16.29: Building Trust

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

How do we build trust with our readers? What does that even mean? In this episode we discuss ways in which we let our readers know what they can expect from the book they’re holding, and how we set about getting the to trust us do deliver on those expectations.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson


Write down every character in your first chapter on an index card. Write each character’s wants and needs? Ask yourself what stakes can be put on screen now.

The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
NOTE: We’ll be talking about the first page of this book next week, so you may want to add at least page one of this book to your homework.

4 thoughts on “16.29: Building Trust”

  1. This week, the dynamic foursome, Dongwon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, talked about building trust. What can you do in the first page, even the first paragraph, to help the reader trust you? How do you invite the reader in, and show them what to expect, what kind of ride they are going to take? Will you be stabbed in this book? Will a scuba diver emerge and fire repeating crossbows at you? What are the stakes and what genre is this story? Lots of intriguing discussion for you to read now in the transcript available in the archives.

  2. I discovered this podcast last August and debated about starting present day and going backwards, OR starting in the past and catching up. I decided on the latter, and I’m so glad I did. As of today (July 23, 2021) I’m all caught up. Talk about time travel, by the way—16 years in nine months is crazy fun! I had to remind myself I was in the past the whole time! Haha!

    My second finished novel is in reader’s hands now. I had to outline, revamp, simplify, throw out lots of darlings, outline more bits, and I tossed out my entire first chapter and did it all by starting, first, with my ending in mind. Then I read it aloud, scrapped 10%, and did this all, step by step, with the episodes. I was completely trained by WXR. (And got in touch with Dave Farland and started his courses) and, Dan, I watched your seven point structure! Very helpful! And Brandon, used your website to see your outline structure because I don’t want to be a pantser! Haha! So, thank you!

    I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the podcast. Brandon, Dan, Howard—I love you guys for starting it.

    Dan—dude, I tell all my friends to read your Serial Killer stuff. They are brilliant. Plus, I know Kirby and was pleasantly surprised that he was the narrator on Audible. I have so many more books of yours to read. They’re bought, they’re just waiting for me.

    Brandon, I’m reading Warbreaker…again, and everyone I mention your books to are already reading them. Haha! I hang on your every word on the podcast. Sometimes, I rewind and listen again. Someday I hope I can be in your class. For now, it’s YouTube (thank you!) The big life-changing advice you gave about balancing life and putting up walls—to be all in while writing and all in while with family and setting those boundaries—that was inspired. And I love your books even though I could never get my brain to write that big, I’m glad yours can. (I guess I shouldn’t say never, but… Haha!)

    Howard, Schlock is awesome, and our 17 year old son is starting his own web comic. Also, you talk, and it’s like climbing a ladder to a rainbow. You start at a place where I’d think, “where’s he going with this?” and then you end at this brilliant thing that is such a darn good point. Newton’s laws of writing? So cool! You guys should see my nerd-shirt and laptop case.

    Mary, you’re brilliant, but also down to earth (you ALL are). Admittedly, it was hard for me to embrace the new when you came on the show, but once the guys loosened up, (and there WAS a difference) I started enjoying it much more. The marshmallow episode was the turning point. I loved it. You’re wonderful, and I’m so glad you joined the show. To me, you only joined a few months ago! Weird, right?

    WXR is encouraging and uplifting. I have so many notes, so many favorite episodes, did a ton of the writing prompts, and I appreciated the Q&A episodes, too. (Thanks, other listeners for asking good questions!) I listened to many of the episodes multiple times (and still plan to go back.) I could just hug you guys, thank you!

    I guess I have to wait now for the next episode. How weird. Just, thank you! You all make me so happy. I’m out of excuses. Now I’ll go write.

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