Guest Post: Today I’d like to talk about sports…& writing! @JasonJMcCuiston #SCIFI #amwriting

Today I’d like to talk about sports; specifically how they can make you a better writer of genre fiction. I think most of us (and I know this is a stereotype) who write sci-fi and fantasy are much more comfortable in a library than in a gym, or more at home at a tabletop playing an RPG than on a hardtop playing basketball. I speak from experience. No one will ever mistake me for an athlete, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

Let’s face it, in genre fiction, there are a lot of sports. As Grandpa says in The Princess Bride: “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” You get the picture. “So?” I hear you say, “How does that apply to me and my writing?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll give you some examples from my life.

I played high school (American) football, so I know what it feels like to take a bone-jarring blow to the helmet. I know that smell of blood you get in the back of your sinuses when you get your bell rung. I know what it feels like to have the instep of your foot touch your inner shin (not good). I know what it’s like when opposing forces in pads (the modern equivalent of armor) crash together and try to break each other’s lines. I know how a field smells and feels different in the rain from one that is sun-scorched or nearly frozen with frost. And I know how it feels to see one of your closest friends carted off with a serious injury.

I played rugby in college, so I know what a femur sounds like when it snaps in half (a gunshot is a close approximation), and how the scream afterward is even worse. I know what it feels like to have your shoulder torn out of the socket. I know what my lungs and legs feel like when they’ve got nothing left to give, but somehow find a way to run one more sprint and pile into one more scrum. I know how thirty alpha-males act when they try to kill each other for an hour, and then party like brothers until the dawn (I will go to my grave believing that the spirit of the Viking raid lives on in modern times as a visiting rugby club).

I also took karate and kickboxing in college, and wrestled in high school, so I know what it’s like to grapple with another human being in close quarters, smelling their breath and their unfamiliar scent as they try to hurt or defeat you. I know what it feels like (because I didn’t make weight that week) to wrestle a giant. I know what it feels like to get hit so hard that you can’t breathe and your vision goes dark and hazy. I know how it feels to throw so many punches that you wonder who’s really taking the worst of the bout.

I am into target shooting, so I know that a real gunshot is RIDICULOUSLY louder than on TV and the movies. I know what burnt gunpowder smells like. I know that after a day at the range (or, one can imagine, a lengthy battle) your hands are black with burnt powder. I know that when an ejected brass casing hits your skin it feels like someone trying to put a cigarette out on you (or so I imagine – thankfully, that is one thing I have not experienced). I know how a gun can malfunction in different ways, and how to safely fix the problem. I know that real gun experts are never nonchalant with weapons, no matter how “cool” they might be.

So you see, sports can lend a level of verisimilitude to your writing that it might otherwise lack. Even if you just go for a walk or a hike until you can’t take one more step, that’s useful information you can draw on the next time you write about a long and arduous journey. Do as many pushups as you can until you want to puke, then you’ll get a sense of what your character is feeling when she is pushed to her physical limits. Run as fast as you can for as far as you can, and maybe you can use that when you write about your characters fleeing the alien invasion. And if you go out for a team, you might make it, and then you’ll learn about the camaraderie and fellowship of folks who push themselves and each other to be their best. That certainly can’t hurt, right?

So yeah, sports.

About our guest blogger…

Jason J. McCuiston was born in the wilds of southeast Tennessee, where he was raised on a healthy diet of old horror movies (both classic and of the B variety), westerns and war movies, comic books and old pulp magazines, sci-fi and fantasy novels, and, yes, Dungeons & Dragons. He attended the finest state school that would have him where he studied art before coming to grips with the hard truth that his heart just wasn’t in illustrating other folks’ stories. Following his matriculation, he embarked on a whirlwind tour of underpaid and uninspired career paths until finally realizing that all his forays into role-playing games, comic books, and creative design were merely the manifestation of his innate desire to be a storyteller.

So for the next twenty-odd years, he slogged his way through the jungles of terribly amateurish prose, waded the never-ending streams of form rejections, navigated through the cyclopean obelisks of scathing (yet often constructive) criticisms, and finally climbed the daunting peaks of Personal Growth, Craft, and Skill in search of his goal: the fabled Shangri La of becoming a published and prolific author of speculative adventures.

