Tag Archives: Elemental Genre

11.13: Elemental Idea Q&A

Shannon Hale joined us at LTUE 2016 to field questions about the Idea elemental genre. Here are the questions:

  • How do you keep an elemental idea story from feeling like you’re just waiting for the idea to “unlock.”
  • How do you tie your character motivations to the idea?
  • How do you know when you’ve satisfactorily explored the idea?
  • Are there elemental idea stories that you just need to give up on?
  • Is there such a thing as “idea clutter?”

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

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Pick your favorite idea from the brainstorming exercise, and then work your way forward, plotting out the consequences, and work your way backward, plotting the reasons.

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, narrated by Cynthia Bishop

11.12: Idea as Subgenre, With Nancy Fulda

Nancy Fulda is back for our second episode on the Idea elemental genre. We cover some tools for exploring an idea, and then drill down a bit on how to use that exploration, or even multiple explorations as “seasoning” elements for a larger work.

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

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Take a step further on some element of your story. Find an element that perhaps you’ve taken for granted, and turn it into something fascinating.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley, narrated by Thomas Judd

11.10: Idea, as Genre, with Nancy Fulda

Nancy Fulda joined us in the dark dungeons of Dragonsteel Entertainment to discuss the elemental genre of “Idea.” It’s tricky, because “Idea” in the elemental genres model isn’t quite the same as “Idea” in the M.I.C.E. quotient. There’s a lot of overlap, of course, but the differences are significant.

We talk about stories in which the driving force is “ooh, let’s think about this for a while,” and how we might go about instilling this sense of fascination in our readers.

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

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Find a cool idea, and then brainstorm twenty stories you could tell, using that idea as the core element.

Dead Men Don’t Cry, by Nancy Fulda, narrated by Joseph Zieja

11.08: Wonder as a Subgenre

If the Element of Wonder is the driving force behind “sense of wonder” science fiction and fantasy, then that same element can be used to give wondrous flavor to stories whose driving force lies among the other elemental genres. We talk about how to use wonder at smaller scales, how to create it with context, and how you might use it in support of the other themes of your story.

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Take a story you’re working on, a story in which Elemental Wonder isn’t a driving force, and add that wonder to some aspect of it.

Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer

11.06: The Element of Wonder

We’ve introduced the concept of Elemental Genre already. It’s time to start digging in to the elements themselves, beginning with the Element of Wonder. We started with this one because “sense of wonder” is a term that gets used to describe what makes some science fiction stories work.

In this episode we expand upon the word “wonder” a bit, making the shorthand of “elemental wonder” more useful, not to mention more descriptive. We then go on to detail some methods writers might use to evoke wonder, leveraging that element for the greatest effect in their work.

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Homework! Apply a sense of wonder to something small and ordinary. Describe it using those cool point-of-view tools that evoke wonder in the reader.

The Wright Brothers, written and narrated by David McCullough

11.03: Layering The Elemental Genres

For our second Elemental Genre episode we discuss using the concept of Elemental Genre to help you manage sub-plots, character arcs, and genre mashups. We’ve each used the tool in these ways, and we provide examples from our own writing, as well as from works we’ve read or watched.

Here, for your convenience, is the list of the Elemental Genres we’ll be covering during Season 11.

 

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Think of an emotion that contrasts, or foils, the primary emotion in the thing you were working on for the homework two weeks ago. Identify that,  and begin exploring it as a sub-plot.

We promo’d Word Puppets, by Mary Robinette Kowal, narrated by Kate Baker, but the audiobook does not appear to be available as of this writing. Other versions are available here, and of course there are plenty of other books  from Mary on Audible.

Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre

The word “genre” has a lot of weight to it. Arguments about whether a particular work is, or is not, part of a given genre are long, and tedious. Season Eleven will not be engaging in those arguments. We’re giving all that a wide miss by adding an adjective, and defining a new term: Elemental Genre.

During 2016 we are going to explore what we write, why we write, and how we write in much the same way as previous seasons have, but our guidepost this year will be this concept of Elemental Genres. In January we’ll stay high-level and firm up the framework. Starting in February we’ll drill down on each of the Elemental Genres, and explore the writing process.

Here’s what the year will look like, month-by-month:

WX-11-Cover-PaleGradient4January: Introduction
February: Wonder
March: Idea
April: Adventure
May: Horror
June: Mystery
July: Thriller
August: Humor
September: Relationship
October: Drama
November: Issue
December: Ensemble

We’re really excited about this year’s format, and we’re confident that by examining our writing in this way we’ll learn (and perhaps even teach!) some new things.

Note: 2016 is a leap year, but this episode was recorded in 2015. When we said “it’s not a leap year” we were confused. 

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Take three stories (books, films, whatever) you love, and explore the emotional impact those stories have on you. Strip away the “bookshelf” genre, and try to identify for yourself the core elements that make those stories work.

Lost Stars, by Claudia Gray, narrated by Pierce Cravens