’, etc.*

You should ask yourself: do you want to retell the story, add something new, or both? They’re all fine options, but if you want to attract readers, simply repeating the same story just won’t do it. You need an angle, something new to add to the story like Hilary Mantel did when she told the Tudor story from the point of view of one of Henry’s key advisors in her novel Wolf Hall. Or else you need a time period that’s not been done to death. Throw in an obscure historical figure, or the ‘secret’ history of someone you admire, and you’re off to a good start.

*Not a real thing

Pros and cons of writing historical fiction:


  • The history & timeline already exist – you only need to add the story
  • The further back in history you go, the less records there are – more chance for you to fill in the blanks with your story and get creative
  • Most, if not all, research can be done from your living room (see point below on using the internet)
  • You’ll become an “expert” in a relatively short period of time


  • Research! If you don’t enjoy research, historical fiction isn’t for you
  • Even though the history & timeline already exist, you will still need to plan carefully (historical fiction readers are a VERY keen and, oftentimes, very particular group; they’ll call you on incorrect dates and events, fabric colors, types of broom straw, and favorite Tudor cats.)

Probably the most important aspect of writing historical fiction; you can never do too much…


You will have to do research. You should be able to discuss your chosen time period with ease when finished. As mentioned, historical fiction readers can be pretty demanding. Your historical details must be accurate. But not all of your research will make it into your story. Remember, this is a novel, not a grade twelve history paper. Throwing in too much historical detail just for the sake of it will turn your reader off. Three pages of detailed description on how a medieval ax is made is fine for a dissertation, but unless the information is relevant to the story, simply referring to an ax will be enough for your readers. You can call it a big ax if you want. A big, shiny ax is fine. But leave it now.

Having said that, details are a lot of the story when used well, and will create your story’s atmosphere. A few words of description of what the king’s goblet looks like, compared to one of his servants, won’t only contribute to the sense of time but also subtly illustrate the difference between two different social classes ie rich people, and people owned by rich people.

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Important descriptions you may want to include:

  • Clothing
  • Households/halls/rooms
  • Furniture
  • Objects common to the period

Keep in mind that not only clothing fashions change with the times, so does furniture, architecture, decorations, household items – getting these details correct is imperative and will draw your readers into your story that much more.

One of my favorite quotes, while written by a horror master, applies to historical fictions:

“Give me just enough information so that I can lie convincingly.” (Steven King)

The Internet is Your Friend. Except When it Isn’t

While researching your novel, you will come across two scenarios:

  1. too little information
  2. too much information
  3. way-way too much information

Too Little Information

The further back in time you go, the less documentation exists (I had two paragraphs in a history book to use when I wrote my Anglo-Saxon novel). Records almost always focus on the upper classes and church and are usually written by males. These time periods, while frustrating to research, DO allow for more license when writing the actual story. Many details of life can be inferred based on the history and events taking place at the time – just don’t take it too far!

Too much information

How do you sort through all of that information? Carefully!

When researching any time period from any country, try to stick to scholarly sources ie sites that include information from primary sources and a bibliography. These let you dig further into your subject if you want to check the original source material (ie original court documents, bills of sale, household accounts, church records etc)

Way Way Too Much Information

Yes, it happens. Good luck and edit HARD!

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Make sure your characters act as they should. For example, an 18th-century woman will behave differently in most situations to a 21st-century woman and will have different resources to hand. Ensure actions are appropriate to the time period (don’t have Queen Victoria humming Beyoncé). And, as mentioned earlier, ensure your characters are dressed right.


Depending on your time and place, you may decide to write a speech as your characters spoke ‘back then’. This is fine, but a word of warning: if not done it can pull your reader right out of the story. Tread cautiously! (My characters spoke Old Norse and Old English/Anglo-Saxon but I chose to use modern English with a few Old Norse swear words added at appropriate moments to add flavor and urgency to the relevant scenes).

Remember not to let modern speech creep in. A letter from a Nineteenth Century gentleman to his sweetheart might start ‘My dearest darling’ and not ‘hey babe’. (One expression that particularly bugs me is ‘okay’. American, from the mid-1800s, it should never be used in a medieval historical fiction novel!)

Pick a Date

While your novel may be a sweeping epic that covers many generations of the same family, start with a specific date.

