Tag Archives: Character and Viewpoint

16.45: World and Character Part 2: Moral Frame

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Fonda Lee, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler

Let’s follow up on character biases with an exploration of moral frame. When we say someone is “morally gray” or “morally ambiguous,” what we’re really talking about is the way they fit into the moral frame defined by society. In this episode we talk about that frame, and how we can apply it, through our characters, to our worldbuilding.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson


Come up with a list of 4-6 “morally gray” characters from your favorite stories. Attempt to identify whether they are acting in opposition to, or in accordance with, their society/group’s moral frame.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson

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!


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

14.5: Viewpoint as Worldbuilding

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

When you’re defining your world for the reader, some voice in the text must speak those definitions. This episode is about how we use character voices—their dialog and their narrative view points—to worldbuild. What do they see? How do they perceive it? What are their favorite jokes? What do they say when they swear?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson





From within, from without: Take a character who is alien to the culture/setting you’re writing, and describe things from their point of view. Now describe those same things from the point of view of a character native to the culture/setting.

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney

How do we go about describing the clothing our characters are wearing? How do we use that to add depth to our story? What are the common mistakes that writers make when they start dressing their characters?

Rebecca McKinney joined us on stage at LTUE to address all this.

Liner Notes: We mentioned some resources for those wanting to get clothing right in their work:


Describe the same outfit from two different point of view characters.

Bluescreen, by Dan Wells, narrated by Roxanne Hernandez

Writing Excuses 9.3: Character Perception vs. Narrative Perception with Nancy Fulda

Nancy Fulda, who was a guest on the cast clear back in Season 2, joins us to talk about using the narrative to call out or offset character perceptions. Sometimes the POV character “knows” a thing which is not just incorrect, it is something the reader will recognize as incorrect, and if this isn’t written correctly the reader may get knocked out of the story by the concern that the author might have his or her information wrong.

For instance, one character might refer to a small-arm magazine as a “clip,” while other characters in the story, those more experienced with firearms, know that the word is “magazine.”

Mary talks about the historical fantasy novel she’s writing, set in Regency-era Antigua, and which steps squarely into issues of race. Nancy talks to us a bit about language drift, and about how our understanding about lots of things will change. Brandon then raises the question of using “author’s notes.”

Speaking Of Things The Characters Got Wrong: One of those episodes Nancy was in back in 2009? Yeah, we all got it wrong.



Take something that you believe to be false, and write a character with the opposite belief.

Movement, by Nancy Fulda, narrated by Marguerite Kenner

Writing Excuses 8.36: Transitioning Characters in Prominence

After a quick, two-and-a-half-minute announcement about Writing Excuses winning the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Related Work, we get on with the topic at hand…

How do you go about transitioning characters in relative prominence during the course of a series? This might include fading a main character into the background, or drawing a side character into focus as the protagonist.

Howard talks about doing this in Schlock Mercenary, and how readers have reacted. Dan discusses doing this in the John Cleaver books, and what was required to make that work. Brandon tells us about Spook in the Mistborn trilogy, and why it was critical to the story for him to come to prominence. Mary explains that this shift is something that happens anytime there’s a POV shift.


Take a minor character from a story you’ve already completed, and tell their story.

The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer

Writing Excuses 6.22: Continuing Education for Writers

Mur Lafferty, the Grand Dame of SF podcasting, joins Howard, Mary, and Dan to talk about ways in which writers can continue their educations. We’ve said time and again that nothing improves your writing skills like doing more writing, but there are some other things you can do so that your writing practice pays off faster.

We talk about writing workshops like Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp, Clarion and Clarion West, Writing Superstars, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, and Launchpad. We also talk about podcasts like Writing Excuses (you might have heard of that one) and Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing.

We also talk about information sources online like Turkey City Lexicon, Magical Words,  and Bookview Cafe, and of course we can’t let the episode end without touching on actual books writers can read, like Steven King’s On Writing, Ken Rand’s The 10% Solution, and Orson Scott Card’s Character and Viewpoint.

We wrap up with a reminder: learning a new thing will make writing more difficult before it makes it easier. Don’t panic. Don’t think you’ve broken your brain. It’s all part of the writing process. You’ll get your mojo back as soon as your brain finishes assimilating all this stuff you’ve just learned.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel, Book 1 by Seanan McGuire, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Prompt: Someone wants to go to a writing workshop but gets held up by chicken and waffles.

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