Tag Archives: Fantasy

11.06: The Element of Wonder

We’ve introduced the concept of Elemental Genre already. It’s time to start digging in to the elements themselves, beginning with the Element of Wonder. We started with this one because “sense of wonder” is a term that gets used to describe what makes some science fiction stories work.

In this episode we expand upon the word “wonder” a bit, making the shorthand of “elemental wonder” more useful, not to mention more descriptive. We then go on to detail some methods writers might use to evoke wonder, leveraging that element for the greatest effect in their work.

Play

Homework! Apply a sense of wonder to something small and ordinary. Describe it using those cool point-of-view tools that evoke wonder in the reader.

The Wright Brothers, written and narrated by David McCullough

Writing Excuses 10.15: Worldbuilding Wilderness with Wes Chu

Wes Chu, author and adventurer, recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and has some things to say about all the wilderness trekking that our characters do in the books we write, and how we often forget to say anything about sleeping on inclines, altitude sickness, or packing toilet paper.

The salient point: we need to remember that our characters are experiencing these wilderness treks, and they have interesting opinions about them.

Play

Wes has a tough writing exercise for us: take something that you’ve already written, swap the personalities of your protagonist and antagonist, and re-write a scene from the story.

The Rebirths of Tao, by Wesley Chu, isn’t available yet on Audible, but the first book in the trilogy, The Lives of Tao is.

Writing Excuses 9.18: Microcasting

Microcasting! A Q&A by any other name. Here are the questions we fielded:

  • Can I have a rule-based magic system and a mystical system in the same universe?
  • What are your pre-writing methods? (Can of worms — it’s going to get its own episode)
  • What’s the first thing you do once the first draft is done?
  • When approaching real-world issues, how do you avoid being preachy?
  • What’s the best advice you can offer to someone who’s just starting to write?
  • Does it help you to experiment with weird narrative styles?
  • What are your least favorite tropes?
  • Should you fully edit your first few “practice” books?
  • How do you know if you’re writing too quickly?
  • How do you tell the difference between a weakness in your craft, and a story that requires stylistic rule-breaking?

 

In other news, Writing Excuses Season 8 has been nominated for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Related Work. We’re thrilled to appear on the ballot, and are excited to be in such good company there.

Play

Paranormal fantasy: We’ve had enough of vampire and werewolf romances. Give us a protagonist who falls in love with a shoggoth.

The Martian, by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray

Writing Excuses 8.2: Hero’s Journey

Beowulf didn’t kill Grendel on a day trip, Luke didn’t overthrow Emperor Palpatine in just one season, and here at Writing Excuses, we didn’t get around to properly discussing the Hero’s Journey until we were well into the second decade of this century.

Sorry about that.

The Campbellian Monomyth, as defined in Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, is a system of comparative mythology that, for better or for worse, gets used a lot by writers. We talk about some of our favorite examples, and immediately begin arguing over terms. Hopefully this is delightful to you, and educational for everyone. Especially since the monomyth is not a checklist, and it should not be taken that way.

Play

Take Goldilocks and the Three Bears, apply the Campbellian Monomyth, and give us a short story.

At the time we recorded this, Hero With a Thousand Faces was available on Audible. It’s not anymore. So… go find something else educational?

Writing Excuses 7.54: Four Ways the Industry is Changing

And now, for the very last episode of Season 7, we shall chance taking a look forward. Is this prognostication, or reckless abandon? Neither! We get asked a lot about how the industry is changing, and how we’re adjusting to what we see happening. This isn’t us predicting the future: this is us interpreting what we’re seeing, and then describing how we plan to react.

  • Mary suggests that we’re seeing a swing from Fantasy to Science Fiction as the dominant speculative genre, and but she doesn’t plan to start writing nothing but sci-fi as a result.
  • Dan calls out a trend towards supplemental materials — shorts that tie in to flagship novels. He’s already taking part in this, and plans to keep doing it.
  • Howard hits the hot-button of “e-publishing,” and calls it “shortening the value chain.” He’s been making a living with it since it was basically brand-new, but he plans to continue to exploit the disruptions it creates — sometimes by lengthening the value chain.
  • Brandon sees increasing pressures for authors to promote themselves, (largely the result of exceptional cases of authors with good platforms), but suggests that the time can still be better spent writing more books.

And that’s it for us until 2013! We’ll be back next year with Season 8, and you’ll only have to wait a week for it to start airing.

Play

Figure out what you would like the future of writing to look like. Now write a story about how we get there.

The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay, narrated by Holter Graham

Writing Excuses 7.43: Tie-in Fantasy Fiction with James L Sutter

James L Sutter  joins us before a live audience at GenCon Indy for a discussion of tie-in fiction. James is a writer and editor, and is one of the co-creators of the Pathfinder system. He is the author of Pathfinder Tales: Death’s Heretic and is the editor in charge of all of Paizo’s Pathfinder fiction.

James leads by telling us that if you want to write for Pathfinder, the first thing you need to do is write something for somebody else. As the editor of that division at Paizo, he’s the gatekeeper, and that’s the first hurdle you need to clear. He also talks to us about what he’s looking for in an author.

We talk at length about the Pathfinder line, its genesis, and James’s mission with Paizo regarding the tie-in fiction. He tells us about the things that turn him off in a submitted manuscript, and what sorts of work he does with his writers to help make the tie-in fiction actually, you know, tie in.

Play

Write a story in which all the characters are simultaneously the good guy AND the bad guy.

Railsea, by China Mieville, narrated by Jonathan Crowley