  • It makes the research a lot easier (kind of obvious, that one)
  • It’s necessary if you’re telling the story of an actual historic figure
  • It helps to anchor the story in your reader’s mind
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You’ve picked your time period and all of your descriptions of clothing, homes, rooms, and behavior are accurate but what about your locations? Cities, neighborhoods, and countries change as much as fashion so make sure your descriptions of locations are just as correct. What sounds are there? Horse and carts? Pigs being herded through a street? Pre- or post-industrial age noises? And what about smells? A modern London street probably smells a lot better than a medieval one (or does it?). I once spent eight hours researching whether or not there was a priory at Ulney in 14th century England. There wasn’t. But I put one in anyway. And I feel guilty about it every day. Not kidding.

One Last Thought

Writing historical fiction can be constricting. After all, the facts are laid out already, what more is there? But remember, while the facts are there, the story isn’t. Yet. That’s your job!

Kelly Evans was born in Canada of Scottish extraction but spent much of her life in London, England. She obtained degrees in History and English in Canada and continued her studies in London, focusing on Medieval Europe, landscape archaeology, and the Icelandic Sagas. Kelly moved back to Canada ten years ago, shortly after which her first short stories were published. She writes horror and historical fiction, sometimes combining them. When not writing she enjoys watching really bad horror movies, reading, and playing oboe. Find out more: website:, twitter: @chaucerbabe, FB: @kellyevansauthor.

Top 10 Signs You May Be A Literary Writer (For Those of Us Who Are Genre Confused)

You’re writing a book and all of your hundreds of readers want to know. “What’s it about?” And you, gather them around you, adjust your cravat, look over your half moon glasses that are pretentiously hanging from a gold chain around your neck and you say, “I’m not really sure.”

Why can’t you explain? It’s because your story seems to transcend certain genres, it’s a journey or it’s an introspective. Words like “romance” or “fantasy” don’t seem big enough.

You, dear writer, could be writing literary fiction!

But you say, “I don’t want to write literary fiction! I know the market for these kinds of stories! I have nightmares that I’m locked in a room with someone reading Proust! I wish Hemingway would be more emotional!” “Sylvia Plath just needed to get over herself!”

Calm down.

 Literary writers are kind of like the zebras of the publishing world. They’re wild, unpredictable, and you can’t put a saddle on them. It could be that your writing habits have put you into the often misunderstood category of literary fiction.  I’ve created a little checklist (a tongue-in-cheek one) for your convenience, so while you’re chain smoking your clove cigarettes, go through this list. And check off what only applies to you. If you aren’t literary, then you can celebrate by going to that NASCAR event, but if you are, then rest assured that not all famous literary writers took their own life. Some were killed by their lovers. 

Top 10 Signs You May Be A Literary Writer

Let’s get crackin!

1. You may have spent a lot of time thinking about the beauty of language. This means that in the course of your drafting, you’ve thought about rhythm and tone. You weigh the length of sentences. You kind of wish you could throw in some poetry.  I know you’re optimistic and you think that some reader, somewhere, most likely an English major creating grande lattes at Starbucks, will appreciate your craftsmanship. And your hope that if more people did, then the world would be a better place. It would be. Here’s a hug.

2. You’ve incorporated some unexpected imagery or comparisons. I would have said metaphor, but I didn’t want you to squeal like a fangirl at a Taylor Swift concert. Just because you love a good metaphor, doesn’t mean you’re book is literary, it just means that you’ve put thought into it. This is a good thing. It’s what writers are supposed to do. But if you are overly obsessed with the green light in The Great Gatsby,  have a character you’ve based on George Orwell because of his role in society or think it’s a victory when your reader asks, “what the hell does that mean?”, then you could be literary.

3. Your book is far more about the human condition and big ideas. If you’ve ever discussed your manuscript and said the phrase “a struggle between this foreign sounding word and that foreign sounding word”.  If you have babbled for a good fifteen minutes about the concepts and never mention the characters, then we might need to get you started on pipe tobacco and buy you a tweed jacket with elbow patches. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in writing abstract meaning. Look on the bright side, your high school English teacher will love this. You should quiz her.

4. Your characters do get from point A to point B, but they take a long, long time to get there. Before you panic, take a moment and think. You probably do have good reasons to have your characters go off on tangents about what they did as children while they are standing in line at the Piggly Wiggly. But if your story’s big climactic moment is, after 250 pages, choosing paper over plastic, then, honey, we need to get you cat.

5. You want your MFA to count for something. Of course you do. I’ll take an order of fries with that burger, please.

6. You have nightmares trying to categorize it on Kindle Direct. Your book not really a mystery because you reveal the killer on page 82. Your book is not really a love story because she dumps him at the altar and your book not really fantasy because the aliens were just a metaphor. Let’s just admit it: this book is literary. Now, maybe The New Yorker is a better venue for you. Don’t wash that holey sweater. We’ll need it for your author photo.

