11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A

You may still have questions about how to apply elemental adventure in your work. Hopefully your questions are similar to the ones we collected below, because these are the ones we answered:

  • What do readers like more: protagonists going through lots of different incidents and locations, or through a few that are similar to each other?
  • What lessons can we learn from adventure games?
  • How can we make action scenes that adventurous, but that are not fight scenes?
  • Are there tropes we should stay away from in adventure fiction?
  • Do you have suggestions for non-western styles of adventure fiction?
  • How do you safely skip the long, boring parts of a journey without missing out on necessary character development?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 


Make a list of cool set pieces that people could visit. Figure out how your characters’ entry into these places will change the places, your characters, and the story.

Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson, narrated by Sanjiv Jhaveri

10 thoughts on “11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A”

  1. Dwight Swain invented Scene/Sequel format specifically to answer the last question. It would take too long to explain it. You can check out Techniques of the Selling Writer to learn how and why it works.

  2. In ‘Understanding Comics’, Scott Mc Cloud posited that one of the differences in Chinese art is less focus on goals and more on balances. And if you look at movies like ‘Hero’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’ there is a lot of focus on esthetic set pieces, and a lot less on goal-driven ones.

    So, related to non-western/non-traditional adventure, I’m wondering: isn’t one way to make adventure fiction exciting to describe the various set pieces using interesting juxtapositions?

  3. Note to Howard, RE: XCOM 2

    The old, dead MMORPG, City of Heroes had destructible items in their generic “bank job” villain missions. I never tired of making stuff explode. I could easily fall fall behind the rest of the group.

    Today when I play Diablo 3, they have destructible items too. Same pattern. Everything that can go ‘splodey does go ‘splodey. Then I run to catch up with the next fight. :)

  4. Dan, you mentioned the martial arts movies where a group of Avengers must group together to fight the Thanos. Oh… I think I mixed up my metaphor there :P

  5. So here’s how I’m summarizing the genres we’ve discussed so far:

    Wonder – Kind of speaks for itself. Focus on evoking the emotion of wonder and awe.

    Idea – Focus on intellectually exploring different facets of an idea, and the natural consequences of that idea.

    Adventure – A bit harder for me to pin down, but I’d say it’s a combination of: exploration, fun, & danger. Evoking the feeling of being on a roller coaster.

  6. Adventure stories with lots of exotic locales or a theme park with a few? What about lessons from games? Can you avoid the superhero syndrome? Overdone tropes? Non-traditional adventure? Keeping the journey exciting or skipping the boring parts? The ferocious foursome tackle all these issues in fun-filled romp through the questions from listeners!

    And now, it’s all available in a transcript in the archives or over here


    Read all about it! And get set to shiver with horror in the next set of elemental genre episodes!

    1. No way. I can’t handle other pod casts that try to be the Bob and Tom show with dudes harumphing and laughing at their own jokes for an hours while discussing what they had for dinner and contriving disagreements so they can pretend to have content.

      W.E. is perfect. They keep it tight.

  7. Does anyone know who the non-Anglo-American author they recommended at 15:04 who sounds like “Netaya Corifor” is? I wanted to check her out, but don’t have the name quite right, so Google isn’t helping me yet. =P

  8. Not writing the last couple of months but broke out WE podcast at the track today. Wow. I love listening to you guys.

    When you were talking about how the scene can be the antagonist I had a light bulb moment. I was reminded of Terry’s Brooks ‘Armageddon’s Children” and how Hawk shepherded a group of children, the Ghosts, across a wasteland. I don’t remember all the specifics of the book anymore but I do remember the impact of that journey even now almost 10 years later.

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