Season Archives

17.3: Chekov’s Surprising Yet Inevitable Inverted Gun

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd This week we’re talking about giving inevitability to our intended surprise, and we open with a discussion of Chekov’s Gun, which, as a writing rule, is mostly used in inversion. Next week we’ll focus on making inevitable things surprising. Liner Notes: Art and Editing of Suicide Squad (YouTube)  … Continue reading 17.3: Chekov’s Surprising Yet Inevitable Inverted Gun

In your current WIP, pin down a person, a place, or a thing you threw in for flavor at the beginning of your story but didn’t plan to use again. Write a scene for them to come back in the final act of your story in an unexpected way.

17.2: It Was a Promise of Three Parts

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd The title of this episode comes to us from the first paragraph of The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss—a novel which delights us with turns of phrase and evocative prose from beginning to end. We’re continuing our exploration of “promises as a structure” by looking at … Continue reading 17.2: It Was a Promise of Three Parts

Write six different 1st lines, each of which makes a promise you don’t think you can keep. Ask yourself WHY you can’t keep it.

17.1: Genre and Media are Promises

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd The genre of your story is making promises to the reader, and the medium upon which your story is told makes promises too. In this episode we talk about the expectations set by various mediums and genres, and how we can leverage those to ensure that we deliver … Continue reading 17.1: Genre and Media are Promises

What do you plan to have your work-in-progress deliver? Does the genre or medium you’re working in support the promise of that deliverable?

Mine by Delilah Dawson

16.52: Structure is a Promise

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd The structure you’re using for your story isn’t just helping you organize your plotting. It’s telling the audience what’s going to happen. Story structures make promises to audiences, and these audience expectations are, in large measure, outside of our control. In this episode we talk about the expectations … Continue reading 16.52: Structure is a Promise

Look up these structures. Now, pick a favorite thing, sit down with it, and map it onto which structures it fits. BONUS points! Do this again with your least favorite thing.

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini

16.51: Promises are a Structure

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd Our next 8-episode intensive is all about promises and expectations. Our guest hosts are Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd. They’re joining us to talk about how the promises we make to our audiences, and the expectations they bring with them, are a … Continue reading 16.51: Promises are a Structure

Consider your newest “favorite thing,” whether it be a restaurant, a film, a TV series, a novel, a podcast, a webcomic, a computer game, or whatever. Ask yourself what promises were made to you by this thing, why you believed the promises would be kept, and how they were (or were not) kept. Write all this down.

The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone, and illustrated by Mike Smollin

16.50: Worldbuilding Finale: Making Deliberate Choices

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Fonda Lee, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler Here at the end of our 8-episode intensive series on Worldbuilding we discuss stepping away from the defaults, the clichés, and the tropes, and choosing every element deliberately. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the tropes. We’re just suggesting that they be included only after deciding we … Continue reading 16.50: Worldbuilding Finale: Making Deliberate Choices

An essay question: What are your armored bears? What element of your work-in-progress makes you most excited about worldbuilding and why?

Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse

16.49: Magic and Technology: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Fonda Lee, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler Magic and technology are tools that we, as writers, use to tell interesting stories, and they’re very, very similar tools. In this episode we’ll examine some ways in which both magical and technological elements can be used in our stories. Credits: This episode was recorded by … Continue reading 16.49: Magic and Technology: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Come up with one speculative element to add to our world. “Children have night vision.” “Dogs can talk.” Come up with as many aspects of the world that would be different from our own as a result and mark one or two that would be the seed for interesting stories.

David Mogo Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

16.48: Believable Worlds Part 2: Creating Texture

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Fonda Lee, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler As we do our worldbuilding with similarity, specificity, and selective depth (per the previous episode), we should take care to apply these things throughout our stories. In this episode we discuss how these elements we’ve world-built can become “textures.” Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall … Continue reading 16.48: Believable Worlds Part 2: Creating Texture

Free write your character with a day off to spend near their home. Where do they go? What do they see? How do they get around? What interactions do they have? What details do you learn from this exercise that you might use in the background of the story?

Jade Legacy, by Fonda Lee