Podcasts about kso

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Best podcasts about kso

Latest podcast episodes about kso

Omaha Sports Insider
Derek Young (9-28-22)

Omaha Sports Insider

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2022 14:18


Derek Young with KSO discussed Adrian Martinez' performance against Oklahoma, the rest of KSU's Big 12 slate, and the best potential fit for head coach Chris Kleiman if it's not in Manhattan.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

DS Vandaag
Wachtlijsten in het KSO: waarom is kunstonderwijs zo populair?

DS Vandaag

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2022 17:05


KSO of kunstsecundair onderwijs was lange tijd het kneusje van het onderwijs, maar dat lijkt te keren. De stroming is razendpopulair in Vlaanderen en Brussel. Er worden zelfs wachtlijsten opgesteld, en dat is de eerste keer. Waarom hing er zo lang een stigma rond het KSO? En wat maakt het kunstonderwijs plots zo aantrekkelijk? Credits op standaard.be/podcastSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Northern Kentucky Spotlight
Kentucky Symphony Orchestra's 31st Season Kicks Off in October

Northern Kentucky Spotlight

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 29, 2022 31:34


Do you hear music in the air? That's the sound of J.R. Cassidy, Music and Executive Director of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra on the NKY Spotlight Podcast. J.R. discusses KSO's summer series and plans for its 31st season. Nancy Grayson of Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky also joins us to discuss the 2022 Horizon Cup honoree. Thank you to our sponsors Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, CKREU Consulting, HORAN and Heartland Bank.

Boscoe’s Boys
July Grab Bag with Derek Young

Boscoe’s Boys

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2022 32:27


DY from KSO and 3MAW joins the show to take on a quick grab bag of everything that has happened over the last 5 weeks. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

Boscoe’s Boys
July Grab Bag with Derek Young

Boscoe’s Boys

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2022 32:27


DY from KSO and 3MAW joins the show to take on a quick grab bag of everything that has happened over the last 5 weeks. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

Player One Podcast
BONUS: Ep.708: Sandman and the Rhino Go Wine Tasting Aftershow (6/2/20)

Player One Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Mar 25, 2022 24:02


If you support us on Patreon you may know that we have been doing Aftershows each week for ~2 years. During this time of working from home and social distancing, we are releasing Aftershows from the past on Fridays for everyone's enjoyment. 708: Sandman and the Rhino Go Wine Tasting Aftershow Patrons! We are back once again with a quiz. This time, it's from hacker alias KSO_514 who put together a selection of quotes from our previous podcasts and made the hosts guess which other host said them. We have done so many episodes and our memories are of course extra foggy...which host will emerge victoriously? Listen and find out! Thanks for your support of our show. If you have an idea for a game we can play on the show, please email it to playeronepodcast@gmail.com!

Radio Finely Chopped by Kalyan Karmakar
My kingdom for an egg; The K&K Dig Food Podcast.

Radio Finely Chopped by Kalyan Karmakar

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 3, 2022 58:33


Pre recording. K: What should we talk of today? K: Let's talk about eggs. I had some lovely eggs for breakfast. K: So did I. You do realise that by this logic we will do a podcast on eggs every week?! K: What a lovely idea! In this episode Kurush and Kalyan speak about poached eggs and French toasts and of how Bengalis revolutionaries have 'redefined them both,' while the Parsis remained loyal to Her Majesty. Of how one must take stories told by grandmoms about the stretchability of a single egg with a pinch of salt. They talk about the Parsi 'par eedu' concept of eggs, and of how to any Bengali an egg curry where the boiled egg is not slit and and tempered in oil first is nothing worse than a CIA conspiracy. In between Kurush shares his father's mayonnaise recipe and if you wait till the end, you will hear him share his akoori recipe, but not before Kalyan talks about how deem sheddo and phyana bhaat is all about pure love. 'K&K Dig Food' is a podcast on food hosted by Dr Kurush Dalal and Kalyan Karmakar from Mumbai (and navi Mumbai). Kurush is an archeologist and food ethnographer, who is a proud son of Mumbai ,and is possibly one of the most quoted people in articles on Indian food written in recent times. He runs a series of very popular online courses on food writing and is a much sought after speaker in food events. He is married to a Bengali (not Kalyan), Rhea Mitra Dalal  and runs Katy's Kitchen with her, a Parsi catering company started by his mother the late Dr Katy Dalal. Kalyan is a sociology student and an MBA, who started his career as a qualitative market researcher where he figured out that he loves interviewing people and moderating.  Anchors he likes to model himself on swing from Dr Prannoy Roy to Cyrus Broacha! He is a food blogger, published author and likes to call himself a 'columnist' so that he can write about his breakfast and get done with work for the day! He is married to a Parsi (not Kurush), Kainaz Karmakar, who when not babysitting the three boys at home, Kalyan, Baby Loaf and Little Nimki (the last two are cats, but no one has broken this to them), works in advertising. Kalyan and Kurush bond over a shared love for food, wry humour and Valibhai. You can google the more boring parts about their lives. Now be a dear and share this, click on like and subscribe to the channel

WGTD's The Morning Show with Greg Berg
12/9/21 Christmas with the Kenosha Symphony

WGTD's The Morning Show with Greg Berg

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 10, 2021 45:20


Part 1- a preview of the KSO's upcoming concert "Christmas with the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra" on Saturday, December 11th, at 3:00. Part 2- (from the archives) the creator and editor of Yes! magazine, Sarah van Gelder, talks about her book "The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-mile Journey Through a New America."

We Make Books Podcast
Episode 72 - Vampiric Influences on Marsupial Child-rearing (Writing Influences)

We Make Books Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 53:52


We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, and concerns for us to address in future episodes. We hope you enjoy We Make Books! Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap Instagram: @WMBCast  Patreon.com/WMBCast Episode Transcript (by TK @_torkz) [Upbeat Ukulele Intro Music] Rekka: This is We Make Books, a podcast about writing publishing and everything in between. Rekka is a published Science Fiction and Fantasy author, and Kaelyn is a professional genre fiction editor. Together, they'll tackle the things you never knew you never knew about getting a book from concept to finished product, with explanations, examples, and a lot of laughter. Get your moleskin notebook ready. It's time for We Make Books. Kaelyn: My sister just finished reading the Grisha trilogy. And she was, of course, more of a fan of the Six of Crows after reading that. But one of the things she messaged me- she was like “yeah, the ending was kind of whatever, but it is very clear that this person was reading Harry Potter when they wrote this.” R: [laughs] K: And I said “Yeah, that definitely comes through.” She gave me this whole list of like, book two is basically just The Order of the Phoenix, and the end battle with all of the Grisha and the stand downs, all this stuff, and I was like “Yeah, I guess you're right.” To be honest with you, I kinda limped through the end of that book, I wasn't thinking about that too much. But anyways, it got me thinking about influences in writing and how writers are influenced and how in some cases that's something that we're like “Yes! You can tell that this writer was influenced by such-and-such, and they weave it so beautifully into their story.” And sometimes you get my sister calling me to complain about how she basically just read Harry Potter with Russian witches.  R: So was your sister accusing the author in any way of plagiarism? K [overlapping]: Not plagiarism. R [overlapping]: As a reader I'm curious, like how the reader perceives it when it's that clear when someone's been influenced.  K: I should've asked her before we started recording this - and this is something we'll get to in there - I couldn't tell if my sister was accusing the author of laziness or unoriginality.  R: Okay. K: That's one of the things I wanted to talk about today as we're talking about influence. What is influence, how are writers influenced? How's the best way to leverage and utilize that influence? And when does influence cross into the realm of the negative? When is it no longer praise worthy? When is it, for instance, lazy, contrived, unoriginal, or, in worst case scenario, bordering into plagiarism?  R: Yeah, because that's a tricky thing - if we always wrote a completely original story, you wouldn't have something like Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey. Because we wouldn't have a set format that a story would take. So when somebody accuses a fantasy book of being “Star Wars with elves,” well, Star Wars was a Greek epic in space.  K: Oh, I would've called it a Western. R: Okay fine. [overlapping] I mean, people have called it a Western. K: [overlapping] I mean, both work. Both work. [laughs] R: Yeah, but I'm just saying, The Hero's Journey, Joseph Campbell is, he's studying the ancient literature, so that's why I decided to say Greek. But if we could always write something that was completely original, there would be no way to study literature with comparisons and contrasts. There are always going to be parallels between stories written in a similar culture by people who are writing in a similar society. Like, a hundred years apart, you would not necessarily detect the influence of Harry Potter in the Grishaverse. But they're not written a hundred years apart - it was maybe a decade, probably not. K: I'd be curious to go back and try to time out when these books were being written, and when that coincides with the release of the latter half of the Harry Potter books. But anyways, real quick, I'm big into definitions, so let's talk about definitions. Influence is the capacity of something - a person, a situation, a circumstance - to have an effect on another person, on the development of the situation, on the behavior of someone or something. Or, in some cases, even the effect itself. You'll notice there that influence is kind of framed as both proactive and reactive. You can influence something, or you can be influenced. We're talking today about being influenced.  R: And we're not talking about Instagram.  K: [laughs] Oh, God. You know what's funny? I went through this whole thing and I didn't even think about the concept of influencers, and now I'm depressed. R: Because you didn't or because now you are? K: [laughs] Because now I am. R: Okay. I'm sorry. I take it back, I didn't say anything.  K: [laughs] So, writers don't write in a void. It's sort of a reverse Heisenberg principle, which is “whatever you study will also change.” Whatever you read changes you, or whatever you consume changes you. So, writers don't write in a void. If you took a baby and raised them in a box with no interaction with the outside world whatsoever, well, to be honest I'm not sure they'd be capable of putting together an interesting story because they've had no influence.  R: You know what's funny, that's why I don't have kids. Because I thought about this kind of thing frequently in high school, like “what would happen if you raised a child in a padded room? And you never interacted with them, and they never saw another human?” So you're welcome, world, that I have not raised any children. Those children are welcome because I did not abuse them in such a manner.  K: [laughs]  R: But it's good to hear that someone else has had these thoughts. Although, Kaelyn and I did originally bond over the fact that we're terrified of the idea of raising children.  K: Pregnancy is just - R: And pregnancy. It's not for everybody. I recognize that for some people it's a beautiful process, but for Kaelyn and for me, it is body horror.  K: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there's an entire nother skeleton in your skeleton. [laughs] R: Yes. And it's growing. [overlapping] It's getting larger.  K [overlapping]: It keeps getting bigger. R: And if you've never seen an MRI of a baby's skull, there's a lot of teeth in there.  K: Yeah, also they're squishy. R: Well, the MRI doesn't necessarily show that. It just shows all those chompers, waiting. Waiting.  K: Yeah. There's a lot of extra teeth in there.  R: Okay. [laughs] Where were we going? K [overlapping]: So for our writing- R [overlapping]: A child raised in a padded cell would probably write a different kind of story than somebody who's been exposed to Harry Potter.  K: Yeah, and if you take out every third word, it's their plan to destroy the world with their laser beams.  R: This reminds me of the book The Artist's Way. I think it's a month-long program designed to improve your creativity and I think maybe even to come up with… it's like NaNoWriMo but it's very classist and elitist.  K: [laughs] R: But the first thing it asks you to do is swear off all media for the month. K: Okay. R: And I put the book down right there. K: [laughs] R: Because I was like, that is literally impossible. I was in art school at the time, so I could not promise that I wasn't going to have to look at media. And also, this was written in 1992, before anybody was logging onto the internet daily.  K: Yeah, it was much easier to walk away from media for a month.  R: And I was trying to read it, I think, in 1999 or 2000, and it was even easier, at that point, to walk away from media than it would be now.  K: Yep. R: But, yes, it's called The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. And I imagine that Julia Cameron has a very nice life and is able to unplug from media whenever it is convenient for her to do so. K: Well, in 1992 that meant “turn off the TV.” R: Right, it meant “don't pick up a newspaper” or, you know. K: Yeah. R: In 2016 they re-released a 25th anniversary edition, and I can't imagine they did much to it, but it really probably needed a lot of re-examining to - K: Yeah. It's -  R: - to even be relevant in 2016, I can't even imagine.  K: Now, was the purpose of this to do a detox of influence from your life? R: Yes. That is exactly what it was, to avoid influence for the month and find out what you write, not what the world around you influences you to write. But I think in her case, she was treating world influence and media and current events as a negative.  K: Mhm. R: And I would argue that if you are responding to the world around you, then the politics of your creativity is going to be more relevant and more well-informed. And I think that's a good thing.  K: Well, yeah. And this is something that we can certainly talk about with influence - current influence versus longevity. You'll see a lot of writers that go out of their way to not incorporate things that might later be considered an anachronism in their writing, so that they're not influenced by that.  R: Mhm. K: So that's another good example of influence. So, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way here: influence is not copying. As we were talking about, writers don't write in a void. You're absorbing everything that you interact with and consume every day, and, whether you know it or not, it's influencing and incorporating itself into even your way of thought.  R: You hear that? So if you were following an Instagram influencer, do not copy everything they do.  K: [laughs] Yes. Please don't. But, again, it's the reverse Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Whatever you're consuming changes you. There are entire PhD programs dedicated to studying and understanding the influence that certain parts of literature have had on larger parts of literature. Influence is not a bad thing. In many ways, it's a scholarly pursuit. Go to any Wikipedia page for any sort of well-known novel, and I guarantee you there's going to be a section in there that says “Influence.”  R: Oh yeah, yeah. K: And it's going to be a couple paragraphs talking about the history of the genre, or the subject material leading up to this. Influence is, apart from being an important part of writing, an academic pursuit. So all of that said, we are talking about influence in a very positive way here. We're saying it's great to read things, and to consume and internalize them so that this can help enrich your writing. Something that you really enjoyed, something you thought was maybe unique, or something that you were like, “Oh, what if I applied that to a character that I already have?” That's a good thing. I think it enriches your writing, I think it shows layers and growth, etcetera. K: That said, sometimes influence goes the opposite way. [laughs] Sometimes you've read something and you're like, “this is terrible,” or “this was such a ridiculous ending,” or “I hated that this happened.” And that might compel you to go through your manuscript and scrub absolutely everything having to do with that. The whole point is that whether you mean to or not, you are going to be influenced by external components in your writing. You could never read anything else, and you will still be influenced by things in the world just by existing in it. But we are talking more about influences in writing here, so we'll stick with that.  R: And we assume that you are being influenced by books because, as we say, if you want to be a writer you need to also be a reader. So we're telling you, go read widely in your genre, and part of that is that we expect you to absorb some of those elements and some of those styles. On a conscious level, we want you to look at the covers, we want you to look at the themes and the tropes and everything like that, but we also expect that on a subconscious level that's going to influence you and hopefully make you a better writer within your genre. K: And if you read a lot within your genre, you will start to notice trails of influence yourself. If you read a lot of - especially maybe a really niche kind of fantasy or science fiction genre, you're going to be able to chronologically put some things in order, like “Oh yes, I can see that book A came out at this time, and then three years later this book came out, and there are certainly elements from book A that I can see coming through in book B even though they were written by different authors.” K: So, I was telling Rekka before we started recording–I went down a little bit of a rabbit hole with this, because for reasons unbeknownst to me and possibly the influence of vampiric elements, I, for whatever reason, picked up my copy of Dracula off the shelf and I've just been flipping through random parts. And then we were talking about doing this, and I was like, vampires are a really really good example of influence through literature. They're something that has always been around - the Mayans actually had a god that was basically a vampire, even though they didn't acknowledge that, bat wings and all. And there's something that–I think you'd be hard pressed to find a significant culture of any sort of longevity from history that didn't have some sort of mythological being that displayed vampire-like qualities. K: In the late 1700s, early 1800s, though, there was the vampire craze in western Europe. There were a lot of short stories and things written about vampires, even though they've been codified as part of the mythos for a long time. But even then, they were sort of holding up the folklore and traditions of vampires–they were reanimated corpses, they were bloodsuckers that came out at night to drain people of their very lifeforce. In some cases, actively rotting bodies, hunched back and demonic looking, claw-fingered and fangs and scary eyes. A lot of this was the traditional folklore. Then we start getting into sexy vampires. [laughs] R: [laughs] I was just going to say. K: [laughs] And there were a couple specific novels that did this. In 1819, John Polidori published a short story called The Vampyre, and this was the first one where the vampire was more of a character rather than just a mindless bloodsucking dead creature. R: Right. This was a vampire worthy of Bela Lugosi's eyes.  K: Oh, no one's worthy of Bela Lugosi's eyes. [laughs] R: You know what I'm saying. K: I know, I'm teasing. So, it was very popular. So then, a lot of vampire short stories and short novels were coming out where the vampires were getting a little more sophisticated, and all of these were drawing influence from Polidori's short story. It was a very successful short story. So then, in 1872, an Irish author named Joseph Sheridan [with a mock-French accent] Le Fanu - I'm assuming it's French which is why I did that accent - published Carmilla, which was a fantastic novel. And this is, I would say, probably a turning point where vampires are unabashedly being associated with a sexual element at this point. It has a not-very-subtle vampiric lesbian... stalking, I guess, going on through this book. It's fantastic, it's not that long. If you ever get a chance to read it, it's great. K: And then of course, a couple decades later in 1897, we come to Bram Stoker's Dracula. I should, by the way, say that Bram Stoker and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu were both Irish. Ireland had a shockingly strong folklore of vampires. In some cases they were fae, which is a whole different category of supernatural elements in Ireland, and in some cases they were just reanimated corpses. Anyways, then we get Bram Stoker, who of course gives us Dracula. And this is considered the preeminent vampire guideline bible, if you will. I think when most of us - granted, Rekka and I are older millennials, but - R: [laughs] How dare you? K: I think the first vampire we heard of was Dracula.  R: Mhm. K: I actually remember, growing up, that there was a kid in my neighborhood who just thought vampires were called Draculas.  R: Yeah. I think that was probably a… Not that I thought Dracula was a noun, but I never expected Dracula to look the same way twice.  K: Yeah. Yeah, Dracula was just like - Dracula, vampire. They were interchangeable.  R: Mhm. K: And that's how synonymous this became. Now, look at all the stuff that lead up to this in order for us to get the seminal vampire novel of the time. Stoker was absolutely influenced by all these novels that came before. Something else that's really interesting that Stoker was influenced by is the sexual component of vampires in this. Like I said, that came through hard and strong. Well, maybe I should say most popularly with Carmilla. Here's something else really interesting about Stoker: he was probably gay. It's difficult and inappropriate to go back and retroactively categorize people these ways, but there's a lot of very strong… I'm trying not to say “homoerotic,” I'm trying to say… There's a lot of very - R: Queerotic? [laughs] K: Yeah, there's a- R: There's not a queer person in the universe that will argue this point with you.  K: Yeah. R: I think the LGBTQIA+ are very, very ready to claim vampirism.  K: [laughs] Absolutely. And that's a great part of the influence of this. Some of Stoker's best friends were Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman. Actually, I believe Stoker either started writing or finished writing Dracula right after Oscar Wilde was imprisoned, and they were exchanging letters while he was in prison.  R: Mhm. K: You have to keep in mind, this was the mid-Victorian period, there's very repressed sexuality, but there was also this burgeoning underground masculine sexual component to it, where everyone - R: See people, this is what happens when you don't let people reveal their ankles.  K: Yes. Yes, exactly. [laughs] So, one of the things through Dracula is this secretiveness, this sense of penetration. Not only the fangs in your throat, but a lot of them get into your head and screw with you that way. This was not something we saw in previous iterations of vampires, who were gross, for lack of a better term. [laughs] R: [laughs] Yeah.  K: So, this influence comes through in a lot of different ways. And as I'm talking more about Dracula I can say like, “Okay, well there's a lot of very… what we would now consider queer sexual elements that we see in Dracula, coming through with the relationship between Dracula and Johnathan Harker and Dracula and Mina.” But there's also the influence of other writers who were starting to make vampires actually people, rather than Nosferatu-style monsters.  R: Right. K: Dracula, I would argue, then in turn really helped influence the next generation of common horror. At that point we're getting into H.P. Lovecraft and existential horror. Lovecraft, who, by the way, wasn't quite a contemporary of Stoker's, but was very aware and actually wrote some reviews of his writing. He didn't really like a lot of it. [laughs] I would argue that that was probably part of what influenced Lovecraft: it was a hard turn from these very sterile, white-marble, gothic horror novels to a lot of raw, and ocean, and dark mold, steam spaces.  R: You can literally write the sentence “I can't describe this.” and people are like “Woo, that is scary.” K: Yeah exactly. So much of Lovecraft is like, “it's too horrible to describe!” but it's like “Yeah, but can you tell me anyway?” [laughs] R: You mentioned earlier that an influence can be “I don't want to do this.” K: Yes. R: So, here we are. This is Lovecraft saying  “Well, Stoker wasn't racist enough for me, so I'm gonna write my own thing.” K: [laughs] Oh, God, Lovecraft. It's so hard to read some of that stuff. [sighs] Psychologists would be better at trying to figure out Lovecraft's influence than me, I'm certainly not going to. To say the man had issues is an understatement. He was more of a collection of neuroses formed into a human. Anyways, this is just something I was thinking of as a pretty-easy-to-track set of influences. We go from vampires being very loosely defined and having inconsistent characteristics based on what region the stories are being told in, to some stories published that codify certain rules about them, to their evolution from “Eww, it's a rotting, blood-drinking corpse” to “Huh, maybe I'd like date that person.” R: [laughs] Maybe I would like those lips on my bare neck! K: Yes, exactly. Which is a pretty interesting leap that really did not take that long to get from point A to point B. But all of this was just building on influence and influence, after that.  R: Yeah, all you needed was for one author to pick it up and go, “What if vampires, but sexy?” K: [laughs] Yeah. You know what's funny, we have this sort of modern-day depiction of Dracula as a very suave, debonair… what's the word I'm looking for? High-society type person.  R: Sophisticated.  K: Sophisticated, yeah. In the novel, he is those things a little bit, but he is very off-putting and he is... weird to look at, I guess I should say. R: Yeah, there's that first scene where Johnathan is eating in front of him, and you definitely get a vibe that this dude is not right.  K: Like, he's talking about his hairy ears. [laughs] R: [laughs] Yeah. K: His weird skin, he looks ill, as if when he's making his way to the castle all of the peasantry crying and pressing crucifixes into his hands wasn't red-flag enough for him. R: No, no, no. It's just a quaint little village, this is the thing they do. There is the aspect of vampirism having the power of glamour, and I think this is probably the most effective display of it. The way that he's describing Dracula, there's nothing attractive about this man, and yet. K: He's very drawn to him. R: Mhm. K: And he wants to help him. R: As is Mina. [laughs] K: And Lucy, and all of them. So yeah, vampires. Great example of influence in literature over the course of a relatively short time, shaping something that we now consider to be commonplace.  R: Mhm. K: We've even narrowed it down farther. One of my favorite things about Dracula is, there's nothing that necessarily says he can't go in the sun in that book.  R: Right, right. [laughs] K: It's just that he has no powers after noon, I think, or he loses his powers at sunrise. So he can be outside, but he's just a regular guy at that point.  R: Mhm. K: So, obviously things continued to change and evolve there, the “no going out during the day” is held over from the much older vampire myths. Anyways. So, all of that said, how do we see influences in writing? When can we pick these out? One of the obvious is the story itself, the plot. Maybe some story arcs. R: I would argue that people tend to pick it up faster when it's a similar setting. When it's the worldbuilding, I think people notice it more. K: Okay. R: And I think, again, plot arcs and character arcs are things that we do have to recycle.  K: Absolutely. I think it's rare these days to see completely original, never-before-imagined setting. In terms of world-building, both the world itself, and in my notes here I put “world systems.” Anything from the way magic functions, or government functions, or society functions. There's only so many ways you can organize people, essentially. [laughs] So there may have been something that you came across and you're like “Oh, that's interesting. What if I did this instead?” The characters- anything from the archetypes and tropes of characters to their storylines and their redemption arcs, or even just the relationships, how they interact with each other. How the characters are broken out either into family groups or groups of friends or hierarchies within that. I think we see that a lot. With plot, we can kind of go back to what I said at the beginning of the episode: sometimes there are things in there where it's like, “this is clearly Order of the Phoenix.”  R: Mhm.  K: [laughs] We're just seeing it presented a different way. R: And again, an agent loves this, because you can say “this is my list of story comps.” And if they're successful books, the agent can use that to sell the story and then the publisher can use it to sell the book. K: Mhm. R: So even though sometimes it sounds like we are poo-pooing derivative work, if it comes across as fresh, nobody's going to poo-poo that you have a great list of comps to start with.  K: Definitely, yeah. R: And I would like to note that that is the first time we have said “poo-poo” on this podcast. I feel like that should be marked. K: That definitely needs to be denoted for posterity. R: And now it's been said three times. K: [laughs] Then there's two other areas of influence I'd like to talk about that are a little harder to quantify. One is style. And this comes more to writing style, and how you're presenting your story. For instance, being influenced by the way the author just writes in general, their style, I will harken back to one of our favorite examples here. If you've read Gideon the Ninth it is a very very unique writing style, not something I've ever come across before and I'm sure there are a lot of people who are currently in the process of attempting to imitate it; I don't know how successful they're going to be, but I bet they're trying. R: And then there are others who are influenced by it to say “Oh, I can let loose like that?” K: Yeah. Exactly. Or, “I can try something completely different that I didn't think anybody would be interested in, but if they're willing to do this then maybe they would.” Point of view or viewpoint in the book - if you've read the second book in the Locked Tomb series, Harrow the Ninth, a lot of that is written second person. The Broken Earth series, large portions of that are in second person. R: Well, the Broken Earth series, the amazing thing is it's written in all three. K: Yes, yeah. R: So if you haven't read that I can't go any further, I do not wanna spoil that, even though it's been out for years, the culmination of that book is so good that I refuse to ever spoil it. But go read it, if you haven't read it, for sure. It's a big one - K: It's a lot - R: But it is so worth it. I listen to it on audio, and I can recommend that too. K: Yeah. So both of those books have instances of strange, or - R: Disorienting? K: Disorienting's an excellent word. I remember reading Harrow the Ninth and texting Rekka and going like “Is this like this the entire time?” R: And my only response is “Did you get to the soup yet?” K: [laughs] And it was a mentality shift, and once I just was like “Okay, I fixed my brain to a point that it can accept and read this now.” But another style quality is dialogue. How you incorporate and how you use dialogue in your writing is something that I think is very easily influenced by how other people do that. This can also start feeding into the character influence there as well, how the characters talk and interact with each other is very influenced by dialogue. So then the last kind of nebulous part that I'd like to talk about, and this is a little bit different but it is worth bringing up, is historical influence. There are a lot of books and stories that are nominal retellings of either one or a series of historical events. I'll use Game of Thrones here as an example, and spoilers for anybody who hasn't read or watched - R: I don't care if we spoil Game of Thrones. [laughs] K: George R. R. Martin, well first the basis of a lot of this is the War of the Roses, which was the English Civil War. It was also called the Hundred Years' War; it was just a long, bloody, drawn-out battle of constantly changing kings and powerful families trying to get their person on the throne of England. R: And the interesting part is, it is a hundred years, so the people who started this have cast this war upon the generations to follow, and if that doesn't tell you something about where George R. R. Martin is going to be forced to take the end of the books, I don't know what will, because HBO managed to make the show take what, the war take five years or maybe ten years if that? Just the fact that it was ten seasons, right? Was it ten seasons or nine? K: It was eight seasons. R: Okay, so at most, because of the children aging on the show, it was a nine-year hundred-year war. So if George R. R. Martin is following intentionally the framework of the Hundred Years' war, none of the characters that you're rooting for are going to make it. Just in the nature of aging. K [overlapping]: And there's - you can go through and just read a brief history of the Hundred Years' War, and you'll be able to identify characters in there. Like Tyrion has some very clear Richard III vibes to him. But then there's other historical events and groups of people that he took and pulled into this. The Lannisters are such a clear parallel of the Borgia family that it's almost difficult to know that and read this and know what happened to the Borgias. The Red Wedding was based off of a famous event in Scotland where something very very similar happened to that. Some Scottish lords were invited to dinner by a Scottish lord with English leanings, and he killed all of them, to get in good with the English. R: After serving them bread. K: After serving them bread, exactly. But again, historical influence - the concept of guestright is very important in most cultures and especially in Scotland. So there's so many examples of people taking strong influence from either actual historical events or folklore and mythological events, like the Trojan War and things like that, and incorporating it into their writing. There are a lot of writers who decide “I'm gonna do a modern interpretation of such-and-such,” because maybe - for instance the Trojan War, they're very interested in classic Greek mythology and decide “Hey, that's a great story to tell; I'm gonna set it in a different place but still tell the story.” K: So that's some elements of influence, and before we wrap up here, let's address the thing we started to talk a little bit about but should definitely round out. When is influence just becoming copying, at a certain point? This is hard. Because it's really about finesse and originality. It's about taking something that you liked and putting your own spin on it, so to speak. If you're just re-creating the same story and sticking your characters into it, you're going to get called at best lazy, at worst a plagiarist. R: Yeah, there are plenty of books out there - and I have one to include in the list - that are retellings of a classic story. The problem is when you don't approach it as “how do I make this my story?” K: Yes. I'm gonna use young adult genres here because it's a little bit newer and easier to trace through this, and I'm not going to name books in this apart from the first series that I will name because that author is wildly successful. The Mortal Instruments trilogy - you could probably say series at this point, there's so many books in that world at this point - by Cassandra Clare, is one of the early and premiere urban fantasy young adult novels. This was copied so many times. Some of the authors were a little more original with where they were setting it, some of them were a little more original with where they were putting the characters or who the characters were, but the magical teeenagers who are part of a secret society that protects humanity was everywhere. ‘Cause these books were a runaway success. They were very original; no one had really seen something like this before. The Mortal Instruments created so many tropes that I can't and will not try to name them. R: And I think it's, part of that, somebody loves a book that they experienced so much that they want to hold onto that feeling forever, and one way to do that is to create something completely inspired by that same world. And this is where fanfic comes from, and fanfic is healthy, and it's a great way to express feelings of “I don't want to leave this book world.” But when you take it to a publisher and you say “This is going to sell really well because the other one that already did it sold really well,” as they say - don't follow trends in publishing, because you're five years behind. K: Conversely, a lot of people were able to get things like this published because the market wasn't inundated with this yet. R: Right, you had to be among the first to imitate a successful book, which is why they say don't follow the trends, because you won't be among the first. There are so many people out there writing that there are easily 500 people ahead of you in the queue for the publisher slush pile. K: Yeah and I wanna be clear, the first book of this entire - I'm not joking, I think there's over 20 books within this world at this point - the first one came out in 2007. So yes, the Internet was very alive and well at that point; it was not what it is now. Writing communities on the Internet were not what they are now. But all of this is to say that there were people who just straight up copied this genre, this book in some way. Either in terms of setting, in terms of characters, in terms of the magical elements of this, they just straight up copied this and I gotta be honest with you, a lot of them were not terribly successful. [laughs] Some of them were, though, and some of them made some money off of this. R: Well, for other readers who are not writers, when the same thing happens they come out of a book series and they have to wait for the next book, they want more. K: Exactly, they were looking for more. R: This is not unlike when the animation company puts out a very similar cheap animation to the latest Disney release. I worked at Blockbuster, and I saw this all the time. You'd have a big animated Disney release, and you'd have this tiny company out of who-knows-where that put together an animated copy, and they rely on parents and grandparents to grab the wrong one. This is not like trying to give the kids more of what they want, this is like “If we are gonna be next to this Disney movie on the shelf, someone will pick us up by accident and we will make money.” K: Well I always remember because a lot of Disney's classics, like the Disney renaissance movies, they were all like public domain stories. So they would just make that and they could get it out on VHS faster than Disney could - R: Yeah, they were made direct to video. K: Because Disney left it in - like everyone knew what the upcoming Disney movies were. So if you knew there was gonna be Aladdin, well, the story of Aladdin is public domain, you start making Aladdin right away. [Brief interlude of car noises] R: I literally believe that Mike's apartment is built on an overpass. K: No, just next to a road with a lot of people who drive like idiots. R: Well that was like a garbage truck, but anyway. K: That was a motorcycle. R: That was a motorcycle?? It sounded like it had at least 16 wheels. K: Yeah. R: Alright, sorry, so Aladdin - K: So everyone knew what movies Disney was making well in advance, and of course these would take years after they were announced to actually be finished and put in theatres. So if Disney says “we're making Aladdin” - R [overlapping]: Before it's in theatres! K: - well then, another small studio can also make Aladdin. The animation isn't gonna be great but then Aladdin's gonna be in the theatres and then a week later the imitation Aladdin are going to be on shelves, and grandparents are gonna go “Oh my grandchildren want to see -” R: Or “They've been talking about this movie and here it is on VHS,” and they don't know how theatre releases work and so they grab it and buy it, and they spend $18 or $15, seems like a really good deal on a Disney movie, and the animation studio makes their money back. So they do it again. K: So don't be that cheap animation studio. Don't be the person that's taking something that somebody put a lot of time, thought, and creativity into, and churning out the cheap, fast, easy-to-consume version of it. R: Yeah and I don't think, when it comes to writers - I mean I'm sure there are people out there who go “Okay this is the newest thing, I am going to behave like an algorithm and I am going to make another version of it and then release it, and I will make lots of bucks.” There are those writers that–they do that on purpose. So don't be them. But I don't think any of our audience are going to be them. And if you were thinking that that was a great way to make a successful book, let us correct you. But if you are inspired by Gideon the Ninth, or by Mortal Instruments, or anything like that - take the time to develop a story just like you would a completely inspired out of left field story, and take the time to put it together in a considerate and thoughtful and unique way, and then we approve. You get our approval. We're not promising to buy the manuscript, but we are approving a heartfelt influenced work, not an imitation that is intended to ride the wave of success of someone else. K: Exactly. R: Now when we're saying “copying,” are you talking about the publishing houses out there who literally lift the copy and try to sell it on Amazon, and just do it again and again and again as they get caught and cancelled? K: [laughs] No, no. Copying has, I think the way I'm defining it, more to do with not adding any creativity or original elements of your own, just saying “I liked what this person did, I'm going to do it too.” And listen - it's a fine line. One of the things that's really interesting about plagiarism is it's either very obvious - somebody had too many parts in a book, a novel, a poem, that are clearly just from another book - or, you've gotta go through a whole process of proving that somebody had access to something you were working on and directly lifted elements from that and put it into their book. Plagiarism is either very straightforward or very difficult. R: And, with plagiarism, they have plagiarism checkers on the Internet; I think a lot of teachers appreciate that because they can't read everything. So they can run an assignment from a student through a plagiarism checker, and that plagiarism checker can do its best with whatever it has access to in its database to catch - K: Plagiarism checkers are very good now, by the way. R: But we're talking word-for-word plagiarism. Sometimes what we refer to in the publishing world as plagiarism is actually trademark infringement. K: Yes. R: And that is difficult because if you write a story with Harry Potter in it, but you change his name and all the words are your original words, how do we run a plagiarism checker against that? K: Yes. So it's like I said, either very easy or very difficult to prove plagiarism; there's rarely a middle ground there. R: Although there are books that have been caught lifting a paragraph or two, from different books. So like the entire thing is plagiarized, but it's plagiarized from different sources. K: Yeah. You see instances of plagiarism tend to show up more in academic and scientific publishing than in fiction and genre-writing. It definitely does happen, though. R: Yup. Because, again, there are people out there who are confused about what is allowed and what is advisable in writing.  K: There are some really significant seminal works in American literature especially–I'm sure globally but I just happen to know the American ones–that are just plagiarized in certain places. And a lot of them were written in a time where it wasn't as easy to check this, so we- R: Find out much later, when it is easier, how much that was widespread. K: Yup. Exactly. R: There are nefarious people. I was referring, in my last statement, to the innocent, naive new writer, who just does not understand what is and isn't acceptable. Or, they didn't intend for it to go widespread, and they wrote a little thing for fun and end up finding out that they are not welcome and doors are being shut in their face because they crossed the line and it got noticed. K: Yeah, exactly.  R: That's the thing, a little baby writer learning about things the very hard way. It's a shame. That would be someone that you would hope would find a mentor who would guide them in the right direction before that kind of thing gets shot in their face. But with a pen name you can be reborn, as long as you reiterate yourself in better forms than the previous mistakes that you made. K: Yeah, and plagiarism should be very easy to avoid. R: Mhm. K: If you're looking at somebody else's work and saying “I wish this was mine, I'm going to make this mine,” don't do that. You should never be copying text from somebody else. Everything should be written on your own.  R: Yeah, don't go, “How did that person write it? I loved that so much.” Well yes, you did, but that's not your voice. So write it yourself. And I would say that if you close a book and you go, “Oh, I'm so inspired to write,” and you sit down and you start writing right away, don't publish that. [laughs] K: Yeah. R: There is a process to developing your own ideas even if it's mostly internal and you never grab a notebook and work out the story itself. The process of coming up with your own ideas is not “I just read this, I'm going to go write because I'm inspired and I'm going to finish that book before I do anything else.” [laughs] That's probably going to be a very derivative, if not plagiaristic, book. So don't do that. I always recommend you sit with your ideas for a while before you sit down and write it.  K: Absolutely. I mean, that's important in general. R: Carry it around like a baby, pretend you're some kind of marsupial and you have your twelve-day gestation period but you still carry that little joey around for a while before it's ready to enter the world. That's kind of the process that I recommend for a writer. K: [laughs] So there you go. Be a marsupial. R: Be a marsupial. The opossum tail has its own fingerprints which are unique to it, so there's that. Grow a prehensile tail and commit crimes with it so that you can be tail-printed later. Alright, I don't know where this story's going.  K: I like it, I like it. R: Yeah, I like it too, but it's not a good way to wrap up an episode because all we can do is just stop. [laughs] So, if you have any questions about plagiarism or inspiration, or you just want to share your inspirations and influences, you can @ us on Twitter or Instagram @WMBcast. You can find us on patreon.com/WMBcast, and we will have some more marsupial facts for you in two weeks. K: [laughs] R: [laughs] Thanks everybody for listening, and I hope this was a helpful discussion. Kaelyn and I have to go sit at a desk and figure out- have we fulfilled the promises that we made to you when we started this podcast? Because we feel like we've just kind of been indulging ourselves in what topics we bring up, so if you feel like, “Hey, you said you were going to cover this, and you never covered that,” definitely tell us that too, because we want to go back to our mission statement and make sure that every once in a while we give you an episode that's in line with that. So if you have input to that regard, please let us know. Otherwise, marsupial facts in two weeks! Thanks everyone!