7. Your brother asked how many explosions your book had it in and you stabbed him with the cheese knife. How are you going to serve your Wensleydale now?

8. You’ve lost writer friends over your stance on structure. “Three Acts? That’s totally predictable!” And then you launch a tirade that Stephen King’s On Writing could be a little bit self-serving. And you once hit someone because their idea of a great book has the number 50 and a color between black and white in it. And the longer you do this, the more you understand why writers drink themselves to death. Their friends are idiots. Let’s calm down. We have J.D. Salinger on the phone. He wants to meet you for drinks. See? You feel better already.

9. You find the expectations of specific genre too confining. And while you may be an Agatha Christie fan, or have a crush on Lovecraft or cry in your share of Harlequin romances, you’ve decided that you’ll take your favorite parts and twist them up. Marketability can go out with the window with all the vampire fiction as far as you are concerned. Your stories are beyond genre. Yes dear, put down that feather and quill. If your books can’t be categorized into a specific genre, then there’s a reason. You’re a literary writer and all the Chardonnay in the world can’t change that.

10. There are phrases in your books that require Google translator and your thought is, “come on, readers! Why are you so freaking lazy? You should just know Latin!”

Scoring: For every one of these ten signs that you agree to, give yourself one ounce of caviar. If you have more than six ounces, you’ll need some champagne and a friend. I’m on my way over. If you have zero points here, or zero ounces of caviar, then you are not a literary writer.

Your stories are probably solid, balancing both action and character development, you tell your stories simply enough without any of your characters resembling Frasier Crane, and you probably can explain the story itself to a prospective reader who can say, without any dirty looks from you, “Oh! It’s a thriller!” (Or a mystery, or science fiction, or fantasy, or a romance.) Your books are easy enough to find on a store shelf. And your genre choice helps your reader understand what to expect. You may not have fretted over every single word for its poetic weight, but you write well. But you don’t need caviar. Chips, salsa and beer will do fine.

The world needs literary fiction.

We need to have unpredictable, meaningful, symbolic stories that remind us that the good guys don’t always win and that not every ending is happy. So wear your literary label with pride!

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” You can do this. I believe in you!

What’s Your Real Genre? (A Silly Quiz For Writers Who Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously) by Katharine Grubb

Oh Genre! That beautiful French word that basically pigeon-holes authors into a particular type of writing.

Some of us are romance writers, some are thriller writers, some specialize in Regency zombie mysteries that always contain a yummy recipe. Genres are important simply because readers need to know what to expect from you. Agents like genres because if they do get to pitch your work, they need to know how to describe it. And if you attaching key words to your self-published title, genre can help you out. 

What's Your Real Genre? A Silly Quiz For Writers Who Don't Take Themselves Too Seriously) #amwriting #write #writetip

But what if you don’t know your genre?

There are lots of ways to find out. You can read this informative article from Rock Your Writing. You can go over to Write To Done and take in their advice about genre.

Or, you can take the quiz below. It promises to be silly and probably way more fun. Just in time for Halloween!

Get a pencil ready! You’ll need to keep your score! 

1. Your definition of success is:

A. Someone meets you at a convention and they are dressed just like your good looking, but slightly manical commander.

B. Your pure bred poodles, named Barbara, Danielle and Jackie, all now have customized down beds with solid gold monograms.

C. Nathan Fillion is the first actor on board for the straight to DVD film version.

D. Your biggest fans send you e-mails confessing that their moods have improved from angst-ridden to just a little cranky.

E. No one has ever heard of you.

2. Your protagonist’s name is:
A: Stormy.
B: Alexandria Culpepper Montgomery O’Hara Von Snipple.
C. Max or Cal or Van (hard consonant sound, one syllable).
D. Isabelle (but you prefer to called Izzy).
E. Your protagonist is unnamed until the last chapter and then it turns out to be a tiger with a purple head that represents freedom.

3. One of the conflicts involves a:
A. Flux Capacitor.
B. Firing the maid, who turns out to be the illegitimate of the landscaper that you just saw with his shirt off.
C. Terrorist plot, a paper clip and an unending supply of cell phones.
D. Popularity contests, cheerleaders who are always mean and possibly of getting your period.
E. Conflict? Only if you mean conflict like the air might struggle to enter our lungs type of way.

4. On the cover of your book you have a:
A. Galaxy, probably the artists’ interpretation of the Bellavue 2000.
B. A chiseled, tanned and shirtless man with really long hair, and lots of pink, swirly letters.
C. Something pointy, like a dagger, or fingernails, or pointy fingernails that drip blood.
D. A girl looking very sad, with eyelashes so long that they are biologically impossible.
E. A Cover? Covers are so 2009. Readers who won’t read the Kindle version don’t deserve you.

