Season Archives

17.27: Ensembles Behind the Scenes

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler In this, our final “ensemble masterclass” episode, we discuss the nuts-and-bolts, the tips and tricks, the tools of the trade. In short, we talk very specifically about how we do it. Color-coded sticky notes, index cards, spreadsheets, and more… Liner Notes: Howard’s guest story for Dave Kellet’s … Continue reading 17.27: Ensembles Behind the Scenes

Color-code your outline, and see if it’s helpful.

Into the Dark, by Claudia Gray

17.26: Hanging Separately

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler Our episode title comes to us across two and a half centuries: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” —Benjamin Franklin We’ve already established that you’re planning to write an ensemble. This isn’t an episode about the pros and cons … Continue reading 17.26: Hanging Separately

Pick an ensemble story that failed for you. Find its failure mode, and write down the ways in which you’d fix it.

The Expanse (TV series, Amazon Prime)

17.25: Archetypes, Ensembles, and Expectations

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler We’ve talked about making every member of the ensemble meaningful. In this episode we’re discussing who, in archetype terms, everybody is. How can archetypes help us get started, how can they help us set reader expectations, and what are the archetype-related pitfalls we need to avoid? And … Continue reading 17.25: Archetypes, Ensembles, and Expectations

Identify the archetypes of each character in your work-in-progress. Change that archetype or give them a sub-archetype, to try to branch out and create rounder, unexpected characters.

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

17.24: Ensembles and Genre

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler This week we’re talking about how our genre choice influences the structure of our ensemble. How is a heist ensemble different from a superhero team? What happens when the superheroes need to do a heist? Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex … Continue reading 17.24: Ensembles and Genre

Imagine your work-in-progress as a different genre. How would your cast or ensemble need to change?

Slow Horses (Apple TV)

17.23: Are We Stronger Together?

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler Sometimes we have to look at our ensemble of characters and ask ourselves what kind of story we’re trying to tell? If the story works with a single protagonist and one POV, maybe this isn’t an ensemble story after all. If, however, the plot requires a team … Continue reading 17.23: Are We Stronger Together?

Create a “connection” map for your characters that establishes what all the characters’ relationships are. Include at least one challenge in their relationship, and one way the relationship enhances each character.

17.22: Establishing the Ensemble

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler Every character in your ensemble needs to matter to the team, or they probably don’t belong in the ensemble. Zoraida Cordova leads us into this discussion of how we build our ensembles, how we introduce the characters, and how we ensure that all of them are important … Continue reading 17.22: Establishing the Ensemble

Pick an ensemble work that you like. Identify each member of the ensemble and why they are important, and what they bring to the story.

Ghost Station, by Dan Wells

17.21: Casting Your Story With Character Voice

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler Every member of your ensemble has a reason to be there, but they also have their own voice. Zoraida Cordova joins us for a discussion of how we make our ensemble characters distinct from one another. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by … Continue reading 17.21: Casting Your Story With Character Voice

First: have each of your ensemble characters describe themselves. Second: have each of your ensemble characters describe each of the others.

Shafter’s Shifters & the Chassis of Chance (advance reader copy), by Howard Tayler, via the $5 tier of the Schlock Mercenary Patreon

17.20: Basics of Ensemble Characterization

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard Tayler What’s the difference between an ensemble story, and a story the has a lot of characters in it? Zoraida Cordova joins us for this episode, kicking off an eight-episode mini-master-class about ensembles. In this episode we discuss what makes ensembles work, and how we … Continue reading 17.20: Basics of Ensemble Characterization

Look at your pro-protagonist. Free-write a scene in which they’re applying for the job of being the protagonist in your story.