Tag Archives: Character

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

14.26: 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

14.22: Characters out of Their Depth

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

Sherlock Holmes has his Watson for a reason. Readers need a character to whom some things must be explained. In this episode we talk about how we create these gateway characters without delivering “maid and butler” dialog, or talking down to the reader.

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

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Pick something you haven’t read or watched before. Perhaps something you wouldn’t otherwise consume. Watch the first five minutes (or read the first five pages) with a note card at the ready. Write down the questions you have about the story. Then finish watching/reading, and see how (or if!) those questions were answered.

 

13.51: Wrap-up on the Year of Character

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

We decided to wrap up this year on character by letting Brandon ask us some deep questions. “We decided” might be the wrong phrase, because nobody except Brandon knew what the questions were, so it might be more accurate to say “we rolled with it.”

It rolled quite nicely.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson. It was posted to the web by Howard, who is also the one who didn’t post until twenty-eight hours and twenty-minutes after he should have. 

 

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No homework. No prompt. But, y’know, if you want to flip through the homework you’ve done this year and consider what you’ve improved at, and where you might need more practice, that would be awesome.

13.49: How to Finish

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice

Last week we talked about character death. This week we talk about other, less fatal ways in which a character story can be finished, and how we, as writers, can tell when we’re done with a character arc.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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You’re about to cut into a cake… and it speaks.
(Note: the phrase “the cake is alive” might qualify as “low-hanging fruit.”)

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone
(note: Between the time we recorded and the time this episode aired the publication date was pushed back. The novel is, however, available for pre-order.)

13.47: Q&A on Fixing Characters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

You had questions about fixing character problems. We had had answers! Here are the questions:

  • How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar?
  • How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem?
  • How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive?
  • How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys?
  • How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character?
  • How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting?
  • How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot?

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

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Cheeto McFlair: Who are they, and why are they asking questions of the Writing Excuses team?

Myths and Monsters, narrated by Nicholas Day (currently available on Netflix)

13.44: Alien Characters

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

As writers of speculative fiction we are frequently tasked with writing a species or race of alien people. In this episode we talk about some of the tricks we use to create non-human characters in ways that make them both comprehensible and compelling, and the pitfalls we seek to avoid in the process.

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

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Look up doge-speak. Take those grammar rules and apply them to dialog from one of your characters.

The Blood Rose Rebellion, by Rosalind Eaves

Love is Never Still,” by Rachel Swirsky

13.43: Characters Who Are Smarter Than You Are

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

Many of us write characters who know more than we know, and/or who think faster than we do. Writing those characters is tricky. In this episode we talk about our own tricks, and the tricks we’ve seen others use.

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

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Time is your friend. Write a solution to one of your characters’ problems off the top of your head. Spend a week thinking about it and researching it. During that week write down all the new solutions that come to you. Compile the entire set of solutions and review them to see just how good a friend time can be.