An SF Writer’s Pledge

October 18, 2010

 An SF Writer’s Pledge

I am a writer of Speculative Fiction. I do hereby pledge to uphold the principles of the art and craft of this genre.

As an SF Writer, I believe that…

  • The genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror are legitimate genres in literature.
  • Speculative Fiction has the unique ability to bring writer and reader into a new reality and, by this act, offer insight into our own world.
  • There are some stories and truths that are best expressed, or are only expressed, through SF and its subgenres.

As an SF Writer, I shall…

  • Write. Not just think about writing or talk about writing. I shall actually sit down and write words, whether on screen or paper.
  • Read both other authors and nonfiction.
  • Strive to create well-crafted stories: stories that are exciting, that raise questions, and that are worth the time the reader spent reading them.
  • Do my utmost to create real, believable characters with individual wants, motivations, and desires. This principle holds for human and non-human characters alike.
  • Retain a sense of awe and wonder when dealing with the Universe, and communicate those feelings as best I can.
  • Accept that every rule has its exception, but acknowledge that rules tend to have a reason for being.
  • Persist. Even if I have to concede some losses, that will not stop me from trying again.
  • Keep, above all, the story’s integrity.

As an SF Writer, I shall NOT…

  • Use dragons, elves, dwarves, and aliens in ways that have been seen a million times before.
  • Blatantly plagiarize.
  • Include gratuitous violence, swearing, or sex for shock value or for the mere sake of including them.
  • Assign a single, dominating trait to any one character, race, or species.
  • Have horses gallop all day long, for days on end, with no breaks for food, water, or rest.
  • Break the rules I have established for my world, unless I have a very good, well-rationalized reason.
  • Make characters act contrary to their established natures in order to further the plot.
  • Defy linguistic and cultural conventions, whether fictional or not, unless I have a very good, well-rationalized reason.
  • Protect my characters from the consequences of their actions, or offer them an easy way out through the use of magic, technology, hitherto unknown physics, the supernatural, etc.
  • Compare myself to, or attempt to replicate the works of, J.R.R. Tolkien.

In short, I shall strive to ensure that my contributions to the field of Speculative Fiction are the best that my abilities will allow.





  1. Wow. A concise manifesto, filled with truth. I would hope to walk up to each of these beliefs and commitments as well. You’ve hit on all those things that are absolutely essential to success in the genre.

    • Thanks, that means a lot to me. I think as long as I can remember these things, no matter what happens, I should be all right.

  2. Excellent list . . . and thanks for looking out for the horses.

    All animals, even fictional ones, deserve our care and protection. 🙂

  3. I had to laugh at the truths of your Shall Not list. There are so many tendencies to fall into all of those traps – I hope you and the rest of us can avoid it at all costs.

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