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe
Ole and the Rest of Post-Alex Ferguson Managers | Manchester United

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 3:23


How did Ole stack against other Manchester United coach's in the post-Alex Ferguson era? Ole Gunnar Solskjær KSO is a Norwegian professional football manager and former player. As a player, Solskjær played as a striker; he spent the majority of his career with Manchester United, and also played 67 times for the Norway national team. Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson CBE is a Scottish former football manager and player, best known for managing Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. He is widely regarded as the greatest football manager of all time, and has won more trophies than any other manager in the history of football. Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix, GOIH, is a Portuguese professional football manager and former player who is the current head coach of Serie A club Roma. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest managers of all time, and is one of the most decorated managers ever. Aloysius Paulus Maria "Louis" van Gaal OON is a Dutch football manager and former player who is the current head coach of the Netherlands national team. David William Moyes is a Scottish professional football coach and former player. He is currently the manager of Premier League club West Ham United. He was previously the manager of Preston North End, Everton, Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland

Jim and Them
Pedos In Heaven - #703 Part 1

Jim and Them

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 112:28


Saturday Night Jim And Them: A special Saturday night episode brings in even more UNHINGED activity from the boys as we unmask the sequel that pedos have gone to heaven.Lagwagon: Jim has tales of being an old man at the old man punk rock show.Young Dolph: We discuss the recent passing of Young Dolph and then we get into the world of Jacksonville rappers getting shot and mocked on rap songs.TALK TO ME DAMMIT!, STUPID BITCH!, FILTHY SLUT!, CHUCKY!, CHILD'S PLAY!, SATURDAY SHOW!, JAKE SPRAGUE CELEBRATION!, BIRTHDAY!, DINNER!, SPAGO!, KNUCKLE DEEP!, SUPERBRAWL SATURDAY!, UNHINGED!, SNL!, SATURDAY JIM AND THEM!, GHISLAINE MAXWELL!, PEDOS IN HEAVEN!, JEFFREY EPSTEIN!, GODS LIKES PEDOS!, GOING TO HELL!, KEVIN SPACEY!, ABRAHAM LINCOLN!, MALCOLM X!, MARK TWAIN!, MOTHER THERESA!, TROMBONE!, GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER!, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS!, TOM HANKS!, BURPH IN THE MIC!, FART IN THE MIC!, HENDERSON!, HENDERTUCKY!, YOCALS!, REDNECKS!, GIFT OF THE MAGI!, PATREON!, TOTS TURNT 2021!, HIT THE BELL!, SANTA!, ONE PRESENT!, SINGULAR!, PRESENTS FROM YOUR PETS!, POKEMON!, NEW RELEASE!, POKEFLU!, EVERY YEAR!, OFF YEAR!, POKEMON UNITE!, HALF ASLEEP!, XBOX!, SICK!, PUNK ROCK SHOW!, LAGWAGON!, TICKETS!, SEATTLE!, THE BROOKLYN BOWL!, 25 YEARS!, DOORS!, MERCY MUSIC!, RED CITY RADIO!, OPENERS!, DRINKING!, RUM AND DIET!, YO!, DATING APPS!, JABBA!, WEAK DRINK!, GIRLY DRINKS!, MALT!, ROCKING WITH STRANGERS!, CIRCLE PIT!, SKA PITS!, RANCID!, BROCKTON HARDCORE!, XXL!, PUNCH THE KLOWN!, RONNIE RADKE!, ABINGTON!, BING TOWN!, STATIC X!, PRESCRIPTION DRUGS!, YOUNG DOLPH!, RIP!, SHOOTING!, MEMPHIS!, SOULJA BOY!, YELLING!, TALKING SHIT!, BREAKFAST CLUB!, CHARLAMAGNE!, PUPPET THAT CAME TO LIFE!, SOUTH MEMPHIS!, JACKSONVILLE!, ATK!, KTA!, SITCOM!, RIVALS!, SEINFELD!, JERRY!, GEORGE!, VANESSA CALRTON!, 1000 MILES!, BIBBY!, KSO!, CORBIN!, POLICE RAPPER CONFIDENTIALITY!, FATHER OF 12!, CUM IN A PUSSY!, WHOPPA WIT THE CHOPPA!, WHO I SMOKE!, FAST MONEY GOON!, BEATBOX!, SPOTEMGOTEM!, JULIO FOOLIO!, #585!, LITTLE MOMENTS!You can find the videos from this episode at our Discord RIGHT HERE!

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe
Ole No Longer at The Wheel For Manchester United | Joel Glazer Sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 21, 2021 3:51


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is no longer the head coach for Manchester United; after Joel Glazer approved the sacking during an emergency boardroom meeting after the match against Watford. Ole Gunnar Solskjær KSO is a Norwegian professional football manager and former player. As a player, Solskjær played as a striker; he spent the majority of his career with Manchester United, and also played 67 times for the Norway national team. Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football.

Magdalena Hajkiewicz Podcast
#82 Po 40 latach wyszła z błędnego koła diet | Gość: Viola, Uczestniczka Kursu Skutecznego Odchudzania

Magdalena Hajkiewicz Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 64:18


W kolejnym odcinku mojego podcastu rozmawiam z Violą, Uczestniczką IV edycji Kursu Skutecznego Odchudzania. Viola borykała się z trudnościami z jedzeniem przez 40 lat – w swoim życiu testowała wiele diet, ale kilogramy zawsze wracały. Odsłuchaj nagrania, aby dowiedzieć się- W jaki sposób dotrzeć do przyczyny swoich nadmiernych kilogramów i rozpocząć odchudzanie na nowo- Jak dopasować dietę do siebie i porzucić rozpiskę- W jaki sposób wyzwolić się z efektu jo-jo i nie czuć głodu na diecie- Czy z kursem online można schudnąć i utrzymać efekty długoterminowo- W jaki sposób poukładać swoją relację ze słodyczami i jeść słodycze na diecie- Czy da się zmienić nawyki kształtowane przez 40 lat- Jak przestać odwlekać wprowadzanie zmian i zacząć działać- W jaki sposób perfekcjonizm wpływa na trudności z utratą kilogramów- Jak nauczyć się radzić sobie ze stresem inaczej niż poprzez jedzenie- Czy zdrowe posiłki mogą być smaczne i sycące- W jaki sposób znaleźć aktywność fizyczną dla siebie- Jak zacząć spełniać swoje potrzeby i wyzwolić się z narzuconych powinności- W jaki sposób nauczyć się wyznaczać cele, które nam pomagają, a nie utrudniają odchudzanieViola opowiada o swojej drodze od ciągłych myśli o jedzeniu i wyglądzie oraz restrykcji do wolności w głowie, dobrej relacji z jedzeniem i skupienia na procesie, a nie tylko na efekcie.Więcej o KSO dowiesz się tutaj: https://akademia.wiem-co-jem.pl/kso

