Tag Archives: Character

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)

13.36: Confronting the Default

Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice

If you live in the northern hemisphere, inland, perhaps above the 40th parallel, you are probably quite sure that there are four distinct seasons. There are, however, many, many people for whom “seasons” are things that happen to other people.

This is the conflict between your default and the rest of the world, and in this episode we’ll talk about confronting your default.

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

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Think about a bird. What makes it a bird? Write down five simple characteristics which make birds birdy for you. Now research birds and find birds that don’t fit your template.

13.32: How To Handle Weighty Topics

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

How can we, as writers, best handle weighty matters? This is our year on character, so we’ll approach this with a focus on character creation, depiction, and dialog?

This topic is, in and of itself, weighty.

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

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Write a scene in which a person who is part of a group you have written about about is reading what you wrote.

Voice of Martyrs, by Maurice Broaddus

13.26: Character Relationships

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Our characters become far more interesting when they begin interacting with each other. These interactions—these relationships—are often how our stories get told. In this episode we explore ways in which we can fine tune relationships in service of our stories.

The tools include the Kowal Relationship Axes (Mind, Money, Morals, Manners, Monogamy, and The Marx Brothers) and the differences between personal and position power.

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

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Apply the relationship axes to a pair of your characters.

The Calculating Stars, and The Fated Skyby Mary Robinette Kowal

13.25: Our Journey With Character

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

Brandon wanted to ask us how our perspectives on character have changed since the very beginning of our writing. It’s a difficult question to answer, and a very soulful sort of thing to answer in front of other people. So Brandon went first while the rest of us racked our brains.

What are you going to learn from this episode? Well… you might learn a bit about each of us, but it’s also possible that you’ll learn something about your own writing, and find yourself able to navigate the next few steps on your journey with character.

Note: The apology strips Howard mentioned begin with this strip. They are part of a story that begins here.

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

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Describe your journey with character to someone else.

My Lady Jane, by Brodie Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

Our listeners submitted some great questions!

  • How do you fairly and even-handedly write a deeply compelling character you deeply dislike?
  • What’s the best way to discuss a character’s underlying motivations without expressly stating them in narrative or dialog?
  • How well should characters understand their own motivations?
  • How do you make non-violent characters interesting?
  • Can there be too much depth to a character?
  • How do you balance character depth across multiple attributes?
  • How do you make a character motivation seem deep when most people’s motivations are actually pretty shallow?
  • Do you create standard dossiers for your characters?
  • Does your story have to have a villain?
  • How do you know whether or not a character’s voice is working?
  • Do you track words or phrases that are unique to a particular character’s voice?

Liner Notes: Brandon mentioned Howard’s “Tyrannopotomus Rex” doodle as part of the writing prompt. Here it is, should you need visual reference.

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

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Write a story about Howard’s “Tyrannopotumus Rex.” (Yes, it can be a story about how that’s not what a real tyrannopotomus rex looks like.)

Pitch Dark, by Courtney Alameda