Tag Archives: Microstructure

17.40: Questions & Answers About Structure, with Special Guest Peng Shepherd

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler, with special guest Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd joined us aboard Liberty of the Seas for WXR 2022, and returned with us to the topic of story structures. In this episode we answer questions from our live audience. The questions include:

  1. How do you make sure you’ve got the right number of plot threads?
  2. How do you spread the structure of a given plot line across multiple books?
  3. How do you avoiding having subplots distract readers from the main plot?
  4. What are some strategies you can use to better align character goals with the overall problem of the story?
  5. Are there clear dos and don’ts with regard to story structure?
  6. How do you prepare or color-code bits for running a role-playing game? More broadly: what organizational tools do you use for story structure?

For the answers, you’ll have to give the episode a listen…

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

Play

Write a piece of fiction (or an outline) outside your usual length. See how that changes your structural choices.

The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal
(pre-order now! It releases on October 11th!)

17.16: Miscellaneous Structures

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard Tayler

Thus far we’ve attempted to organize our discussion of sub-, micro-, and other alternative structures  with specific categories, but this domain is a lot larger than that. This final episode with our guest host Peng Shepherd has been titled “Miscellaneous Structures” because, y’know, sometimes the last bucket in your row of carefully, taxonomically-labeled buckets needs to be “miscellaneous.”

Liner Notes: Howard mentions “LTUE” during the episode. Hey, guess what! The next few episodes following this one were (will have been?) recorded at LTUE!

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

Play

Take the project you’re working on (or just an outline of it) and try to reframe it using one of the micro- or sub-structures we’ve discussed during the last eight episodes. Consider how it changes your work. What aspects of the story does it heighten, and what does it diminish?

Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries (defaced edition), by Howard Tayler

17.13: Structuring Around a Thing

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard Tayler

Our exploration of sub- and micro-structures continues with guest host Peng Shepherd. This week we’re talking about how a story can be structured around a “thing.” The simplest explanatory example would be structuring around a map, which is where we start the episode… kind of like how The Lord of the Rings starts in The Shire.

This episode does not end with even one of us climbing a volcano.

Liner Notes: 

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

Play

Is there a “thing” in your project that could function as a natural structure?

The Flanders Panel, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, translated by Margaret Jull Costa