He can be found on the internet at:

His story, “The Wyvern” can be found in Pole to Pole Publishing’s new anthology, Dark Luminous Wings. It is a post-apocalyptic steampunk horror story set in the skies above a Mojave Desert filled with magic and dark memories.

His first published story, “The Last Red Lantern” can still be found in Parsec Ink’s Triangulation: Appetites anthology.

Adding character depth with personality types

Our characters are the soul of our story. There are many routes we can take to adding flesh to our character’s bare bones, but I find personality type to be a fascinating option, which can add a ‘real’ dimension.

Whether you already have a personality type in mind, or you want to find one that fits your character, the following can help to pick out the traits you want.

Summary of personality types with percentage of population:

ENTP: (3%) The debtor / The Visionary. Mental sparing. Loves a challenge. The devils advocate. Straight talking. Gets the the heart of the matter. Gregarious. Cannot resist an intellectual challenge. Friendly and charming.

ENTJ: (2%) The Commander/ The Executive.  Born leader, with charisma and confidence. Ruthless, determination and drive. Unwavering self belief in achieving their goals. Bold, strong willed. Naturally take charge.

ENFP: (8%) The Campaigner / The Champion. Charming and independent. Loves connecting with people. Energetic, warm, passionate. Always finds a reason to smile. Free-spirit. Loves to talk about people.

ENFJ: (3%) The Teacher / The Giver. Politicians, teachers, and inspirers. Lead by inspiring. Genuine, radiate authenticity. Mesmerise their followers.

ESTP: (4%) The Entrepreneur / The Dynamo. The centre of attention. Risk takers. Energetic thrill-seeker. Metaphorical fire-fighters. Life of the party. Live in the moment. Live on the edge. Love to chat and joke. Playful.

ESTJ: (9%) The Guardian / The Supervisor. Hardworking and traditional. Strong sense of right and wrong. Community organiser. Love to organise things and people to a purpose. Conventional and factual.

ESFP: (9%) The Entertainer / The Performer. Born entertainer. Love the spotlight. Stylish. Spontaneous, fun-loving, and engaging. Contagious enthusiasm for life. Soul of the party. Involves others in having fun.

ESFJ: (12%) The Caregiver / The Provider. Popular and social. Conscientious helpers and generous with their time. Love to gossip and play host. Practical. Caring and eager to help. Social organisers.

INTP: (3%) The thinker/ The Architect. Inventive and creative, with a unique perspective and vigorous intellect. The philosopher, the architect, or the dreamy professor. Finds discrepancies in statements. Passionate innovators.

INTJ: (2%) The Mastermind / The Scientist . Imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, and amazingly curious. Logical. Analytical problem solvers. Confident. Thirst for knowledge. Reserved, serious, strategic thinkers.

INFP: (4%) The Idealist / The healer. Calm, reserved, shy. Seek to find the good in the worst people. Kind. Imaginative idealist. Non-judgemental. Artistic/ Poetic. Reflective, spiritual, and constantly seeking a deeper understanding of life.

INFJ: (2%) The Advocate / The Protector. Morally astute. Soft spoken. Use warm, sensitive language. Creative. Insightful about others. Reserved. Quiet and mystical. Listen attentively. Highly perceptive.

ISTP: (5%) The Craftsman / The Mechanic. Practical problem solvers. Love to build or create. Explore with their hands. Trial and error approach. Mechanics and engineers. Bold and practical experimenters. May appear reserved.

ISTJ: (12%) The duty fulfiller / The Inspector. Practical logic. Dedication to duty. Enforce order. No-nonsense. Upholder of the law. Hard working and persistent. Fact minded and reliable. Serious and conservative.

ISFP: (8%) The Adventurer / The Artist. Live in a colourful, sensual world. Non-traditional. Seek out beauty. Enjoy life, and go with the flow. Unconventional. Quiet and unassuming. Flexible and charming. Enjoy new experiences. May appear distant or aloof.

ISFJ: (14%) The Defender / The Nurturer. Industrious, practical and compassionate careers. Meet kindness with kindness. Humble and unassuming. Sincere. Social, but don’t want the spot light. Offer assistance with modesty.