I can't decide if this cover is best suited for my manuscripts about Amish Barn Raisings, Western Red Neck Mysteries, Vampire Love Triangles or Maritime Adventures with Those Who are Vertically Impaired. What do you think?
I can’t decide if this cover is best suited for my manuscripts about Amish Barn Raisings, Western Red Neck Mysteries, Vampire Love Triangles or Maritime Adventures with Those Who are Vertically Impaired. What do you think?

5. The main setting of your book is a:
A. Either a planet that has not yet been discovered or a starship in the shape of a nightlight.
B. A castle that is cold and drafty enough to have blazing fires in the hearths, but not so cold that you would object to having a bodice ripped.
C. A dark street alley that for some explicable reason never, ever sees sunlight.
D. A middle school, where all the teachers are self-righteous narcissists, except for one who is really, really dreamy.
E. A metaphor, naturally. It’s completely explained on page 89, which, if you know anything, is a symbol of the fall of the Berlin Wall. So, duh, it’s Cuba.

6. Your average reader:
A. Lives at home, in a dark room, and has spent more money on graphic novels than on real life outings with members of the opposite sex.
B. Owns more than one pair of black stretch pants.
C. Suspects that they have an implant in their brain, put there by the government, and considers income taxes optional.
D. Writes really bad poetry, or picks at the blemishes on their face, or does both simultaneously.
E. Has never seen a cow, except on packages of free range, grain fed, hormone free, cruelty free packages at Whole Foods. That is, if they dare to eat meat.


What's Your Real Genre? (A Silly Quiz For Writers Who Don't Take Themselves Too Seriously)
What’s Your Real Genre? (A Silly Quiz For Writers Who Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously)

7. If your wip were an article of clothing, it would be:
A. A Starfleet uniform.
B. A feather boa.
C. A wool suit in need of dry cleaning.
D. An old v-neck t-shirt with a vintage decal on it.
E. Driving mocassins from Orvis.

8. The word that you have to delete out of your wip the most frequently is:
A. Chase
B. Lustily
C. Gun
D. Sigh
E. Almost always written in French

9. The worst advice your non-writer friends have given you about your writing was:
A. That your characters should have feelings.
B. That your characters should have jobs.
C. That your characters should smile once in a while.
D. That your character should grow out of it.
E. That dialogue should possibly start before page 321.

What do I do when I don't agree with my writing mentor's advice?
This is totally me when I get unsolicited advice.

10. You’ve just optioned film rights. Your agent talked to the director and they pitch your movie as:
A. Battlestar Galactica meets Twilight
B. When Harry Met Sally meets Dangerous Liasons
C. The Bourne Identity meets CSI
D. Glee meets Gilmore Girls
E. Completely unmarketable in the U.S. You take this as a compliment.

11. You just deleted this line of dialogue because it was totally unrealistic for your protagonist:
A: “I’m not really into risk taking. Darn. I just broke a nail.”
B. “You know, marriage is hard work. I think I’m just going to see a therapist and take up gardening.”
C. “I would rather someone with jurisdiction handle this problem. I’m calling the police. They’d love to have this case. I’m a nobody.”
D. “My parents are so full of good advice. I’ll listen to them.”
E. “Do we have enough beer for the NASCAR race?”

Congratulations! You so close to world wide fame! Now, let’s tally!

Mostly A’s: You like the Sci-Fi! You have a strong opinion about the use of the term Sci-Fi and there is at least one room in your house devoted to Gene Roddenberry.
Mostly B’s: Cue the violin music! You are a Romance writer! You believe in true love, that getting “cuddly” on the beach is more fun than uncomfortable, and that all stories have happy endings.
Mostly C’s: You’re a Thriller writer! If you look at this blog carefully, there is a secret message, possibly fromYou Know Who, if you decode every 64th letter.
Mostly D’s: There is something hopeful, poetic and pure about being a Young Adult novelist. If nothing else, it gives you an excuse to read your daughter’s diary — you know, for research.
Mostly E’s: As if you even had to take this quiz . . . you are a literary writer! For each dime you spent on that high-priced MFA, you’ve taken ten steps away from Book of The Month Club. Your next work might be written in a language that you’ve made up.

How Can I Find Out What My Genre Is?
Lamest. Quiz. Ever.

We live in a literary world that likes to categorize.

If you don’t fit into any of these categories, or any of the genres that you might find at your local Barnes & Noble, you might want to find another resource besides this humble blog to help you. (Although, stay tuned, we might do something serious about this topic later!)

