All posts by Howard Tayler

14.29: Field Research

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

So, you’re going to go someplace and learn something you can’t learn in any other way. Maybe it’s location research for setting. Maybe you’re off to interview an expert. Whatever you’re planning, you need to be planning it well. In this episode we discuss the field research we’ve done, how we went about it, and how we might do it differently.

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

EPISODE ORDER NOTE: As of this writing, episode 14.28’s web-sized audio file isn’t ready. We’ll run it next week, and eventually swap the dates to get 14.29 and 14.28 in the right order.

Play

Take photos of a place that’s new to you. Write descriptions from those photos.

PBS Spacetime, by Gabe Perez-Giz and Matthew O’Dowd

(Here’s Howard’s PBS Spacetime Chronological playlist, which is current through June of 2018)

14.28: Warfare and Weaponry

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

How do you write about warfare in your stories when you’ve never fought in a war? How do you describe brilliant tactics when you’re completely untrained in military movements? How can you portray the emotions of someone on a battlefield without having been on a battlefield yourself?

In this episode we tackle these questions and more. (Hint: the answers include “research”)

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

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Invent a powerful, NON-technological weapon for your setting.

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey, narrated by Flinty Williams

14.27: Natural Setting as Conflict

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

In this episode we stories with the “Person-vs-Setting” structure. These are stories where nature fills the role of antagonist, and may also be what governs the pacing, and the delivery of key emotional beats.

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

Play

Pick a milieu, a starting point, and an exit. Brainstorm about twenty things preventing the character from exiting. Rank your five favorites in order of difficulty.

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, narrated by Peter Coyote

How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler, by Ryan North

14.26: Lessons from Aristotle, with Rob Kimbro

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Rob Kimbro

Rob Kimbro joins us this week to talk about Aristotle’s elements of tragedy, and how they might be applied to our writing. The six elements are (in Aristotle’s order of descending importance): plot, character, idea, dialog, music, and spectacle.  We discuss this tool in terms of critiquing existing work, and in finding direction in the things we create.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Take something you’ve written, and then rank the elements based on how important they are in what you wrote. Now re-order the elements, and rewrite the piece to match the new ranking.

Aristotle’s Poetics, by Aristotle, narrated by Ray Childs

14.25: Choosing Your Agent

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon

Guest-host Dongwon Song joined us at WXR 2018 as an instructor, and gave great advice regarding the business side of working as an author. In this episode he takes us through a conversation about choosing an agent.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Document the attributes of your ideal agent.

Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey

14.24: Political Intrigue

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

Political Intrigue stories are less about “politics” (as colloquially defined by pop culture) and more about mysteries. Per Mary Robinette, they’re often like heists of information. The word “politics” here is used in its purest sense: POWER.

In this episode we talk about how we worldbuild for stories in which the flow of information and misinformation affect the shift of power, and how to craft those stories so they’re, well… intriguing instead of being boring.

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

Play

Take a classic fairy tale. Assume that the fairy tale was just the cover story…

Star Touched Queen, by Roshani Choshki, narrated by Priya Ayyar

14.23: Governments Large and Small

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

What kinds of governmental systems do you live within? What kinds do you implement? Answering these questions can help you with the worldbuilding of political power structures. In this episode we’ll talk about all that. (Within our time limit, of course.)

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

 

 

Play

Come up with your own system along the lines of the “four estates” model common in the west.

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine, narrated by Amy Landon

RSS, iTunes, and other Subscription Issues

UPDATE: As of June 12th, at 21:45 EDT, the feed is working again for current episodes. The main feed only reaches back about a year, but it should keep updating your various podcast directories just fine.


OLD NEWS:

We’re aware that for the last three weeks or so, something hasn’t been working correctly with our RSS feed. We’re looking into it. We’ve tried the usual suite of togglings-off-and-on, and we’ve examined our settings in an attempt to identify a misconfiguration somewhere. So far nothing has seemed to make a difference, but we’re not giving up.

If you want to report problems, explain workarounds, or otherwise weigh in on the issue, this post’s comment thread is here for you.