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:
How do you make sure you’ve got the right number of plot threads?
How do you spread the structure of a given plot line across multiple books?
How do you avoiding having subplots distract readers from the main plot?
What are some strategies you can use to better align character goals with the overall problem of the story?
Are there clear dos and don’ts with regard to story structure?
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
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?
Liner Footnotes 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.