Category Archives: Theory and Technique

15.27: Alternate History, with Eric Flint

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Eric Flint

Eric Flint joined us at SpikeCon (host of the 2019 NASFIC) to talk about creating  alternate histories. His Ring of Fire book series is enormous in scope, and has many, many more people working on it than just Eric Flint. We get a bit of a peek behind the scenes, and a lot of great information about writing alternate histories of our own.

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

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Plan your day so you know which bit to write first. Sit down and write something first.

15.26: Taking the Chance, with David Weber

Your Hosts: Brandon, Howard, and Dan with special guest David Weber

David Weber joined us at NASFIC to talk about the importance of risking failure on any path (especially a writer’s path) to success–whether you’re risking rejection in the submission process, or the possibility that the book you write won’t be the amazing thing you’ve been imagining.

If you’re currently feeling the need to be out of excuses, this episode might be exactly what you’re looking for.

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

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Go home and roll up a character.

The Gordian Protocol, by David Weber and Jacob Holo

15.25: Using the MICE Quotient for Conflict

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

The MICE quotient is a tool for categorizing story elements—Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event—and we’ve talked about it quite a bit in the past. When a listener asked how we might use the MICE quotient to create, inform, manage, and otherwise help us “do” conflict in our stories, we were excited to start recording, and a bit bewildered that we’d somehow not already done this episode.

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

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Free write a character doing something. Identify the MICE elements. Pick one, and build additional conflict around it.

Escaping Exodus, by Nicky Drayden

15.23: Serialization

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Lari, and Dan, with special guest Jenn Court

Let’s talk about serials. Jenn Court, whose work includes lots of  writing for TV (IMDB link), joins us for the discussion. What are the elements that get us, as readers or viewers, to come back for episode after episode, and how do we, as writers, identify those elements and set about synthesizing them?

Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson

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Think about your next protagonist. Make a chart that covers their positive and negative attributes.

Fetch the Bolt Cutters, by Fiona Apple

15.22 Writing For Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Shannon and Dean Hale join us again, this time to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write for¹ children. Children have their own unique sets of expectations for the books they read (as do their parents), and in this episode we talk about how to meet (or subvert) those.

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


¹ “For,” not “about.” Shannon and Dean discussed writing ABOUT children last week.

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Have a child tell you a story

Best Friends, by Shannon & Dean Hale

15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Shannon and Dean Hale join us to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write about¹ children. We cover dialog tools, point-of-view elements, stakes, and character ‘quirks’ that can help signal to the reader that a character is a child.

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


¹ “About,” not “for.” Shannon and Dean join us again to discuss writing FOR children next week!

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Take a story about adults and write a synopsis of how it would go if it were about kids. Like, DIE HARD might become HOME ALONE…

The Princess in Black, by Shannon & Dean Hale

15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

“As you know, Bob…” is the trope-tastic line we use to refer to expository dialog which has no function beyond exposition.

We get lots of listener questions about how to use dialog for exposition without making it feel like we’re using dialog for exposition. And as Bob already knows, this episode is about answering those questions.

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

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David Mogo Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Take a favorite piece of media, and make a list of the worldbuilding elements which are absolutely necessary to make the story work. Now re-watch the media, and make notes about when each of these elements is introduced.

15.17: Asexual Representation

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

Generally speaking, asexuality is a sexual orientation or identity typified by the absence of a desire to have sex. It’s *way* more complicated than that, however, and in this episode Tempest helps us unpack it so that asexual characters can be written more effectively.

Liner Notes: Want to dig deeper? Over at Writing The Other there’s  a master class on writing asexual characters taught by Lauren Jankowski.

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

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Take two characters from your current WIP.  Write a meet-cute, and have both characters be asexual, yet romantic

Let’s Talk About Love, by Claire Kann, and narrated by Adenrele Ojo