Tag Archives: Elemental Genre

14.16: Your Setting is a Telegraph

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

Your setting can quickly tell the reader what kind of a story they’re reading, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we make that happen. Think of it as the “establishing shot” principle from film making, expanded to cover whatever worldbuilding details we choose to reveal first.

Liner Notes: Here are the Schlock Mercenary Book 19 prologues Howard described, complete with the footnotes which make fun of prologues.

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

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Write an opening. You can start from scratch, or re-open something you’re already working on. Write a half page, and with three concrete details establish the tone. Now rewrite, keeping the dialog the same, and use different details to telegraph a different tone.

Terminal Alliance, by Jim Hines

11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray joined us aboard Oasis of the Seas to answer our attendees questions about the Elemental Ensemble. Here are the questions:

  • Can you fit an ensemble into a short story?
  • What the minimum size for an ensemble? Is there a perfect length?
  • Can you put a traitor into an ensemble story?
  • How do I give my ensemble characters equal emotional weight if I only tell the story from a single POV?
  • How do you introduce your ensemble without infodumping?
  • If an ensemble is about falling in love with a group of friends, how does killing a character work?
  • How do you give every character a role in the climax without making it seem like the plot was cut to fit the team?

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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A Million Worlds With You, by Claudia Gray, narrated by Tavia Gilbert

11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas joins us to continue our discussion of the Elemental Ensemble, which is one of our favorite elemental tools. It’s not just for heists. It adds interest, emotion, and lots of plot possibilities to everything from sense of wonder to the hard-hitting issue.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Look at some of the elemental genres we’ve already discussed. Brainstorm some story ideas, looking at  what happens to them when you mix those genres up with the ensemble element.

Heroine Complex, by Sarah Kuhn

11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas

Michael Damien Thomas, co-publisher and co-editor-in-chief of Uncanny Magazine, joined us for a discussion of the elemental genre that contains most of the stories we refer to as “heists.” It’s all about a well-rounded cast in which the group relationship is what’s pulling us forward.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Look at professions with a front-person, and with behind-the-scenes staff. Create a story that focuses on the behind-the-scenes folks.

Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damien Thomas

11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song

DongWon Song, literary agent with HMLA, joins us for a Q&A on the elemental genre of “Issue.” Here are the questions, which were submitted by the attendees at WXR ’16:

  • Can only certain people tackle certain issues in certain stories?
  • Science Fiction often explores issues by changing the context. Why does this work?
  • How would you handle an issue story in short fiction?
  • How do you make sure to research the issue enough without paralyzing yourself with the fear that you cannot do it justice?
  • How do you convincingly write a position with which you disagree without convincing your readers that you agree with it?
  • How do you write about a deeply personal issue without making it sound like a personal sob story?

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Take an ensemble cast, and write each member’s position on a given issue.

Gift Child, by Janci Patterson

11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch

For November, our elemental genre is “Issue,” and we were joined by actor, writer, and comedian Desiree Burch. The Elemental Issue is similar to the Elemental Idea, but the type of idea being explored is a point of social conflict, like racism, teen pregnancy, or corporate greed. Authors writing Elemental Issue stories raise questions for the readers.

We talk about how to go about writing these without sounding preachy, and without writing polemics.

Soundbite Moment: “The more specific a work gets, the more broadly it relates to other people.” —Desiree Burch

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Read a magazine, ads and all, that is outside your personal cultural context, or realm of interests

Extreme Makeover, by Dan Wells, narrated by Brian Troxell