39. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey – Grounding Stories With Characters

Science fiction space operas are stories told at an epic scale. How can you make such a vast world accessible to readers? How can you ground these fantastical and strange new worlds in a sense of realism?

Balancing the epic with the human is perhaps the greatest strength of Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (first book in The Expanse). Today’s show dives deep into analysing how characters are they key to guiding readers through epic stories. 

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Show Notes:

jedherne.com/fires – get a free short story and join my email newsletter to hear about future book giveaways!

jedherne.com/question – submit your questions for the show!

anchor.fm – what I use to make my podcast for free (note: I am not sponsored by them and I make no money for this – just recommending a useful tool that I use)

33 – A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. – Exploring Theme through Structure

My debut fantasy novella, Fires of the Dead, is available on amazon for pre-order! Get it here: https://amzn.to/31KMCUR

Or use this link to read a free sample chapter: https://jedherne.com/dead/

A Canticle for Leibowitz is a 1959 post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel by Walter M. Miller Jr. It’s often described as one of the first post-apocalyptic stories. Without it, there would be no Book of Eli, The Stand, or most other post-apocalyptic tales.

Don’t just take my word for it. It won the 1961 Hugo Award – one of science fiction’s highest honours. Legendary scientist Carl Sagan described it as: “so tautly constructed, so rich in the accommodating details of an unfamiliar society that [it] sweep me along before I have even a chance to be critical”.

It’s a remarkable novel. I don’t have the space in one episode to fully analyse it, so today I’m focusing on just one thing: how it uses an unconventional structure to explore the theme and emotionally gut-punch readers. Enjoy!

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Show Notes:

Fires of the Dead, by Jed Herne – https://jedherne.com/dead/

Watch my YouTube channel for writing advice every weekday:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVjB-qFoNxNbQq0S3boWxIA?view_as=subscriber  

Join my exclusive free Reader Club email newsletter to stay up to date with my writing projects:  https://jedherne.com/club/

Twitter: @jedherne

Email: jed.herne1@gmail.com

30 – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Writing Twists

After Dale from The Reading Gorilla podcast sent in a listener request, who was I to ignore it? This is an episode about Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic, Ender’s Game. Specifically, I examine how he crafted such an amazing twist. Enjoy!

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And if you want to request an episode, or just have any feedback on the podcast, email me at jed.herne1@gmail.com, or download the free Anchor app to your phone, then search for ‘The Novel Analyst Podcast,’ and click the appropriate buttons to send me a voice message.

Show Notes:

Check out my new youtube channel for writing advice every weekday:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVjB-qFoNxNbQq0S3boWxIA?view_as=subscriber  

Join my exclusive free Reader Club email newsletter to stay up to date with my writing projects:  https://jedherne.com/club/

Twitter: @jedherne

Email: jed.herne1@gmail.com

24 – The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams pt. 2 – How to Write Funny

In the second part of my analysis of Hitchhikers I extract micro and macro techniques for creating comedy. (You don’t need to have listened to the 1st part for this to make sense).

Micro comedy techniques include:

  1. Garden Path – lead readers to expect a certain outcome, then deliver another.
  2. Emphasis on what comes last
    • Not so much a humour technique, but generally the last word in a paragraph has the most impact. (like we saw in that last quote)
  3. Literal Mis-interpretation: take a term normally used just to convey an idea, then actually follow through with the meaning:
  4. Fun with Homophones
  5. Reframe – how can you make readers see a common thing or a common concept in a different, more humourous, absurdist, satirical way?
  6. Oxymoron – the linking of two ideas which really don’t make sense together

Macro techniques include:

  1. Genre awareness
  2. Escalation
  3. Absurdism
  4. Surprise! (aka Subverting Expectations)
  5. Synthesis with the theme:

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***

Shownotes:

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FunWithHomophones

https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/humor-writing-filled-novel

 

Want to read my free short story? Get it here: A Clockwork Prison

Want awesome short stories, bite-sized writing advice, and lists of the best books to improve your craft? Join my VIP email list!

 

23 – The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams pt. 1 – Why Characters Don’t Matter

This absurdly funny sci-fi comedy is a fantastic example of how you don’t always need amazing characters to create an amazing story. Buckle up as we use Orson Scott Card’s MICE quotient to analyse what makes this novel work. And remember: don’t panic!

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***

Shownotes:

http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/Workshop-stuff/MICE-Quotient.htm

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Want awesome short stories, bite-sized writing advice, and lists of the best books to improve your craft? Join my VIP email list!

14 – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – 6 Steps to make the reader cry

After reading this amazing book twice (my fave read of 2017!), I finally figured out how to articulate my thoughts about it. It’s an amazing read, full of emotion, and in this episode I break down HOW Daniel Keyes achieves this. Enjoy!

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***

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Want awesome short stories, bite-sized writing advice, and lists of the best books to improve your craft? Join my VIP email list!

9 – The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester – Grounding the Future in the Past

The Stars my Destination is a golden age sci-fi novel that has lots to teach – oddly enough – about realism. Bester extracts qualities from historical eras to ground his world in a sense of truth, and in this episode I explore how he does this and how you can do the same.

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***

Twitter: @JedHerne

Want awesome short stories, bite-sized writing advice, and lists of the best books to improve your craft? Join my VIP email list!