We Make Books Podcast
Episode 71 - Villains vs. Antagonists

We Make Books Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 36:45


We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, and concerns for us to address in future episodes. We hope you enjoy We Make Books! Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap Instagram: @WMBCast  Patreon.com/WMBCast Episode Transcript (by TK @_torkz) [Upbeat Ukulele Intro Music] Rekka: This is We Make Books, a podcast about writing publishing and everything in between. Rekka is a published Science Fiction and Fantasy author, and Kaelyn is a professional genre fiction editor. Together, they'll tackle the things you never knew you never knew about getting a book from concept to finished product, with explanations, examples, and a lot of laughter. Get your moleskin notebook ready. It's time for We Make Books. We Make Books Ep. 71 Transcription Kaelyn: Today we're talking about villains and antagonists, and why they're not actually the same thing, except in the cases that they are. Rekka: Yes, exactly. K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: Perfect. I think that nails it. Sometimes they're not the same thing, sometimes they are. K: Yeah, and we'll kinda get to this but, most villains are antagonists - most, not all. Not all antagonists are villains. And in fact you will likely, in any given story, have multiple antagonists, not all of whom are the villain. I went through and really dug up all of this stuff; shockingly, the word ‘hero' is the one with the most definitions attached to it, and most different con - R: We're not talking about heroes today! We're not! K [overlapping]: Well we - but we have to, because we don't get villains without heroes, and we don't get antagonists without protagonists. Both villains and antagonists are defined and really only exist so that they can oppose or create conflict for the hero or protagonist. It kinda makes you wonder, if left to their own devices, maybe they're just a mad scientist in a lab somewhere. R: Maybe they're the hero of their own story. K: Yeah, and then suddenly someone shows up to fight them and now they're the bad guy. [laughing] R: “I was perfectly lawful and good until you showed up!” K: Exactly, yes. The basic difference between a villain and an antagonist is that an antagonist is somebody who is there to contend or oppose the main character, typically the protagonist of the story. They're there to create opposition. A villain is doing that, but they're evil. R: [laughs] K [laughing]: What they're doing is, the opposition that they're creating is either causing harm, causing suffering, will destroy the human race. It could be something more on a micro scale, where they've kidnapped the daughter of the main character; maybe they're trying to get their lemonade stand shut down so that they can sell lemonade that's gonna turn people into lizard people. An antagonist at the surface is just somebody who's doing things that's causing problems for the protagonist. They don't necessarily have to be evil. R: They could just be a rival. K: Yeah. Or any number of other things we're gonna get to here, but. And in fact as I mentioned, as you're reading a book, you're frequently gonna come across antagonists that are not actually evil. There's gonna be an antagonist who's the villain who may be evil at some point, not always, but there will be people that are antagonists. I will use an example that we love to use: Gideon the Ninth. Harrow definitely serves as an antagonist to Gideon through the book. But Harrow is not evil. R: Right. K: That's a great example of a villain operating without the audience knowing that the protagonist is coming into direct conflict with them because, we don't really find out who the villain of the story is until the very very end of it. Then we can look back and go like ‘Ah yes I see all of these things now.' The villain in the story, and spoilers if you haven't read Gideon the Ninth, but also if you listen to this podcast and you still haven't read it - R: You obviously are never going to read it at this point. K [laughing]: Yeah. The villain turns out to be Dulcinia, who is impersonating another character - and I stayed away, when writing notes for this and getting into the philosophical of what is evil and what is not - for these purposes we're gonna call her motives evil, in that she is trying to hunt down and destroy a lot of different people for her own reasons. The conflict that we come into there actually causes the antagonist and the protagonist in this, Gideon and Harrow, to sort of team up to oppose the actual villain, which by the way is a very common writing trope. Antagonists are a necessary component to any story even if they are not the source of central conflict. R: Yeah, because - and I know you're gonna lean into this example - but in Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy feels like he is central to everything in Harry's life, even though most of the time he just shows up to spew some awful thing he's overheard his parents say and then go away again. K: Draco is a good example of an antagonist who goes through a lot of different forms. Draco in the first few books of the series, he kinda shows up to make some comments and then leaves. He's not really doing much. Even in the second book when he's talking about the Chamber of Secrets and the heir of Slytherin and he actually is sitting around going ‘God I wish there was a way for me to help him' - well, okay, that's what minions do. Small antagonists. R: Most of the time everything that Draco Malfoy does or says is just to reinforce the fact that he's a jerk. K: Yeah, Draco just sorta pops up to remind all of us that there's Voldemort out there and his followers are terrible, because we don't see or interact directly with Voldemort for a lot of these books, so Draco's there to kind of remind us that he's out there. But then we finally get to book six, when Draco is given a very specific task to do: kill Dumbledore. And those listening at home, ‘okay well doesn't that make him a villain?' Well - does it? Because first of all he doesn't really actually wanna do this, but he has to. Second, he doesn't do it. At the end, he's not the one who carries this out. So again, everything's relative here. Because to Harry, he is just this thing that Harry feels he needs to track down and find out what's happening. You could go so far as to argue that Harry is creating his own conflict here, because if he just left Draco alone and went about his life trying to find these Horcruxes, things would've gone a lot smoother. R: [laughs] K: Dumbledore keeps telling Harry, ‘Hey. I got the Draco situation under control, don't worry about it.' Not in so many words and maybe if he had, again, things would've gone differently - R: You know what, communicating clearly is the antagonist of a plot. K: Okay. So that's interesting that you say that, because antagonists are not always people. R: Mhm. K: Antagonists can be certain external factors that the protagonist has to contend with. A good example of this is nature, in something like the movie Castaway. It's not evil - R [overlapping]: Okay. I was gonna say Deep Impact, like the meteor is not a villain, the meteor is an antagonist. K: Yeah. Exactly. It's not evil. The meteor or nature or something is not saying like, ‘Yes, I will destroy the world, and then also Tom Hanks.' [chuckles] R: If it can twirl its mustache, it might be a villain. K: It's just there, and it's something that the characters have to contend with. It can also be something supernatural; the thing I thought of off the top of my head was The Nothing in NeverEnding Story. It's operating unconsciously, if you will, in the sense that it doesn't seem to have nefarious purposes. It's just existing, and it's just growing. The characters are opposing it, they're trying to find a way to stop it, but it's not evil in and of itself. R: A hero trying to stop global warming is not fighting a villain. Unless - K: Ah, there's some villains in there. R: Yeah never mind, I take all that back. K: An antagonist can also be something like a society or an unjust system that the hero has to live and function in. The example that came to mind was Les Miserables. The main character, Jean Valjean, is sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread because his sister and her children were starving. And we as the audience are meant to understand here that, while Javert - I believe is the name of the officer - is doing his duty by arresting him because he did commit theft, we understand that it is the dire circumstances of his society and his country that caused him to do this. His whole struggle and story is not only trying to lift himself up and overcome this system, but trying to one, make good on people he had hurt and things he had done in the process of this, but two, help other people that are also stuck in this system by hopefully coming up with a way to better it in the long run. I won't say overthrow it because he actively avoids that whole - R [overlapping]: Right. K: - part of the process in this story, but he is in his own way trying to get things to a better place. R: Yeah. K: I went through and just like, some ideas of antagonists who are not necessarily villains. We talked about Draco Malfoy - I will go to my grave saying that Draco is not a villain, he is first convenient exposition, and then an antagonist and an unwilling one at that. One of the ones I also thought of was Catra, from - R: Ah! K: - the first half of She-Ra, she kind of serves as sort of like a minion antagonist. R: Uh-huh. K: Her character evolves, and we'll talk about that as we continue to go through this. But she's an excellent example of just an antagonist. R: And again kind of like that rival thing - K: Yes. R: - like in anime or certain role playing video games, you always have the rival show up, and then by the end you are working with them to fight the actual villain. K: Another category is the conflict creators: people who are not evil, they don't have nefarious plots, but they're making the life of the main character unbearable. Mr. Darcy - R [overlapping]: [giggling] K: - from Pride and Prejudice is an excellent example of this. I threw the Lannisters on the list, and I'm sticking with the books - R: Right. K [laughing]: Not the TV show. R: So in this version, the Lannisters haven't managed to accomplish much yet. K: Yeah, exactly. Because, really, what are they doing? Are their motives evil? No, their motives are promoting and securing the prosperity and wellbeing of their family as much as possible. Now, they're doing things that again, evil being relative, we might look at this and go ‘oh they're evil.' I will choose the beheading of Ned Stark as a good example there. That's only evil to us because we like Ned Stark. R: Right. K: Because we look at him and see a good, just man who is being undone by his own kindness and mercy. The Lannisters look at him and go, ‘this guy's an idiot, and not only that he's a threat.' R: Mhm. K: ‘If we send him to the wall do you think his family is gonna go, ‘ah ok no problem, no harm no foul.'' Yeah, Joffrey's an impulsive little shit, who should not have done that and obviously messed up the plans of a lot of different third parties there, but from the perspective of the Lannisters he's right. R: Mhm. K: There was no reason to spare Ned Stark's life. R: It does start with the two incestuous Lannisters pushing a child out of a window though, so. K: Yes, and we can - that's a whole other episode about - R [overlapping]: [laughing] K: Well, trust me, I could do a whole episode about the evolution in literature, writing, and various media of using sexually-based components of character's personalities to demonstrate that they're evil. R: Mhm. K: But yes, this isn't to say that Jamie and Cersei themselves aren't evil, but the Lannisters as a whole are conflict creators. R: Okay. K: And within there they're all opposing each other in certain ways, but they're all kind of presenting a united front. R: The Lannister corporate machine. K: Yeah exactly. Casterly Rock incorporated. They're all presenting a united front in the promotion and wellbeing of their own family. There's obviously a lot of stuff going on there that we the audience know about, but pretend you're an outside observer in Westeros. Apart from some slight patricide - R: [laughs] K: - but that's okay, because that was the member of the family who we just barely put up with and obviously there was something wrong with him and we probably should've thrown him down a well a long time ago. R: Are you talking about Tyrion or are you talking about Tywin - K: Both, but from the perspective of the Lannisters, Tyrion. [laughing] R [overlapping]: [laughing] K: You can recover from that one, because of course there was something off about him, look at him. Never mind that he's the smartest and, actually, most caring member of their family, but y'know. That's not important, apparently. I made up an antagonist category that I'm calling “general pains in the ass.”  R: [laughing] K: [laughs] Where they are not necessarily doing anything, but their existence is just infuriating to the point that it's creating conflict for the protagonist. The one that I always love to point to is Gary from Pokémon. R: Mm. K: Who's just Ash's rival but it's a very hilariously one-sided rivalry.  R: Right, right. K: [laughs] The other one that I think is very good is actually: Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask in the anime. Because he is also trying to get the rainbow crystals.  R: Right. K: In a pain-in-the-ass antagonist - I would throw Rei in there. R: [laughs] Yeah, there you go. K: Again, the anime - the manga did not go into this, but they're constantly fighting over who's gonna be the better this-or-that, and who's doing the better job, and again, it creates conflict for Usagi because Rei is hyper-confident and very good at this, and Usagi is not, at all.  R: Right. It has more to do with Rei just constantly criticizing her and making her progression slower than anything else.  K: Yeah, you'll notice there's a lot of overlap here because apart from being a general pain in the ass in that scenario, Rei is also a conflict creator.  R: Yeah. K: The last one that gets a little philosophical is the protagonist themselves. Holden Caulfield is of course the standout example here, but I would take anybody that can't get out of their own way and put them on this list. One of the thoughts I came up with was Anakin Skywalker.  R: Okay. K: More with the Clone Wars TV show as a better example of that, but you certainly see it through the prequels as well. Has a set of morals and code that he lives by that is in direct conflict with what the Jedi are teaching him and telling him to do. R: Mhm. K: And that's an excellent case study into a descent into villany by having a singular goal and taking more and more extreme measures to meet it. R: Like Draco, there's somebody that is coaching him and trying to lead him in a direction that he wouldn't have chosen on his own almost at any point.  K: I'm not sure I agree with that, because what we see Anakin do over and over again, his singular motivation-- and this is, by the way, his antagonistic component-- is “protect my friends and loved ones.” R: Mhm. K: And so he's willing to take more and more extreme measures that in some cases are going to get him in trouble, he's going to have to go in front of the Jedi Council and go ‘I'm really sorry I did that, but I did save Obi-Wan, so I think it all works out in the end.' And you've got Yoda silently screaming in his head, going ‘This is not what Jedi are supposed to do, this is dangerous.' R: Yeah. K: But then also, it gets him to a point where his moral code is coming into conflict with what is important to him. So, yes I killed a bunch of people on a spaceship, but I saved all of the Senators and the Jedi on it. Well, now I've killed a bunch of children because I thought it was going to save my pregnant wife.  R: Mhm. K: And we're getting to a point where he can't differentiate those two things from one another because in the end you're still saving something or someone important.  R: Right. But I still think that - K [overlapping]: Oh, yes, having Palpatine - R [overlapping]: that progression -  K: - breathing in his ear for the whole time was not helping. [laughing] R: Yeah, that was an outside influence that encouraged that progression. K: Absolutely, yeah. So, that's another antagonistic force - that is an external factor, people attempting to influence the protagonist.  R: Mhm. K: So, we talked a lot about antagonists, and as we said, most villains - not all - most villains are antagonists but not all antagonists are villains. In order to be a villain, you gotta be evil. You have to be a quote-unquote “bad guy.” And you've gotta be doing something that is bad, something that's hurting either a people, or an entity, maybe nature, or a planet itself. Typically, you've got selfish motivations here. R: Mhm. K: Sometimes you have no motivations, and we'll get into that, because the pure evil villains are one of my favorite villains. But, villains are working to destroy a heroic purpose or protagonist. They may not know that that's what they're doing, but they're doing it. Some villains go their whole story without realizing that there's somebody working their way up to opposing them, because their protagonist is such a little miniscule blip on the scale of this evil plan here that they didn't even know someone was opposing them. Villains, they have to be bad. They don't exist in a vacuum. Y'know, we used the idea of the mad scientist who doesn't know he's the bad guy -  R: Mhm. K: - until someone shows up to fight him. If that guy's just left in his lab making some little itty bitty Frankenstein monsters to run around and help him with his experiments and things, then he never leaves and nothing bad ever happens, and the new Frankenstein monsters are happy with their existence, he's not a villain! [laughs] However, if he's oppressing those little Frankenstein monster guys, or maybe they're escaping out into the world and doing bad things to people that they encounter, that then starts to move him into the realm of villain.  R: Now, what if he's in his lab and his experiments are destroying the planet outside the lab, but he never leaves and he never realizes, and the Frankenstein [ed.: monster]s are happy?  K: Yeah, so this is where it gets weird, because what he's doing is evil but he's not doing it on purpose.  R: Mm. K: I'm trying to think what the classification for that would be. An unwilling villain, essentially. Maybe more of an antagonist at that point. I'm trying to come up with an example of something where somebody shows up and informs a scientist or creator doing something that what they're doing is having a negative impact on the world around it and they had no idea.  R: There is an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where they go to a planet where the people on the planet basically take some of the children off the Enterprise because they can't have children themselves, and the crew is able to convince them that it's their very powerful computer system that's causing radiation that's preventing them from being healthy, and that it would happen to the kids too if they stayed, and so on and so forth.  K: Yeah, I'm trying to - like, this one isn't necessarily as good an example, but in Ender's Game, at the very end we find out that the conflict, this whole giant conflict, kind of began almost on a misunderstanding that the human population encountered alien life in the form of bugs that were a hivemind.  R: Mhm. K: And the bugs killed all of the humans they encountered not understanding that there was a life form out there that wasn't a hivemind. Because from their perspective, it didn't matter if a few soldiers got killed, they were just essentially vessels for the larger collective consciousness. They didn't understand the - R [overlapping]: Right. Individuality. K: Yeah. So, that started them as an antagonist, but then this war escalates and escalates and, that one I don't know if we can come up with “villain” and whether sides are evil, at that point, but. With villains, they might not even need to know that they're directly opposing the main character. The biggest difference between the villain and the antagonist is that sometimes, but not always, the antagonist forms more of a plot role. It's somebody to be there to create conflict, to move the story along, or to motivate the protagonist. It's somebody who may provide opportunities for growth for the protagonist as well, again through opposition. K: Everything is opposition and conflict for antagonists. Antagonists, they can be friends or friendly rivals of the protagonist, but they are a plot role, they are helping to develop and move the character and the stories along. A villain is a character type. This is a potentially necessary component of the story, depending on the type of story that you're telling, and they have a role to serve within that. They have to be the central point of conflict for evil reasons, to give the character something moral and good and just to fight for and overcome. If this sounds contrived, or this sounds pedantic, I don't know what to tell you because this is literature. [laughs] R: [laughing] Yeah. K: This is - you will find this across all of human history in literature, the conflict between good and evil. That is the central focus of it. And listen, what we consider good and what we consider evil varies from culture to culture, time to time. Heroes don't fit a certain set of criteria across all cultures. If you go back and read any Greek myth, and what they consider to be heroes, most of these guys were assholes. Like, really bad people. But they did heroic things, and they lived in ways that were acceptable to the ancient Greeks.  R: Mhm. K: So therefore they were heroes. The Greeks are really interesting in that they did not write what was idealized, but what was true. So even though we know that the way they conducted their society, the way they lived and acted, is abhorrent to us, at the time it was acceptable. Not only acceptable, but encouraged.  R: Right. Perhaps even seen as heroic behavior.  K [overlapping]: To that end—yeah. To that end, evil is the same way.  R: Mhm. K: I'm gonna throw one last monkey wrench [laughs] into this - the villain, as we kept saying, most villains but not all are antagonists, because sometimes the villain's the protagonist. The villain is only the antagonist when they're not the main character of the story, when they're just serving as the sense of conflict. But sometimes in stories, the villain, who is evil and is doing evil things, is the protagonist, is the main character that we're following. Two of my favorite examples of this are Light from Death Note and Dexter from Dexter. Light is a teenager with a god complex who I wouldn't even say “starts off trying to do right in the world,” because if you watch the series really he's just experimenting using bad people until he gets the plan figured out. But, for those who are unfamiliar, Death Note is an outstanding anime that I highly recommend about a teenager who comes across a notebook that is stolen from a Japanese death god and learns that the names he writes in the notebook will die. And he gets more and more specific about specifying “will die at this time,” “will die in this way,” et cetera. And enters into this whole cat-and-mouse psychological thriller thing with himself and the police that are trying to stop this serial killer that they don't understand.  R: Right. K: The whole thing turns into this god complex of him establishing rules of what he thinks are right and wrong and threatening the entire world with what would basically be instantaneous death at his whim if they don't adhere to it. So let's be clear, Light is evil. He is killing people because they're not acting the way he wants them to. But he is the main character and the protagonist of the story, and if you watch it you find yourself cheering for him outwitting the police, outwitting this detective. One of the detectives, by the way, is his father. And you're still goin,g “Come on, Light, you can get yourself out of this one!” Dexter Morgan from Dexter is another good example. Dexter is a serial killer. Dexter has kill rooms where he duct tapes people to tables, ritualistically stabs them, chops the bodies up, and drops them in the water off the coast of Miami.  R: Mhm. K: Dexter also has a complex set of morality that he adheres to, and Dexter is a little bit different because he doesn't want to do these things, he wishes he wasn't like this, but he knows that he is and there's nothing he can do about it. The books are a little stranger about this than the TV show. So he's channeling his awfulness into only killing murderers.  R: Right, and the rules of morality that he follows are not actually his morals.  K: Yeah. R: They were given to him. K: Yes. As a way to hopefully help maintain and control him. But he's still killing people. And he's still operating outside the justice system. He's very careful about gathering all the evidence and knowing “yes, this person's definitely a murderer,” but he's still serving as judge, jury, and executioner without giving anyone the benefit of due process. In his mind it doesn't matter why you killed somebody. You killed somebody. And it's coming less from a place of morality than an opportunity to be an outlet for his own base urges. Villains can be protagonists. Just because somebody is the main character of the story doesn't necessarily mean that they're good.  R: In fact, I feel a little bit better about some books thinking about it that way. [laughs] K: Yeah, absolutely. And, look, there's a whole thing you can get into with the hero vs. the antihero, and what is considered heroic and what is considered acceptable; god, I think there's been entire books written about this, with Superman as a core component there. It is very nuanced to kind of sort these things out of where the line is between hero and villain, and even more so where the line is between antagonist and villain. At what point do you stop being just an inconvenience or a pain in the butt that someone's gotta deal with and become somebody who is an active threat to not just the protagonist but potentially those around them as well? R: I know a book can have antagonists and villains, we've established several that do. Can you have a book with more than one villain?  K: Absolutely!  R: How do they not just sort of shrink down to become antagonists, then, if there's more than one? Or is it just because of their behavior being evil? K: Let's go back to another favorite of ours, Avatar: the Last Airbender. I would make the argument that both Azula and Ozai are villains. I think there are definitely people who would take Azula and put her more in the antagonist category; I disagree, she's evil, she has evil motivations. She also wants to conquer and subjugate the entire world and is willing to burn it down to do it. Hers and her father's ideologies and motives line up pretty closely. The difference is that Ozai sits in this palace and we don't see him for most of the series, and Azula's out there running amuck. R: So one can be a subordinate of the other, and they can both still be villains. K: Absolutely, yeah. And villains can work together, we got the superhero team ups on villains all the time. Dunno if you ever watched Venture Bros. - R: Yeah. K: - but the Guild of Calamitous Intent is one of my favorites, not that they're all teaming up against the same protagonist there. But yeah you absolutely can have multiple villains; one who is working under or for the other. You could have minions that are villains, as long as their intentions are evil. To that end with Avatar I would say Ty Lee and Mai are antagonists, not villains. Because they're minions who are kinda just there to do what Azula says but like, they don't necessarily want to burn down and subjugate the rest of the world, they're just sort of along for the ride. I think with multiple villains, a lot of times when you see that you're kind of dealing with an ensemble cast, and everyone's gonna sort of have a little area they have to go break off into. But not always, look at Star Wars. Yeah, Darth Vader was redeemed at the end, but you had two evil villains one right after the other, and again we're kinda seeing the same power dynamic as Azula and Ozai. K: To kind of round all of this out, villains are evil. And they usually have to have some sort of evil motivation or plan or action to match this. They might be so evil that they aren't even aware that everyone knows they're evil and is trying to stop them. Villains do not necessarily have to come in immediate direct conflict with protagonists in order to be villains. They can just be out there doing their little villain evil plan thing and not even know that someone's coming to fight them to the death until that person shows up to do so. They don't have to be directly opposed to the protagonist. In some cases, they can be the protagonist. But they've gotta have bad intentions. R: For the thrill of having bad intentions. K: Some of it can be for the thrill. The pure villains, those are my favorite ones, the ones that we never quite find out why they're doing what they're doing, they're just doing it. I use the example of Maleficent, from the original Sleeping Beauty movie, not the Angelina Jolie with lots of backstory and sympathetic character origins. Maleficent shows up, she's mad that she didn't get invited to the party but we kind of all get the impression that there's a reason she wasn't, but nobody quite knows what it is or what's going on here. R: Because we knew she would make a scene! K [laughing]: I think it's because she showed up and cursed the princess. R: So they saw that coming, you're saying. K: Yeah maybe. R: Even though the exact way to prevent that, according to Maleficent, would've been to invite her. K: The logic gets a little circular there, to be sure. [laughs] But yeah so, the villain is a character type, it's not a plot role. The villain is not always necessarily there to advance the protagonist or the plot. They certainly can, but they're not doing it directly all the time. R: Mhm. K: This is, villains are one of those sometimes-but-not-always-except-for-this-and-then-that-happens kind of situation. Antagonists on the other hand, they're not necessarily evil, they can be actually just regular cool decent normal people who happen to have a conflicting agenda with the protagonist. They just want different things. Last week we did MacGuffins. The antagonist may just be running around after their own MacGuffin, and for some reason that's causing problems for the protagonist. Maybe they also want that MacGuffin for a completely different reason, one that is mutually exclusive of what the antagonist wants; they can't team up there. Or maybe they just also wanna have the top spot at the dojo, and so they're gonna be in conflict with the protagonist there. The thing that makes the antagonist an antagonist is that they are opposed to the protagonist, and they will cause conflicts with the story's main character. It's a plot role, and it doesn't necessarily speak to the character's personality or motivations. They are there to create and cause conflict for the main character to either resolve, oppose, or fall to. R: So when I proposed this topic to you, I kind of thought of antagonists as mini-bosses and the villain as the big boss, thinking of video games and the way that's usually structured. So, this is unexpected. K [laughing]: Listen, an antagonist can be a mini-boss. It's all about motivations. R: But they can also just be that person living their life that has always bugged you because they microwaved fish in the lunchroom that one time. K: That person might be a villain. R: [laughs] Just wanna contradict me at every turn. K: I dunno, somebody who microwaves fish, that seems like evil intentions to me. [laughing] R: Look, they live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of their life. K: That's very very true. Anyway, so, Rekka any - R: Can an antagonist be the protagonist? K: No, those are mutually exclusive yeah. There's somebody who is not evil and they're the main character of the story, they're the protagonist. R: So they don't have a goatee or a mustache to twirl, and they're the main character, then they're the protagonist every time. K: Yes. The primary component for being the protagonist is that the story is about you, you're the principal character. If you are serving in an antagonistic role as the protagonist, you're still the protagonist, you're just a jerk. R: So when I get up and look in the mirror in the morning and I say, “Hey, butthead,” I'm still the protagonist of my life. K: You are both the protagonist and antagonist of your own life, yes. R: That feels accurate. K: [laughing] I think most of us are. R: Yeah. K: Well we said, a good example of an antagonist is the character themselves. R: Yep. Alright, I think I get it. K: We can always come back and talk more about it, because this one was fun to do some research on and get some thoughts together. R: So you would say that a book or a story plot requires an antagonist but doesn't necessarily require a villain. K: Yes, definitely. R: And the protagonist is completely optional. K: Yes, we're just gonna have a bunch of antagonists running around causing conflict for each other. Well, I think that's pretty much every murder mystery, so. R: So if it's a third person omniscient, and there is no main POV, we can have a book with no protagonist. Got it. K: I feel like you're trying to trick me into something but I don't know what. [laughing] R: I'm antagonizing you, I'm sorry. K: It's an important thing to do. R: As an editor you need to have your feathers ruffled every now and then. K: It creates conflict, and conflict creates growth. R: And plot. K: And plot. [laughing] But yeah thank you so much for listening everyone as always, hopefully this was helpful information, I know this was a lot of mincing of minute details, but - R: Yeah I mean maybe this was the episode you never knew you never wanted but - K [overlapping]: [laughs] R: - if there is an episode topic that you do know you want, you can find us on Twitter and Instagram @WMBcast, and you can also find us at patreon.com/WMBcast. And we'd love to hear your suggestions for topics or questions. If we have confused you in any way, then you can blame Kaelyn, and also let us know and we'll try to fix that. Thanks everyone! K: Thank you so much.

Gloom Gals
Gloom Gals Official Trailer

Gloom Gals

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 26, 2021 2:36


Welcome to Gloom Gals! Join us as we explore the horror genre. Whether you love scary movies or hide behind your fingers during Disney movies, we've got you covered. We'll be posting weekly for the month of October, and see where it goes from here! Music from Uppbeat (free for Creators!): https://uppbeat.io/t/danijel-zambo/fairytales License code: UHRE1MJ4H5PVESEX Transcript: Amoreena: Hello! And welcome to Gloom Gals. The podcast where we take a scaredy cat and a horror hoe and guide you through the horror genre. Kaitlyn: I'm Kaitlyn, your friendly neighborhood scaredy cat A: And I'm Amoreena, the aforementioned horror hoe! K: Join us if you're tired of being left out of movie nights with your friends, A: Even if it's for your own good! K: Or because you're wanting to expand your movie passport A: Or even just your comfort zone. K: Through this journey we're hoping you are able to find a horror niche you can actually enjoy A: Keep up with your annoying film friends at parties, at least a little bit K: and hopefully have some fun as I attempt to do the same! A: We'll be giving you reviews of the movies Kaitlyn and I watch in every episode and exploring what constitutes a good scary movie, how it made us feel, and why you should or should not watch it. K: And I will also be providing a handy-dandy 1-5 finger guide on just how much you're going to have to cover your eyes during the movie (I will also be giving you some helpful time stamps of the super gnarly parts!) A: Very important work. K: So a little bit about me and my experience with horror--I grew up enjoying mostly fantasy movies, right? Lord of the Rings was my favorite movie series, even though I covered my eyes during half the movies, or every single time an Orc was on screen, because I thought they were just too scary. I also don't particularly like jump scares, or body horror, and tend to get nightmares super easily. That all being said, I love stories. And annoyingly enough, horror has some really good stories. And then, I moved in with one of my dearest ones who is a horror fanatic, and well, here we are. A: And fanatic is a pretty accurate term. I've loved horror movies pretty much since I was able to work the remote on our tv. I'm not sure what drew me to them initially; if it was a sick sort of morbid curiosity or maybe experiencing an adrenaline rush like my ten year old self had never had before. Either way, over the years I've curated a place in my heart for the ghouls, gore, and final girls. This whole tour through the subgenres, niches, and classics is something I didn't know I've basically been training my whole life to do, and I look forward to sharing that with all of you. K: So if you'd like to tag along, you can find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. A: And if that's not enough, stalk us on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, @ gloomgalspod K: We'll see ya next time!... Or will we? A: DUN DUN DUN

We Make Books Podcast
Episode 66 - Tropes (Yay, tropes!)

