Tag Archives: Character

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.

13.40: Fixing Character Problems, Part I

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

This is the first of two episodes in which we’ll talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work.

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

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Take your very favorite character that you’ve created, and write a couple of scenes in which you break them by writing them wrong.

Heroine Complex, by Sarah Kuhn

13.37: What Writers Get Wrong, with J.Y. Yang

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard with special guest J.Y. Yang

J.Y. Yang is a Hugo-nominated short story writer from Singapore who identifies as non-binary. They joined us to talk about this non-binary identification, and how writers can do a better job of depicting it (beyond simply using non-gendered pronouns.)

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

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Your homework: do some research! Read works by the nonbinary writers Rose Lemberg and A. Merc Rustad.

The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Red Threads of Fortune, by J.Y. Yang.
(Note: We didn’t mention the third book in the Tensorate series, but The Descent of Monsters is also available now)