Category Archives: Theory and Technique

Worldbuilding Gender Roles

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

Let’s talk about worldbuilding with gender roles. Most of us have grown up with a very strongly defined binary, that distinction need not be how we craft the worlds in which we set our stories. In this episode we discuss the resources we have to help us, and the approaches we’ve taken to worldbuild with gender in our own work. We drill down pretty deeply on some worldbuilding with Brandon, and yes, we run quite long.

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

Liner Notes

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Apply the axes of power deliberately to character gender, and determine how gender and gender identity affects the various axes

Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz

14.31: Cultural Setting as Conflict

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

In this episode we talk about how to put characters in conflict with their setting, and how to structure our work so that these conflicts arise organically rather than feeling mandated by plot.

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

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Make an entire planet of you. Now create a trading post where people who are NOT you must find ways to interact with the world of yous.

14.30: Eating Your Way to Better Worldbuilding

Your Hosts: Piper, Dongwon, Amal, and Maurice

We like food, and we like to talk about food. Our hosts this week talk about how this influences their fiction, (not to mention how incredibly complex [and interesting, and delicious] the subject is.)

Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson 

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Imagine a fictional meal. Describe its history and provenance. Work that into the story.

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook, by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sarian Lehrer, with an introduction by George R. R. Martin

14.28: Warfare and Weaponry

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

How do you write about warfare in your stories when you’ve never fought in a war? How do you describe brilliant tactics when you’re completely untrained in military movements? How can you portray the emotions of someone on a battlefield without having been on a battlefield yourself?

In this episode we tackle these questions and more. (Hint: the answers include “research”)

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

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Invent a powerful, NON-technological weapon for your setting.

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey, narrated by Flinty Williams

14.27: Natural Setting as Conflict

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

In this episode we stories with the “Person-vs-Setting” structure. These are stories where nature fills the role of antagonist, and may also be what governs the pacing, and the delivery of key emotional beats.

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

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Pick a milieu, a starting point, and an exit. Brainstorm about twenty things preventing the character from exiting. Rank your five favorites in order of difficulty.

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, narrated by Peter Coyote

How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler, by Ryan North

14.26: Lessons from Aristotle, with Rob Kimbro

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Rob Kimbro

Rob Kimbro joins us this week to talk about Aristotle’s elements of tragedy, and how they might be applied to our writing. The six elements are (in Aristotle’s order of descending importance): plot, character, idea, dialog, music, and spectacle.  We discuss this tool in terms of critiquing existing work, and in finding direction in the things we create.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take something you’ve written, and then rank the elements based on how important they are in what you wrote. Now re-order the elements, and rewrite the piece to match the new ranking.

Aristotle’s Poetics, by Aristotle, narrated by Ray Childs

14.24: Political Intrigue

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

Political Intrigue stories are less about “politics” (as colloquially defined by pop culture) and more about mysteries. Per Mary Robinette, they’re often like heists of information. The word “politics” here is used in its purest sense: POWER.

In this episode we talk about how we worldbuild for stories in which the flow of information and misinformation affect the shift of power, and how to craft those stories so they’re, well… intriguing instead of being boring.

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

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Take a classic fairy tale. Assume that the fairy tale was just the cover story…

Star Touched Queen, by Roshani Choshki, narrated by Priya Ayyar

14.23: Governments Large and Small

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

What kinds of governmental systems do you live within? What kinds do you implement? Answering these questions can help you with the worldbuilding of political power structures. In this episode we’ll talk about all that. (Within our time limit, of course.)

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

 

 

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Come up with your own system along the lines of the “four estates” model common in the west.

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine, narrated by Amy Landon