12.50: Form and Function

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

How does the shape of your physical medium change the art you’re making? What are the tools that affect our storytelling, and what are those effects?

Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Play “exquisite corpse.”
1) Write the first line of a story.
2) Hand it to someone else. Have them illustrate that line.
3) They hand their illustration (but not your first line) to a third person, who writes a line describing what’s happening in their picture.
4) Their line goes to another person who illustrates it…

Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson

8 thoughts on “12.50: Form and Function”

  1. We called that game “cartoonist telephone.” I’ve only played it three times, each time with a group of cartoonists, and it was very linear as our words and pictures linearly descended well below the marked depth of mere innuendo.

  2. From the windy city, we have the magical foursome, Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley, cheerfully tackling how the form of your story — the medium you use — changes the function — the tale itself! With tidbits about using typewriters, longhand, even dipping quill pens into the old inkpot, flash fiction on business cards, slam poetry, audiobooks, graphic novels, TV episodes, movies, and hypertext, they cover a lot of ground in a very short time. And then they added a bonus, with first person narratives about why they love telling stories! What a way to end the season for this quartet! Read the transcript, now in the archives and over here…


    And have yourself a very merry Exquisite Corpse session! With the telepathy of writing for a bonus!

  3. We call that one telephone pictionary.

    I’m loving the illustrations in Oathbringer, which I’m finishing up. I see how planning for illustrations affected characterization, and even reflected shades of characterization within those illustrations (Stick-figures). I don’t believe its necessary to have an artistic character to have illustrations, but I do appreciate the depth of development created by that approach.

  4. One of the most worthwhile things I’ve done is adapt some of my novels into episodic full-cast audiodrama podcast seasons. Very different form, very different function, same events and storyline.

  5. Is this really the last time we are going to hear from Mary-Anne and Wesley? No offence to Dan and Howard, but I have enjoyed the Chicago team almost more than the regular team! So I hope you get them back sometime.

  6. I was too young to remember exactly when I started writing so that wasn’t particular reason that I could say this is why I started writing. Honestly I have no idea why storytelling caught my interest like it did. But now many years later I can think of things that kept me writing even when I wondered why I was still doing it. And now I’m in the worst place with writing than I’ve ever been. I often feel like I’m losing it and I haven’t written anything significant in months. I wanted to do NaNoWriMo this year but I only wrote a few notes. As I listened to each of you give your reasons for writing I thought about what will keep me writing now. I could relate to all of the reasons you gave from seeing the world better and becoming a better “more aware” person because of it, to writing things that are forbidden or hard to discuss elsewhere, to seeing the many paths I could take or the many possible versions of me and to improve that way, and also that telepathy that allows me to share those things trapped in my heart that yearn to be out in the world where they can connect with other people. Brandon compared writing to magic; to me storytelling is magic because I see all of reality as a sort of magic and I get to explore everything somehow with it. I keep writing beacuse I want to explore reality with the stories I can tell, but also I can change reality just a little bit to create something different somewhere I can only live in within my mind to see what I can imagine but that also isn’t here. And of course writing is just plain fun. Really, really fun! Thank you all for sharing what keeps you writing and for Writing Excuses!!

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