Category Archives: Theory and Technique

15.13: Using Elections in Stories

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend, who edits SF/F, has worked in election offices, has run for office, and has participated in campaigns. In this episode we talk about the ways elections can be worked into our stories.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Volunteer for a campaign!

LTUE Anthology: Trace the Stars (submissions open for upcoming LTUE anthologies!)

15.10: Evaluating Ideas

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

We’ve talked in the past about how ideas are cheap, and that it’s execution upon those ideas which is what really matters. In this episode we’ll talk about how we evaluate things over there on the side of the equation where things are cheap and plentiful. Because while we have no shortage of ideas, they vary quite a bit in their value to us.

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

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Keep a dream journal for a week. Put a notepad next to your bed, and write down everything you remember about your dreams as quickly as you can the moment you wake up. At the end of the week, peruse the journal for ideas.

TypecastRPG, a streamed role-playing game with Dan Wells, Charlie Holmberg, Brian McClellan, Mari Murdock, Ethan Sproat, and Howard Tayler

15.08: Q&A on a Ship

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Dongwon, and Howard

At WXR 19 we recorded live, and took audience questions aboard the ship. Here they are! (You’ll have to listen to the episode for the answers.)

  • What have you learned in the past year that has improved your craft?
  • When you’re having trouble, how do you know if it’s “I don’t feel like writing” or “there’s a problem with the manuscript?”
  • How far ahead do you plan your careers?
  • How do you tell when a fight/battle/showdown is going on for too long?
  • How do you continue to learn and improve on your craft?
  • How do you manage and prioritize your time when you’re working on multiple projects?
  • How do you feel about multiple first-person POVs in a single book?
  • What are the most important elements to include on the last page of your book?
  • What are some things we can do to strengthen our voice when writing in third person?
  • How do you decide who to have as alpha and beta readers?
  • In secondary world stories, how do you decide whether to call a horse a horse?
  • How much leeway will an editor or agent give a story when it’s not ready, but it shows promise?

Liner Notes: “Sometimes Writer’s Block is Really Depression”
Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write three different first lines for your project.

Jade War, by Fonda Lee

15.07: Creating Chapters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

How do you create chapters? What are the rules for carving your manuscript into numbered chunks? Is chaptering part of your outline, is it something you discover while you write, or is it something else entirely?

In this episode we talk about how we do it, and how we think about it while it’s being done.

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

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Takes something you’ve written, and put the chapter breaks in new places.

Docile, by K.M. Sparza (releases in March 2020)

15.06: Prose and Cons, with Patrick Rothfuss

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Howard, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss

How do you write beautiful prose? How do you set about telling a story with words that sing (and dance, and tell jokes) instead of just conveying information in word-sized chunks?

In this episode we talk about how we do it, and how writers might set out to do good word-do like the best good word-doers do.

Liner Notes: 
Gwendolyn Brooks—We Real Cool

 

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Go find some poetry, and then read it. Be sure to read it out loud, too.

15.04: Revision, with Patrick Rothfuss

Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, and Mary Robinette, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss

We begin our discussion of revision by addressing a question we hear a lot: How do you know what needs to be changed? We talk about our various techniques for getting distance from our work, incorporating feedback, and breaking the process down into manageable chunks.

Liner Notes: Lindsey Ellis on Three-Act Structure

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Identify your chapter and scene purposes, and apply the 10% solution during a revision pass.

The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells

15.03: Self Publishing

Your Hosts: Howard, with special guests Victorine Lieske, Tamie Dearen, Bridget E. Baker, and Nandi Taylor

Howard leads this discussion with four guests who are doing well with self publishing. They share some numbers with us, and talk about their strategies for reaching their audience, and making the most of their market.

Liner Notes: Given, by Nandi Taylor, is available on January 21, (just two days from this episode’s air date)

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

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Start thinking about business: teach yourself which of the things you spend money on are tax deductible.

15.02: Writing Between the Lines

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joins us this year, and in this episode she helps us cover that deep concept of “theme,” and how we as authors can state our themes without coming straight out and stating them—writing our themes “between the lines.”

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

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Take something you’ve completed, but which is still in draft form. Write down three possible themes. Then compare this against what your alpha/beta readers tell you what they think your themes are.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab