For the next several episodes we’ll be talking about tension. That may seem like a lot of time to spend on just one word, but as we unpack that word we see that there’s plenty of material to work with, and there’s a generous supply of tools in that material.
For our purposes, we’ve categorized the tension subcategories as follows:
- Unanswered Questions
Your own taxonomy may differ, and that’s fine, but having a taxonomy is important because when we name our tools we’re better at using them.
Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. It was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:40 — 15.1MB)
In this episode we covered five types of tension: Anticipation, Juxtaposition, Unanswered Questions, Conflict, and Microtension. Look at your current WIP (or something that you are reading) and identify examples of each of these.
Dark One: Forgotten, by Brandon Sanderson & Dan Wells
This will be featured in an upcoming “Deep Dive” episode.
How do you go about writing a character showing their emotions without them sounding whiny (or whatever the “too-much” version of the appropriate emotion might be)?
Adding to the difficulty of the exercise, how do you know where that “too much” line is for your book, your genre, and your audience?
We talk about how we’ve each faced this challenge, and how that’s been very different for each of us. Sometimes it comes down to “show, don’t tell,” and sometimes that rule flat out doesn’t work. And sometimes it doesn’t come down to a simple rule at all. (Okay, most of the time that’s what it comes down to.)
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:49 — 12.2MB)
Writers, like actors, have to animate the inanimate, and evoke emotions that we may not have ever felt, and in this episode we talk about the things that we do in order to accomplish that. We talk about making faces, remembering analogous events, playing thematic music, and running around the kitchen with a knife.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:58 — 12.3MB)
Describe a setting. Then, without using any emotion-words, describe that same setting again three more times from a happy, sad, and angry point of view.
Let’s face it. The characters in your book will do some dumb things. We’re here to help you make sure they do those dumb things for the right reasons.
Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of dumb, and how you as an author can write dumb smart. Or smartly write dumb. Something like that.
Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Variant, by Robison Wells, narrated by Michael Goldstrom.
Writing Prompt: Create a solid romance in which the characters cannot be together because of good, intelligent, character-driven reasons.
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Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:21 — 11.2MB)
John Brown joins us again, and tells us that fiction “is all about guiding an emotional response in a reader.” We begin with a discussion of depression, which John (like many of us) had to deal with. He tells us about the paths for emotional response, and how a beginning writer can end up in the depths of depression just by looking at the work of successful writers.
But working through that, especially with cognitive therapy, can provide the writer with fantastic tools for informing his or her writing. And those tools are really why you’re here. Listen closely!
Writing Prompt: Give us villainous heroes, romance, and something that evokes terror.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (10.8MB)