Category Archives: Theory and Technique

14.49: Customs and Mores

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

In this episode we discuss how our customs and mores govern our own real-world interactions, and how our understanding of these interactions can be applied to our worldbuilding.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Take a cultural quirk or more that is weird and/or annoying to you. Extrapolate that into an entire culture, a full society of interconnected mores which make sense, and with which you’d be extremely uncomfortable.

The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge, narrated by Charlotte Wright

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 buckets.

Liner Notes: If Dinosaurs Had Body Fat Like Penguins

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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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 was mastered by Alex Jackson

 

 

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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 do we keep it fresh? How do we roll scarcities into the economies we create, and the worlds we build?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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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 lets us roll our worldbuilding into our storytelling.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: Mahtab mentioned The Economics of Science Fiction on Medium.com

 

 

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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 that when the time comes, we don’t need to choose one or the other, because we can have both?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and engineered by Alex Jackson

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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: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm at WXR 2018, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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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 by Alex Jackson

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

Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon