Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice
Last week we talked about character death. This week we talk about other, less fatal ways in which a character story can be finished, and how we, as writers, can tell when we’re done with a character arc.
Credits:This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
You’re about to cut into a cake… and it speaks. (Note: the phrase “the cake is alive” might qualify as “low-hanging fruit.”)
This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone (note: Between the time we recorded and the time this episode aired the publication date was pushed back. The novel is, however, available for pre-order.)
Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we can tell when it’s not working.
Notes: the MICE quotient is Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. Mary’s relationship axes are Role, Relationship, Status, and Competence.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson
We begin our exploration of short story structure with a re-cap of the MACE quotient (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, Event). Then we apply that tool to how we structure the pieces we write—specifically the short ones.
We discuss the ways in which we decide upon the length of the stories we write, and at which point(s) in the creative process we make that decision.
Liner Notes: This is the story-length formula that Mary shared with us:
Ls=((C+L) *750)*1.5Mq (In English: Add the number of characters and the number of locations. Multiply that sum by 750. Then multiply that number by 1.5 times the number of MICE elements the story incorporates.)
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
Nalo Hopkinson joins us again, at sea, for our second Master Class installment on endings. We cover some of the reasons why an ending might not be working, and then talk about the sorts of diagnoses that will help you solve the problem. You’ll likely need to dig deep in your toolbox. Our episodes covering the MICE quotient, promises made to the readers, and the Hollywood formula may be worth reviewing in this process.
What defines a scene? How do we, as writers, structure things using scenes? When does a scene begin, when does it end, and when has it gone on too long?
We each do this a little differently, and obviously the definitions and processes will vary widely across mediums. In this episode we talk about how we do this, and we make reference to Scene/Sequel format, the MICE quotient, and pacing.
Look at the next few scenes you need to write, and identify their plot function, identify what your main character’s goal is. Now consider where the starting and stopping points can be placed to best serve those elements.