Category Archives: Theory and Technique

12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo

Your Hosts: Dan and Howard

Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo joined Dan and Howard to discuss what it is that editors “really want.”

Question To Help You Decide Whether Or Not To Send Your Editor Bad News: “Will this news get better if I wait?”

Credits: this episode was recorded at GenCon Indy 2016, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Do something completely new. Write by hand, or outdoors. Also, listen to actual people talking, and write down what is being said.

Through Fire, by Sarah Hoyt, and Neither Here Nor There, a collection from Cat Rambo

12.37: Subplots

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

What makes a plot a subplot? Must subplots and main plots be linked by something more binding than the actual binding of the book?

In this episode we answer these questions, and ask and answer plenty more.

Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Consider the following four things – environment, characters, disruptions of status quo, and questions, and which one of these is driving your main plot. Now ask which of the remaining three can contain a disaster that drives a subplot. Write that bit.

Survivor edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and JJ Pionke (coming soon from Lethe Press)

12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Larger than a short story, smaller than a novel… there’s quite a bit of space between those two thresholds, and in this episode we discuss the ways in which we go about filling that space with a well-structured story.

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

Play

Take your idea for a novel, and structure it as a novella.

Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale

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

Play

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

12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

We’ve talked about some of the structural guidelines for short stories. In this episode we’ll discuss how to write in the short form while still putting down enough words to convey the story powerfully.

Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Select 1 character, 1 object, and 1 genre. Write a 250 word short story.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

12.32: Structuring a Short Piece

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

We begin our exploration of short story structure with a re-cap of the MACE quotient (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, Event). Then we apply that tool to how we structure the pieces we write—specifically the short ones.

Liner Notes: Here’s “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal

And here’s a handy MICE quotient chart!

MICE

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

Play

Instructions:

  1. Pick one of the MACE elements (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, or Event)
  2. Describe, in three sentences, how your story’s primary plot will use that element.
  3. Pick a second element.
  4. Describe, in three sentences, how your story’s sub-plot will use that element.
  5. Nest these sentences, creating a six-sentence outline for your story.
  6. Nest the sentences in a different order, outlining your story with the sub-plot’s element now functioning as the primary plot

The 2017 Hugo nominees for Best Short Story:

¹ Available in the Hugo Voter packet