Saturday, February 1, 2014

Episode 41 - Can't See No Forest For All These Trees

We all have our little pet scenes and characters. You know, that one line you'll watch again and again or that minor villain you write long fan fictions about because he's just SO COOL. Then there's costumes design of the palace guards (which is just so tacky) and the euphoric emotionality of their sordid romance and that shadows--see, it really is a munchkin hanging himself! And wait, what? You mean Orlando Bloom isn't the star of The Hobbit?

Let's just say we sometimes get caught up in the spectacle, in the moment, in the inessential details and bunny trails, and miss what the story is really all about--and that's what this episode is all about.

Then in the second half, Nick and Tim perform a live dramatic reading of a section of The Unremarkable Squire, Nick's latest fantasy novel.

Serious discussion, obligatory LOST references, long analyses of Frozen, and ridiculous accents--that's what you can expect from Episode 41 of your premiere podcast about storytelling! Listen in!


Show Notes

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  1. Hey, I'm responding in a reasonable amount of time!

    What I liked about how Disney treated Elsa in Frozen is that this is a person who has the potential to become a Disney villain. If this was an older Disney movie, Elsa probably would’ve become a villain if it wasn’t for the intervention of Anna. I think Frozen spent a little too much time trying to usurp the expectations of the traditional princess movie, but the Anna/Elsa relationship worked much better than Prince Hans’ storyline. I do agree with your thoughts on the “Let it Go” song, though. Good points all around.
    On the subject of friends lying to each other as a tired trope, it’s part of the reason I find the show Supernatural frustrating. The brothers lie to each other all the time, even though it’s always caused problems for them in the past. It happened again in their latest (and eighth) season, and I audibly groaned to my wife when the lies started again. If Sam and Dean spent the first few episodes each season sharing what they know, it would solve all of their problems.
    Fun reading of the Unremarkable Squire. I’m really looking forward to reading it (once I finish reading Children of the Wells related material). It seems like a fun universe.

  2. The Prince Hans plot worked for me, perhaps because it caught me completely off guard. Still, I can see why some would call foul on it.

    Glad you enjoyed this episode's Bit of Story! We had fun reading it, as you could probably tell.:-)

  3. Really enjoyed the episode. Recently became aware of the podcast due to my friend Greg Meyer. As for losing the narrative due to various issues, do you guys think this could sometimes be due to lack of preparation or foresight?

    One author that comes to mind is Stephen King. Early in his career he wrote many books assuming he would only write one and that it would not become a series. Thus, most likely he didn't have one overarching plot or narrative already devised for that series in the sense of a long term scheme. Aside from obvious needed retcons for writing said sequels, don't you think this could also damage the overall narrative impact of a series of books? Do you think this is something authors and budding writers should prepare for?

    But, I would think on the flip side of this, assuming your going to be able to write a "series" could also be detrimental if you write the first book and leave tons of loose ends and then are never ever to write anything else in that series due to some unforeseen issue. This could be akin to a tv series being canceled before the writers could finish it, ala my beloved Jericho (though there are graphic novels continuing the story, excellent stuff).

    This ended up going on way longer than I intended. Loved the Linkara mention/reference as well. I look forward to your next episode, keep up the good work.

  4. Oh! There's a new commenter! Welcome and thanks for the kind words!

    Nick might be the better one to answer these questions since he tends to have vague outlines when he writes, but I can certainly see where lack of foresight can cause big problems later. I think the TV show Heroes is unfortunately a case where the creators had great ideas for a season of introducing characters, but had little clue what should happen next.

    On the other hand, even within a series I think it helps to leave room for spontaneity. In Children of the Wells, the webfiction project that Nick and I are involved with, we didn't have andy long-term story arcs planned out when we started, aside from some key world-building elements which are still to be revealed. We established our world, our magic system, and some introductory characters, then let the writers loose to do what they would with it. I think that's the trick: as long as you have a solid understanding of your world and what kind of story you want to tell, let the story go where it wants to. Then when revising, take another look (enlist an outside perspective to help) and make sure it stays true to a consistent vision.

  5. As Tim said, I tend to write with only a vague outline. I think as long as your view of the world/focus of the story remains foremost in your mind, you can let the plot evolve. But, then again, I'm used to doing it for a novel and, in one case, in a series. But I can change the focus from book to book, subtly, in a series, as long as I let facts stand. TV, on the other hand, is so fast (especially on network TV) and incorporates so many writers that I think it's harder to be focused. I remember that Flashforward apparently had a pretty solid outline of its seasons (because it followed post-LOST ending), but Lindelof (who ran LOST) said having an detailed outline is not as important as making each episode as good as possible (and changing the story to fit). At least in the case of FlashForward, I think that was good advice.
    That tension about making each chapter/episode/book in a series the best it can be and making it part of a larger arc is a hard thing to play right, I think, especially in media that don't allow for a long revision time.