Tag Archives: Promises to the Reader

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

12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard

Brian McClellan joins us for a discussion on fulfilling the promises we make to our readers—specifically the genre-specific promises made by the simple fact of where the book is shelved.

Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write your next story in a time period that you haven’t written before. Make up the facts if you want to.

Writing Excuses 10.42: How In The World Do I Tie All This Together?

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.

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Consider the last paragraph of your work in progress. Compare it to your first paragraph. Identify possible resonances that you can mirror between the two.

Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer

Writing Excuses 10.31: How Do I Control the Reader’s Sense of Progress?

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.

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The Magnified Moment: write two pages in which someone gets out of bed, walks across the room, and opens the door.

Time Salvager, by Wesley Chu, narrated by Kevin T. Collins