Season Archives

14.48: How to Practice Worldbuilding

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The entire year has been about learning how to worldbuild, and we’ve learned a thing or two ourselves while preparing material for you. In this episode we talk about some of those lessons, and try to answer stray questions that didn’t fit into any of previous episode … Continue reading 14.48: How to Practice Worldbuilding

Take something familiar to you—something you’ve got expertise in—and turn it into a worldbuilding tool.

14.47: Writing Characters With Physical Disabilities

Your Hosts: Piper, Dan, and Tempest, with special guest Nicola Griffith In this episode we discuss how to faithfully represent people with physical disabilities through the characters we create. Our guest, Nicola Griffith, walks us through the process of rigorously imagining how the world might look to someone with a particular disability. Credits: This episode … Continue reading 14.47: Writing Characters With Physical Disabilities

Put yourself into the point of view of a character with a strong defining characteristic. Visit a restaurant, and explore how it might look through their eyes rather than your own.

So Lucky, by Nicola Griffith

14.46: Unusual Resources

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Among science fiction and fantasy plot devices, the “uncommon resource” trope is common enough to almost seem cliché. Fortunately (?), the economic principle of scarcity is ubiquitous enough in real life that most of us don’t even blink when presented with the idea in fiction. So how … Continue reading 14.46: Unusual Resources

Take something common and make it super-valuable.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance 

14.45: Economics

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Economists tend to see everything as economics, which is kind of how proponents of ANY discipline see their discipline, but it’s not a bad way to look at worldbuilding through the lens of economics. In this episode we talk about how this works for us, and how it … Continue reading 14.45: Economics

Write a truly moneyless society or setting. You can still have transactions… just no money.

Making Money, by Terry Pratchett

14.44: Realism vs. Rule-of-Cool

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Where do you draw the line between what seems plausible, and what would be cool? If you pick “plausible,” how do you stay cool? If you pick “cool,” how do you avoid knocking the readers out of the story? And finally, how might we structure things so … Continue reading 14.44: Realism vs. Rule-of-Cool

Take something super-cool, and make it sound realistic. Now take something very grounded and make it sound outlandishly incredible.

Terminal Uprising, by Jim C. Hines

14.43: Sequencing Your Career Genome

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Let’s talk about career planning. It’s a lot more than just launching a career by selling a book, and in this episode we talk about the kinds of things we want to be thinking about and preparing for beyond simply selling our next book or project. Credits: … Continue reading 14.43: Sequencing Your Career Genome

Identify an author whose career you’d like to emulate. Research their career timeline, including the release dates of their books, and possibly the order in which things were written and sold.

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Max Gladstone, and Amal el Mohtar

14.42: Alternate History

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Alternate histories (and historical fantasies) are a staple of genre fiction. In this episode we talk about the worldbuilding process, the tools we use, and the pitfalls we try to avoid when constructing these kinds of stories. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered … Continue reading 14.42: Alternate History

Write an alternate history by changing a cusp point in your own life.

Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon

14.41: History

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s make history! In this episode we talk about doing exactly that—creating real-feeling histories for secondary world settings. We discuss the resources we turn to, the pitfalls we try to avoid, and the places where we think the history has been done really well. Credits: This episode was … Continue reading 14.41: History

Tell thousands of years of history from the point of view of a tree which has been there for all of it.

Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel