Your Hosts: Dan, DongWon, Piper, and Howard
You had questions for agents, Dongwon has answers!
How do you go about becoming an agent?
How do an agent and author work together?
At what point do agent and author talk about the “sticky stuff?”
Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:59 — 14.5MB)
Make a list of the questions, especially the hard ones, you want to ask prospective agents.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard
Listener questions drove this episode, and there are only two of them but they were pretty good drivers. Here they are:
Is it a problem that all my dialog ends up as logic-based debates between characters?
What can I do to create more variety in my dialog structure?
Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:40 — 12.9MB)
Remove all description. Now remove every 3rd line of dialog. Now rebuild the description replace with body language
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and DongWon
We invited attendees at WXR 2018 to ask us some general worldbuilding questions. Here’s what they asked:
What cultural stuff do you need to know during the writing process?
How do you treat overlaps between real-world religions and fictional religions when the fictional religions are part of the story’s fundamental conflict?
How much worldbuilding do you have figured out before you start your first draft, and how much do you discover on the fly?
What’s the point in a book beyond which you shouldn’t introduce big worldbuilding elements?
How do you ensure that the world comes through as a character of its own?
How much change to terminology is too much?
Credits: This episode was recorded live by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 25:19 — 17.5MB)
What do you do about time in your universe? Spend some time considering how it is demarcated in your setting.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard
You had questions. We came up with answers. The questions are below:
How do you fulfill promises about character arcs without being cliché? How do you subvert character tropes without betraying the reader?
Do you need to complete each character arc in a single story featuring multiple characters?
What separates an iconic character from a caricature?
Have you ever had an iconic character necessarily become a character in need of an arc?
How do you continue a character’s story after they’ve completed their original arc?
How much does a character need to change in their arc?
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:17 — 13.3MB)
Trace the skyline of a mountain. Treat that line, with its ups and downs, as the narrative curve for a character arc.
, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, narrated by Angela Dawe Fat Angie
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard
Our listeners submitted some great questions!
How do you fairly and even-handedly write a deeply compelling character you deeply dislike?
What’s the best way to discuss a character’s underlying motivations without expressly stating them in narrative or dialog?
How well should characters understand their own motivations?
How do you make non-violent characters interesting?
Can there be too much depth to a character?
How do you balance character depth across multiple attributes?
How do you make a character motivation seem deep when most people’s motivations are actually pretty shallow?
Do you create standard dossiers for your characters?
Does your story have to have a villain?
How do you know whether or not a character’s voice is working?
Do you track words or phrases that are unique to a particular character’s voice?
Liner Notes: Brandon mentioned Howard’s “Tyrannopotomus Rex” doodle as part of the writing prompt. Here it is, should you need visual reference.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:07 — 13.9MB)
Write a story about Howard’s “Tyrannopotumus Rex.” (Yes, it can be a story about how that’s not what a real tyrannopotomus rex looks like.)
Your Cast: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, Howard
You had questions about heroes, villains, and main characters. We have answers! Here are the questions:
How do you make planned power increases not seem like an ass-pull¹?
What do you do when your villain is more interesting/engaging than your hero?
How do you know when a character is unnecessary and needs to be removed from the story, or killed off in the story?
What tricks do you use when you want the reader to mistakenly believe a character is a hero, rather than a villain?
Which is more fun for you: creating a villain, or creating a hero?
How many side characters can you reasonably juggle in a novel?
What are the drawbacks to making your villain a POV character?
If your villain doesn’t show up until late in the story, how do you make their eventual appearance seem justified?
How do you get readers to like a character who is a jerk?
¹ We hadn’t seen “ass-pull,” the a nouning² of the idiom “pull it out of your ass³” as a noun before.
² Bill Watterson gave us the verb form of the word “noun” indirectly in the final panel of this strip.
³ For those unfamiliar with the extraction-from-orifice idiom, it means “make it up on the spot,” with a negative connotation, suggesting that the reader can TELL that this was invented in a hurry.
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:13 — 11.9MB)
Write about a female gamer who is trying to right social injustices using her gaming skills.
Brian McClellan joined us to field questions about writing novels and series. Here are the questions:
How do you write an ending that is open for sequels, but isn’t a cliffhanger?
Is it a good idea to take a large novel, and release it instead as serial novellas?
Can you debut with a series, or should you establish yourself with standalone novels first?
How do you keep readers coming back for each new novel when there’s a long time between them?
Should you have more than just one book done before querying agents?
What do you do if your novel turns out to be too short to be a novel?
Is it possible to write a series as a discovery writer?
How do you foreshadow big things that are a long way out?
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 24:59 — 17.2MB)
Take two books or movies, suggested from friends. Those are parts 1 and 3 of a series. Now figure out how part 2 works.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard
Our listeners sent us some questions about writing shorter fiction. Here are the questions:
How do you market short stories today?
Has ebook self-publishing made novellas more viable?
How do you structure a short story?
How short is too short?
Is publishing sections of a novel a viable way to get traction for that novel?
What should I look for in the semi-pro market if professional publications have rejected my work?
What aspects are crucial in novels, but which don’t belong in short fiction.
Publication “reputation” references: Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write, Writer Beware
Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:01 — 13.8MB)
Go buy a short story collection that has a variety of authors in it, and read it.