Tag Archives: Characters

11.25: Elemental Mystery is Everywhere

Per our Elemental Genre theme, this week we further explore elemental mystery. Elemental mystery can be found in any work in which our curiosity is what keeps us turning pages. The type of satisfaction we feel at the reveal may also reveal the elemental genre in which the element of mystery has been embedded.

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

 

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Writing Prompt: Put a mystery into whatever it is you're working on. Look at what your character knows they need, and then remove that knowledge. Force the character to figure out WHAT they need.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Thud, by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs

11.24: Stakes!

We talk a lot about “raising the stakes” in our writing. When we say “stakes,” we’re referring to the things that keep our characters involved in the conflict, rather than just walking away and doing something else. We dig into what this really means, and how everyone in the story must be driven by things that they have at stake.

Liner Notes: in this episode we refer to the three character-development “sliders” model set forth in WX 9.13.

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

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Writing Prompt: An object, a character, and a genre. Look to your left and that's your object. Check your bookshelf, and the first book that catches your eye is your genre. The character? Your best friend.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert O'Brian, narrated by Barbara Caruso

Writing Excuses 10.41: Your Character’s Moral Pendulum

Brad Beaulieu and Jaym Gates join us from the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium to talk about good versus evil, and how your character might swing between the two. And it’s all about that swing. Moral grey areas are more interesting if we move through them. We talk about how we swing the pendulum, what difficulties we encounter, and what sorts of things we want to have happen to our reader when it moves.

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Writing Prompt: Try it at home! Gradually move the moral pendulum for one of your "goodest" characters, and do so without knowing where that will lead. Discovery-write your way down the slippery slope...

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Merchant Adventurer, written and narrated by Patrick E. McLean

Writing Excuses 10.29: Why Should My Characters Fail Spectacularly?

We’re past the middle of the Season 10 Master Class, but we’re still in the middle of our month on middles. Perhaps some spectacular failures will help us all enjoy the middle a bit more as we write our way past it.

(Filed under: “I see what you did there.”)

(Filed also under: “spectacular failure.”)

Character failure is a big part of making the middle of a story work. We talk about why, and we provide some tips about how to make this work well for you.

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Writing Prompt: "Yes, but/no, and..." Think of the smartest thing your character can do. Now have them fail with either "yes, but" (they technically succeed, but something else has gone wrong) or "no, and" (they fail, and the failure deepens the mess.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Edge of the World: Terra Incognita, Book 1, by Kevin J. Anderson, narrated by Scott Brick

Writing Excuses 10.19: Intrigue

What’s the difference between intrigue, suspense, and mystery? We answer this (it comes down to reader knowledge vs character knowledge), and then talk about what makes intrigue useful as a tool for any story, and how to use it without falling back on idiot character plots, or simply withholding information from the reader.

Intrigue is also its own genre, with spy stories and political intrigue stories fitting into this space. We talk a bit about how those stories work, and how they’re built.

Upcoming Homework: We’ll be doing a Project-In-Depth on Mary’s new book, Of Noble Family, in two weeks (episode 10.21, airing on May 24th.) To get the most out of that episode without having anything spoiled, pick up a copy now and start reading!

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Writing Prompt: Write dialog in which each of the speakers has a different subtext and motive. Without explicitly stating those, try and make them clear to the reader.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: A Spy in the House: The Agency 1, by Y.S. Lee, narrated by Justine Eyre

Writing Excuses 10.16: What Do I Do With All This Blank Space?

The first page is often the very hardest one to write. In this episode we talk about how to fill the space on the first few pages of your story, because those are the pages where you have to convince the reader to keep going, and the very first page is often the only chance you have to get the reader’s attention at all.

The good news is that the first words the reader reads are not going to be the first words that you write. You can find the story’s voice before you pour that voice into the those first pages.

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Writing Prompt: Write your first thirteen lines, and see how much you can fit into that space—character attitude, point-of-view, mood, genre, conflict, setting, and more.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Golem and the Jinni, by Helen Wecker, narrated by George Guidall.