11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips

Trina Marie Phillips joined us at Phoenix Comic Con to talk about her work as a futurist. Futurism, for those unfamiliar with our use of the term here, is related to science fiction, but it remains rooted in existing technology and trends, then seeks to be predictive in useful ways.

Liner Notes: Trina mentioned some online resources (and a four-year educational program!) for those interested in working as futurists:

Catch-phrase of the episode: “all we need is a billionaire with a secure facility and a steady supply of monkeys.”

Credits: This episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Pick a city and write what you think it will look like in the year 2045.

The City of the Future, edited by Trina Marie Phillips

11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A

We fielded the following questions about the “Thriller” elemental genre from listeners on Facebook and Twitter:

  • How do I build tension consistently through my story?
  • How do you maintain tension during dialog?
  • When do you not use a cliffhanger?
  • Do you ever picture your scenes as if they were in a movie?
  • How much elemental thriller is too much for a book that isn’t a thriller? What’s the tipping point where you’ve switched genres?
  • What do you do when the tension in your story peaks too early?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Sit down with your manuscript or outline, and in the margins, add notes about the emotions you’re trying to evoke with each scene, and where in the scene it’s supposed to happen. This list of notes is your “beat chart,” and it’s going to teach you neat things about your story.

Javelin Rain, by Myke Cole, narrated by Korey Jackson

11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre

Thrillers are, by their very nature, page-turners. In this episode we look at the thriller element as part of a story whose principal driver is one of the other elemental genres. We consider some examples of blended-with-thrill stories, and then drill down a bit and look at how we can incorporate this in our own work.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Practice your cliffhangers! Experiment with the placement of chapter breaks, new questions, and big reveals, and work on each of these methods as a way to satisfactorily encourage that page turn.

Planetfall by Emma Newman, narrated by Emma Newman

11.28: Impostor Syndrome, with Alyssa Wong

Alyssa Wong, Campbell Award nominee and Nebula Award winner, joins us to talk about impostor syndrome. This is the frame of mind that many successful writers suffer from, in which they worry that they’re not really good enough at writing to be enjoying their success. Worse, this mindset can prevent us from continuing to create.

Many of us suffer from this, and we have some strategies to cope with it.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Grow sideways! Write something that you’ve never tried to write, genre-wise.

“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay,” by Alyssa Wong, which is available to read here.

11.27: The Elemental Thriller

Let’s get this out of the way up front: in the syntax of elemental genres, the phrase “the element of thriller” is clunky. But we’ll say it anyway.

We discuss the difference between the drivers in thrillers, horror stories, and mysteries, and use the elemental genre tools to assist in the differentiation. We also cover the tools we use to develop and maintain the tension that is so critical in a thriller.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Ramp up the tension! Take the “yes, but; no, and” approach on one of your try-fail cycles. Prune the “sequel” down to nothing between a pair of “scenes,” and force your characters to move directly from a problematic success (“yes, but”) or a disastrous failure (“no, and”) into the next crisis.

Patriot Games, by Tom Clancy, narrated by Scott Brick