12.1: Variations on First Person

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

We’re beginning a new season, and during 2017 we will be focusing our topics on structure. We are also going to shake things by expanding our cast a bit. You’ll be hearing some new voices soon! They belong to:

  • Wesley Chu
  • Piper J. Drake
  • Mary Anne Mohanraj

We’ll post more on that in a few days, but we’ve already begun updating our “About” page.


This week your hosts are Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. We spend a few minutes on the administrative stuff  above before jumping into January’s structural topic, the first person voice, with a discussion of the variations in how that POV is presented. We cover some of the different first person POV styles, what sorts of stories they’re often best-suited for, and how we go about writing them well.

Spoiler Alert: Episode 12.3 will feature Sandra Tayler, and is a Project In Depth on her story, “Risk Assessment,” which was illustrated by Natalie Barahona and Howard Tayler. It appears in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12, available direct from Hypernode Media, or through Amazon.

 

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Take something you’ve written, and put it in the three different forms of 1st person — reflective, epistolary, and immediate.

The Star-Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi, narrated by Priya Ayyar

11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray joined us aboard Oasis of the Seas to answer our attendees questions about the Elemental Ensemble. Here are the questions:

  • Can you fit an ensemble into a short story?
  • What the minimum size for an ensemble? Is there a perfect length?
  • Can you put a traitor into an ensemble story?
  • How do I give my ensemble characters equal emotional weight if I only tell the story from a single POV?
  • How do you introduce your ensemble without infodumping?
  • If an ensemble is about falling in love with a group of friends, how does killing a character work?
  • How do you give every character a role in the climax without making it seem like the plot was cut to fit the team?

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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A Million Worlds With You, by Claudia Gray, narrated by Tavia Gilbert

11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas joins us to continue our discussion of the Elemental Ensemble, which is one of our favorite elemental tools. It’s not just for heists. It adds interest, emotion, and lots of plot possibilities to everything from sense of wonder to the hard-hitting issue.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Look at some of the elemental genres we’ve already discussed. Brainstorm some story ideas, looking at  what happens to them when you mix those genres up with the ensemble element.

Heroine Complex, by Sarah Kuhn

11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood

Michael R. Underwood has talked to us about hand-selling books before, but that was about pitching to agents and editors. This time around he’s talking about placing your product in the hand of your customer, the reader.

With Michael’s help, we cover some specific sales techniques, guidelines for convention displays, and strategies for bookstore appearances, with an eye toward helping you make that sort of activity effective.

 

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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This is a character creation exercise:

Take a fun, sci-fictional technological idea, and ask yourself who stands the most to gain, and the most to lose if it comes to pass. Imagine an individual in that group, and ask yourself what that person is going to do, and why.

11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas

Michael Damien Thomas, co-publisher and co-editor-in-chief of Uncanny Magazine, joined us for a discussion of the elemental genre that contains most of the stories we refer to as “heists.” It’s all about a well-rounded cast in which the group relationship is what’s pulling us forward.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Look at professions with a front-person, and with behind-the-scenes staff. Create a story that focuses on the behind-the-scenes folks.

Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damien Thomas

11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch

Elizabeth Bear  and Scott Lynch joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy to talk about fantasy food, and how we engage our readers’ appetites with our fiction. We talk economics, logistics, sensory engagement, and we goof off quite a bit in the process. We might have been hungry at the time. There is good fun to be had here, and plenty of (pun intended) food for thought.

Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by the generous support of the GenCon Indy Writer’s Symposium, and the Writing Excuses patrons at Patreon.

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Go out and cook something!

(Also, take a character of your own, who is beloved by you, and turn them into the antagonist in someone else’s story.)

Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear, narrated by Jennifer Grace