Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard
We fielded some questions on style, diction, and paragraphing:
- Is it okay to have pretty prose in a straightforward adventure story?
- How do author voice and character voice differ?
- How do you prevent paragraphs from rambling?
- I feel like my writing is derivative of the writers whose work I read. How can I find or develop my own voice?
- How much does diction play into genre fiction?
- Is it okay to write in a natural speaking voice?
- During which part of the writing process do you pay attention to style?
By Way Of Correction: “Unaccompanied Sonata,” by Orson Scott Card, is the story about anxiety of influence. “Tunesmith,” by Lloyd Biggle Jr., is about music, and even has the name “Bach” in it, but it’s not the story Howard described.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 23:11 — 16.0MB)
Ask your alpha readers for their definition of your voice.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley
What makes a chapter? WHY is a chapter? How do we chapter, and do we always chapter the same way? Should our chapters be this many parts of speech? This episode will answer these questions and more, except for that last question, to which the answer is “probably not.”
Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:24 — 14.7MB)
Examine a book that made you keep turning its pages, and consider how it does that. Then look at a book you did not like, and consider how it nevertheless kept you reading it.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard
Let’s talk about the structural tools we use to control pacing. These include sentence length and punctuation.
Liner note: Here is the Feb 12, 2017 Schlock Mercenary strip mentioned around the 18-minute mark.
Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered aboard a fleeing generation-ship by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:26 — 14.1MB)
Change up a piece of fiction of yours by changing the length of paragraphs and sentences.
Tea & Jeopardy: A GeekPlanetOnline Community Podcast, by Emma Newman and Peter Newman
The microphones again find us aboard the Independence of the Seas*, to talk about how terribly ugly this manuscript is, and what we can do to make it pretty. In this episode we drill down on line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph revisions. This stage of the revision process is where our prose gets wordsmithed. This episode runs long, touching on:
- Punching up the pacing
- Turning things upside down
- Adverbial compression,
- The pyramid of abstraction
- Free and direct thought
- Replacing negative-information descriptions
- extreme editing exercises like “one sentence per concept.”
Obviously if you want more than just the bullet points you’ll need to have a listen…
*NOTE: Registration is now open for the 2016 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat!
This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered ashore in a volcanic caldera by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 23:27 — 16.1MB)
Here’s a tough one: Make an editing pass in which you cut 10% of the words on each page.
We wrap up this month’s discussion of pacing with a Q&A. Here are the questions we pulled out of the virtual hat (read: Twitter) for answering during the episode:
- What are some early indications of a pacing problem?
- How do you chart pacing so that it remains even?
- Can you control pacing using scene/sequel format?
- How do you handle character progression during travel without making it choppy?
- It feels like new authors are required to deliver breakneck pacing. Is this true?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:40 — 13.5MB)
Plot twists are coming next month. This exercise is called “hard left.” Take a scene that is moving forward at a breakneck pace. Throw a twist at them, and don’t break scene. Force the pacing to continue in the new direction.
As we said last week, we’re talking about pacing, and we’ve divided the concept into two parts. Last week we covered “sense of progress.” This week we’re talking about the passage of time. We discuss the tools we use, some of which are very mechanical (scene breaks, chapter breaks) and some of which are quite intricate, and require finesse to get right.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:07 — 13.2MB)
Take something you’ve already written (a chapter with a few scenes would be perfect.) Change scene breaks to through-scenes. Then try moving the scene breaks around. See what happens to the pace of the story.
This month’s Master Class episodes focus on pacing, and we’re dividing the concept of pacing into two parts: the first is the sense of progress within the story, and the second is the sense of the passage of time. In this episode we tackle that first bit, and discuss how we communicate progress to the readers.
We talk a bit about the concept of “promises made to the reader,” which we covered in more detail during episode 10.14. You may want to refer back to that at some point.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:57 — 13.0MB)
The Magnified Moment: write two pages in which someone gets out of bed, walks across the room, and opens the door.
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.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:37 — 12.8MB)
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.
The Devil’s Only Friend, by Dan Wells, narrated by Kirby Heyborne
This will be our Project-in-Depth book in August, so dive in now!