All posts by Howard Tayler

13.10: Handling a Large Cast

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

What are our favorite techniques for managing large casts of characters, and how do our processes differ from when we’re writing small casts? What does “large” and “small” mean for us?

Liner Notes: No, Howard was not in the room. Yes, despite his absence, he was wearing both trousers and pants while he ventured into the wilds to obtain Maurice’s character sheet.

Credits: This episode was recorded by  Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson, both of whom have more points in “perception” than most people have points.

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Talking Heads! Write a scene between a married couple who has met at a coffee shop unexpectedly—neither of them are supposed to be there. Don’t use dialog tags.

Steal the Stars, by Mac Rogers, narrated as an audioplay with a full cast

13.9: Quick Characterization

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

How do you go about defining a character for your readers when you don’t have many words to devote to the project? What are the tricks for quickly establishing someone’s individuality within your story?

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

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Consider the silhouette test, and then create a list of words that will let you apply it to your characters.

Brimstone, by Cherie Priest

13.8: Making Characters Distinctive

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

What do we do to make our characters distinctive? Often we categorize the distinctions as flaws or quirks, and in this discussion we use those as our starting points.

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

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Who are the five people you know best? Make a list of their distinctions, as if they were characters in a story you’re writing.

Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani

13.7: What Writers Get Wrong, with Lou Perry

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Lou Perry joined us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about law and courtrooms, and what writers get wrong when setting their stories amid legal procedures.

 

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Select a Supreme Court opinion. Read it, and then read the dissent.

13.6: External Conflicts for Characters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

An external conflict is a story driver that originates outside the protagonist. In this episode a large part of what we’ll focus on is person-vs-environment as opposed to person-vs-person. PvE rather than PvP, if you will.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson, both of whom understand that environmental noise is a key external conflict driving their narratives.

 

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“Break Things” – start the character’s story, and then have things begin going wrong. Don’t fix any of it. Just keep making things worse. 

“El is a Spaceship Melody,” by Maurice Broaddus 

13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

What’s the difference between villains and antagonists? How is an obstacle character different from those other two? How are they alike? And most importantly, how can we use this information to write effective opposition to our heroes, protagonists, and main characters?

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

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Your main character is facing one each: an obstruction, an antagonist, and a villain…

Active Memory, by Dan Wells