Writing Excuses 8.17: Microcasting

You love ’em, we love ’em, and there’s never a shortage of questions so here’s another another fast-paced Q&A. Here are the questions that we field in this episode:

  • How do you prepare to write?
  • How do you write stories that are important without being heavy-handed?
  • Magical realism vs. Fantasy — what’s the difference?
  • Do you have recommendations or techniques for serving as a beta reader? (Here’s the promised liner-note bit from Mary.)
  • Is it possible to do a serial with short stories and novellas all in the same setting?
  • Why do publishers say they want crossed-genre books, but they’re not publishing crossed-genre books?
  • Picture books and books for beginning readers: can you ‘cast on this for us? (Answer: not until we’ve got an expert guest in that field. If you want that info, go to SCBWI.org)
  • Can you do a ‘cast on reading aloud? (Answer: yes. This is not that ‘cast.)
  • What is the primary thing you’ve learned from reading Literary Fiction that has informed your Genre Fiction writing?
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“Kittenpunk.”

Writing Excuses 8.16: Brainstorming with Brandon Again

We’re going to try brainstorming with Brandon again, because that last story didn’t grab him. There’s a lesson there, but let’s move on…

Our story seed is “psychic birds.” Brandon asks us to start with plotting, but we have to do a little world-building first, locking down some of the bird abilities, and their scope. Then we wrestle with conflict, and the need for a good ending.

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Come up with an animal that both swims and flies. But not a duck.

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin, narrated by Rob Inglis

Writing Excuses 8.15: Narrative Rhythm

We begin with an audio glitch and a jumbling of our usual intro. Why? Because it breaks rhythm, and sometimes you may actually want to do that.

Narrative rhythm is the pattern of story elements and associated structures that help drive the reader’s pace through a book. Consciously managed, narrative rhythm is a a critical pacing tool, but can also be used to point up important information, increase the impact of certain scenes, and even encourage the reader to take a breather.

We talk about examples from film (it’s not the same thing, but it’s easy to make the point this way), as well as examples from our own work. Scenes and sequels, chapter breaks, cliffhangers, and more all come in to play here.  And of course you, fair listener, want to know how to manage narrative rhythm, and we cover some tips and tricks for that, too. 

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Re-write a classic fairy-tale, first with nothing but rising action, and then with the addition of some falling action.

Writing Excuses 8.14: Brainstorming with Brandon

As if he needs the help, Brandon challenges Mary, Howard, and Dan to help him brainstorm an A.I. short story. Brandon hands them some setup, and off they go. The ground may have been well-tread in the past, but this particular brainstorming session is full of great ideas that incorporate religion, cargo cults, puzzles, and aliens…

The big challenge here is finding a tale that’s interesting enough and original enough to be worth the telling…

Mary’s Hugo-nominated Novella: “Kiss Me Twice” which appeared in Asimov’s.

Play

Come up with a better resolution for this story than we did.

Dragonsinger: Harper Hall Trilogy Volume 2, by Anne McCaffrey, narrated by Sally Darling