Tag Archives: Fulfilling Promises

17.6: Hitting Reset Without Getting Hit Back

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

Oh no! You’re in the middle of a thing (a novel, a series, a career) and you suddenly realize that the expectations you set early on are not the expectations you’ll be meeting. What do you do now? ,

We’re talking about how go about resetting audience expectations, whether mid-story, mid-series, or mid-career, including some strategies for communicating “everything is changing now, forget what you know” without making the audience feel like they’ve been betrayed.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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“Eight Expectations” would have been a great title for this eight-episode dive into expectations-as-a-structure, but it would have required a different outline. Your homework? Write up the course outline that Howard couldn’t.

Circle: Two Worlds Connected (Korean TV series)
We’re not sure where you can watch it in your locale, so we gave you the Wikipedia link.

17.4: The Gun on the Mantel is Actually a Fish

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

In the previous episode we discussed how to ensure that your surprise feels inevitable. In this episode we’re covering how to make inevitability feel surprising. The title is a nod to the concept of the “red herring,” which is arguably the most useful tool for setting up a good surprise.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Do the reverse of last week’s homework: find a thing that is important later and find a scene early where you can “put it on the mantle.”

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

17.3: Chekov’s Surprising Yet Inevitable Inverted Gun

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

This week we’re talking about giving inevitability to our intended surprise, and we open with a discussion of Chekov’s Gun, which, as a writing rule, is mostly used in inversion.

Next week we’ll focus on making inevitable things surprising.

Liner Notes: Art and Editing of Suicide Squad (YouTube) 

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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In your current WIP, pin down a person, a place, or a thing you threw in for flavor at the beginning of your story but didn’t plan to use again. Write a scene for them to come back in the final act of your story in an unexpected way.

17.2: It Was a Promise of Three Parts

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

The title of this episode comes to us from the first paragraph of The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss—a novel which delights us with turns of phrase and evocative prose from beginning to end.

We’re continuing our exploration of “promises as a structure” by looking at the promises made by the prose of your first line, first paragraph, and first page. What does your first line say about the rest of your book? Did you mean for it to say that? Is your first line writing checks that your later chapters can actually cash?

Liner Notes: We did an eight-episode master class on first lines, pages, and paragraphs with DongWon Song. It begins with 16.27.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write six different 1st lines, each of which makes a promise you don’t think you can keep. Ask yourself WHY you can’t keep it.

17.1: Genre and Media are Promises

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

The genre of your story is making promises to the reader, and the medium upon which your story is told makes promises too.

In this episode we talk about the expectations set by various mediums and genres, and how we can leverage those to ensure that we deliver a satisfying story.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: The entirety of Season 11, The Elemental Genres, is a deep-dive on this stuff.

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What do you plan to have your work-in-progress deliver? Does the genre or medium you’re working in support the promise of that deliverable?

Mine by Delilah Dawson

16.52: Structure is a Promise

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

The structure you’re using for your story isn’t just helping you organize your plotting. It’s telling the audience what’s going to happen. Story structures make promises to audiences, and these audience expectations are, in large measure, outside of our control.

In this episode we talk about the expectations set by various story structures, and how we can make sure we use our structures to satisfy our audiences.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: We’ve done episodes on the M.I.C.E. Quotient, Seven Point Story Structure, The Hollywood Formula, and many, many more of the structures mentioned in this episode. We haven’t done any on Kishōtenketsu, but we probably should!

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Look up these structures. Now, pick a favorite thing, sit down with it, and map it onto which structures it fits. BONUS points! Do this again with your least favorite thing.

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini

16.51: Promises are a Structure

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

Our next 8-episode intensive is all about promises and expectations. Our guest hosts are Kaela Rivera, Sandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd. They’re joining us to talk about how the promises we make to our audiences, and the expectations they bring with them, are a structural format. In this episode we introduce the topic, and talk about some apex examples of success and failure in this area.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: Here’s the story of The Tropicana Packaging Redesign Failure

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Consider your newest “favorite thing,” whether it be a restaurant, a film, a TV series, a novel, a podcast, a webcomic, a computer game, or whatever. Ask yourself what promises were made to you by this thing, why you believed the promises would be kept, and how they were (or were not) kept. Write all this down.

The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone, and illustrated by Mike Smollin

13.34: Q&A on Character Arcs

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

You had questions. We came up with answers. The questions are below:

  • How do you fulfill promises about character arcs without being cliché? How do you subvert character tropes without betraying the reader?
  • Do you need to complete each character arc in a single story featuring multiple characters?
  • What separates an iconic character from a caricature?
  • Have you ever had an iconic character necessarily become a character in need of an arc?
  • How do you continue a character’s story after they’ve completed their original arc?
  • How much does a character need to change in their arc?
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Trace the skyline of a mountain.  Treat that line, with its ups and downs, as the narrative curve for a character arc.

Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, narrated by Angela Dawe