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Creating Beautiful Words — Scifaiku! A Guest Post By Wendy Van Camp

One Friday afternoon, I was sitting on a bench at a local science fiction convention with little to do for the next few hours.  I learned that there was to be a workshop on how to write scifaiku poetry. I had never heard of scifaiku before and was intrigued by the idea. I ended up attending the seminar and this decision changed my direction in writing. As it turned out, I was the only student at the workshop along with a couple of magazine editors that published this form of poetry.  The instructor taught how to brainstorm ideas for your poems and the elements that were needed for scifaiku.  I not only became hooked on the poetry form, but I ended up publishing the poem I wrote in that workshop several months later.

What is Scifaiku?

Defining Scifaiku

Scifaiku is minimal in execution and elegant, similar to Haiku. It is distinctive since it contains the human insight, use of technology and vision of the future that is natural in science fiction, but delivers it in three short poignant lines. The form is inspired by the principles of haiku, but it deviates due to its science fiction theme. The standard length of a poem is 17 syllables.  While traditional haiku has three lines of five syllables, then seven, and then five again, scifaiku does not need to follow this structure unless the poet wishes it.  The structure is merely a guideline in scifaiku and the poet can write more than 17 syllables if they wish.  This is due to science fiction having technical terms that make the shortness of traditional haiku difficult.

Original drawing by Wendy Van Camp
Original drawing by Wendy Van Camp

How to write Scifaiku 

Scifaiku contains certain theme elements, much like haiku does.  In traditional haiku, the poems are about nature.  In scifaiku, the poems are about science fiction. Each poem needs to evoke a science fiction premise along with its own observation of that idea.  For instance you might include a technological word like space, laser, nebula, biofeedback, teleport, ect. Technical words often can be long and have many syllables, but this is allowed in Scifaiku.

In traditional haiku, a word is included to indicate the season or time this poem is taking place in.  I was taught in the workshop to also include this element in the scifaiku poem.  It is not a requirement, but I am finding that including it makes my poems stronger.  I tend to not use seasonal words, but I do like to use words that give a sense of the time.

Haiku and scifaiku both involve creating a sense of a single moment in time and space.  You need to discover that tiny moment and the feelings that it invokes within yourself.  Scifaiku is about creating a small small, a tiny bubble in the universe that makes one think.

Original Drawing by Wendy Van Camp
Original Drawing by Wendy Van Camp

Authors of Scifaiku

  • One of the earliest published poems in this form was Karen Anderson’s “Six Haiku” from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1962.
  • Terry Pratchett used Scifaiku as a chapter epigram in one of his early novels, “The Dark Side of the Sun” in 1976.
  •  Robert Frazier published “Haiku for the L5” in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine(1979) and also  “Haiku for the Space Shuttle” (1980)
  • The most extensive use of scifaiku in science fiction is by David Brin in his “Uplift Universe” and in his novel “The Postman”.  In Uplift, the dolphin characters speak a haiku-like language called Trinary and he has characters quoting and writing haiku in the story.  In “The Postman”, Brin used scifaiku as chapter epigrams.

Awards for Scifaiku

There are few awards for scifaiku.  It is a rare form of science fiction inspired poetry and often will not be eligible for recognition in regular poetry wards.  However, The Science Fiction Poetry Association gives out a  “Dwarf Star Award” for the best short length speculative poem each year which does include scifaiku.  The nominees for the award are published in their annual anthology, Dwarf Stars. Joining the Science Fiction Poetry Association allows you to nominate and vote for the award in addition to giving you a copy of the anthology. Http://

Original drawing by Wendy Van Camp
Original drawing by Wendy Van Camp

Final Word

Scifaiku is a poetry form that I’ve grown very fond of. It is my hope that more people will begin to write it and that it will flourish as an art form.  From a single seminar on a lazy Friday afternoon, I have been transformed into a poet of sorts and my life has become all the better for it.


Wendy Van Camp is the writer behind No Wasted Ink, a blog about the craft of writing, featuring author interviews, book reviews and scifaiku poetry. She makes her home in Southern California with her husband. Wendy enjoys travel, bicycling, gourmet cooking and gemology. Her articles, short stories and poetry has appeared in literary and science fiction magazines such as “Shadows Express”, “Luna Station Quarterly”, “Serendipity”, and “Far Horizons”.  Her first Amazon ebook is a regency romance entitled: “The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion”.

Wendy Van Camp
Wendy Van Camp

Want more information about Scifaiku? Check out these links!

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