Episodes
Today, we’re focusing on C.L. Clark’s  “The Cook,” as we explore external and internal expression. We chose this story because it's a remarkably physical and touchable story with myriad sensory details. While the audience gets very little information about what Clark’s characters are thinking, you can still understand their internal landscapes by what they seee and notice. How do these external indicators help us understand the internal worlds of the characters?  We mention two infographics...
Published 07/14/24
Published 07/14/24
Today we introduce our next close reading series—we’re focusing on character through the lens of three of C.L. Clark’s short stories:  “You Perfect, Broken Thing,” “The Cook,” and “Your Eyes, My Beacon: Being an Account of Several Misadventures and How I Found My Way Home”. They are all hyperlinked above and available online for free through Uncanny Magazine.  We are so excited to shift our focus to short stories! We love the compressed form, and C.L. Clark’s stories exemplify the freedom...
Published 07/07/24
Today we are joined by the incredible falconer Krista Hong Edwards. Krista was kind enough to take our hosts out with her falcons, and we had the most amazing time! Krista sat down with us to talk about falcons, literature, and much more. Check out our liner notes (below) for all of the texts we reference!  Thing of the Week: Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey: A Novel Book by Kathleen Rooney Homework: Look up your local falconry club and see if you can attend their next event! Liner...
Published 06/30/24
Learning is great, but how do you translate it into doing without getting overwhelmed? What is the difference between learning in the classroom and executing when you're on your own? Marshall, our incredible recording engineer, just finished an MFA program. Congrats, Marshall!! On today’s episode, we gril Marshall in order to understand his takeaways from the program. Specifically, we are interested in how he takes everything he learned in the classroom and turns it into actionable things...
Published 06/23/24
We've spent the last month talking about "A Memory Called Empire, and now, we are so excited to welcome the author, Arkady Martine, to the show! On today's episode, we talk with Arkady about the origins of her novel, and dive into how she navigated the dense and intricate world-building. Arkady gives us advice on what not to do, where to look for your first ideas, and what her writing process looks like.  Thing of the Week:  “The Shamshine Blind” By Paz Pardo Homework: Using the character...
Published 06/16/24
Today, the gang talks about their final thoughts on Martine’s “A Memory Called Empire.” We conclude with some lessons we’ve learned through analyzing her work, and we share our favorite bits!  Thing of the Week: Pasión de las Pasiones Homework: Find a piece of world building that you love and come up with another way to use it in your work in progress.  Close Reading Series: Texts & Timeline Next up is Character! Starting July 7, we’ll be diving into three short stories by C.L. Clark....
Published 06/09/24
The imago technology lies at the heart of this novel thematically and narratively. How does this technology create a world, delineate Mahit's culture from Teixcalaan, and ask enormous questions about identity and empire? Thing of the Week: “Rotten” (Documentary Series available on Netflix) Homework: Come up with three technological or magical approaches that would raise questions about what it means to be you, to be an individual. Take one of these, and then write a scene wherein two...
Published 06/02/24
What cultural and worldbuilding information is embedded within the smallest of word choices? Today, we dive into three specific sections from throughout Martine’s “A Memory Called Empire”:  the word for empire, assimilation and naming, and learning the word for bomb. We unpack how Martine uses language to establish important principles of how the world works.  Thing of the Week:  The Gilded Age - Created and Written by Julian Fellowes  Julian Fellows (on HBO Max)  Homework: Write a scene...
Published 05/26/24
How do you use language and scale to focus your writing? Today, we think about scale and movement across vast spaces. What do characters’ movements tell us about empires and also—force? We talk about Martine’s incredible work establishing an empire across time, not (just) space. We read aloud some of Martine’s writing, and try to understand exactly how they work, and what they’re doing to build the novel’s world.  A refresher on why Worldbuilding is essential and some working definitions of...
Published 05/19/24
Why is worldbuilding is essential in your writing? Today, we answer this question and dive into some working definitions of how we want to talk about it. After the break, we discuss why we chose this book Arkady Martine’s “A Memory Called Empire” and highlight what it does well. We dive into the elements that help make Martine’s worldbuilding so accessible and effective.  Thing of the Week:  “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman (think about what it teaches you about POV!) Homework:  Pick your...
Published 05/12/24
Sometimes we know the action and themes of your story, but you don’t know how to build an economy that supports those. Well today, we explain just how to do that! What are some questions you can ask yourself about the worth of certain goods and services in the world you’re building? What would a post-scarcity world look like and ask of your characters and how would it shape their wants? We loved recording this episode, it brought up so many interesting questions for us, and we hope it does...
Published 05/05/24
How do you find the right size for your story? And speaking of size, what do novellas do differently than both short stories and novels? What even is the difference between a novel and a novella? How many characters do they usually have? How many subplots? How do you know if your story should take the form of a novella or a novel? We dive into all these questions (and…you guessed it… more!) in our conversation.  A note on the structure of Season 19: in between our close reading series (six...