We Make Books Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 3, 2021 25:01


We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, and concerns for us to address in future episodes. We hope you enjoy We Make Books! Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap Instagram: @WMBCast  Patreon.com/WMBCast Mentioned in this episode: The Dancing Plague of 1518 MICE quotient The House of Untold Stories  storyenginedeck.com/demo deckofworlds.com Peter on Twitter and everywhere   Transcript (by TK) [Upbeat Ukulele Intro Music] Rekka: This is We Make Books, a podcast about writing publishing and everything in between. Rekka is a published Science Fiction and Fantasy author, and Kaelyn is a professional genre fiction editor. Together, they'll tackle the things you never knew you never knew about getting a book from concept to finished product, with explanations, examples, and a lot of laughter. Get your moleskin notebook ready. It's time for We Make Books. We Make Books Episode 66 Transcription Kaelyn: We're talking about tropes today, which is something that I think a lot of people hear spoken about in a negative context: falling back on using too many tropes, or stories following really common tropes. Rekka: And we don't appreciate that kind of shaming. K [laughs]: No, we certainly do not trope sh--see this is gonna be a problem because I was doing research for this and the word ‘trope' is difficult to say over and over again. R: Trope, trope, trope, trope, trope. K: It's, what do they call that, when a word becomes a sound? Semantic satiation. R: Yes. K: Yes. The word ‘trope' has become more of a sound to me and it's sort of lost meaning [laughing] at times but--So quick definitions, there's the actual word ‘trope' comes from Greek, because of course it does, it all does-- R: You mean it isn't a contraction of tightrope? K: It should be, that would be so much better. R: [laughs] K: A literary trope is using figurative language, like words, phrases, images, for artistic effect. So there's a bunch of different kinds of tropes that fall under literary tropes. Things like metaphors, irony, allegory, oxymorons; those are all considered tropes. Hyperbole is another good example of that, really over-exaggerating. The way this came about was, apparently, because it is Greek and it's from Greek theatre, of course, ‘to alter, to direct, to change, to turn'--all of these translations kinda line up with that, but they're considered an important element of classical rhetoric. Especially in Greek theatre where it was very dialogue-heavy, and so you had to sort of use all of these words and everything to paint a picture to explain to the audience what was going on. All of that said, we're not really here to talk about literary tropes today. They're an important story-telling device, though, and they're something that is considered, I would say, necessary to higher literature and writing and if you're panicking going ‘oh my God, I don't know all of this stuff'--well the thing is you're probably doing this anyway and not realizing. R: A lot of writers don't come from writing backgrounds and don't know the terms for the thing, don't stress too much about it. K: We're talking today primarily about story tropes. I think a lot of times you're gonna encounter this in a negative light. It's a frequent criticism I feel like that's leveraged especially against fiction, especially against fantasy and science fiction books and writing; in some areas of fiction it's actually celebrated. R: Right. K: You pick which trope you're gonna write. R: You cannot proceed without mentioning the other half of that, which is that some people are like ‘Okay, I pick my books based on the tropes I wanna read about.' K: Yes. R: Like, ‘Where's my time travel?' K [laughs]: Yeah. We wanted to talk about why that is. We wanted to talk about what story tropes are, and why they're not necessarily as bad and, in our humble opinions-- R: Not so humble. K: --not so humble opinions, as everyone thinks they are. So, definition: what is a story trope? It's a commonly used plot or character device, essentially. A story trope is something that shows up in literature and stories over and over again, to the point that it may actually be a subgenre within a broader genre. R: That's not to say it is an entire plot of a book that shows up over and over again, like the Hero's Journey is not necessarily a trope. K: No. R: The smaller pieces of plot or character might be the trope. Like the farmboy would be a trope. K: Yeah, the farmboy is a trope. The surprise hero is a trope. R: Prophesied one. K: Yeah, the prophesied one; time-travel to go back and reset the future, that could be a trope. The noble outlaw-- R [overlapping]: Right. K: --is a good trope, the secret relative, the-- All of these elements and story parts that are things you just see all the time in books. So if you're going ‘well, I like those'-- R: Right. K: Like yeah, of course you do! R [overlapping]: Yeah. K [laughing]: That's why they're popular! That's why these keep coming up. Anything from like, a secret legacy or an unknown lost child, unfound powers that suddenly appear at just the right time, or anyone being secretly special for some reason. R [overlapping]: [giggles] K: But these are part of what make stories fun. They're not the larger plot, they're the elements that make up the characters and the plot. R: And you can use them like spice in a recipe-- K [overlapping]: [laughs] R: --to come up with something that is entirely your own but tastes familiar and pleasing. K: Yeah. Now obviously, different genres are going to have different tropes that you see recurring in there. So before we get into why tropes are good, let's talk a little bit about why they're frequently seen as a negative. R: I have feelings about this. K: Okay. R: I think they're frequently seen as a negative because if you come to lean too heavily on tropes, they can make your story feel either derivative or predictable. K: I was gonna say contrived, yeah, but same. R: Don't you ever say that about one of my stories, Kaelyn. K: I would never say that about one of your stories. If you're leaning too heavily on tropes, if you're just pulling things that you know are popular or cool things you read in other books that you went like ‘oh wow that's awesome, I wanna write something like that,' you're almost not writing a story. You're putting together a sequence of events and characters that you liked from other things. R: Is that fanfiction, is that what you're implying? K: Ohhh, oh, there's a--God, I'm not ready to wade into that question! [laughs] R: But we should touch on the fact that tropes are major fanfiction fuel. Sometimes that's the entire point of the piece, is that ‘take this trope and apply it to this IP that I love.' K: Yeah. R: In that case, that can be the goal. To be, not that contrived but obviously, specifically derivative--not in the negative sense of the term, but like you're writing fanfiction, it is derivative of this IP, and you're applying this trope to it because you just think that would be fun. So people can have fun with it. K: Absolutely. R: And not for the right reasons, but it might feed into this impression that tropes are derivative or contrived. K: I think also it goes to storytelling abilities. If your entire book is just laden with secret Targaryens and lost bloodlines and magic powers nobody knew about, chosen ones and prophecies and it's just the entire story is that, it's probably not a great story, because it doesn't sound like there's a lot of room in there for character development and arcs and intricate and original plots. R: Having said that… K: Or, wait, other direction: it may be way too complicated. Because that's a lot of stuff to juggle. R: Well there's that, yeah. Having said that, I don't think you could say that there is a restrained amount of troping in something like Gideon the Ninth. K: No. No, absolutely not. R: So it can be done. K: Here's the thing. That story is set in such an original setting with such original characters, in original worldbuilding and magic system if you will, that I think it more than makes up for all of that. That's just my opinion, ‘cause you know Rekka and I can't get through an episode without referencing Gideon the Ninth and using that as an example of-- R [overlapping]: I think there's one or two. K: [laughing] R: But specifically when you talk about things that are trope-based, or fandom-based, I think you have to acknowledge that there is always an exception to this ‘be careful around fanfic,' or ‘be careful around tropes.' Like ‘don't put too many in'--or! Put them all in! K [laughs]: It's I think a matter of knowing how to use them. I don't think a lot of writers set out with the intention of ‘I am going to write to this trope,' it's just something that happens. R: Although I think a lot of tropes have inspired anthologies. ‘I want this kind of book, I want an anthology full of that kind of story.' K: Yeah. R: And it's one or two tropes smashed together, or it's a trope applied to a certain genre or character type. I think it's happening a lot, where people are looking for a way to find joy. And tropes really are like candy. K: So let's talk about that. Let's talk about why tropes are good, why these things that show up in every story show up in every story--it's because they're fun! R: It's also really good marketing. K: Yes. R: It's a lot easier to come up with comp titles when you're pitching a book if everybody's drawing from a fairly reasonably sized pool of tropes. K: Let's be clear here. These things can go in cycles. I remember a few years ago everyone was retelling or reinterpreting old fairy tales. I felt like that was just something I saw all the time. I will call that a trope, more or less, that is something that speaks to a specific reader and something that somebody's gonna wanna pick up, like ‘oh well I really liked when this person did it, I'm gonna try this book now as well.' R: So that speaks to what you said earlier about them becoming like a niche genre. K: Yeah, absolutely. Young adult fiction, especially within science fiction and fantasy, I think is constantly at the mercy of whatever trope is popular at the time. YA definitely fell to the fairy tale retelling trend at some point; YA books with a central character, usually a young woman or older teenage girl, who was not necessarily a prophesied champion but has to save everyone on her own even though she doesn't want to; science fiction, there's everything from time travel to artificial intelligence to very specific kinds of space battles and things, but! It speaks to a certain reader. K: There are these things that create these subgenres, and that's really helpful for readers, because I think what we're skirting around that nobody wants to say is, you don't want to put readers in a position where they're just reading the same story over and over, but I know a lot of people who just like to read the same story over and over. People who are very into romance novels. R: There're definitely a set of tropes that romance novels have to pick from, just like there are tropes that other genres have to pick from, and when you read a book that you really love, and romance often tickles a specific audience, they want more like that. Think of the first Thor movie where he tries coffee and he says “I like this beverage. Another!” and smashes it down on the floor-- K [overlapping]: Yes! [laughs] R: People will smash their books down on the floor and demand another because they read through it so quickly and it was exactly what they wanted, and they want to feel that feeling again. Just with new characters. K: I'm gonna qualify all this by saying none of this is a criticism of the romance genre. Romance writers a lot of times write to specific tropes: the marriage of convenience, or the marriage of ‘we didn't know each other beforehand but someone found this legal document that our families betrothed us'-- R: Or a fake marriage-- K [overlapping]: Yeah. R: --that turns into a real marriage. K: Co-workers to friends to lovers type thing. R: Only one bed. K: Yes, exactly, exactly. R: These are by the way coming into genre fiction, science fiction and fantasy-- K [overlapping]: Yup. R: Where romance is becoming more welcome in the books. K: Yes. R: Actual romance, as opposed to ‘you are a buxom babe who stowed away on my spaceship therefore we are a couple.' The depth of character is now allowing for these tropes to trickle in as characters get to know each other in a more interesting way, and less classic pairing-off. K: I'm sure most people listening to this know or probably even a family member that just obsessively consumes romance novels. I think back to my grandmother and my aunt having stacks of those mass market paperback ones that all have like, essentially the same cover just different backgrounds and clothes. R: Hey look, when we talk about your cover art, you need to look at what your industry in your genre is-- K [overlapping]: Yes, absolutely! R: --putting on the shelf and you want to communicate that you are making the same promise to the reader. So you have very similar covers in romance, ‘cause there's only so many ways to be austere while still posing two characters together. K [laughing]: I would say that the two genre groups of readers that will most vivaciously consume media are hard military SF and romance, who will just tear through these books and stories, which is fantastic. I have friends that will read at least one, possibly two, romance novels a week. A lot of them do the Kindle Unlimited. R: Yup. K: Because there's a lot of romance novels on Kindle unlimited. R: Well the two systems kinda fed each other. K: Exactly. But, they have their tropes that they like. Forced into a marriage of convenience, or stranded on an island somewhere. R: Those are the good ones. K: Yeah. [laughs] And Kindle will very helpfully keep recommending more and more of those to you, and I don't want anyone to leave thinking I'm putting down those readers for just wanting the same thing over and over again. Books are there to give you comfort and to spark joy and interest, and if that's what you wanna read, if that's what's making you happy, then that's what you should be reading. R: Right. And in that case, tropes are very very good. K: Tropes are incredibly helpful. R: And they're a marketing tool; the people producing the work, they know that their readers like this trope, so an entire world where that trope is kind of central to what's going on is going to delight people. K: Something that I see a lot now, and especially with submissions I was seeing this, was a really hard and concerted effort to avoid tropes. And it's hard to write like that sometimes. Don't get me wrong; there are books out there that are successfully doing it, that are coming up with really original stories. That said, I don't think it's possible to write a full-length novel without having at least a handful of tropes in there. R: Plus, if it's successful and it's original, then someone's going to mimic that. K: It will become a trope on its own, eventually. R [overlapping]: And it becomes a trope. I mean this is where tropes come from, they are not fully forged in the heart of a star. K: [laughs] R: Y'know, they're a process of people recognizing a thing they like in a book and making sure it's repeated. That's exactly what's going on, so you come up with a story that's completely original and you're so proud of it, well, maybe you get to claim being the first, but you're not going to get to claim being the only for very long. K: Tropes go back to basically the genesis of human writing. R: Mhm. K: I mean, we consider the Epic of Gilgamesh to be the oldest more or less complete epic story written down, at this point. It's very clear, if you've ever read it, that even though we don't have anything that came before that, there's elements of the story that were just commonplace storytelling devices of that time. There's other parts of it that then pop up in later epic tales that it's impossible to tell well, was this influenced by the Epic of Gilgamesh, or was this influenced by common storytelling tropes of the time and the Epic of Gilgamesh just happens to be the one that lasted the longest that we still have? R: Right. K: If you ever look into the literary history of Robin Hood, Robin Hood as we know him today did not start off like that. R [overlapping]: Right. K: He was just like a straight up highwayman. R: Bandit, at some point yeah. K: Bandit, there we go. He regularly kinda killed people to get their money. But, the character evolved as storytelling tropes evolved. We went from Robin Hood being just a lawless bandit who's funny and laughing while he's doing all of this to, no no he's actually the son of an earl who went off on the Crusades and came back and he's stealing from the rich and giving to the needy. Yeah Robin Hood was just straight up stealing originally-- R [overlapping]: Wow. K: --in all of these. [laughs] R: Until suddenly he wasn't. K: Until suddenly he wasn't! R: And someday in the future, those tropes might change, and the story of Robin Hood would be told differently, and everyone would think that was the best version. K: There's actually a lot of what we would probably think of as ‘modern' tropes that show up in medieval European literature. The special chosen one is very tied to Arthurian legend, which again, if you ever wanna try to put that together, go and--good luck. R [laughing]: You figure that out, we're not doing it for you. K: No [laughs], no. That's another good example of the evolution of these tropes. And then there's actually like conflict and everyone was writing different versions of Arthur but because there was no printing press at the time, and there certainly wasn't any form of mass communication, there's all of these different versions of what virtues and what values they wanted to highlight in Arthur, based on what was common storytelling at that time. I think that there is this push to write something no one's ever written, and the thing is you're never gonna do that. R: And maybe it's not even something you wanna aspire to do. K: No, and it's okay for authors to write a story based on the story they wanna tell, not based on like, ‘I need to be the most original writer in the history of writing.' That said, there are definitely readers out there who are always looking for something they've never seen before. Maybe you can write one of those! But, it's still going to have tropes in it. R: Yeah. K: They are inescapable. They are inevitable. R: Yeah, the level of trope that you include might go up or down, depending on your story, but. Don't revise your draft and like strip out everything that was fun at the time, just because you've seen it before. K: Rekka and I are obviously coming from a place of primarily Western-fueled literature. R: Right. K: Y'know, if you get into different parts of the world, different storytelling traditions, they will also have their own tropes. [laughs] R: Yeah, they're not gonna be the same tropes, so if you wanna totally wow a Western audience just go borrow someone else's tropes. K: Prophecy and chosen one's just all over the historical literature, there's mythical places and people with secret lineages, I think that's something you're gonna come across no matter what, because uh. Almost like humanity just really enjoys those facets of storytelling. So. But yeah anyway, when I would get submissions sometimes that I could tell there was a writer that was just trying to be really really original, to just stay away from anything that may have been done before. One of the things I always thought was, “I don't know how I'm going to sell this to anyone.” R: Right, ‘cause what do you compare it to? K: Yeah, that's not necessarily a dealbreaker. But it does make things very difficult. Because if you're trying to describe something in the context of ‘well do you like this thing? You may also like this'-- R [overlapping]: Mhm. K: --and you're not able to do that, it's hard to sell a book. R: Right. Exactly. And that's how the conversations always start, you got the elevator pitches, you've got the comp books. And those are the quickest way to get people's attention, and now you've cut yourself off from that. K: Yeah exactly. That said, nothing wrong with trying to be original. Just be aware it could be, depending on how original you're going, it could be a little bit of an uphill battle. Again, I will use Gideon the Ninth as a weird pitch-- R [overlapping]: [laughs] K [laughing]: --for that book, ‘lesbian necromancers in a broken down palace in space,' and don't get me wrong, that definitely piqued my interest, but you can see how that might not be everyone's cup of tea. R: And if it's the first original book to present this-- K [overlapping]: Mhm. R: --to a major publisher, they're going to say, “Who do we put this on the shelf next to? Where do we market this? We don't use these tropes.” K: Yep. R: “How do we do?” Y'know? K: [laughs] R: It takes a brave publisher to try something new, even if that new thing is built out of all these amazing fantastic fun tropes. K: Yeah, exactly. R: So you can be original, and still combine all these tropes, and just do it in a way that makes people go, “Sorry, what? Say that again?!” K: That's kind of one more thing that I would like to talk about. We skirted around Gideon the Ninth-- R: I don't think we skirted around it. K: Well--is just trope after trope and I said yeah, but it's very original in everything else. So if you have sort of what you'd think of as like ‘ugh is this story too cookie-cutter, is it too predictable and too tropey?' the thing you need to then consider is, alright but everything else I have in here, the worldbuilding, the characters, the technology or the magic system, is that original? You can make up for a lot by having a really original, engaging world that this is set in, and writing really great characters that we're cheering for and boy do we really want them to be the long-lost secret half-sister of the wizard-- R: Right. K: We're just cheering so hard for her, I want for her to have magic powers. So-- [laughs] R: Especially if you start to lead toward a trope, and you don't deliver on it, your readers are going to be pretty upset with you. K: Or maybe they'll go, ‘wow that's awesome. I wanna write something like that.' R: And then it becomes a trope again. K: Exactly. R: Alright, is there anything else tropey to discuss? K: They're an endless cycle. R: Get your innertube and just jump into the lazy river of tropes, and-- K [overlapping]: [laughs] R: And enjoy, just come around again and it'll be good. Just write your story. K: Yeah. R: If it's got tropes in it, that's cool. If it doesn't, that's cool. It will soon. K [laughing]: And they're not lazy, let's be clear! R: They're not! K: No, yeah-- R: But that's what they call it at a theme park when they jump in with the innertube-- K: No no I'm just, yeah. R: Okay! So, tropes are good. If anyone tells you otherwise just take your book somewhere else. Someone wants them. They want them very very badly. K: Also, being constantly rejected and not seeing the brilliance of a character is a good trope too. R: Yes. And, going for the tropes of podcasting, you can find us online @wmbcast on Twitter and Instagram, and also at Patreon. And if you would be so kind to leave a rating and review, we would love to read it on the air. You could also ask us questions at any of those social media-- K [overlapping]: We love questions. R: --accounts. That can feed a future tropey episode. Or maybe not tropey, I don't know! We'll find out when you ask us questions. Thanks everyone for listening and we'll talk to you in two weeks!

The Game on 1350 KMAN
7/8/21 Hour 1 - KSO's Derek Young

The Game on 1350 KMAN

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 8, 2021 38:33


7/8/21 Hour 1 - KSO's Derek Young by John Kurtz Mason Voth and Mitch Fortner

Ledarredaktionen
Borgerligheten och Sverigedemokraterna

Ledarredaktionen

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 7, 2021 33:50


7 juli. Vilka avvägningar behöver borgerligheten göra i frågan om samarbete med Sverigedemokraterna? Andreas Ericson leder samtal mellan Hanna Wagenius, centerpartistisk KSO i Östersund, och Benjamin Dousa, vd Timbro, tidigare ordförande i MUF.

Boscoe’s Boys
Summer Recruiting Roundup with Drew Galloway

Boscoe’s Boys

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2021 53:33


Drew from KSO hops on to talk about summer recruiting newsSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

Boscoe’s Boys
Summer Recruiting Roundup with Drew Galloway

Boscoe’s Boys

Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2021 53:33


Drew from KSO hops on to talk about summer recruiting newsPrivacy Policy and California Privacy Notice.

We Make Books Podcast
Episode 63 - More Than the Sum of Half Their Parts (Co-writing)

We Make Books Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 22, 2021 37:09


