Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler
We begin this episode with a quick exploration of the terminology, and what we mean when we say “text,” “context,” and “subtext.” Subtext exists between text and context. It’s the information which isn’t actually in the text, but which we are able to divine based on the context. And in this episode we talk about how to use context and text to provide subtext to the reader.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:23 — 14.2MB)
Grab a scene with dialog. Delete every third line of dialog, and then go back and try to use non-verbal cues to make the scene still make sense.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard
Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joins us this year, and in this episode she helps us cover that deep concept of “theme,” and how we as authors can state our themes without coming straight out and stating them—writing our themes “between the lines.”
Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:52 — 14.4MB)
Take something you’ve completed, but which is still in draft form. Write down three possible themes. Then compare this against what your alpha/beta readers tell you what they think your themes are.
A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab
Our second installment for the Master Class’s month of context covers the way dialog between characters may change meaning depending upon the context you create for them. This context may be the setting or genre, and it may also be the “beats” in which you describe what a person is doing while speaking. We talk about how to make this work for you, how to avoid some of the common pitfalls in writing dialog.
Liner Notes: Howard mentioned episode 10.11: Project-in-Depth: “Parallel Perspectives”. If you need to go back and have a listen, now it’s easier!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:51 — 15.0MB)
This is the Transcript Exercise, and it’s a doozy. Take our A/B scene, which is character dialog with no beats, and add the beats and the context to set the dialog in two different genres. There are further instructions in the download at the link above.
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, narrated by Simon Slater
We’ve talked about plot twists before. This episode covers the way in which the type of plot twist is dependent on, or signaled by, the context of the story. Getting plot twists right may mean surprising the reader, but it’s just as important to have the twist surprise the character.
SPOILER ALERT: Avengers: Age of Ultron, and The Sixth Sense, among others. It’s hard to talk about plot twists without talking about some really good ones.
This month’s master-class topic is “Context,” but the Q&A at the end of the month (coming real soon!) is on plot twists, featuring a special guest who joined us at Sasquan, the 73rd Annual World Science Fiction Convention.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:46 — 13.6MB)
Unwinding the Twist: Find a plot twist in something that you enjoy, and then backtrack a bit. Take notes. Figure out where the red herrings are. Figure out where the foreshadowing is. Enumerate these, see if there’s something formulaic that you can learn from.