Published 04/28/24
Today we get to talk to the inimitable Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar. Amal and Max are on the podcast to tell us about how they wrote a book together (hint: they didn’t write it together in the form of one voice.) They talk to us about the practice of writing letters, collaboration, and the revelation of friendship. They talk about the complexity, harmony, and cadence of two-author projects. We also talk about that voice in your head that criticizes your writing, and how to work with it...
Published 04/21/24
As we conclude our first deep dive of our close reading series, we want to explore how the evolution of voice helped carry readers throughout "This Is How You Lose The Time War." We also talk about the relationship between character arcs and language, learning and voice. Stay tuned for next week’s episode, where we interview Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar on what it was like to write “Time War” together!  Thing of the Week:  Princess Weekes Homework: Write a short outline of your work...
Published 04/14/24
What's epistolary writing? Well, it's writing through letters. But it's also a lot more than that. As we continue to dive into the concept of Voice, we want to explore the importance and power of the letters that Blue and Red write to each other throughout "This Is How You Lose The Time War." If you haven't already listened to our episodes introducing this novella, we recommend you go back and start with Episode 11 (of this season, Season 19)! And if you’ve been reading along with us while...
Published 04/07/24
On our third episode diving into Voice through the novella “This Is How You Lose The Time War,” we begin to explore the different voices that make up the two main characters in the story. Last episode we dove into Red’s voice– if you haven’t already, we recommend you listen to that first!  Today, we are doing a close read of Blue at the tea shop and how voice establishes character, growth, and vulnerability. How do the authors make Blue’s voice distinct from Red’s? Is it in the tone, the...
Published 03/31/24
Today, we are doing a very close read of Red's opening narration and how Red’s voice communicates both character and world in an effective and efficient way. We read several sections aloud and dive into what each sensory detail is doing. Also Mary Robinette talks about what she thinks is the most effective way to draw your readers attention to something.  Thing of the Week: Planet Crafter  Homework: Take a sentence from your work in progress and rewrite it to adjust the age of the character...
Published 03/24/24
The book that became a New York Times Bestseller because of a tweet. Well, it won LOTS of awards when it came out, but it was rediscovered by a Twitter account with a large following. So-- let's get into it! On our first episode diving into Voice using the short novel "This Is How You Lose The Time War", we talk about why Voice is essential and some working definitions of how we want to talk about it. We also explain why we chose this book and highlight some of the things it's done well, and...
Published 03/17/24
You’ve probably seen us posting about our Close Reading Series, and in his episode, we finally officially introduce it!  For most of the remainder of 2024, we’ll be diving into five core elements of writing by focusing on five different literary texts. We’ll spend five episodes on each one, and then we’re going to… drumroll please… interview the author(s)! As you know, we’ve spent lots of time reading, writing, talking, and recording our thoughts about different elements of the craft. But...
Published 03/10/24
Hosts Erin and DongWon are joined by Fonda Lee and Mahtab Narsimhan for a special episode about creating traditions in your fictional writing. In this episode, we'll explore some of the following:  -How do you build traditions and rituals in your fictional world (choosing what becomes a tradition or ritual and what doesn’t)?  -How can you use rituals or traditions to advance a novel’s plot, give characters more depth, and create conflict?  -What are the pitfalls to avoid (depiction of...
Published 03/03/24
An agent, an editor, and a writer walk into a Zoom room and record a podcast... but really... that's (part of) what this episode is! First off, a reminder that your agent, your editor, and you are all on the same team! They are all trying to make the same book (your book!) a better book. Whether you've published before or are just starting your first short story, we are so excited for you to dive into this episode. For our final episode in our three-part series on revising your NaNoWriMo...
Published 02/25/24
For our second episode in this three-part series on revising your NaNoWriMo novel—or any other larger project you have—we are diving into intentions with Tor editor Ali Fisher. We asked her how she helps writers figure out what their books are about, and how she helps set intentions for revisions. Ali talks with us about how its important to be kind to yourself -- and your writing-- during the revision process. She also gives us advice for how you, as a writer, can lean into what you do...
Published 02/18/24
Ali Fisher, editor at Tor Books and member of the podcast Rude Tales of Magic, joins us for a three-part series on editing. First up: length! How do you edit your work—whether it's a book or a short story or a novella? Maybe you wrote a draft during NaNoWriMo, maybe you didn't-- either way, we want to help you figure out how to make your writing the perfect length. Homework: Find two scenes next to each other from your writing. Remove the scene break and write bridging text between the two...
Published 02/11/24
Some writers love revisions and some would rather scrub the toilet than revise their writing. On this episode, we are joined by author Mahtab Narsimhan, who many will recognize as a host from past seasons! Mahtab talks with our hosts about how she thinks about revisions. How do you revise your writing? What is the difference between revising and rewriting? Mahtab describes her favorite techniques and provides tips to make it more manageable.  Homework Assignment from Mahtab Narsimhan: Take...
Published 02/04/24