December 26th, 2016

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  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, with Claudia Gray

Writing Excuses 11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, with Claudia Gray

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/12/24/11-52-elemental-ensemble-qa-with-claudia-gray/

Q&A Summary:
Q: Can you fit an ensemble into a short story?
A: Every character adds 500 to 1000 words. Make it concise. Use character types more than individuals. Squeeze!
Q: Is there a minimum length? Is there a perfect number?
A: Seven. Three is possible, with specific roles.
Q: How do you include a traitor in an ensemble story without knocking your reader out of it?
A: Set it up carefully. Telegraph that this story has intrigue in it. Make it part of the dynamic, that this person can't be trusted.
Q: How do I give my ensemble characters equal emotional weight if I only stay in the viewpoint of one of those characters?
A: Secret of life: you are living a first person narrative. Make the POV character aware of people around them. Don't fret too much about equal emotional weight, make sure they are represented well and get equal plot weight.
Q: How do you introduce an ensemble cast early without it coming across like an info/character dump?
A: Assembly of the team scenes and disguises (put a moustache on that infodump!)
Q: If an ensemble is about falling in love with a group of friends, how can killing a character serve an ensemble, except for the obvious example of a horror genre?
A: Funerals change dynamics, often makeing them deeper and more important. Also, someone has to fill that hole. Who will step up to it?
Q: How do you give every character a role in the climax without the scenario feeling tailored to the cast?
A: Start with a list, and match things up. Get creative when it doesn't match. Start with the ending, then tailor the cast to fit. Don't forget one archetype is here's the plan, and how it goes all wrong. Break people out of their specialties, let them adapt!
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[Mary] But the thing I'm going to talk to you about is next year's cruise and workshop.
[Whoo! Applause]
[Mary] So we have been, for the past two years, spending our time in the Caribbean, which has been lovely. Next year, we will be cruising to Europe.
[Whoo!]
[Mary] Which apparently the people here are kind of excited about. We have decided to time this with WorldCon. So for those of you who are hard-core science fiction and fantasy fans and professionals, this will be the week before WorldCon, and we will be cruising so that you can explore Europe and the Balkans and then go to Helsinki for WorldCon. We'll have a couple of add-ons if you want to have someone else arrange all of your travel. We have people who will do that. It's kind of magic. So that is the plan. The details, which I'm not going to go into right now because we're still nailing down some of the special things that we have. The details are all going to be on the website. Registration will open January 1st. I can tell you that we have three guests already lined up. That is Wesley Chu, Kim Liu, and Aliette de Bodard. We're also going to have agents, editors, and some more writers, as well. And of course, our fabulous, fabulous participants.
[WHOO!]
[Brandon] Well, this has been the elemental genres and the Writing Excuses cruise. You are all out of excuses. Now go write.