Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard Tayler
Guest host Peng Shepherd leads our discussion of “order-less reading order” (after we get past the business of “having too much fun with the episode title”). But what do we even mean by “order-less” or “disordered?” At one level, we mean you can just pick up the story anywhere and start reading. Kind of like TV series prior to the advent of the fully serial series. But kind of unlike it, because how does this work within just one book?
Liner Notes: For good examples of non-order-dependent stories, consider schlockmercenary.com, The Lady Astronaut universe, DISCWORLD, Seventy Maxims (annotated),
Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:18 — 15.5MB)
Look at your current work-in-progress. Are there pieces of backstory that you could unpack into a prequel? Can you shuffle your story events for orderless/disordered reading?
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Lari, and Dan, with special guest Jenn Court
Let’s talk about serials. Jenn Court, whose work includes lots of writing for TV (IMDB link), joins us for the discussion. What are the elements that get us, as readers or viewers, to come back for episode after episode, and how do we, as writers, identify those elements and set about synthesizing them?
Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:47 — 13.0MB)
Think about your next protagonist. Make a chart that covers their positive and negative attributes.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard
The term “iconic hero” allows us to differentiate between different kinds of heroes who appear in series. Nancy Drew and Conan the Barbarian are iconic, but Leia Organa and Aragorn are epic. In this episode we discuss how (and why) to go about writing a hero with no arc.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:33 — 12.8MB)
Explore iconic heroes by plotting out an Indiana Jones movie.
Brian McClellan joined us to field questions about writing novels and series. Here are the questions:
- How do you write an ending that is open for sequels, but isn’t a cliffhanger?
- Is it a good idea to take a large novel, and release it instead as serial novellas?
- Can you debut with a series, or should you establish yourself with standalone novels first?
- How do you keep readers coming back for each new novel when there’s a long time between them?
- Should you have more than just one book done before querying agents?
- What do you do if your novel turns out to be too short to be a novel?
- Is it possible to write a series as a discovery writer?
- How do you foreshadow big things that are a long way out?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 24:59 — 17.2MB)
Take two books or movies, suggested from friends. Those are parts 1 and 3 of a series. Now figure out how part 2 works.
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard
We’re talking about the extreme long-form serial story here, and how to keep things interesting without forcing the main characters into an absurdly high number of character-developing moments. Brandon leads by aiming the question at Howard, since Schlock Mercenary has been running now for seventeen years (it was only 16 at the time we recorded.) We also talk about how long romance serials avoid “sequelitis” by swapping out the love interests, and how the tools used here apply across multiple styles and genres.
Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 22:24 — 15.4MB)
Create a “Beat Chart” identifying iconic moments, questions and answers, and new promises to readers, and then break these out into book-sized groups.