We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, and concerns for us to address in future episodes. We hope you enjoy We Make Books! Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap Instagram: @WMBCast  Patreon.com/WMBCast Mentioned in this episode: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett A Ship With No Parrot by R J Theodore (MetaStellar) Episode Transcript (by TK @_torkz) [Upbeat Ukulele Intro Music] This is We Make Books, a podcast about writing publishing and everything in between. Rekka is a published Science Fiction and Fantasy author, and Kaelyn is a professional genre fiction editor. Together, they'll tackle the things you never knew you never knew about getting a book from concept to finished product, with explanations, examples, and a lot of laughter. Get your moleskin notebook ready. It's time for We Make Books. Kaelyn: We're talking today about writing with a friend. Hopefully a friend. If not a friend, then a partner. Rekka: Hopefully a friend for longer than it takes to write the project. K: Hopefully a friend after you're done. [laughing] R: Yes, before and after. Hey, even after is probably more important than before. Let's be clear that you don't wanna destroy a relationship, but you can make a new friend. K: Yes, absolutely. Let's talk first about, why would you do this? R: [giggles] K: Why would you want to - and, okay so maybe a little context first. I will admit I have never worked on a project that a single story had been written or contributed to by two different people. R: As an editor, you mean? K: Yes. R: Ok. K: So why would you do this? It seems like a difficult thing to do. And for context, Rekka has done this a couple times. So Rekka, why would you do this? R: Because writing is lonely, and the idea that someone else will work on a project with you is just like the biggest longest most creative sleepover ever. K: Okay! R: It's a good reason. K: That is certainly a good reason, writing is lonely. I think a lot of writers, their editor when they get one is the first time they're really having somebody to collaborate with, and to talk to. R: To go back and forth. K: Yeah, but the editor is not writing the book. R: I know! Which is unfair, honestly. K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: I wanna know who I talk to about this. K: Yeah but you know what you're right, writing is a lonely process. There's a lot of time spent sitting by yourself just having to think. R: And having feelings. K: Yeah. If you're writing with someone, you get to share those with someone else. R: And shout about things. K: Absolutely. Shouting is a necessary component to that 100% — R: It's actually kinda how it gets started, there's a lot of enthusiastic shouting about an idea. K: [laughing] R: But you know what stinks? Is that you still have to write alone. K: Well and that's exactly what I was gonna ask you. So okay, let's go through this. You've decided I'm tired of being alone here, I want to also inflict this upon somebody else. So what do you do? R: [deep sigh] How do you find someone else to inflict things upon? So the first person that I sat down to write a project with was a friend, and we said like hey we should try this out! And we were both writers to begin with, writing in fairly different genres but still genre fiction. And we decided we were going to do a project and we said hey, it will be this, like we outlined it together. We - or we didn't so much outline it together but we concepted it out together. K: Okay. R: And then we each created a POV character as part of that concept. And then we wrote our chapters back and forth, so that the tone, the voice, for that POV character is consistent. K: Mhm. R: And so that you can have a character that's slightly unreliable, just because like you couldn't catch all the continuity errors, that you and your partner - K [overlapping]: Mhm. Yup. R: - created. It also lets you kind of reshuffle the scenes if you need to later, uh move things around a little bit easier, extract things if you need to without losing too many threads. But my other experience in doing it we did not, we had one POV. So, it doesn't have to be done that way. K: Tell us about the time you wrote one POV. R: I sort of went through my text file that I keep on my phone that's just like the little random lines and concepts, phrases that occur to me. And so the writing partner latched onto one and said, “That's interesting, let's work with that.” And then that was it, we just kind of went. I wrote something and sent it to him, and then I think we gave a week or two weeks max for each turnaround, so that one person wasn't waiting on the other forever. So it kinda bounced back and forth, and it would twist a little, like I'd get back and reread what the new words were and I'd be like oh okay, that's where that's going now. K: [chuckles] R: So it felt a little bit like improv, where somebody tosses you something, and y - the guide for improv is don't say “no,” say “yes, and...” So I think I had more of that spirit in the second project than I did in the first time attempting it, where um. As a kid I used to play with my friends and we'd get the toys all out and I'd immediately have a plot. And my friends would never adhere to it - K [overlapping]: [chuckles] R: Because of course they didn't know it. They would have whatever toy they were holding do a thing and I'd be like “No no no not that, have it do this.” So I can't imagine I was much fun to play with. Nor was it probably much fun to try and write with me on the project where I didn't have the spirit of “yes, and...” I had more like “mmm. That's interesting, how's that gonna fit back into where I'm taking this?” K: Well and that's a very good point, is I think if you're going to write with somebody it has to be a genuinely collaborative effort, rather than someone coming in with a story and having someone else tell it. R: Yeah and like I said, both times it was starting from a concept that, it wasn't like, “Oh I wanna write this book, do you wanna write it with me?” K: Mhm. R: So it was two people coming together each time saying “let's work together on a thing, what should we work on, do you have any ideas, yeah sure how ‘bout this concept, okay that's interesting what can we do with that? And then how do you wanna do this? Like okay I'll write some and then you write some and then I'll write some and then you write some. K: So like just examples off the top of my head, did you read This Is How You Lose the Time War? R: Yes. K: Yeah, so that was, so that's a novella actually written by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. And I remember going like huh, I'm curious to see how they did this, and I went back and I think I read an interview or something with them, and sure enough what they did was they outlined a plot, and then they took turns writing the letters in it, and - R: But not only that, interesting point that maybe you want to cut me off and say we'll get to that in a second - K: No, no prob. [laughing] R: But they wrote it at the same table, part of it at least. K: Yes. If you haven't read This Is How You Lose the Time War, read it, it's very good and it's a quick read. R: It won awards for a reason. K: I - yeah, it won a lot of awards. [chuckles] But the entire story is told through letters being sent back and forth between Agent Red and Agent Blue, both of whom work for separate agencies that go back in time and change things to make history fit what they want it to be. So I remember reading in this that sometimes they were, like they were writing the letters and then mailing them to each other essentially, and letting the other person correspond and reply, it was almost a bit of role-playing. But yes they did write some of it sitting across from each other. But then another good example that's the opposite: Good Omens was written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett and they both - R [overlapping]: [laughing] I was thinking of The Omen, and I'm like, I didn't know - wait what?! K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: They wrote that? Okay, I've caught up, continue. K: Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett, one of them wrote a lot of the main story, and then the other one fleshed out a lot of it. There's a main plot that but there's a lot of other stuff going on, and there's a lot of ancillary characters that turn out to be important to the plot but they never really gave a clear answer if it was like an assignment list so to speak, if there was like a breakdown of who was doing what. It sounds like they are just very good friends who were both very talented writers and were able to do this. I do see a lot of times when there's two authors involved, it's two different POVs, and - which is a perfectly intriguing way to do it. R: The way I always imagine it is that it starts with some sort of conference call or in-person visit, and the bones of the story are shaped out there. And then, at least far enough ahead that people can get to work writing. Because okay we're back to writing being lonely, you do have to go back to your own desk - K: [giggles] R: - and work on the project from your side, by yourself. I have heard of people writing in Google Docs so they can see the other people's words appear at - that just seems like chaos mode. K: I will say that's how I take notes at work when I'm on a call with multiple people from my side and like, I won't say it's easy, it's not terrible. R: It's very distracting. K: [chuckles] R: So I mean that would be a tremendously interesting way to do it, I would love to try that sometime. But coordinating that puts you back into the whole like ‘we have to be at the same place at the same time' aspect, which is probably not one of the benefits that most people would list of co-writing, is that you write your part of it without having to wait for the other person until like your check-in, and then you see what's come up with the other person's side of things and then you go back. And I will say again, the first time I tried to do this, we were writing in a shared Scrivener file. K: Okay. R: This was before Scrivener had real integration with Dropbox. K: The dark ages, yeah. R: Well no but - K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: I don't think it would work now, because back then two people could open the same Scrivener document. Now Scrivener will tell you sorry, you can't. It would have to go back to Google Docs or something, if we wanted to do it that way where we could see all the bones of the project coming together. The second time, we were just emailing a Word document back and forth that was updated and trying to keep them straight and not work in an old version. Which didn't happen, it was short enough that I don't think either of us were confused. K: How important is it to set down rules, so to speak? Of like, “Okay. This is how this is going to happen. Then we're going to, you know, everything must be tracked here, or you have to let the other person know if you're changing something to this.” I imagine it would depend on, are you both writing in the same document or are you each writing from a separate POV and then they're gonna be combined. How did you manage that? R: So it's interesting you ask that, because the first time, my partner and I actually wrote up a contract. K: I almost asked you, and I was like you know what, that seems like something maybe you wouldn't do right at the start of this, but - R: No, I think it's important. It's a good idea to have a contract that outlines who's responsible for what, how quickly people are expected to get things back - K: Mhm. R: How royalties are going to be split. K [overlapping]: Okay. R: Like if somebody's only responsible for the outline, in terms of word count they haven't contributed the same as the other person, but is it possible that you're splitting it 50/50? Either way, put it in writing, because that protects your estate later on from trying to come after somebody in arguing how much should or shouldn't be shared. It also can say like alright, this project is dissolved if the person takes more than two months to come back with their paragraph contribution for the week. K: Yeah. R: You know, all the questions that you just outlined can be described in there, including things like how are we going to edit this? Are we going to finish this project by taking it to a professional editor, like all the nitty gritty details can go, if not in a contract, in a project outline that can be referenced in a contract. K: All of the things we've been saying in the 60-something episodes of this podcast, now imagine you have to okay them with somebody else. R: Yeah. K [laughing]: Like - R: It depends on the personalities involved. One person might be like, ‘I'm going to leave all these decisions to you.' K: Mhm. ‘I'm just here to write,' yeah. R: Well ‘I just wanna write' or ‘I am - my faith in you and your ability to do these things is greater than my willingness to try and learn them,' and then the other person saying like ‘Yes, I agree to also take on all those tasks.' K: Mhm. R: So yeah. The first project, we drew up a contract and we said what the project was, who was going to - that we were splitting it, not necessarily like even chapters but that we were going to have two POVs and the POVs would each be the responsibility of a different person. K: Did you have an expected word count? R: Yeah. I think it was a little bit like a query letter, in terms of the way that the project was described. (I was looking for it but I couldn't find it.) In the way that the project was described and then in the way that we talked about the production timeline after, it was a little bit more like a marketing plan even. Including distribution: how were we going to release this? Was it going to be Kindle Unlimited or was it going to be distributed wide through all the retailers? K: You do need something like that, because let's say you start writing with somebody and you get pretty far down the path and it turns out you fundamentally disagree on what to do with the book. Well each of you have the files now presumably, [laughing] so - R [overlapping]: Mhm. K: What are you gonna do? R: You have to trust that the other person's not going to run off with it. Also, that's what the contract is, to ensure that they don't. K: Did you sit down and kind of come up with some agreed upon stylistic choices? R: In the sense of what? Like, comp title kind of things? K: Not just comp title, but stylistic in terms of writing. Granted if you're writing two different POVs you can attribute these things to a character, but like did you decide ‘Okay this is going to be descriptive, we're going to really emphasize the natural beauty of the setting,' or ‘we're going to make sure the characters always take note of a certain thing so that we can note it to the reader.' How'd you handle worldbuilding? How did you come to terms with all of the things that an author typically has to decide on their own? R: We did not, I think in either case really, get into that. K: Okay. R: We knew enough of each other's writing to sort of know what we were getting into. K: Yeah, and that's a very good point by the way; probably don't try to collaborate on a writing project with somebody whose writing you've never read before. R: Yeah. At the very least read some before you finalize all your contracts. K: Yes. I'd say that's important and, I'm not saying this to be mean or flippant, the last thing you want is to get started on a project and find out the person's not actually a very good writer. R: Or that your styles just don't make for good story together. You are not going to find a writer who writes exactly like you; don't assume that you aren't going to come up against like ‘Oh, I don't actually enjoy reading this from you.' K: Yeah. R: You want to challenge yourself and see how you can make your two styles fit together. Because if you're not growing as you work on anything then why bother? But you also don't want it to be such a challenge that you cannot enjoy the process. K: So what do you do when you have disagreements about something? R: Well hopefully the answer is something that you've already figured out in the contract, like if you're - K: Okay. R: It's kinda like when a company goes back to their mission statement to figure out how to proceed with something. K: What about if it's a story-related thing that's not necessarily outlined in the contract? R: Give me an example. K: Alright so, let's say in the end of the fifth season of Buffy there was like a fight in the writers' room about - uh, spoiler for a show that's been off the air for about 15 years, everyone - ‘we think Buffy maybe needs to die,' ‘no there's no reason she has to die,' and then… there's a fight! [chuckles] R: Hopefully your contract has a walking clause. Something that says like alright, if at some point the parties can't decide on where the story should go, they can walk away, and at that point maybe they decide, or maybe in your contract it should say, that you need to pick who gets to take the story with them - K [overlapping]: Mhm, yeah. R: - if somebody still wants to write it. ‘Cause that's something that wasn't in the contract for my first one, and part of me - like I wouldn't write the same story -  K: Mhm. R: We never finished it. I wouldn't write the same story but there are elements I'd like to take, but they're elements that would be recognizable enough. K: Mhm. R: So, how should we have proceeded? Probably one of us should - well at this point I could write to the person and say, “Hey, I wanna write this story, do you mind if I write this story on my own, not giving you any credit?” K [chuckles]: Yeah. Or if you do, how do I compensate you accordingly? R: Or just an acknowledgement, like I'll acknowledge that the story started, and then y'know life happened, we didn't finish it. K: Well that's a form of compensation. R: Yeah. Acknowledgement is like credit in a certain way, without - but again, in that email you say, “Okay cool.” And they write back and they're like, “Fine,” and I say, “Great. Here's something I'd like you to sign, just to say that like you are aware that I am writing this, and that I'm writing it all on my own -” K [overlapping]: Yup. R: “Using new material. And that, the only thing you expect is to get a nod in the acknowledgements.” That's something that you can do if you get to the point where you disagree on something and there's no - it's like if you're to the point of fisticuffs you should probably walk away, or take a break. Are you so stressed about either the project or whatever that you're just lashing out, or is this actually a problem, this relationship that you're working in? K [overlapping]: Mhm. R: So, you know, be an adult. K: And listen, by the way. I have writers that get, I mean, so defensive, about just - no one that I've worked with on a published book, but people I've talked to, people who've asked for advice and different things. And they're so defensive about the story to an editor. Imagine, again, trying to write this with another person. R: That's the thing is you really have to gauge how well you're going to work together with this person. K [overlapping]: Mhm. R: Do you just wanna do stuff because you're friends and you like spending time with them? That might not be enough to go on for the amount of, like think of the anguish that you put into a novel project in the first place. You would think that co-authoring means you share that anguish, but you actually just each have your own anguish - K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: - which might make you less compatible than you are at the start. K: My grandmother always says to never marry somebody before you've taken a three-day bus trip across country with them. I kind of feel like with writers it's like alright, I wanna see you two cook dinner together in the same kitchen, making the same dish. Like you, you have to collectively present me with one dish. And let's see how that goes. [laughing] R: Are you following a recipe or are you creating a recipe? K: You have to decide. R: Hm. K: But you actually, you kinda touched on something interesting there, which is the other form of collaborative writing that I've seen in query letters a lot, you said “Is this just your friend that you wanna hang out with and spend time with?” And where I get a lot of those from is roleplaying games. R: Mhm. K: There's a lot of thought and worldbuilding and character development and everything that goes into those. The, I hesitate to even call them players, by that point they're basically writers, put a lot of time and effort into developing these characters and these worlds and things and then they interact with other people who help them contribute and grow, and that is a way that I've seen some collaborative writing come to fruition is, start out as a game. R: You have to be a very caring person to be a good gamemaster, in that you have to care about the experience of the people that you are essentially having a collaborative worldbuilding experience with. You have to want them to have fun, or they're not going to have fun. K [overlapping]: [chuckles] R: You have to have set up different paths that they can choose to take so that they have some agency in the experience as well, and you have to be willing to say ‘yes and' rather than ‘no.' And you have to be willing to accept that sort of spontaneity. The best path forward may not always be the one you expect, but if you care about working with someone in a way that 1) doesn't negate their contribution - K: Mhm. R: - and make it seem like ugh, well that almost matches what I would've done; like it's not about anybody looking for permission from somebody else, it's unwinding this coil of like where is this going, and unwinding it together. So we mentioned before that there are experiences where somebody writes the outline and somebody else writes the story to the outline, and I think that's another balancing act because as somebody writes to an outline that they've made for themselves, they feel free to deviate from it. And I imagine that also happens when they write to an outline that somebody else has written. But also, writing an outline doesn't quite transmit everything that goes into a story. It's very hard to imagine what a person intended for an entire scene based on a single sentence or a couple of sentences. So there's gotta be a lot of letting go; if one person is handling one creative step and another person is handling another creative step, again that contract but also your expectations have to be that like that first person is going to be letting go of a lot of control of the story if they're not going to participate in the writing of it. K: It certainly is an exercise in having to give up and trust somebody with something that you created and love. R: It's interpersonal relationships on a scale that usually you can separate from your personal creative self, and you would expect to put this much work into a business project or a marriage or opening a business with somebody - and again like, have a contract. Yeah you are putting that much effort into this. K: You're opening a business with someone in a respect; you're creating a product. R: Yeah we're creating a product here that can be sold and resold and rights have to be licensed and - K: Mhm. R: You have to envision the success of this to really get a grip on all the things you have to consider. You can't just ‘oh haha this'll be fun' if you are going to publish it, because you never know where it's gonna go. K: Look at some of the greatest duos of what-have-you that fell apart because of differences in ideas. R: Mhm. I mean here are the advice like, never work for friends, watch out, you'll ruin your relationship if you try to do this, I mean that's kind of true of this if you don't go into it with the right mindframe. K: So now that we've scared the hell out of everybody and never gonna wanna write a collaborative project together. What were some of the fun things about it? R: The brainstorming at the beginning was definitely really fun. Sit down with somebody that you like and you talk about what ideas might come out of something, depending on your level of prepwork, you might've had a really long conversation or you have lots of these little visual pieces that you're gonna see how you're gonna string together. Or you might have just kinda said ‘well let's just see where it goes.' K: Mhm. R: Which I think was my experience the second time, once we picked that concept out of my Word doc of random ideas that I've had. K [laughing]: By the way, if you're listening to this and you wanna be a writer and you don't have a Word document of random ideas you've had please start one immediately. R: Hopefully if you're called to be a writer and you go ‘oh, you mean I should've been writing all those down,' as opposed to like ‘oh I've gotta start coming up with ideas' - like I think if you're at the point where you don't even have ideas - K: I'm saying for ideas you've already had. R: Okay. K: You need to have a good place to keep them. R: Jot them down. But yeah, so we picked something out of my book of ideas. If it's a collaborative effort between friends, it might've even been something like that started as a Twitter conversation and now you're writing it. So wherever you get your idea from, it usually starts with social connection, friendship, enthusiasm, and hopefully it's all mutual. And then you go to the, ‘okay, are we really doing this?' K: [giggles] R: ‘Let's start the contract.' If the person's not comfortable entering into a contract with you, then that's a red flag right there, that one of you is uncomfortable with what it's gonna take to finish this project out. Because the contract is the thing that's gonna see you through it all, so if you stop and you refuse to move forward at that point, that saves everybody some trouble. But the fun things about it are that starting moment, where the excitement is just zapping back and forth between the two of you, whether online or in person. K: Mhm. R: And then seeing what the other person wrote every week and getting to respond to it in like kind. It's a little bit like writing fanfiction, in real time, with an author. K: [laughing] R: And then the other person can feel the exact same way, that they are the one writing the fanfic in real time with the author. And hopefully it is a surprise every time that you open the document to see what's new. And then you pick someone whose writing you like, whose writing you enjoy, and then honestly it kinda carries you through the submissions process. ‘Cause you're like okay well it can't be that bad because I respect this person's writing - K [overlapping]: Mhm. R: - so if they liked it, then there's just a little like ‘no, this isn't bad,' that you can hold in your heart when you get a rejection from a magazine or something. K: Aww. R: Because like, you have faith that the other person knows what they're doing, and they have faith that you know what you're doing, and together you have this piece that you both believe in, even if you are believing in only half of it. [chuckles] And not the half that, you know, you worked on. So it's just really nice, yeah. K [overlapping]: In the end you're coming together to all believe together. R: Yeah I mean, we kinda, like in the second case it was a short story, and we did finish it. So, going back and forth, one person writing a few thousand words or like kinda getting to the end of a scene, like that break moment kinda thing where like - K: Yup. R: Fade to black, commercial break, whatever you wanna call it, and then going ‘ok! I just feel good about that writing session; I'm sending this back to you.' We did that a few times back and forth. One of us sent the first 500 words in November. By the time we had finished it, it was February of the following year. And, so that's pretty quick - K: Yeah that's really quick. R: We were both on top of it; we only sent it back like a couple of times. I think our total word count is 4100 words, so, at most that was like eight back and forth of - K [overlapping]: Mhm. R: - 500 words each, or I think some of them were a little bit longer. I think once we sorta started to see where it was going some of us were - some of us - [chuckles] K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: Half of us - one of us would write more of that, and the other person would write more of the other. K: Okay. R: So, and then after that, we started talking about like okay what do you wanna do now, ‘let's sit on it for a month' was the response, and then we picked some markets to target and one of us was just in charge of submitting them. K: So you, you had a system, you had a plan. R: Yeah. We didn't have a contract on that one, maybe we should. The nice thing is when you say you're co-authoring, the magazine tends to send two separate payments. K: Okay, nice. R: Or at least in my experience so far, of selling this once. K: [laughing] So overall, a good experience? R: Yeah! Yeah, that one was a lot of fun. Like I said, having a totally different attitude toward where it was going and who was in charge - which was neither of us or both of us? - it was a very different experience than the first time. My first experience was with someone, we were trying to write a whole novel, and I think our intent was it might be a series. So this was like long-haul planning, and it wasn't long before I realized like I don't think our styles really mesh. And he also wrote really really fast, and kind of expected me to write really really fast, so I would turn around something after working on it for like a week or so, and then the next day he'd be like ‘okay, your turn.' And I'd be like ‘oh, see, um, this isn't the only thing I wanna work on.' [laughing] K: Yeah. [chuckles] R: And so it was also, I think, in the middle of the final phases of getting Flotsam out, so it probably felt like a disruption, and the fact that he was turning things around so fast was like, frustrating to me. Whereas like I would work on something for awhile and then think like ‘okay, there, done, check it off my list' - K [chuckles]: Deep breath, yeah. R: And the next day it'd be on my list again. K: That can get a little stressful, certainly. R: Yeah. K: I guess the takeaway from all of this then is whether or not you have a good experience with this, a lot of it comes down to you. R: And planning and expectation yeah. K: Yeah. R: You could go to the Happiest Place On Earth and be a total stick in the mud about it, so - K: Yes. R: Like, that's true of everything. K: Yeah. Yeah but there's certain things you can do to make sure that it doesn't become a miserable experience, certainly. R: Yeah. Or, that you have a way out if it does. K: Yes, yes, there you go. So yeah I think that's - any, Rekka, any parting thoughts, any final suggestions or advice? R: If it's something that you've wanted to do, I definitely recommend doing it. Try it out and see. Hopefully, it doesn't break a friendship - [giggles] K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: Y'know, the first time you try it. Having that contract will go a long way to having a mutual not-fun-anymore clause. If neither party is interested in going forward, then that's it. That's all that has to be said, and the project is dissolved. And if the other person is loving where it was going and wants to keep going with it, then you just have that release agreement, where like “I don't expect any royalties or anything from this, you go ahead and have fun with it.” You hate to think that you need a contract to go do something that you and a friend both love doing, but ahh, I really think it's a good idea. K: It's probably, yeah. R: At worst, it doesn't hurt, and at best, it protects you and it gives you something to fall back on if things aren't going well. But, hopefully things go very very well and you end up with a story and you sell it, like I did! K: There you go. Rekka, what's the story you sold? R: [giggles] K: You knew I was gonna ask you about - R: Maurice Broaddus and I wrote a story called The Archivist, and it sold to Lightspeed magazine and should come out sometime within the next nine months or so. One day I imagine I will wake up and have been tagged on Twitter. K: It's just gonna be on there, yeah. R: And I will be able to share it then. My recent story on MetaStellar I was told the date, and then a few days ahead of time I was told what the URL would be and when it would go live, so I was able to prepare, which was nice. K: Very nice! As always, we hope we left you with some food for thought. R: It's worth doing, if only to find out whether you enjoy it or not, but also keep in mind that it takes the right pair of minds to do it. So if you don't enjoy the first time, that doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun again. But I hope you love it, ‘cause I did enjoy it, and I really am proud of the story that came out of it. I would not have written that story on my own. K: Oh, okay, well great! R: Which is another point, like I shouldn't leave off without saying that, but like we created a story that neither of us would've written if it was just working alone. K: Greater than the sum of their parts. R: Or at least greater than the sum of half the parts. [laughing] K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: Alright, well that is probably enough. If you want more, or you want to be notified when the story goes live, you can send us a message on Twitter or Instagram, we are @WMBcast. You can also find us on WMBcast.com with all our old episodes. If you are listening from the future, I might come back and add the link to that story when it does go live, to the show notes. If you are listening from a very very profitable future - K [overlapping]: [giggles] R: - you might consider going to Patreon.com/WMBcast to support us financially, but we don't need that! What we would really really love are some ratings and reviews on Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast aggregator, whichever you're listening to right now. That would be so, so helpful; it helps people find us. We had someone shouting on Twitter the other day saying like ‘why are more of you not listening to this podcast?' I guarantee it's because it's hard to find podcasts, unless they have really good ratings and reviews. So please, drop us some five stars and some glowing words, they don't have to be expansive. Just like ‘this podcast rocks!' I mean, that's what I think, that's what I would write. You can use that though. I'm not gonna hold you on a contract or anything. K: [laughing] R: Alright, two weeks from now we'll be talking about something entirely different, but probably just as goofy.

We Make Books Podcast
Episode 61 - Who's in Control of the Plot? (Character Agency)

We Make Books Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later May 25, 2021 55:46


