Category Archives: Guest

16.35: What is the M.I.C.E. Quotient?

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal

The next eight episodes are a deep dive into the M.I.C.E. Quotient, so we’ll begin with a definition. M.I.C.E. is an organizational tool which categorizes story elements as Milieu, Inquiry, Character, or Event. It helps authors know which elements are in play, and how to work with these elements effectively.

Obviously there’s a lot more to M.I.C.E. than that, and in this episode we’ll lay it out in a way that makes the subsequent seven M.I.C.E.-related episodes much easier to navigate.

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

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Seriously… watch The Wizard of Oz, and take notes. Track the M.I.C.E. elements, and how they nest in the story at every scale.

The Wizard of Oz (the 1939 film)

16.21: Player Characters

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler

So, you’re the hero of your own story, and the hero gets choices, and in many ways directs the story. In our discussion of interactive fiction and writing for games, the subject of “player characters” is essential. From the array of options given at character creation/selection, to the paths available for character development and the final chapters of that characters story, “player character” touches everything.

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

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Go through the character creation process in an RPG. Pay attention to which parts were fun, and what attracted you to the different classes, creature types, etc. Identify what makes each major character build unique and appealing.

16.20: Branching Narratives

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler

How do you give players meaningful choices while still keeping the story within a reasonable set of boundaries? In this episode James and Cassandra lead us in a discussion of branching narratives, and the ways in which we as writers can create them.

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

Liner Notes: Dan mentioned this collection of “Choose your own adventure” plot maps.
Howard illustrated the concept of “narrative bumper pool” in Tracy Hickman’s X-TREME DUNGEON MASTERY

A branching path which begins at point A, and ends at either point X, Y, or Z.
Narrative Bumper Pool from X-TREME DUNGEON MASTERY, used with permission
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Write a short “choose-your-own-adventure” story.

The Planet Mercenary RPG, created by Alan Bahr, Howard Tayler, and Sandra Tayler.

16.19: Intro to Roleplaying Games

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler

For the next eight episodes we’ll be talking about roleplaying games, and how that medium relates to writers, writing, career opportunities, and more. We’re led by James L. Sutter and Cassandra Khaw on this particular quest.

In this episode we lay some groundwork, define a few terms, and hopefully get you excited about looking at games in new and useful ways.

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

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Spend some time playing a roleplaying game, either video game or tabletop. Take note of what’s fun and what’s not.

16.10: Paying it Forward, with Kevin J. Anderson

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard, with special guest Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson joins us to talk about how others have helped us in our careers, and how we might continue that tradition and help others.

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

 

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Identify the people who have helped you, and how. Thank them.

VengeWar, by Kevin J. Anderson

16.5: Pros and Contracts

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

Here’s our deep dive into the subject of contracts in the publishing business. We can only go so deep during a fifteen-minute episode, so we ran about twice as long as usual. We discuss some of the things you should look for, things you should watch out for, and resources that can help you out.

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

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Homework! Check out the SFWA Model Contracts at the SFWA site. You might also have a look at Mary Robinette’s Patreon because she got permission to step all the way through one of her contracts with her patrons.

Middle Game, by Seanan McGuire

16.3: Publishing Pitfalls

Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Howard, and Brandon

Erin Roberts joins us for our third installment in Brandon’s business-of-writing series. In this episode we’re covering pitfalls and common problems—including some predatory practices—for you to be on the lookout for while you develop your career as a writer.

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

Liner Notes: “Accountabilibuddy,” which is written here so Howard can remember it.

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Writer Beware, w/ Victoria Strauss and SFWA

15.52: Economy of Phrase, Being the Concentrated Concatenation of Complex Thoughts in Just a Very Few Words Which Must Fit In A Very Very Small Box, With Patrick Rothfuss

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss

Did we have too much fun applying ironic humor to the title of this episode? Possibly! Patrick Rothfuss joins us to talk about economy of phrase, and the ways in which big ideas can be expressed with a few of the exactly-right words.

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

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Take a scene from your prose work, and remove all the blocking and dialog tags. Now space out the dialog on the page, and attempt to convey the missing information with stick figures and smiley faces.

JimZub.com comic-writing tutorials
(Start here!)
Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud