Sean Williams: Eyes on the stars – Writing science fiction and fantasy

Sean-Williams-Eyes-on-the-StarsEyes on the stars is volume three in Brain Jar Press’s first season of Writer Chaps. It is startlingly different from the first two books in Season One because it’s more exploratory and less didactic.

Opening with a characterisation of two types of writer – the plotter and the pantser – Williams demonstrates that all types of writer can be, are, successful.

He follows this with a pathway peppered with tasks for writers of all stages; explores tie-ins and franchises as publishing avenues; and illustrates his position with his own experiences.

There may only be one success in a hundred million, but giving up in the face of apparent possibility means you’ll never have a flying chance.

Williams knows his stuff. He’s an author in the (immense) Star Wars universe; he’s penned about 18 novels and several collections of short works. He’s worked for just ten years to get to where he is today.

This volume is worth buying simply for the one essay that contains a stepwise checklist of what to do next. It’s valuable for any writer, in any genre, who is looking for a path through the dark and forbidding landscape.

Williams is careful to bring his machinations and suggestions back to a set of guiding principles, pointing out that they work even if you forget the checklist items themselves.

Eyes on the stars is illustrative of a key element in the Writer Chaps series: It focuses on the action, not the outcome:

Write, don’t stress about acceptance.

Apply for grants, because it’s good practice.

Submit your work, because you never know when it’s the right time.

It all takes effort, of course; the kind of effort that is comprised of both work and persistence. The beauty of it is that it is work that you want to be doing: Writing and striving for publication. What it excludes is an anxious focus on anything unhelpful.

This chapbook is an encouraging, enthusiastic volume. If you’re looking for the fire of inspiration that will shift your practise into another gear, this volume of Brain Jar Press’s Writer Chaps Season One is for you.

Eyes on the stars: writing science fiction and fantasy is published by Brain Jar Press. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Eyes on the stars: writing science fiction and fantasy – courtesy of Brain Jar Press

Review: Leticia Mooney