We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, and concerns for us to address in future episodes. We hope you enjoy We Make Books! Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap Instagram: @WMBCast  Patreon.com/WMBCast   Episode Transcript (by TK @_torkz) [Upbeat Ukulele Intro Music] This is We Make Books, a podcast about writing publishing and everything in between. Rekka is a published Science Fiction and Fantasy author, and Kaelyn is a professional genre fiction editor. Together, they'll tackle the things you never knew you never knew about getting a book from concept to finished product, with explanations, examples, and a lot of laughter. Get your moleskin notebook ready. It's time for We Make Books. Kaelyn: So it’s funny you picked this when I was still studying history, that was something we always had to consider. Is this group, is this person part of determining where they fit into historical context as determining do they have agency? Can they act on their own behalf? Structure is what keeps someone in place; agency is what allows them to act freely. Rekka: Where would you put Odysseus, in this context? K: I would make Odysseus a failed attempt at agency. R: [laughing] K: Well, maybe failed agency isn’t the right--because he is displaying agency. He’s trying to do something, and he’s having to frequently overcome obstacles. That said, those obstacles are things that keep happening to him, rather than him directly engaging. R: Right. K: So it’s a little bit of a, uh. R: Weird example. K: No it was a good one, I liked it. R: No it’s a good example but it’s not a good role model for agency in your novels. K: Odysseus isn’t a good role model for a lot of reasons. R [laughing]: That’s just one of them. K: [laughing] R: Be the person who ties yourself to the mast, rather than give in to the sirens. Actually fuck it, give in to the sirens. It’s 2021, let’s just go for it. K [laughing]: That’s a very bad--I feel like 2020 was the year to give into the sirens. [laughing] R: Yeah, but what is 2021 but 2020 persevering? K: No, we’re slowly defeating it. We’re claiming some agency for ourselves. R: I am still in this room. K: [laughing] R: I have always been in this room. How are we defeating anything? K: I think I was born in this room. R: Kaelyn, have you and I met for smoked meats in a restaurant? K: We haven’t. R: Right. So, nothing has changed. K: Yeah. R: Have we hung out in a library with random strangers at the same table? K: No. Some of whom are handwriting books. R: Yeah, no. This is not happening. So today I called you here to talk about agency. K: So in that scenario do I have agency? Because I made the decision to join you. But-- R: But--are you allowing this topic to happen? Or are you actively engaging in the expression of our ideas? K: Oh both. R: [laughing] K: Definitely. R: Once you get past some of the other, like, identify your theme, and helpful advice for writing like that-- K: Strengthen this character arc, you know, the really nice vague feedback. R: The really helpful, helpful specific feedback. You might also end up hearing that your character needs more agency in a scene, or in the story overall. And as with the others, this can be really helpful advice. If you know what it means. K: Yeah um, it I think falls into the category of frustratingly vague advice that is absolutely rooted in important context. R: But it’s also really true. K: Yes, yeah. R: Which is just the worst part. There’s nothing worse than vague advice that is also correct. K: It is vague advice, but I think when you’re dealing with things like ‘work on your character’s agency,’ ‘strengthen this arc,’ ‘identify the themes in your story,’ those are big picture things. So. Definition—as always love to start off with that—uh, agency in general, the definition is “an action or intervention, especially as to produce a particular event.” Acting, essentially. Taking action. Doing something. Trying to influence the outcome. R: Not just action but pro-action. K: Yes. For characters in books, agency is basically when a character can make choices and act on their own behalf. R: What is it about agency that gets turned into a secret agency that acts against aliens, or whatever--I’m just playing around with etymology here-- K: [laughing] R: But how’s that word get turned into that meaning? K: The way I always took that was that an agency is meant to act on behalf of a group of people or towards a certain end. So, if we wanna take S.H.I.E.L.D. - R: Okay. K: So agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Their job, their directive, is to protect Earth from large-scale global threats. Everything they do, every action they take, is to further that outcome. Real world example: the CIA, Counter-Intelligence Agency. They have a very specific job. It’s to try and out-maneuver, out-intelligence if you will, foreign and domestic hostile powers. R: Okay so the word is not trans-mutated in any way, in the way that it’s applied to an organization. It still means taking proactive action toward a goal. K: Yeah, so I did look up the definition of agency in that regard: “a business or organization established to provide a particular service, typically one that involves organizing transactions between two other parties.” R: So like, a literary agent. K: There you go. Here’s a good example, the Environmental Protection Agency. R: Mhm. K: Their directive, their job is to protect the environment. What do they do? They organize, they create scenarios, be they either laws or policies or transactions even, that further their goal of protecting the environment. R: This is a group of people that are acting for one goal. In our writing, when we talk about agency, we’re generally referring to character agency. As in we have a main character, they are serving as our POV - point of view - and think of that term as the window through which you experience the story. Your viewpoint into this story and this world. So, everything that this character chooses to do is how you experience the story. So by acting on a desire, they create tension as to whether there will be an obstacle that they can overcome, whether they make a decision to do something that frightens them a lot, or whatever - you get to experience that tension. So if this character goes with the flow - K: [laughing] R: - how much tension do you get to experience? K: Yeah so what this means when you get this feedback, ‘I need you to work on your character’s agency here,’ is that it means the character is being very passive. They’re being more reactive than proactive. Oh I’ve got a good example: Twilight. R: Bella is a classic example and often referenced example of a character who doesn’t actually do much. And this is part of that Mary Sue criticism that gets used in the wrong places a lot, but in this case what we’re talking about is Bella is a bodysuit for you to crawl into, and see this world. K: Well Bella is almost worse than that. In some cases Bella is an object. She is sort of a MacGuffin that furthers this story. Something I always like to trot out is, if this character weren’t here, would things go that differently? R: [laughing] K: Now, in Twilight yes they would. Because a lot of conflict, a lot of the story, whatever, does center around Bella, but it is more just the fact that she exists than anything else. If she were a particularly tasty cow that all of the vampires also wanted to eat, well - that’d be a different story too. [laughing] R: Yeah, that’s a weird one. K: No, but if she were something like a magic ring that lets the vampires turn back into humans or something, you could possibly just sub her in with a magic ring. And a lot of those story elements could still happen. R: So is your character interchangeable with an inanimate object? K [laughing]: My favorite one, ever, that I promise I’ll stop on this side note - Indiana Jones. R: Mhm. K: - is completely irrelevant to the first movie. If he weren’t there, everything would go exactly the same way. That said, Indiana Jones has agency. R: He is trying. K: He’s trying. He’s not doing the best job, but he’s trying. Um so, you can have a character that maybe if they weren’t there things would progress as normal. My whole point is Indiana Jones, regardless of whether or not he not only shows up, exists, the storyline with Marion and getting the Ark of the Covenant, we still end up with the Nazis opening the Ark of the Covenant on a remote island. R: Just turns out it was a bad idea. [chuckles] K [laughing]: Just turns out you shouldn’t go poking around in these things. R: Yes. And that had more to do with Belloq being his agency to, as he put it, take whatever Indiana Jones had, and possess it himself. K [overlapping]: Yes. R: And then him not being able to resist looking in the Arc. Now, had the Arc made it to Hitler, would Hitler have known how to use it? I mean, he studied all this stuff. It’s very possible that he might’ve put it to more diabolical use, rather than just frying himself as Belloq did. K [overlapping]: Yeah. Yes. Um, you know, in Twilight, the character that has agency there is not Bella, it’s Edward. R [overlapping]: Mhm. K: He’s the one who’s making all the decisions, he’s the one who’s making the choices. He chose to stay and pursue Bella. He chose to let her know that he was a vampire. He chose to eventually make her a vampire. R: Mhm. K: Bella is a thing that all of this is happening to. R: The prize to be won. K: Yeah. Bella’s a very passive character, and there’s points in the story where she does make decisions, but the choices then are even things that are forced upon her. R: Here’s an example of not, apparently, including much agency in your character, and still having an incredibly successful book series. K: And movies. R: So as with all advice- K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: - feel free to break the rules and have a smashing success and good on you. K: There is an exception to every rule to be sure. But, as you kinda said right at the get-go, one of the biggest criticisms of Bella is that she is an empty skin suit for the reader to crawl into and make themselves feel as though they are the star of the story. People who have agency don’t feel like that. It’s part of character development. If Bella were making a lot of choices and decisions and stuff, you’d have readers going “Well that’s not what I’d do, why would she do that, that’s so ridiculous.” And then you distance yourself from that character because you’re establishing them as a fully realized person. R: Right. K: Rather than the empty skin suit slash object. R: Right. Now, Big Lebowski. K [laughing]: Oh God, that’s a good one, okay! Um, God I haven’t watched that movie in forever, I love that movie. R: So he starts out, he gets up, he goes to the grocery store, he gets the ingredients for his White Russian, he drinks half of it there, he goes home. K: “Where is the money Lebowski?” [laughing] R: This has happened to him so far. Somebody mistakes him because he shares a surname with a very rich person, and they walk into this very shabby home and somehow think that they’ve found the right place. Now he isn’t gonna do anything about it. K: Yeah. R: He goes on with his life. He just is kind of sad about it, but his friends convince him - K [overlapping]: Yeah. R: - that he needs to do something about it. K: Except the guy pees on the carpet. And that carpet really tied the room together. R: It really tied the room together! But he is not going to act until he’s convinced by his friends to act. K: This is another thing with agency. It’s okay for characters to be sort of passive and have things happen to them. That’s what starts the story- R [overlapping]: Mhm. K: - going. You don’t, don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of stories out there with someone going “I woke up this morning and decided to do this thing.” R: Mhm. K: Or they start out with a quest, or they come up with something on their own. [overlapping] R [overlapping]: You’re in media res, so you’ve already gotten to the point where they want something. K: Yeah. But typically even if we pick up within that point something had to happen to them a lot of times beforehand, for them to want to go get the magic ring that lets you turn back into a human. R: Yeah and often you find that the character starts off trying to do a thing that isn’t the thing they decide they need to do in the end. I mean that’s kind of part of the whole character arc, is deciding what it is they really want. The Dude really wants a nice comfy life with his White Russians - K: And his bathrobe. [laughing] R: And the rug that ties the room together. K: Yeah. R: So it bothers him enough to complain about it, but not enough to act on it. Then he is cajoled into acting upon it. And he goes and finds himself embroiled in a large plot, where things kind of continue to happen to him. K: With movies you can watch a series of strange events unfold, because there’s the visual component that - often these are comedies. It’s almost slapstick. We’re just watching this person who all he wants is to go bowling with his buddies, sit in his bathrobe, and drink White Russians. And he ends up getting pulled into this bizarre situation. R: Being sent to have a physical ‘cause turns out he’s gonna father a child, and also toes get cut off - K: You want a toe? I’ll get you a toe next week. [laughing] Lebowski is a rather passive character. He doesn’t have a ton of agency. That said, once he gets involved in this he does make decisions even if they’re just ‘I want to get out of this alive.’ R: Yes. And he observes clues and he starts to put things together that probably they expected him not to do. They really thought that he would just kinda take the fall for things, or just go along, get paid, go home, and return to his life. K: Yeah. By the time he gets to the end of the story, his motivation is something between ‘I need to figure this out’ and ‘I’m not letting this random guy who got me tied into all of this get away with it.’ Does the Dude have agency? Sometimes, a little bit, if he can get the energy and motivation together to feel like it, which is by the way very in line with his character. R: Yeah. K: It is very typical with books to start out with characters just living their life. People by nature are passive. But you ever notice that when someone says “I’ve decided to do this thing,” it’s usually an announcement. It’s usually like “I’ve decided to change jobs.” “I’ve decided to buy a house.” “I’ve decided to ask this person to marry me.” It’s a decision you make to take action. Whereas most of our lives are just kind of us living our life, yeah after I’m done here I’m gonna have some soup I made, I’m very excited about that. I’m deciding to have soup. Is that agency? I don’t think so. You know in your day-to-day lives, agency are things that you’re trying to act for your benefit. I’ve decided to buy this house, because I worked very hard and I think this is a good investment and I think I’ll be happy and comfortable here, and this will improve my life a measurable amount that I want it to. R: Mhm. K: When characters act with agency, you know a lot of times they’re in situations that are not normal day-to-day things. There aren’t a lot of books out there about someone’s decision to work really hard, save money, and buy a house. R: Well that’s the first 25% of a book, that 25%, that storyline is gonna go away, or be severely altered. K: That house is haunted as hell. [laughing] R [overlapping]: Mhm. K: For a character to have agency, they have to do three things. They have to be able to act in their environment, which means that if you said a character, let’s say a human being, and you put them on an alien planet where literally everything is made of gas, that character’s not gonna have any agency because they can’t do anything. R: Right. K: But not only is everything made of gas, but the lifeforms that live there physically cannot communicate with the human, or have no interest in doing so. R: Right. K: So that person can’t interact with their environment; they’re not gonna have any agency, they have to just sit there and wait for something to happen. R: Unless the plot of that story is ‘how do I get to the point where I can talk to these aliens?’ There have been many Star Trek episodes like this, where you can’t communicate with the other aliens and the plot is ‘how do we find common ground?’ So, the decision to do so is agency, but the human who says “Well, all these molecules are just too far apart, I guess I’ll just sit here.” K: [laughing] R: That character has no agency. K: So the second thing is a character has to be able to make meaningful decisions. So, in the case of our character sitting on the gas planet, they’ve gotta make the decision of ‘I’m gonna find a way to gather all of this gas and condense it into something solid that I can use to my benefit.’ R: Right. K: They have to have a way to work towards their own benefit. Even if it’s not working towards their own benefit they have to be presented with situations in which they can make a decision. Even if it’s ‘the army’s invading, there’s two sides of this city, we’re only gonna be able to fend them off from one, we have to evacuate the other.’ The character making the decision of ‘okay, we’re gonna evacuate the east end, move everybody into the west end, and here are the reasons that we’re doing this and that’s why it’ll give us a better advantage.’ That’s displaying agency. The third thing is the character’s ability to affect the story. And this is different from making decisions. This is where Indiana Jones fails. R: Right, right. K: Because he doesn’t actually affect the story really. Sure, he’s got some wacky hijinks, he shoots a guy who just wanted to have a nice sword fight - R: Cracks a whip. K: Cracks a whip, somehow hitches a ride on a submarine, you know, things happen. R: If it wasn’t for Sallah he wouldn’t have even made it halfway through the movie. K: Exactly. Is he entertaining? Absolutely. It’s a delight. But he doesn’t do anything that changes the outcome of what’s happening. So, this is different than making a decision. Because a character needs to have an impact on the story. If you erase them from the story and nothing changes, that’s not a good character. R: You have some characters who maybe aren’t the decision makers, but if they’re the person with the special skill, or you know they’re the person with the strength or the fortitude to go ahead with the story that the other character doesn’t have, and you end up with a nice balanced team-up of brains and brawn. Obviously if you take the brawn out of that story, it is going to affect the story. Now, take Indiana Jones out, and you definitely have a very different movie. K: Absolutely, yes. R: Sometimes the character is required for the tone. K: Like a swashbuckling adventurer. R: Think of Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China. K: Okay. R: He’s not actually the hero of the movie. At one point a big fight scene starts, and he shoots his gun in the air and ends up knocking himself out when the ceiling falls on him. And for the greater portion of this fight scene he is prone on the ground. He’s almost like the story’s style, but he’s not the story’s main active character. K: Yeah. R: You know there’s parts where yes, they need him because he’s tough and he can fight, but so can the other characters. There’s a lot of characters doing a lot of stuff in that movie, and Jack Burton - you would notice, if you saw it and they removed him and then you watched it again, you would definitely notice his absence. But does his absence change the story? Would his friend have not gone to rescue his girlfriend? He definitely would have. And he definitely would’ve done it without Jack, but he talked Jack into helping. It’s interesting how many stories we enjoy end up with characters who draw a lot of attention to themselves, like Indiana Jones, like Jack Burton, without actually making a huge difference in the plot of the film. Or, I’m saying film ‘cause we like to use movies as shortcuts. But um - K: [laughing] R: How does this work in a book? Let’s go back to our favorite, Gideon the Ninth. Gideon kinda doesn’t have a clue what’s going on! K: Gideon is a little bit of a passive character. R: Yeah! But it’s delightful [laughing], just like Indiana Jones and Jack Burton. K: She gets dragged along on this adventure, which we find out is basically one giant series of death traps. She doesn’t know why she’s there. She’s there to serve as a lens of the story for the reader, because the other main character that we’re introduced to here is of course Harrowhark. R: Harrowhark has a lot of agency, and it’s all off the page. K: Because Harrowhark can’t be bothered to tell anybody about it. And, if she did, if she was the point-of-view character in that first book, we would have no idea what was happening. We need all of this to be told to us through the lens of Gideon, who is more like us than, like, Harrowhark. R: Yeah. Right. K: Of course by the end of the book you know this changes; we’ve learned some things, we’ve solved some mysteries. But Gideon is sort of a passive observer. Yes, she’s poking around, she’s talking to people, she’s gathering information, but really she can’t do anything with it until Harrow tells her what’s going on. R: And she’s only there because Harrow has made her promise to go along on this venture and then she’ll get the thing she wanted in the beginning, which she was pretty close to succeeding except Harrow was the obstacle. So Harrow said, “Do this thing with me, and then I’ll give you what you want.” And so Gideon goes along specifically for that purpose, and how much more passive can you be than just being like ‘if I just tap my foot throughout this book, I’ll get to the thing I want.’ K: Yeah. She literally just wants me to sit in a room and do nothing. R: Harrowhark has even said “do not speak to anyone.” K: Yeah. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t do anything, stay in this room, be here when I get back. R: So of course, the plot happens because Gideon’s like uhh you don’t tell me what to do. K [laughing]: Yeah it’s not agency so much as annoyance. R: Two people who can’t stand each other so why would one do what the other one wants. K: Yeah. Exactly. R: That is kind of the plot of Gideon the Ninth, but in the most delightful way that I just made sound as flat as possible. K: You’re right, because Gideon serves the purpose of one: as I said providing the reader with context and perspective, but two: also, she’s awesome! R: Yeah. K: And we like watching her swing this giant sword around, and be muscle-y - R [overlapping]: Yeah, flex for the other people in the book. K [overlapping]: Yeah. R: And also like look at people and go “There’s something wrong with you” [laughing], you know? K: Yes. Yes. Um, be the perspective of ‘This is all really weird, how am I the only person who sees that this is all really weird?’ R: Mhm. K: So. Um, yeah, so that’s a good example of characters who are passive but are compelling. So if you’re thinking to yourself ‘well, if that’s a thing that’s allowed, why do I need to strengthen my character’s agency?’ Because it depends on the story you’re telling. And it depends on what you’re trying to do here. If you have a character who is supposed to be your main character, your protagonist, they’re supposed to be leading the charge, and what they’re doing is they’re tripping from event to happening back to other event, just sort of letting stuff happen to them rather than doing things themselves, that can get really boring to read.  K: The second and third book in the Ember in the Ashes series, there’s a character in there named Helene. And - I won’t ruin too much for anybody who hasn’t read these, and full disclosure I’m still finishing the fourth one - in the second and third books especially, Helene is running around putting out fires. She is desperately trying to manage an unmanageable situation. At the same time though, she’s trying to figure out ‘how do I solve this bigger problem that I’m trying to face? How do I mitigate these circumstances?’ I was so excited whenever it was one of her chapters, because that was the thing that I thought was most interesting, was watching her just get things heaped on her. Every time she turns around something else bad is happening, that is just one more thing she’s gotta deal with. So was she displaying agency? In the second book I would say not as much, by the third book we’re certainly getting there. But, it’s still compelling because the way she is acting on her own behalf is not necessarily for herself maybe, but for other people. R: Okay. K: Watching someone deal with and try to mitigate overwhelming circumstances, I would say, is a form of agency. Even if they are just running around putting out fires. R: Trying to survive - K [overlapping]: Yes. R: - this moment, as opposed to having a plan for the next two weeks to six months - K [overlapping]: Yeah. R: - toppling the empire, etc. It’s okay if they’re just trying to get back to normal. K: Yes. Or, just trying in the case of Helene, just trying to make sure her family’s safe. Let’s start there. That’s small step number one, I’ve gotta work on that. Okay small step number two, now I’ve got a deal with the residents of this city. Now I’ve gotta figure out how I’m gonna deal with this other maniac, and there’s all of these forces and factors that she can’t really do much about. But she can make decisions. R: Right, so in an earthquake, a character obviously isn’t going to defeat the earthquake. K: I defeated an earthquake last week, Rekka, I don’t know what you’re talking about. [laughing] R: Okay. In a typhoon, Kaelyn’s not gonna go punch a typhoon. K: No no, earthquakes are far more punchable than typhoons. R: Right. So you can trust that Kaelyn’s gonna go check on friends and family, uh, Kaelyn’s going to act in ways that clearly are important and have great meaning to her personally, even if they’re not going to fix the fact that there’s a typhoon, or the fact that you know FEMA’s gonna have to come in and that sort of thing. So what about characters with examples of great agency? Like the Quest plot. Is that agency or is that ‘this wizard told me I need to go do this thing’? K: Well okay so I will, we can talk about the Quest plot and then I’ll give you what I think is a good example of someone who has agency and, I’m going to put them into the same story, which I know we’ve been talking about this series a lot, Shadow and Bone and the Six of Crows. For those who haven’t read or watched it, hopefully you know that one is a trilogy, the other is a duology, they’re separate storylines but the Netflix series collapsed them both into one. R: So go read the books anyway, because Netflix made some choices. K: So the first trilogy Shadow and Bone, Alina Starkov is a very, a little bit of, especially for the first book, a passive character. You know she discovers she has this power, and she is tasked with solving this big problem because she has this power. She does start to display agency in the story but if things had just progressed along that sort of Quest storyline - you could argue that it even does a little bit because ultimately there is a problem that she is the only one that can solve. R: Mhm. K: So, is that agency? Well, the way she goes about handling it in the story, breaking away from the wizard character and trying to decide to do this her own way is certainly displaying agency. R: Right. K: Conversely, in the Six of Crows, we have the character Kaz, who is sort of your underworld rogue-type but not in a charming way. I would actually say he’s quite the opposite of charming. He’s very stoic, very serious, very no-nonsense. But Kaz makes a lot of decisions to try to accomplish goals and to better the lives of him and his friends. There’s some revenge scenarios here, but in the revenge scenarios it’s reclaiming things that were taken from him. R: Right. K: There’s friends to liberate, there’s people to try to help and better their lives, there’s people they encounter along the way that get into bad situations. He is a character with a lot of strong agency. Even before we meet him, we can see everything he’s done, everything he’s worked towards to build himself up to a point where one day he can maybe do this one thing he’s trying to get to. I would say he’s a great example of somebody with a lot of agency. R: Right from the start. K: Yeah. R: So he’s got a plan, and this plan is the focus of the story. K: Yes. Of course, wrenches get thrown into it, because - R: Just in terms of Luke Skywalker just wants to escape the farm life, that’s his desire at the start. But what he ends -- I mean he does get that, but it turns into a much bigger story. K: Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games. Does she have agency? She is mostly reactive. She only volunteers because her sister got picked as tribute. R: But she’s volunteering to protect her family, which you might say is proactive decision. K: At the same time though, if Katniss had not volunteered, would any of the subsequent events in the story have happened? No. Her decisions are impacting the story. That said, she is very manipulated a lot through this entire story. R [overlapping]: Oh yeah. And I think that’s just the way that as a character, we express that just ‘cause you’re a hero doesn’t mean you can’t be fooled, you can’t be misguided, you can’t be manipulated as you said. I thought that was incredibly different from anything I’d read of an adventurer-hero story, because you realize a hero doesn’t always make the right decisions. K: Yeah. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that book series as we’ve discussed in this - R: I’m not saying I’m happy with the way it ended, but that definitely opened my eyes, and I think influenced me. As a result, my characters definitely made decisions that they thought were sound, or they thought were motivated correctly, or were the right thing to do or whatever, that end up making more of a mess. K: Yeah. Now that said, with Katniss one of the things I will say bothered me a lot in this, and this is I think a product of trying to shoehorn motivations into areas where it doesn’t already exist, Katniss is -- there’s a scene, it’s much more pronounced in the movie but it is in the book -- where they’re at District 13. And they’re all sitting in this bunker and it’s ‘let’s talk about a time Katniss has inspired you, she’s this symbol. She is the Mockingjay.’ I don’t know if this was on purpose, I don’t know if this was the intent, but I couldn’t come up with a better way to just be like this character is almost inconsequential to what they’re doing. They just need her to stand heroically in front of people. I really think that a 16-17 year old girl was probably not the sole motivation for overthrowing an entire super-oppressive government, but. [laughing] R: Again, I am not going to jump in front of a train for this book series - K [overlapping]: [laughing] R: But I could see the development of a character who stands up to the government on TV that the government requires everybody to watch. K: Yes. R: Like this is a program that the government is putting in front of people’s faces because they want people to know that people will pay for their past transgressions, until they deem that they’re done. And Katniss says, “No. It’s not gonna be one survivor, I’m not going to kill the person that I grew up with because I need to survive; we’re both going to survive” and that turns into a big moment- K [overlapping]: Yes, it did. R: Also she honors the person from the other district with whom she’s supposed to be competing, but they all see her treat Rue like a human being, which is not something that you get from this government. K: There’s these tiny acts of rebellion. But I would say that it’s all undone by the fact that she doesn’t actually want any part of this. She wants to go back to her life and be done. Now that’s, I would argue, not agency, because what she’s having to deal with is the fallout of decisions that she made for survival, rather than because she wanted to make a statement. R: No I understand that, but I’m saying again with the hero doesn’t always make the right decisions, also, person who makes a couple decisions where other people can see them suddenly find themself turned into this bigger than life character - K [overlapping]: Yup. R: I felt like that was part of the character arc, coming to terms with being this person everybody now expected her to be, and sometimes needed her to be, in order for them to go on. K: I found book Katniss a very grating character, I didn’t - R: You are not the only one, I have heard this plenty of times. K: I didn’t like her much but one thing I appreciated about her was how much she just wanted to be left alone. [laughing] R: Yeah! I mean, we can all relate to that. K [laughing]: We can all relate to that. It’s just like, I get it. I don’t really like you that much but I totally get it. She’s capable, as you said, she’s a fast thinker, but she’s not a leader. In fact in the second book they have a whole plot going on behind the scenes that she doesn’t know about until the very end, because everybody looked at her and went ‘I don’t think she’s gonna be helpful here.’ [laughing] R: Yeah. K: We would be better off just doing this on our own. R: Yeah. K: And I really appreciate the writer’s acknowledgment of that. [laughing] But again, in the second book she is reverted back to a very passive role, this stuff is just happening to her. Even more so than in the first one. R: And then it continues in the third book, where they take her on this SWAT team adventure, and she’s just like ‘what the fuck’s going on?’ K: Yeah ‘cause they’re gonna go shoot all of this war footage of her. But then, she does make the decision ‘I’m going with this because I wanna get us into the Capitol, so that I can go kill the president.’ R: Right, right. K: So there we do have Katniss with agency, with a plan. R: Mhm. K: How important do you think plans are to characters having agency? R: This is a really good question. We’ve just described a lot of main characters who don’t really have a plan. K: No, no. R: And who are all highly successful IPs. Sometimes I think figuring out the plan can be the character’s arc. They know they want something. They try and fail and try and fail, and it’s because they don’t know how to go about it, or there’s something that they need to let go of or gain in order to figure out the best way. You know like a heist movie. K: I swear I was just thinking of a heist movie. [laughing] R: The plan is happening all along. K: Yeah. R: And it’s the reader watching it, and being misled about things going wrong that it turns out were part of the plan anyway because there’s always that aspect of the heist that you don’t hear about ‘til the end, and you get to watch it again and go ‘Oh now I see!’ K: ‘Yeah that guy was in the background the whole time.’ R: Yeah so obviously in that case the plan is not the plot. The reveal is the plot. The red herrings are the adventure, I don’t know. Sometimes a character figuring out what they want is the plot. K: Mhm. R: The idea I think is that the character starts with a sense of the way things are right now are not good. K: I think there’s a lot of this in anime. I’m thinking of Inuyasha right now, did you watch that? R: No. You’re gonna have to talk Sailor Moon if you’re gonna keep me on your level. K: Okay, let’s talk Sailor Moon. Let’s talk the original anime run, where they really fleshed out a lot of the episodes, and remember at one point they’re trying to track down the seven rainbow crystals. You know Sailor Moon becomes Sailor Moon not by choice, she just is. R [overlapping]: Yup. K: And she’s got a talking cat that tells her to fight demons. R: And yells at her for not doing her homework. K: And at the same time, she’s not only gotta find these other sailor scouts, and identify them and get them to accept their fates and roles but because this is anime everyone’s like ‘Ah yes! This is what I was meant for the whole time!’ In the first season of the anime they’re tracking down these seven rainbow crystals. So they don’t necessarily know why they’re tracking them, and at one point Tuxedo Mask has one and they’re like that’s fine, he can just hang on to it. R: [laughing] K: They’re just like well we don’t want the bad guys to get these. We don’t know why. But then we find out, oh no wait, it turns out we actually need all of them. R [overlapping]: Yeah. K: Why? Well we’re not sure yet. Okay now we know why we need all of them. And, oh crap, there’s the princess! And why do we need the princess? Because the princess can wield this power that’s going to defeat Queen Beryl. The agency there I think is - well first of all accepting and embracing ‘hey this is something I have to do.’ But also then incremental goals. And sometimes your plan changes. Sometimes it turns out that Sailor Venus is not the princess. R [overlapping]: [laughing] Yeah. Yeah. K: It’s actually Sailor Moon. [laughing] R: Yeah, well, certainly couldn’t be her. Look at her. K: No, no, I mean she looks nothing like that other princess that she looked exactly like. [laughing] R: With the same hairstyle and everything. K [laughing]: Yes. R: The importance of grace in a person’s identity is apparently paramount. But yeah, the idea of a plan changing with new information I think is overlooked, because we like our stories in small parcels. K: Yes. R: But something like, for example a manga that’s gonna go on in theory indefinitely - K: [coughing]Naruto.[/coughing] Sorry. R: You’re going to have to introduce new information that’s going to change the course of the plot, and make the characters do something that maybe they wouldn’t have done before, or something they hadn’t considered, or just go off in a different direction because they need a new costume. K: And by the way this is why a lot of not just manga, but comic book series and even ongoing long-running television shows, have story arcs. R: Yeah. K: Manga especially you will see broken out into the such-and-such arc. R: Mhm. K: The this arc, they actually title them and they’re considered collections. R: Yeah. The introduction of new information can help pivot the story in a way that, like the characters might not have made that decision based on the way that they were starting out or proceeding at any given point in it. Having a plan is good, but maybe it doesn’t matter what it is. [laughing] K: But I think having a plan is a baseline that gives characters agency because they can make decisions to try to achieve the end results of that plan. R: Trying to stay on the track. K: Yeah. Again I’ll refer to the character of Kaz in Six of Crows. What’s so compelling about his character is he is a planner. He’s one of those guys who’s thinking of every possible contingency. He’s trying to stay two steps ahead of rivals and archnemesises - nemesii - R: Nemeses. K [overlapping]: Nemeses. I like nemesii. And that’s why we see him act so clearly with so much agency because then on top of that, we also learn that he is a person who’s very knowledgeable and very in control of things. You need a guy who can do this? He knows the guy who can do that who owes him a favor. He runs a casino, so all he’s doing is collecting information and favors and stuff to be traded in later. R: Okay. What about competence porn? K: Competency porn in general - if you’re not getting it from just saying, this is: somebody who’s always on top of things and always two steps ahead, and then it’s like all is lost, haha, no it’s not! See, I took the magic human ring from their pocket a long time ago, and now we can all - R [overlapping]: Going back to the heist kind of plot we described, like Danny Ocean - K: Yeah. R: - was an extremely competent person who was never out of control at any point. K: And even when we were left to think that he was out of control, that he was gonna derail this whole thing because of Tess, it turns out no, she was part of the plan the whole time. R: Yeah. K: So how do you have a character that has a lot of agency, can show forward thinking, without making them insufferable? R: We’ll start with casting George Clooney. K: Yes, yeah. All things are forgiven if it’s George Clooney. R: [laughing] K: Once you realize you can’t get George Clooney, what do you do? You have to make the character a person. Everyone works with somebody who, a situation will pop up and you know that no matter what you do, they are going to act irrationally because of something that happened prior. Everyone has a family member that won’t eat a certain thing, no matter how you prepare it, and the reasons that they won’t eat it are completely irrational. Everyone has the friend that just is constantly late, or changing plans last minute. These are X factors, these are things that make us human. And building a well-developed character who’s, even if they are hyper competent and they have planned everything out, still has to deal with base urges and moments of irrationality that are going to make them act in a way that maybe isn’t furthering the plan. But, they’re still showing agency when they do it. So for instance, you know the character standing at the thing and it’s like ‘okay I’m supposed to be following this guy who’s got the thing, but holy crap, there’s the guy who killed my brother! He’s walking that way, but I need to follow the guy who has the MacGuffin, because we need the MacGuffin, but this might be my only chance. He’s getting on a plane, I might never find this guy again.’ And decides to leave and go - it’s still agency, he’s still making a decision to his benefit, but at the cost of something else. R: Unless he figures out how to do both. So, as an editor, obviously you can’t name names - K: [laughing] R: - but what has been your experience with writers being told that they need to add agency to a story? K: Frequently confusion. R: Confusion because they don’t know what the heck that advice means, so they needed this episode. K: The thing is that if you have a completed book, a lot of times I think that you think your character is doing the best that your character can. I haven’t had to have that conversation a lot, but the times that I have weren’t the story as a whole, it was isolated to individual areas of the story. And a lot of times I framed it as ‘character So-and-so needs to make a decision. They need to do something. They need to stand up for themself. Or they have this thing that they know, they need to act on that, or they need to tell someone about it so that person can act on it. When I find areas where I’m like, I need this character to display a little more agency, is typically when - I’ll be honest with you, a lot of times it’s when the story stalled out a little bit. R: But is that a result of the character not behaving with agency? K: Well frequently when we get the character to act a little bit more on their behalf or make some decisions, it takes the storyline back up. R: Yeah. K: Weird, huh? [laughing] R: Funny how that happens. K: This all goes back to what we’re talking about here of going ‘why is it a big deal if my character’s passive?’ Because that can get boring. R: Yeah. And part of this is that we need the energy as a reader from that character’s desire to get from point A to point B, whether that’s an action or a target or an emotional state or whatever. That carries us along through the book and that makes the pages turn, versus the character just milling about with their hands in their pockets. K: I’ll leave us with this thought. I find a lot of times that characters who lack agency are typically not well-developed characters. And I’m not talking about in a certain scene, I’m not talking about the weird spot where the story’s stalling out a little bit, I’m talking about pervasive through the entirety of the story. A lack of agency is frequently coupled with a character that maybe isn’t that well-developed and whose arc, yes I’m tying in other vague advice to this, but whose character arc maybe isn’t that well fleshed out. Because if you have a well-developed character, you should know in your head what they would do in certain situations. You should know how they would act. If the character’s personality or development is ‘I will sit in this place, watch everything happen, and wait for it to be over,’ well, maybe that’s not a character you should be writing an entire book about. [laughing] All of this ties to everything else. All of this has to do with the other major things about books: themes, character arcs, plot, and place. Because characters who are well-developed shouldn’t need a lot of nudging to help themselves. R: Right, so if you have a character that knows what they want, sometimes this meandering comes out of the writer not quite sure how to get to the next thing, and might I suggest you just cut the scene and go to the next thing that is actually sometimes exactly what it needs. K: You brought up a very good point. I think a lot of times when, especially if it’s not pervasive if we’re dealing with an individual scene, it’s more a product of the writer struggling in that area. Either not knowing how to get us to the next place we need to be, be it physical or otherwise, or not having a good understanding of what’s gonna continue to happen in the story and either not wanting to write themselves into a corner, or not having a good way to continue. R: Yeah. And so then they get stuck in that character-introspective moment where they’re staring out the kitchen window, thinking about lots of stuff without acting in any way. K: It’s okay to have quote-unquote “downtime” for characters. It’s okay to give them some time where they need to think and regroup. I would say that is even displaying agency, that’s a planning portion. I’m not saying that every character at all times in your book must be active and must be doing things to further themselves to a goal. What I am saying, however, is that if they’re not doing anything through the course of the book, or if there are big chunks of it where we’re kinda going ‘whaaat’s going on here?’, that’s a larger problem. And one is easier to fix than the other. [laughing] Anyway, so, that’s agency, and that’s kinda what I have to say about it. That’s all I have to say about that. R: I doubt that very much. K: Well, that’s all I’ll say for now then. R: Yes, ‘cause we are over time. For me, if I get the feedback that my character’s lacking agency, I take a good look at what’s happening. And as Kaelyn said, if my character’s not a force that is causing things to happen in this story, or if there’s unnecessary downtime, or if there just isn’t a character arc, ‘cause sometimes I get this feedback for short stories. K: Mhm. R: And so that’s a good easy way to figure out like ‘oh, right, I don’t have a character arc. This character goes and observes a thing, and I’m trying to make commentary on the thing but I’m not actually having the character affect any change on the thing.’ Then it’s not really agency, it is the character observing the world around them and having an opinion about it, which isn’t the same as having a character arc. K: Yeah. R: If that happens in a novel, it’s more excruciating because it’s a lot more words that you’ve put time into. I rewrote SALVAGE, the first 60% that I rewrote, the first time I rewrote the first 60%, was because of an agency issue. K: Mhm. R: My characters start out the book; they’re stuck on the island, and all I did to change it was change the way they were planning their stuck-ness. K: [laughing] R: They’d been there the same amount of time, they were the same amount of frustrated, they were in the same amount of danger and having to make sure that nobody noticed them that shouldn’t notice them. But, in the second version, there’s a heist. Versus the first version where there’s a lot of watching the clock. And which one would you rather read? K: Exactly, yeah. There’s certainly an argument to make -- I think, a strong argument that I would say is borderline law -- that watching characters act with agency is far more engaging than watching them as passive observers. R: Yep. K: Unless it’s Twilight, and then you’re just gonna sell a billion copies of basically a weird choose-your-own-adventure, but not really. R: Yes. Well, not all our characters are as beautiful and attractive and wonderful and captivating as Bella, so we’re just gonna have to give them agency. K: She doesn’t know how beautiful - R [overlapping]: Right no of course not - K [overlapping]: No of course not, no - R: The plot is her finding out that people find her attractive. K: And she smells really good. [Both laughing] R: A fine vintage. Okay. K: Twilight is one of those things that like, I wonder if 150 years from now when we’re all dead, and they look back at this and go like ‘God, people in the earlier 2000s were weird.’ R: I mean, you could say that about most ages I think. K: That’s true. Yeah. R: There’s plenty of evidence throughout history of humans being just freakin’ weird. K: Context is everything, but. R: Yep. K: Yeah, so anyway, that’s agency. R: It is. Go get some, and give it to your characters. K: And always agency on your own behalf, you as a real life person always get to have. R: Yeah! I mean, especially when you’ve been locked inside for a year and a half. It’s about time to get some agency. K: Yup. R: So if you have questions or comments, or you still don’t know what agency is or what to do with it when someone tells you you need more, then you can @ us on Twitter and Instagram @wmbcast, or you can go back to some of the other episodes we talked about; they are all at wmbcast.com. We would love if you would leave a rating and review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts. And also we are super grateful to all our patrons at Patreon.com/wmbcast who support the costs involved in making these episodes for you. So if they are helpful, and you have the cash and the agency - K: [laughing] R: Please head on over there. K: I see what you did there. R: Oh yeah, you like that? Thanks. K: I did, I did. So thanks everyone, we’ll see you in two weeks!

