Tags: ensemble

ISeeYou2
  • 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.
BrainUnderRepair
  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.51: Ensemble As a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas

Writing Excuses 11.51: Ensemble As a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/12/18/11-51-ensemble-as-a-sub-genre-with-lynne-m-thomas/

Key points: Heists are often thriller or mystery plus ensemble. Sports dramas often are ensembles. Adding ensemble as subgenre can change the solutions, often adding other approaches. Ensembles often are big. Sometimes ensembles give the main characters a rest, as we follow the rest of the ensemble. Ensembles can provide the strange to mix with familiar main characters. Ensembles also can provide a framework for many small stories of another subgenre, or as the background for a series. Horror stories may use an ensemble is a cast of characters to kill. Ensembles can help avoid polemic and Mary Sue's. When introducing the members of your ensemble, work hard at compressed, good storytelling. Don't bury the reader in back story. Ensembles work best without superpowered main characters. "Bad decision theater is how great ensembles happen." Give the ensemble an arc.Collapse )

[Brandon] Excellent. Well, Mary, you are going to give us some homework.
[Mary] Right. Since we are talking about ensemble as a subgenre, what I want you to do is look at some of the elemental genres that we have already discussed. See what happens to them if you introduce ensemble into it. Like, if you introduce ensemble into an issue, if you introduce it into a mystery, or into a thriller? What does it do to that story if you introduce the ensemble?
[Brandon] Excellent. We'd like to thank our special guest, Lynne M. Thomas.
[Lynne] Thank you. Lovely to be here.
[Brandon] We would like to thank our Writing Excuses cruise members.
[Whoo! Applause]
[Brandon] And I'd just like to take a moment to say we have really enjoyed doing the elemental genres with you. We only have a couple more weeks left of the year. We will be doing a Q&A on ensemble, but that will be the end of the elemental genres for now. I will encourage you to get excited and get ready because we will he introducing the new season to you and a couple of weeks.
[Howard] 2017's going to be pretty cool.
[Brandon] Look forward to that. And you are out of excuses. Now go write.
BrainUnderRepair
  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.41: The Editor's Wishlist, with Navah Wolfe

Writing Excuses 11.41: The Editor's Wishlist, with Navah Wolfe

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/10/09/11-41-the-editors-wish-list-with-navah-wolfe/

Key points: On Navah's wishlist, we find character first. A good character, with a distinct, unique voice. Are the characters interesting? The characters must feel real. A trick: if your main character was a side character in someone else's story, would they still be interesting? What's the best pitch? This-meets-that, IF that captures the heart, the emotion, and not just the set dressing. Lady bromance, or friendships. Ensemble stories. Dislikable characters that you fall in love with. Aka lady bro heist with Jaime Lanister. Unreliable narrators with a good payoff. Closed room spaceship mysteries. Heists. Epic fantasy with a lady protagonist. Remember, editors and agents are people -- talk with them first. Then mention your lady bro heist from a closed room spaceship with an unreliable narrator.

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[Brandon] All right. To bring us out, Mary's going to give us some homework.
[Mary] All right. So, Navah talked about the this-meets-that and looking for the emotional heart of those things. So I want you to write two different pitches for your work in progress. Whether that's short story or novel. One of which is basic this-meets-that. So think about the emotional heart of your piece and pick a film or book or some other touchstone that has that same emotional heart. Not the set dressing, but the heart. Then I want you to do a second pitch, but this time I want you to think about the set dressing. So, Orphan Black, people who have the same face, that is set dressing. The emotional heart is about sisters. So think about those two things. Look at those two pitches. Then see which one fits your story best, and whether or not, in fact, what you need is a third pitch which is a combination of those two.
[Brandon] All right. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.
Me typing?
  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.3: Layering the Elemental Genres

Writing Excuses 11.3: Layering the Elemental Genres

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/01/17/11-03-layering-the-elemental-genres/

Key points: Borrow elemental genres (ideas, emotions) from other stories and inject them into your stories as subplots, character arcs, or mashups. Layer your elemental genres to create sequels that are the same, but different. Let each character's arc be a different elemental genre. You can use design elements, set dressing, to keep the story together, and mix-and-match elemental genres underneath that to tell different stories. Check your underpinnings -- what is the feeling you like? Drill down into the elemental genre behind the design elements. Turn your wall into a trench, or darkness, or... with a great unknown hidden behind it.

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[Brandon] We're going to leave you with some homework. Mary's got the homework for us, and it relates to the homework we gave you last time.
[Mary] All right. So last time we asked you to identify the major driving emotion of the story that you are interested in working on. What I want you to do now is I want you to think of a contrasting emotion. So essentially what you're doing is you're creating a foil plot, a foil emotion for your primary emotion. Because this is going to allow you to showcase ever... Or do a contrast between the darkness of one and the happy emotions of the other. So think about not the design elements, but think about the emotional elements and think about... You don't have to worry about our proprietary vocabulary yet. I just want you to identify the emotion that you want to elicit in yourself if you were hacking your brain.
[Brandon] Now by this point, we will have all 11 of the ideas we've come up with put on our website and we will post them such... We will put them in a place that they are easy to find each week, if you want to come glance over them again. As you can tell from this episode, we're still getting used to this terminology ourselves.
[Chuckles]
[Brandon] Hopefully, across the course of the year, we'll all start really using the same terminology. This is the purpose...
[Howard] I'm going to put a stake in the ground and say that by the end of the season, we will have altered some of the terminology and changed the list, because it just makes more sense.
[Mary] Yep. You guys will probably be better versed in it that we will, because we just talked about it once.
[Brandon] All right. Well, this has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
Fireworks Delight
  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre

Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/01/03/writing-excuses-11-1-introduction-to-elemental-genre/

Key Points: Season 11 is going to be different! Elemental genres. Each month, expect the first week to be an elemental drill down, second week to be a wild card, third week to be using the elemental genre in subplots, and the fourth week will be Q&A. Elemental genres are the things that make you read, the emotional resonance that drives a story. Not bookshelf genres, but elemental genres. The 11 elemental genres planned are wonder, idea, adventure, horror, mystery, thriller, humor, relationship, drama, issue, and ensemble. This is a framework for talking about what makes readers turn the page and have emotional responses, not a hard-and-fast set of categories or rules. Elemental genres let you mix-and-match underneath the veneer of the bookshelf categories.
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[Brandon] But I am going to give you some homework today. Your homework is actually to take some of the films and books that you love, and I want you to try and drill down to... You don't have to really define the elemental genre, because we haven't defined all of these for you yet. But what I really want you to do is start looking at what the emotional impact of that story is. What the people who made the story are doing to you. How they're hacking your brain. Try to relate... Try to strip away the veneer and dig down at it for yourself. Pick three of those, books and films that you love, and see if you can do it. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.