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I am a fiction author and essayist, specializing in speculative fiction, human uplift, and all things geek. Visit my website at ryandoskocil.com.
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I’m a gay man, and that’s officially the first time I’ve announced it publicly. I didn’t come out until this year. Good old 2021. I’m 41 years old and my life has turned inside out.

I’ve known I’m gay for as long as I can remember. I grew up believing homosexuality was perverse and a paved road to Hell, so I ignored this blaring side of myself in order to survive, as so many of us in the LGBTQ+ community feel compelled to do. We retract from selfhood because it feels safe. I fell into marriage for the comfort and…


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The Struggle is Real

Creativity is fickle. It requires a specific kind of energy, which is a combination of motivation and inspiration. Motivation is the reason you’re writing. What are you trying to accomplish? Who is it for? What does it mean to you? Inspiration is that feeling you get when you see a great movie, read an amazing novel, or travel somewhere new. It’s the sense of wanting to put something fresh into the world and to explore possibilities.

Motivation and inspiration must work together for creativity to peak. When either one falls by the wayside, you’ll find yourself struggling to get words…


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Setting, Place, and Atmosphere

A wonderland chocolate factory, a tech-enhanced arena where adolescents fight to the death, a sprawling haunted hotel in the mountains of Colorado — each of these images trigger immediate recognition for most of us. They are the landscape in which authors have told great stories, and each is the product of pure creative invention.

While characters are tantamount to great fiction, so is the world in which a story unfolds. Extreme exceptions aside, humans don’t live an entirely internal life. Our environment constantly shapes our thoughts, feelings, and actions. For this reason, the environment or world you create informs your…


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Why Workshop?

Writing fiction isn’t a simple process. After your world is invented, your characters developed, and your sentences constructed, it’s time to focus on the hard part: revision.

Revision is vital to polishing and perfecting your work, but the best revisions come after getting outside feedback. Beta readers are useful in the post-revision stage, but nothing can be more informative than sharing your work with a writer’s workshop.

Workshops can take many forms, from online sites like Scribophile, to casual writing courses, or even college programs. …


Education Matters

Many of us follow a stereotypical tract in our early life: go to school, get a degree, start a career. These are often considered terminal points in our lives, to the effect that once completed, many people don’t revisit them. But it’s a mistake to believe that a diploma or degree is a finish line to education. That education is considered a mere checkbox of early life goals is a disservice to us as individuals. It also fosters an under-educated populace.

The word “education” is derived from the Latin word educare, which means to nourish, or bring up. It indicates…


As a writer, I spend an inordinate amount of time workshopping for other writers, haunting writers’ circles, stalking Facebook writers’ groups, and interacting with writing students. In each of these venues, the same questions come up over and over again from new writers. How long should a book be? What is a beta reader and how do you get one? Is this thing even on?

Writers come from every corner of the planet, and with the advent of electronic self-publishing platforms like Amazon’s KDP or Apple’s iBooks, the dream of becoming a writer is more accessible than ever. Every year…


Strapped to an IV line, an oxygen cannula stuffed in my nose, an itchy cuff taking my blood pressure every few minutes, and my torso pocked with sensors, I felt like I had hit rock bottom. My wife had dragged me to the emergency room because I could barely lift my head, my vocal cords were so weak I couldn’t talk normally, and I was too dizzy to stand. I spent nearly a full day in the emergency room, waiting for a somber doctor to pull back the curtain and give me a grim prognosis. Instead, I left with an…


I once thought Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and other “invisible” illnesses were a sham. I thought these labels were for patients who didn’t want to work, or for people who wanted disability pay. I thought these people created their illnesses by eating junk food and not exercising. I thought laziness was a main factor. But the universe likes to teach us, and it decided to teach me how this mindset is both narrow-minded and unfair. A little over two years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic invisible illness. …


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The Shape Underneath

You’re a writer. You’ve done some serious time, keeping your nose to the proverbial grindstone, researching, assessing, assaulting blank pages with words. You’ve stepped back and looked at the hot mess of your first draft, hacked it to pieces, and glued it back together. But still, every time you reread it, you face-palm because you almost sent it out when it still needed more edits. How do you get to the point where you know your manuscript is truly done? If you want solid results, you need to get real with that writer’s chisel and start whittling the heck out…


If you’re like most of us, you don’t think much about the environmental impacts of crops like sugar, soy, or cacao. We don’t see them grown, and thus have little regard for the vast resources required to keep them productive. In fact, many people are so removed from food sources they can’t identify if their favorite fruit comes from a tree or bush, and a recent Missouri University study showed that 79% of respondents believed hamburger comes from pigs. This disconnect is no surprise, considering the distance between urban populations and farmland. But the source of our food is important…

Ryan Doskocil

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