Skip to content

Turkey City Lexicon

The infamous science-fiction workshop lexicon of “things to not do”.

Over the years, so much has been written about what to do and what NOT to do in fiction that it’s a little overwhelming sometimes.
Personally, when I write, I’m almost always trying to write fantasy or science-fiction, or what is sometimes referred to as “speculative fiction”.  On the surface, that seems easier, since, essentially, a writer can make up virtually every and any aspect of their fictional universe, but, good speculative fiction has some “do’s and don’ts” as well.  Some of the best are collected in the now somewhat infamous Turkey City Lexicon.

This document is the work of Bruce Sterling and regulars of the Turkey City Workshop in Austin, Texas, most of whom are now quite well known science-fiction writers in their own right.  This is, I think, the collected wisdom of some of the best minds in science-fiction today and filled with real gems.  For instance, it details the sins of the “info dump” wherein a writer throws a large volume of information at the reader completely breaking the narrative flow of the story and presenting the information in quite possibly the most boring way possible.  But, the Turkey City Lexicon also gives us the remedy for this in the “edge of ideas” entry.  Namely, the big, central technology is never actually described in excruciating technical detail, but demonstrated via the historical effects or visible side-effects described as part of the story.
And, if it’s not clear yet, I love this document for quick, easy to follow writing advice that makes good, practical sense, not to mention it’s hard-won information from some of the authors I admire most.

So, if you’re plugging away at your NaNoWriMo manuscript today and find yourself stuck, take a break and check out the Turkey City Lexicon for some helpful advice.
And, then get back to writing!


Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.