Eintracht Lebenslang
Eintracht Lebenslang Folge 071 - Der Live-Ausgleich

Eintracht Lebenslang

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 21, 2021 81:14


Der Live-Ausgleich! In der 90. Minute von Paderborn gg KSO. Dazu besprechen wir unser Spiel gegen Paderborn, unser Spiel gegen Fürth und blicken auf Aue voraus. Dazu ein ausgiebiges Segment über die Super League und CL Reform. Viel Spaß!

The KSO Show
Coffee with Chris (April 19, 2021) | K-State 2021 Basketball Offseason

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2021 81:42


Coach Chris Lowery sits down with KSO via Zoom to discuss everything from this past season, the new transfer additions, and a peak into the future.

Ky's Sports Opinion
Kendall Is Back On The KSO

Ky's Sports Opinion

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 23, 2021 79:46


KSO is back with the goated guest himself, also known as Kyler's Dad..... Kendall

The KSO Show
KSO Q&A (Feb. 23, 2021)

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 23, 2021 69:14


KSO's Derek Young and Grant Flanders take KSU fan questions

Demokratiresan - en podcast från SKL
#34 Att leda under en pandemi

Demokratiresan - en podcast från SKL

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 2, 2021 33:51


I detta avsnitt samtalar vi med två ledande förtroendevalda, Emilie Orring RSO i Uppsala och Peter Schilling KSO i Sundbyberg om hur det är att leda i en pandemi. Hur påverkas de politiska församlingarna av de restriktioner som finns, så väl praktiskt som innehållsmässigt? Vi pratar också om vad som krävs för att hålla dialogen med medborgarna levande och vad man längtar efter att åter kunna göra. Medverkande: Emilie Orring, RSO i Uppsala och Peter Schilling, KSO i Sundbyberg. Programledare: Nils Munthe Tid: 33:50

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe
Bruno Fernandes | is Ole overworking Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 13, 2021 6:01


Will Bruno Fernandes burnout? Bruno Miguel Borges Fernandes is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Manchester United and the Portugal national team. Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Ole Gunnar Solskjær KSO is a Norwegian professional football manager and former player who is the manager of Premier League club Manchester United. Before he arrived in England, Solskjær played for Norwegian clubs Clausenengen and Molde. He joined Manchester United in 1996 for a transfer fee of £1.5 million.

Marc Capponi Presents
This Stupid Year (featuring KSO)

Marc Capponi Presents

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2020 3:24


2020 has been a hard year for everyone. One of the highlights for me was getting to work again with my old friend KSO. KSO delivers the beautiful vocal on this track. THANK YOU, K!!

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe
The Oxymoron of Manchester United Coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer | Premier League

Messi Ronaldo Neymar and Mbappe

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 20, 2020 11:46


Why Manchester United and Ole struggle against weaker teams? Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Ole Gunnar Solskjær KSO is a Norwegian professional football manager and former player. He is currently the manager of English club Manchester United. As a player, he played as a forward and spent most of his career with Manchester United. The Premier League, often referred to outside England as the English Premier League or the EPL, is the top level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League.

The KSO Show
The KSO Show: Q&A (Nov. 3, 2020)

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2020 56:07


We answer KSO subscriber questions.

The KSO Show
KSO Spotlight: Logan Landers

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2020 16:45


KSO sits down with Kansas State's newest 2021 basketball commit Logan Landers

The KSO Show
The KSO Show: Subscriber Q&A

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2020 49:06


We answer KSO subscriber questions.

The KSO Show
The KSO Show: Jimmy and Nelly Analysis - KSU 55, KU 14

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2020 39:30


Chris Nelson and Jimmy Goheen aka ksu_FAN on Twitter and KSO break down Kansas State beating Kansas. We go drive by drive and take a glance at where the Wildcats sit in the Big 12. 

The KSO Show
The KSO Show: Q&A Pod (Oct. 21, 2020)

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2020 40:49


We answer KSO subscriber questions.

The KSO Show
The KSO Show: ksu_FAN Analysis - KSU 21, TCU 14

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2020 29:18


Jimmy Goheen aka ksu_FAN on KSO and Twitter analyzes K-State's win over TCU on the road. 

WGTD's The Morning Show with Greg Berg
10/7/20 - Kenosha Symphony Concert Preview

WGTD's The Morning Show with Greg Berg

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2020 14:42


Thea Keshavarzi, president of the Kenosha Symphony, talks about the concert that the KSO plans to perform this coming Saturday night at Kemper Center- and explains the precautions being taken to keep both the musicians and audience members safe.

The KSO Show
The KSO Show: Jimmy and Nelly Recap - KSU 31, TTU 21

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2020 46:38


Jimmy Goheen (@ksu_FAN on Twitter and KSO) and Chris Nelson (@KSO_Nelson on Twitter) recap K-State's win over the Red Raiders

The KSO Show
The KSO Show: Monday Q&A (Sept. 28, 2020)

The KSO Show

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2020 64:30


Derek Young and Grant Flanders answer subscriber questions in another Q&A edition of the KSO show.

