Category Archives: Guest

17.40: Questions & Answers About Structure, with Special Guest Peng Shepherd

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler, with special guest Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd joined us aboard Liberty of the Seas for WXR 2022, and returned with us to the topic of story structures. In this episode we answer questions from our live audience. The questions include:

  1. How do you make sure you’ve got the right number of plot threads?
  2. How do you spread the structure of a given plot line across multiple books?
  3. How do you avoiding having subplots distract readers from the main plot?
  4. What are some strategies you can use to better align character goals with the overall problem of the story?
  5. Are there clear dos and don’ts with regard to story structure?
  6. How do you prepare or color-code bits for running a role-playing game? More broadly: what organizational tools do you use for story structure?

For the answers, you’ll have to give the episode a listen…

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

Play

Write a piece of fiction (or an outline) outside your usual length. See how that changes your structural choices.

The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal
(pre-order now! It releases on October 11th!)

17.39: Writing Bodies and Intimacy, with K.M. Szpara

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dongwon Song, Piper J. Drake,  & Howard Tayler, with special guest K. M. Szpara

CONTENT WARNING: this episode is about adult acts and adult bodies, and we won’t be using euphemisms. 

K.M. Szpara joined us at WXR 2022 for this discussion of writing bodies and intimacy, with a particular focus on which kinds of words to use for things.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr. before a live audience aboard Liberty of the Seas. It was mastered by Alex Jackson.

 

Play

Write a scene in which a character is undressing, either alone or with others.

First Become Ashes, by K.M. Szpara

17.37: Science and Fiction—It’s Not Just Science Fiction

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Cady Coleman

The fictional side of science and the scientific side of fiction are part of the discipline of science communication, often called SciComm. In this episode Cady Coleman joins us to talk about how science fiction fits into the field of SciComm, and how the stories we tell can affect the people who read them.

Credits: This episode was recorded before a live audience by Rob Kowal, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Find something you wish were real. Write a story in which it is.

For All Mankind (TV Series), on Apple TV

17.36: Space for Everyone

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Cady Coleman

Chemist, USAF Colonel, and NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman joins us to talk about actual travel to actual space, and how that’s a thing which is increasingly available to people who are not in the employ of government space agencies. Also, we discuss how the demographics of space travelers are changing, and how this is creating safer space travel for everyone.

Credits: This episode was recorded before a live audience by Rob Kowal, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Write about sending a “non-traditional astronaut” to space. Oh, and bringing them back. We’re astronaut-ing, not yeeting.

Mission Interplanetary, a podcast from Cady Colman and Andrew Maynard

17.18: How to be Funny, with Jody Lynn Nye

Your Hosts: Dan Wells and Brandon Sanderson, with special guest Jody Lynn Nye

So, you’ve decided you want something to be funny. How do you go about making that happen? Jody Lynn Nye joined Dan and Brandon at LTUE, and pitched this topic to them. And yes, it’s much more than just “delivery, delivery, delivery.”

Liner Notes: “It’s always more funny when Howard’s not here.” —Brandon Sanderson at LTUE 2022 (posted here for posterity)

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

 

Play

Take a scene that you’ve written, and re-write it to be funny.

View from the Imperium, by Jody Lynn Nye

17.17: Writing in the Public Domain

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Gama Martinez

Did you know that there are some famous intellectual properties which have entered the public domain, and which you can therefore use to create your own stories? It’s true! Gama Martinez (whose God of Neverland novel features Peter Pan) joined Dan and Brandon at LTUE to talk about how cool this is, and (more importantly) what kinds of things authors need to do in order to make sure they’re only using the public domain bits of the properties in question.

Liner Notes: Need a list of things that entered the public domain in 2022? Here you go!

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

Play

Find something entering the public domain, and write a story about it.

God of Neverland by Gama Martinez, narrated by Simon Vance

17.4: The Gun on the Mantel is Actually a Fish

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

In the previous episode we discussed how to ensure that your surprise feels inevitable. In this episode we’re covering how to make inevitability feel surprising. The title is a nod to the concept of the “red herring,” which is arguably the most useful tool for setting up a good surprise.

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

Play

Do the reverse of last week’s homework: find a thing that is important later and find a scene early where you can “put it on the mantle.”

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

17.1: Genre and Media are Promises

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

The genre of your story is making promises to the reader, and the medium upon which your story is told makes promises too.

In this episode we talk about the expectations set by various mediums and genres, and how we can leverage those to ensure that we deliver a satisfying story.

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

Liner Notes: The entirety of Season 11, The Elemental Genres, is a deep-dive on this stuff.

Play

What do you plan to have your work-in-progress deliver? Does the genre or medium you’re working in support the promise of that deliverable?

Mine by Delilah Dawson