We Make Books Podcast
Episode 44 - Theme and Character Arcs

We Make Books Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2020 51:19


Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between! We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves. We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and tell us your favorite novel covers! We hope you enjoy We Make Books! Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap Instagram: @WMBCast  Patreon.com/WMBCast   Episode 44: Theme and Character Arcs transcribed by Sara Rose (@saraeleanorrose)   [0:00] R: Welcome back to We Make Books, a podcast about publishing—and writing. And sometimes going backward and revising. Whoops. I’m Rekka, I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.   K: And I’m acquisitions editor, I, Kaelyn Considine, at Parvus Press.   R: How dare you.   [Both laugh]   K: It’s the heat. It’s the heat and then quarantine.   R: The heat is definitely getting to us. We have to turn off the AC to record these, folks, so pity us.   K: Hi, everyone! No, today we actually have, I think, an interesting episode. We are going based off a Twitter question we got from one of our listeners, Ashley Graham, about themes and character arcs and how to manage them and make them good in your story.   R: And by good, we mean strong or tight or—   K: Pervasive, efficient—   R: Pervasive. [giggles]   K: What are some other words we use to describe them here? Lots of very positive adjectives, to be sure.   R: Mhm, yeah.   K: You want your character arcs tight and your themes pervasive.   R: Yup.  K: It’s kind of what we’re left with here. Anyway, we had a lot of fun talking about this because it’s something that I really enjoy working with authors on.   R: Yeah, when Kaelyn gets a novel manuscripts, this is what she dives in and gets to.   K: It is, yeah. This is at the very developmental level and I think anybody who’s a writer that’s listening to this and has submitted and gotten rejections has probably, at some point, gotten a note to “work on their themes or character arcs.”   R: Mhm.   K: Which is just so helpful and specific.   R: That’s why they call them form rejections.   K: Yes. So, we spent a lot of time in this talking about, first of all, what are these themes and character arcs? And how do you work on them? A lot of fun examples in movies and shows and, you know, like I said this is one of my favorite things about editing, is working on these parts of the book.   R: See, Kaelyn thought that she could ask me to restrain her, but the fact is I also love these, so we did go on a little bit. But I think we’ve had longer episodes. We’re fine.   K: Definitely, yeah. We were like kids in a candy shop for this, to be sure.   R: That’s true.   K: Anyway, so take a listen. We hope this is helpful, if this is something you’ve been struggling with in your writing process, and we’ll see you on the other side of the music.   [intro music plays]   K: I don’t know what I could’ve hit. That’s upsetting. Anyway! So, if my elbow hit something is that a character arc or is that a theme?   R: I think that’s a theme. Or it might be a story element…   K: It could be a plotline. Is the elbow a character?   R: Is the elbow haunted?   K: I mean, I assume so. It’s mine, yes. Anyway, today we’re talking about—one of our listeners, Ashley Graham, sent us a question about, I don’t know. Do we wanna read the question?   R: I’m gonna summarize it. Basically, Ashley was working on a short fiction piece and was suggested to, by an editor, that the theme and character arc could use some clarification. So, what the heck does that mean? That’s feedback that people will see.   K: That’s very common feedback, actually. Probably, I think, a lot of people listening to this who have submitted something either to an agent or an editor, probably got feedback that may have specifically said character arc and theme.   R: Yeah. And I think this one might have been for a publication, so short fiction market. And you’re gonna get that kind of stuff a lot because their second-tier response is going to be, “Your story almost made it, you could’ve tightened this up,” you know?   K: Yeah, and also, especially with short fiction, you’re gonna see that more because you have to do a lot in a short amount of time.   R: Yeah.   K: Now that is not, by any stretch of the imagination, to indicate that you won’t see this with long-form fiction because, believe me, you will. I’ve said it multiple times myself—   R: It might be easier to go astray with a long novel.   K: It’s very true. So, why is it these two things, a lot, that you hear? Because they’re a little, especially in the case of themes, they’re a little nebulous and not as easy to pin down. A plot is, I think, a lot of times easier because it’s the story. When you sit down to write an outline, what you’re outlining is usually the plot.    R: It’s concrete, it’s easy to point at and go, “That is part of the plot. That is a thing that happens and it happens in an order and if that order goes awry then it’s not a plot anymore.”   K: That’s exactly what I was gonna say, was that when you’re outlining something and it’s the plot, it’s an order of actions happening in sequence, or maybe out of sequence, depending on how you’re writing, but in how they’re going to be presented in the final book or short story, or what have you.   So, before we get started, let’s kinda define some things here. So a plot, obviously, we know what a plot is. That is not a character arc, it is not a theme. A plot is the elements of a story that take place and happen to the characters. That is a very broad definition, obviously, but plots are sequences on actions and things that happen.   R: Yeah, I’ve even heard it defined as a sequence of actions, reactions, and complicating factors.   K: Yes, that’s a really good way to describe it. Themes and character arcs, and it’s funny because character arcs and plots get confused together and then themes and morals get confused together. A theme is not a moral, a moral is, we’re talking strictly in terms of terms in literature. A moral is a lesson that is learned. A moral is the kid sticks his hand in the cookie jar when he’s not supposed to, it gets stuck, he breaks the cookie jar and has cuts on his hand and his mom finds out he was doing all of this anyway.    So what has he learned? He has learned to listen to his mother because maybe it’s not just that she doesn’t want him to eat cookies when he shouldn’t, maybe it’s that he could get hurt. That is a moral. That is actions and the plot leading up to a character changing themselves because they learned something. That is not a theme.So, now that we have—   R: It’s a character arc though.   K: It certainly could be.   R: Yeah.   K: And so that’s why I’m saying, plots and character arcs and themes and morals can get confused. So now that we’ve established what we’re not talking about, let’s talk about what we are talking about.   And let’s start with themes because that one is a little more nebulous, I think. A theme in a story is, at its basis level, an underlying message. It’s a big idea.   R: Mhm.   K: It is conceptual. It’s things that do not physically, tangibly exist in the world. If you are saying, “Yes, the theme is this,” and a lot of times, if it’s something you can actually touch, that’s probably not actually a theme.   R: So my theme is not coffee?   K: Your theme might be coffee, Rekka.   R: I was gonna say! You’re speaking in universals here, but I just don’t feel like I can relate to what you’re saying.   K: Your—your theme might be coffee. [laughs] Now, somebody might—you might come in and say, “What about the ocean? What if the theme of this story is the ocean?” Well, my answer to that is that the theme of the story is probably not the ocean.   The theme of the story might be travel or man versus nature or the horror of the unknown, and the ocean just happens to embody that.   R: Yup.   K: Again, these are Big Ideas. These are things that you cannot touch, feel, or hold. So things like love, death, good versus evil, a lot of coming of age stories. Stories of rebellion and overthrowing corrupt systems of government. Survival. These are themes. And those are big themes. You can have smaller ones like… family. Finding things that are lost.   R: Appreciating what you had all along, kind of thing,   K: Exactly, yes. Realizing that home was really where you wanted to be this whole time.   R: Yeah. Adventure was the friends you made along the way.      K: Exactly, yes. The other thing that I always tell people when trying to identify themes in their story and bring them forward a little more, is what do you want the reader to walk away thinking, feeling, or knowing? If the theme of your story is: the adventure was the friends you made along the way, then you want the reader to go, “You know what? I really need to go spend some more time with my friends and do something fun with them.”   R: Mhm.   [09:55]   K: Or “ I need to go out and make some new friends,” or “I’m gonna go have an adventure and see if I make any new friends.”   R: Yeah.   K: Your—if, you know, the theme is something like death and loss, maybe you want the reader to leave feeling really sad and depressed and hopeless, staring into the void of existence.   R: You monster.   K: Hey, I mean we’ve all read a book like that.   R, laughing: Yes. In high school. They were required reading.    K: Ohh, oh yeah.   R: So, another way to phrase this or to think about it is to—say, your example of the ocean and say, “Okay, but that’s still a noun.” If you were to remove the noun, what’s left? What’s underneath that? If the setting and the characters are the carpet and you pull up the carpet, what’s underneath it? What is the most fundamental, base human relatable thing that you’re communicating with this story?   K: And that’s what makes themes so difficult to manage and to bring forward in stories, is that they are intangible. You can’t—There’s a frequently said thing that editors use which is, “Show me, don’t tell me.” R: Right.   K: And that is—   R: We should have an episode on that.   K, laughs: Yeah. But that is themes. You can’t put a sentence in there saying, “And the theme is: love.” No, you need—it’s something that has to be woven through your story for the reader to pick up on their own. You shouldn’t have to tell the reader what the theme of this story is.    So, now, before we go too far down that line, let’s kinda talk about character arcs and what is a character arc? They’re definitely a little more tangible, if you will, than themes. You can sit down—and I encourage people to sit down and write out a character arc. Rekka, you’ve done this a few times.   R: A few...yes. Just a couple.    K: Just a few. But a character arc is partially, mostly, a lot of times, an inner journey. It’s a transforma—   R: It’s a transformation. Ah, there we go.   K: It’s a transformation of the character over the course of the story. We’re seeing them start out a certain way, the plot affects them, and they have to change and adapt accordingly. And some definitions of this will say it must be a permanent change. I don’t buy into that because I don’t think that everything needs to be a fundamental personality shift.   R: Well, sometimes you just really wanna write a really long series and that character’s gonna have to learn that lesson more than once.   K: Yeah… Hey, nobody said these characters have to be smart!   R: Yeah, they don’t have to grow ever upward.   K: No, character arc is something. Theme has been what it is for a long time. Character arc is something that, I think, the standards and definitions of it have shifted a little bit over time. In fiction, especially, if you go back to when literature was first being really defined and written about and studied, you’ll find a lot of stuff that says, “Well, a character arc must have these elements: the character must start here; they must encounter or create a problem for themselves; they must come up with a way to overcome that problem, or get the thing that they need; they must suffer a setback; they must recover from the setback; they must resolve the storyline.”   R: And usually in a Three Act, there’s a second setback that’s extra bad.   K: Yeah, yes. I don’t agree with this. I think that there’s no such thing as a formulaic character arc.   R: Right. And, for one, that’s a very Western oriented, Western-centric character arc. You’re going to travel outside Western stories, you’re going to see different character arcs.   K: I would make the argument that character arcs that are a very Western thing that can be applied to a lot of stories because the nature of stories has character arcs, but—   R: Well, I would argue that the nature of Western civilization is colonialism and that sure is going in and applying new rules to other people’s stuff, so. [laughs]   K: Absolutely.    R: So burn down character arcs, got it.   K: Yeah. No, no. And, look, what makes stories interesting is seeing the people in them grow and change. The degree to which that happens varies wildly across all genres and all cultures and how—I’ve had literature professors that said, “If your character is not X amount different by the end of the story, then that’s not a successful character arc,” and I think that’s bullshit.   Because character arcs, which are obviously very tied to character development, do not necessarily need to be a fundamental shift in personality.   R: So, why don’t we start talking a little bit examples. We named one off the air, before we started recording, which was basically any character that Harrison Ford plays.   K, laughing: Yeah!   R: Do any of those characters fundamentally change across the time spent on screen?   K: Well, let’s scale it down a bit to characters Harrison Ford plays that appear in multiple movies. Franchise Harrison Ford characters.    R: Okay, so we’re talking Indiana Jones, Han Solo, and then Jack Ryan.    K: Okay, well I don’t know anything about Jack Ryan, so I’m not gonna be able to help there.   [15:57]      R: Basically, he’s—once again, we’re talking about uber-competent male action heroes, basically.   K: I am going to focus primarily on Indiana Jones and Han Solo because that’s an interesting dichotomy. One of them has a character arc, the other absolutely does not. Spoiler alert: Indiana Jones does not really have much of a character arc.   R: Um, as we said, his character arc is… he needs a thing, he has a competitor for the thing, the competitor gives him a setback, he overcomes, approaches again, has a bigger setback, and then he gets the thing. It’s not a personal growth, it is his striding toward a goal.   K: Yes, but that is his plot.   R: That is also the movie plot, but I’m just saying—is it a flattening of the character arc with the plot, when the character doesn’t change very much?   K: It is because Indiana Jones does not change over the course of the story. He ends and begins every movie with, It Belongs in A Museum.    [both laugh]   R: Fortune over ___, kid.   K: Yeah, that’s Indiana Jones. It’s It Belongs in A Museum or I Don’t Want the Nazis to Have This. That is everything motivating Indiana Jones throughout all of his movies. Han Solo, on the other hand, does have a character arc. Han Solo starts out as a smuggler and a guy who, according to his prequel, was running drugs.    R: Mhm.   K: And he eventually becomes somebody who, instead of just living this sort of private-smuggler lifestyle—   R: Out for himself.   K: Yeah! Out for himself. Has friends and family that he grows to care about. And maybe he’s not as gung-ho Freedom Fighter as they are, but he certainly takes their values and their goals into account and wants to help them and be successful in that. Then he walks into a lightsaber—but we’ll, you know… that’s… [laughs] But! It is a different, it’s another downswing on the character arc is that we see that Han Solo, at the end of the day, is still Han Solo.   R: Mhm.   K: Because what happens? He goes back to smuggling pirate loner lifestyle with Chewbacca. We pick up with him again and, yeah, he’s different but of course he is, he’s older. So there, again, successful character arc! But what he’s showing us is that, at the end of the day, this is what he does and this is what he knows and this is what he’s good at.   R: Well, but, the question is, is he good at it or is he Chewbacca’s sidekick.   K, laughing: How good he is is a different query.   R: Okay, so—   K: Actually, real quick sidebar, if you think about it, everything we’ve seen of Han Solo, he’s not actually a very good smuggler.   R: No, he’s terrible! So the question is, does your character start from a default? And what we’re saying here is Han Solo, his default is smuggler, loner, trying to make the next paycheck and keep himself out of trouble.   K: Scruffy-faced nerf-herder.   R: Whenever he is thrown into the mix with people who are potential friends, they mess up his default and pull him away from that. But send an obstacle into his path—like a son—and he reverts back to his default when he doesn’t know how to cope.   K: Yeah, exactly. So, Han Solo is actually, and I think, primarily accidentally, a very successful and good example of a character arc.   R: Mhm.   K: Indiana Jones: It Belongs in A Museum or Stop The Nazis.   R: I think he’s intentionally left out of the character arc.   K: Yeah, I mean—but this is the thing, that’s not what those stories are about.   R: Right. That’s to the point of this question is, when you are told to tighten up a character arc or a theme, you do need to know what kind of story you’re telling before you decide how deep into character arcs and themes you need to dive. I mean, you might get this feedback from one person, and they might be off the mark for what you were trying to do with your story.   K: Mhm.   R: Which can also tell you, maybe you need to extract a little of that character arc and not make it feel like it’s so much about developing a character, if you are just telling a whip-cracking, gun-toting archaeologist tale. Don’t do that. Archaeologists don’t appreciate it.   K, laughing: Yeah, that’s uh—   R: Another episode.   K: In case anyone was confused at home, that’s not what archaeology’s actually like, sadly. Anyway, now that we’ve talked about what character arcs and themes are, why are these two things that people are frequently told to tighten up? And frequently told to tighten them together?   We’ve already said that character arcs are closer to plots, themes are closer to morals, but they’re not the same thing. So how do character arcs and themes overlap? Themes motivate and drive characters. This feeds both the plot and the character arc. The plot, obviously, because based on the theme, and therefore the character’s motivation, the character will be making that will affect both the plot and their character arc.   R: Mhm.   K: That’s where things start to get a little tricky. Those two are very closely intertwined. Because obviously the plot, in a lot of cases, is dependent upon what the character is doing. Their choices and decisions dictate what happens next in the story.   So then, drill down for that, what is influencing their decision-making, their motivation? And where is the motivation coming from? And that’s where you start to get to the themes of the story. So, if one of the themes of your story is survival and, let’s think of—   R: Alien.   K: Okay, that’s a more fun example. I was gonna say The Hatchet, remember that book we all had to read in middle school?   R: Yeah, we’re not doing that, we’re doing Alien.   K: Okay, we’re doing Alien.   R: Mostly because there was a point you made earlier about character and we used Harrison Ford’s various characters as the example, but I love the example of, specifically in terms of survival, and specifically in terms of the character of Ripley, Ripley doesn’t really change throughout the movie. What she does is survive because she has the skillset, which is the ability to think things through logically in the first place, to say, “Okay, we need to not be doing this.”   Basically the theme of Alien, correct me if I’m wrong, is We Should Have Listened to Ripley?   K: I mean, yeah. Probably. But beyond just the theme of—Granted, this goes into further expansions in the Alien franchise, but—   R: Well, let’s stick with Alien for one. The other movies in the franchise are different genres, basically. So sticking with the space truckers’ monster-horror survival.   K: Alien is a horror movie in space. That’s all it is. It was groundbreaking, genre-defining, but it is a horror movie in space. So, the themes of the movie, as Rekka said: survival. There’s also, I would say, a theme of frustration.    R: Mhm. The capitalist bureaucracy.   K: Well, and that’s what I was getting into.   R: Okay.   K: So then we’re introducing a conflict element there that is beyond simply: there’s a thing laying eggs in people’s chests.   R: That thing laying eggs in people’s chest wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the company.   K: Yes, exactly. So then, if you want to take all of that and say, “Okay, so how does that affect Ripley’s character arc?” Ripley is changed at the end of the story, not necessarily physically or personality-wise, but emotionally she is very affected. And she is going to then—have you ever heard about how Alien was supposed to end? One of the alternative endings they shot?   The alien gets Ripley, essentially, and then when whoever is calling in over the ship, the alien gets the intercom and answers back in her voice, requesting for orbits to come back to Earth.   R: Gotcha.   K: So, it was a very bleak ending, obviously.   R: But a lot of monster movies do this. They leave off with you not feeling safe.   K: Yes, and so that is another theme. What do you wanna leave your readers with? And, in this case, the movie pivoted a little bit and said, “Well, we wanna give the audience a sense of closure,” and that all of this, this theme of survival, she did survive. So rather than going with the theme of feeling unsafe, which was another theme running through that entire movie, paranoia, uncertainty—   R: Claustrophobia.   K: Claustrophobia. Anybody could become your enemy at any moment.   R: Body horror. Yup.    K: Yeah. So instead of leaving off with that theme, they decided to be a little kinder and pivot a little bit to say, “Hey, determination, intelligence, stick-to-itiveness, and survival will make you victorious.” Which is another set of themes. So then, back to, how does this tie into the character arc is: Ripley is a changed person at the end of this.   Boy, has she seen some shit. And now she knows that this corporation is up to no good. She is no longer just in it for the money. They say this is a long, awful journey, but it’s very good money. It’s totally worth it.   R: Mhm.   K: Maybe it’s not worth it anymore. There’s absolutely some anti-capitalist undertones in there.   R: Mhm.   K: Ripley comes out of this, even though personality-wise she hasn’t changed—the movie takes place over a relatively short period of time. But Ripley’s definitely got some different thoughts and motivations now, at the end of this. So, even though she hasn’t undergone a radical, inner transformation, she certainly thinks different things now than she did before.   R: Yeah, for sure.   K: So, yeah. That’s a great example of some really cool themes and how they affect—and it’s interesting because you could take it a step further and say how they affect the character arc, rather than the plot.   R: Right.    K: Because in this case, a lot of Ripley’s decisions are reactionary. Things are happening and she’s trying to adapt and recalibrate very, I’m only thinking of two instances in the whole—really, one and a half off the top of my head, in which she goes on the offensive, so to speak.   R: Right. Well that’s also sort of a plot thing is that your character is reacting to things up until a certain point, and then it’s at the time when they decide to say, “No, I will take care of this myself,” that’s when you’re entering that last act.   K: Yes! But, then, by the time we get to the, “I’ll take care of this myself,” for the plot and the character arc, we all go back to the themes of Ripley kind of coming to a new understanding of how stuff is actually happening around her, rather than letting it happen to her.   R: Yeah.   K: Yeah. Anyway, I think that’s a good example.   R: Cool. So, now that we’ve talked about what they are, given you some examples, figured out how to un-intertwine the character arc and theme. How do you tighten them up? And since the example given was a short story for publication, let’s assume we’re doing this in under 7,000 words. How do you tighten up character arc and theme and you’ve also, presumably, got a plot in there, in a very efficient way?   K: All of these kind of work together. I think that anything you’re going to do to a short story, you can apply to longer form fiction and vice versa. So me, personally, with—and Rekka has been on the receiving end of this a couple times—when working with authors, let’s start with themes. I mentioned before, one of the first things I ask the author is: What do you want the audience to know, think, or feel that they didn’t at the beginning of the book?   And when I say know, I don’t mean you’re—   R: Teaching them.   K: Yeah, you’re not putting a graph-chart in there and saying, “And then the price of gold went up to—” I’m not talking about facts, I’m talking about what you want them to know about these nebulous concepts in the way you want them to know it? So, identifying those things really will help you figure out where your themes are.    The other thing I always say, and this is where it starts to tie into the character arc, is look at the character arcs and the plot and the motivation. What are the characters doing and why are they doing it? What is driving them to do this? Because that’s where you’re gonna find a lot of your themes. And then, if theme is very important to you, if you really want to hammer a message home, making sure that your characters act and are motivated by that theme, consistently—and this isn’t to say it can’t evolve, it absolutely can. But making sure that they are correctly motivated, based on what the theme is, is a really good way to help tighten that up.   Then, that helps to feed into their character arc. Because you have a character, then, acting, reacting, and making decisions based on what is important to them and how the story is building.   [30:09]   R: And I think, at this point, if you’re feeling like, “I can’t make this character make this decision,” then that tells you that you are not succeeding at either theme or character arc.   K: Yes… and—   R: Or not in a way that supports what you set out to do with the plot.   K: Yes, and listen. I want to be clear about something that every story does not need to be a Magnum Opus of subtle themes and ideas woven through this— it’s going to be studied in college 101 classes for decades to come. But you do need a theme for your story. You need there to be something that is important in all of this. Otherwise it is a bland series of actions happening one after the other.   R: And if you don’t feel that it is a bland series, or your beta readers don’t feel that it is a bland series of actions, one after another, that means there’s a theme in there. So if you’re having trouble identifying it, that doesn’t mean immediately that you don’t have one.   I will use an example of Mike Underwood, when I was working on Annihilation Aria with him. So we had a few calls, I read the manuscript multiple times, and Mike had actually said the themes of the story are very important to him. So I went through the manuscript, and I do this with most books that I edit, and I kind of write out a plot outline based on what I’m reading, what I see happening in the book. Part of this is, one, that it’s just easier for me to keep track of things, but then also because if I show it to the author and say, “Okay, this is how I’m reading this,” and they’re going, “No, no! That’s not it at all,” then it’s like, okay, now we need to have a conversation.   But one of the things that I like to do through that is mark off, in my notes of this outline, where I’m identifying and seeing certain themes. And then we have a conversation about that. And if we’re seeing a real imbalance of them, or I’m only seeing them come through in certain parts of the story, or if I’m having a real hard time nailing them down and saying, “I feel like I’ve got ten themes in this story. Which one’s the most important to you?”    And I think that’s a really good exercise is, you know, most authors out there, I’m guessing if you’re pretty far into your Work-In-Progress at this point, you probably already have an outline. So go through it and try to pick out sections where you think certain themes are coming through. And I actually color-code them and then I can look through and see, “Oh, there’s a lot of red and not so much blue.”   R: Mhm. If you’re a pantser and you write without an outline, this is something you do, probably in your revision process. Write down a summary of each scene and that becomes an outline. Just because you’re doing it after the fact doesn’t make it less of an outline. And then do the same practice with that.   K: Exactly. It’s not easy to do. There’s a reason that anybody who’s taking any sort of an English literature class will say there’s a reason you spend a lot of time working on and learning about themes is because they’re intangible. They’re nebulous. There isn’t a point at which, in the story, the character breaks the fourth wall and says, “Hey, just so you know, we’re introducing a new theme here! It’s compassion!”   R: But at the same time, you study examples in order to identify the universalities and that’s what themes are.   K: Yes.   R: So, if you learn how to work your theme around compassion, you can write twenty novels that are completely different that are all about compassion, and you’d get really good at it. You know?   K: Yeah, absolutely.   R: That’s why romance writers are really good at what they’re doing. By choosing their genre, they know what the theme is and they stick to it and, by the end, capital R, Romance writers are really, really efficient at getting stories written because they’ve already done this work. And every time you do this with a theme, it answers questions about the plot.   K: Yeah.   R: What needs to happen here? I’m lost. Well, okay, what’s your theme? What needs to happen here? Oh, well this!   Yeah, you answered your own question.   K: So, just to talk a little—with character arc, tightening that up and defining it a little better. Again, outlines here help. And it doesn’t need to be anything too detailed. It just needs to be this, then this, then this, then this and then throw some lines in there explaining what led to or motivated the character to get to that point. Character arcs, it’s funny because in some ways they are far more concrete than themes. You can actually sit down and outline a character arc, but I think it is harder sometimes to say, “Is this a character arc?”   The most important thing in the character arc is the character has to be different at the end than when they started. It can be something like RIpley in Alien where she hasn’t undergone a major personality shift, but she has changed the way she thinks and will act differently now because of that.    As opposed to someone like Luke Skywalker, who has the farmboy to legendary hero character arc, but Luke goes on this whole journey and at the end of it, he is a very, very, very different person than when he started because of all of the things that happened to him. All of the experiences, the adversity, the finding out his father’s Darth Vader. I mean, that alone—   R: Oh, I know. Plus he literally can’t go back to the life he had before.   K: Yeah, exactly. And that’s actually a very good marker of a successful character arc. Can they go back to how things were before? And if the answer is yes, your character has probably not had enough of a character arc for it to be considered a character arc.   R: Or it’s Indiana Jones.   K: Or it’s Indiana Jones. Because Indiana Jones always just goes back to how things were before. Indiana Jones has proof that God exists—   R: And goes back to university and just keeps teaching the Neolithic Era.   K: And just kept living his life! [laughs] Indiana Jones has multiple instances of literal proof that not only does the Judeo-Christian God exist, but also Hindu deities and various other things.   R: Mhm.   K: Aliens! All of this stuff and just continues on like it’s nothing. I don’t know what that says about him. If we should be impressed or horrified.   R: I think we’re supposed to be impressed. The idea being that the first time we see it happen is not the first time it happens for him.   K: I wanna be very clear about something: in the timeline of Indiana Jones because we all know—   R: Are we counting the River Phoenix and Young Indiana Jones?   K: Oh, no, but we’re counting the beginning of Last Crusade, to be sure.   R: Okay, alright.   K: Okay, so we’ve got Last Crusade, we’ve got that awesome train scene, whatever. Chronologically, then, Temple of Doom actually happens first.   R: Right, so we have the intro to Last Crusade, we have Temple of Doom—   K: And Temple of Doom, we establish that Hindu deities are clearly a real thing and a serious force to be reckoned with. Even if you wanna say, “Well, maybe it wasn’t the Hindu deities, it was magic,” okay fine, it was still bad, it was still, you know, unhappy.   R: Yeah.   K: Alright, so then we go to Raiders of the Lost Ark, at the end of that we have established that the Judeo-Christian God is a real thing that exists and does not like Nazis and you should not open the box.   R: Yep.   K: Then, we go to The Last Crusade, and in case anybody was a little like, “Meh, I’m not sure, that could’ve been who-knows-what, just because they said it was the Ark of the Covenant doesn’t mean that’s what it really was,” well now we’ve got the Holy Grail. The literal, actual Holy Grail that has kept a Crusades-era knight alive and then, if we’re still gonna take this a step further, heals his dying father’s mortal wounds.   R: Yup.   K: So, we have now established that multiple deities actually, really exist and this guy just freaking goes back to teaching college like this hasn’t rocked his entire world.   R: Teachers have a limited amount of vacation time.   [K laughs]   R: What is he gonna do?   K: Doesn’t he get summers off? I just assumed that was when all of these were happening.   R: I don’t think he has tenure yet? Once he has tenure, maybe.   K: Yeah, yeah. Good point. Anyway, the whole point is: Indiana Jones, not a great character arc. Can he go back to the way things were? Yes. He does.   R: Apparently!   K: Over and over again.   R: He resets to default.   K: Yes. Getting back—I apologize, we got sidetracked there again—   R: It’s fine.   K: It’s fine, we get excited. So how do you actually go about tightening these up? When somebody gives you the incredible, helpful note of tighten up your themes and character arcs. So helpful. What do you do?   Well, so, for themes I think a good technique is sort of what I mentioned. Go back either through your outline or through your manuscript for revisions, and identify motivations and actions and what themes stem from those.   R: And color-code them maybe, like you  said.   [40:14]              K: Maybe color code them. Take a step back, so to speak. Take a thousand foot view and say, “Is the story driven by these or are they happening because the story’s the thing that’s driving here?” If it’s the second one, you do not have tight themes. The themes should be the ones driving the story and motivating the characters and influencing the plot.   R: And by driving the story, we don’t mean stop at the end of every two paragraphs and reiterate what your theme is.   K: Yes, so how do you tighten this up? Identify things that are happening. Be they actions of characters or elements of the plot. Maybe external forces of nature, depending on what your themes are, and go in and emphasize those a little bit. Make it so that—Yes, you can’t have a character turn to the audience, wink, and say, “I’m doing this for love!” But you certainly can have an inner dialogue where they are acknowledging and identifying that what is motivating them is their love for their dog.   R: Mhm.   K: Or, I guess, their significant other. Whatever.   R: Mostly the dog.   K: Yeah, probably the dog. This goes into the Show Me, Don’t Tell Me.   R: Mhm.   K: See the characters react based on things that are important to them, and that brings forward your themes. I don’t like the phrase “tighten up your themes” I like the phrase “strengthen your themes.”   R: Yeah.   K: And emphasize your themes. Showcase your themes. With themes, you’re not contracting them. You’re trying to disperse them a little bit more through the story. You are showing, not telling.   R: The thing is, like, a bouillon cube.   K: Yes.   R: It starts very small, but it goes throughout your entire project.   K: And then there’s no getting it out again. It’s in there.    R, laughing: Yeah.   K: Character arcs, on the other hand, are absolutely something that can be tightened and focused. So, how do you do this?    First, look at your themes. How are they affecting the story? How are they affecting the character’s decisions? Then look at what the characters are doing. Is it primarily reactionary? Are they just letting things happen to them? Or do they have agency? Are they making decisions themselves?    And it’s okay if, especially for the first part of the book, they’re just reacting. A lot of stories start out with a character just trying to get their feet under them, to recover and reorient themselves from something happening.   R: Although, I wanna say that that does not mean they shouldn’t have some sort of agency.   K: Yes, there needs to be decision-making in there.   R: Maybe they want something that they’re going to end up not wanting at the end.   K: Well, it can come down simply to something like they’re running away from the alien monster that grew from what was living in the back of their fridge and, do I run upstairs and lock myself in the bedroom or do I run out the front door?   Yes, they’re running, but they’re making a decision of how they’re best going to try to escape this.   R: And they can make the wrong decisions, too. I mean, that’s kind of part of the character arc.   K: That is part of the character arc. So tightening these up has to do with having the character come up against a conflict or an obstacle or a decision and then learning and growing and changing from it. So, again, identifying the parts at which your character is coming up against conflict in some way. And conflict, here, not meaning physical or argumentative. Sometimes the conflict can simply be, “It’s low tide, I need to catch fish and I can’t catch fish when it’s low tide.”   R: Right.    K: It can be like a force of nature. And then identifying how they’re reacting. Then, the next time it’s low tide, have they instead gone, “Ah, yes, I should catch extra fish because on this planet low tide lasts for three days and, therefore, I’m not going to be able to fish again for three days.” That’s growing and learning and making new mistakes.   R: Like staying on this planet where low tide lasts for three days. Can you imagine the smell?   K: There’s a very weird mood pattern on this planet.   R: It’s pitch black but low tide.   K: Yes, exactly. So somehow. It’s really weird because there is no moon, actually. No one really knows where the tides are coming from.   So identifying the areas of conflict for your character, where they’re coming up against adversity, and then seeing how they’re making decisions. If they’re just not reacting, if they’re just not doing anything over and over again, that’s not character development. That’s not a character arc.   R: Mhm.   K: Having them grow and change and learn, maybe thinking: Okay, I’m safe now. I’ve locked myself in my room from the alien creature from the back of the fridge can’t get me. Oh, hang on a second. It learned how to open doors. That’s... what do I do now? Okay, I’ve got a chair I can put up against the door.   And then finally getting to the point of going: you know what? I should have just run outside. I need to get out of this house.   R: Mhm.   K: So, again, identifying areas where your character is coming up into conflict, figuring out how they’re reacting, and making sure that they’re learning and changing and not reacting the same way.   This is not a real thing, I wish it was, the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Obviously that’s not correct.   R: Right.   K: But it is important with character arcs and character development. Having your character do the same thing over and over again is not character arc.   R: Although there’s that stubbornness to that, or that unwillingness to grow, that can be the character arc and suddenly they realize doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is not getting me where I want to go. And the thing they learn is not to do that anymore.   K: I am now being eaten by the thing that lived in the back of the fridge. I regret my life choices.   R: Yes.    [both laugh]   R: And that’s the morality lesson—the moral of the tale is clean out your fridge.   K: Clean out your fridge, people!    R: And not just in August.   K: Is that a thing that you do in August?   R: No, I’m saying… it’s just about coming up on August as we record this, don’t make it an annual event. Make it a…   K: You know what’s funny is that with all of the quarantining and stuff, I have been so much better about cleaning the fridge out because I’m just here all the time.   R: Mhm.   K: And I’m kinda like, “Huh.”   R: Well, when you go into an office you procrastinate by going to the lounge and making a cup of coffee and getting a drink or going to talk to somebody about something. But, when you’re home, how do you procrastinate? The only thing you can do is clean.   K: It’s kinda like I’m looking at this going, “Huh, that might start talking to me soon. I should probably do something about that.”   R: But if you’d been going into an office, you would’ve said, “That thing is talking, I should probably do something about that.”   K: I’m gonna go back to my office.   R: At least you’d be the only one there.   K: Yeah, yeah. Anyway! That was a very long-winded way of answering your questions and I hope that—   R: We answered it.   K: We hope that was helpful and not just a series of me rambling about uh—   R: At least we talked about interesting movies and people can relate to, at least Ripley. Especially right now.   K: I think we can all relate to Ripley on some level. One of my favorite behind-the-scenes thing with Alien is, have you ever seen the cute scenes from there? There was a part, it was so ridiculous, it would have ruined the movie, the actor that played the alien was like 6’8” or something and they just put him in this giant rubber suit. And I can’t remember what part of the movie it would’ve been in, but it was one of those where the character’s backing slowly with their gun into a room and they hear something behind them and they turn around and the alien’s there.   And there’s footage out there—look this up—of the alien crab-walking up to them. So just imagine this giant, 6’8” man in this heavy, absurd rubber suit crab-walking on all fours up to this actor. It—I understand what they were trying to do, and the sound effects were certainly creepy, but… it just ruined the whole, it was too ridiculous-looking. Thankfully, they saw that and cut it.   R: I think that has a lot to do with the human joints versus where the joints were supposed to be in this alien.   K: Yeah. Well that’s like in The Exorcist with Regan walking backwards down the stairs. Part of how creepy about that is how unnatural it looks. You’ve got joints going in directions that maybe humans can do that, but they probably shouldn’t.   R: Right, yeah. Exactly. So theme. Stay limber.   K, laughing: Yes! Anyway, Ashley, we hope we answered that for you and keep us posted. Let us know how things go with the story. And if you want to keep us posted on anything else—   R: You can find us online. We are on Twitter and Instagram @wmbcast. We are at Patreon.com/wmbcast where we have some awesome patrons who are supporting the show. And if you feel like we have been helpful, you can throw us some bus fare and stuff for when we’re allowed to go see each other again and get back together for our podcast episode recordings.   K: I was gonna say, I don’t think we’re allowed on buses anytime soon, Rekka.   R: No, we’re definitely not. And if you don’t have cash to spare to support the show, you can also help us out a lot by leaving us a rating on review on Apple podcasts. We’re everywhere. Stitcher, Spotify, all that good stuff. But if you wanna leave a review, it’s most helpful to leave it there. You can also shoot us an email, info@wmbcast.com, and we can answer a question if you have one. If you wanna keep it anonymous, that’s the way to do it. Otherwise, post it to Twitter like Ashley did, and we’ll answer it in a future episode.   K: Yeah. We’ll try our best. That’s for sure.   R: Yeah.   K: Alright, well, thanks everyone so much and we’ll see you in a couple weeks.   R: Take care, everyone!   [outro music plays]