On Brainstorming and Burying the Lede…
As you may know, I adore podcasts. I listen to a lot of them. (There’s a not altogether up-to-date list, even.) They are my primary form of entertainment, learning, and news.
The Round Table Podcast has been around since early 2012, although I didn’t discover it until spring of 2013 or so. As I am wont to do, I started at the very beginning and worked my way forward.
RTP is hosted by Dave Robison and a “random” co-host. Dave, his co-host, and a pro-writer guest host invite a guest writer to come on with a pitch for a story. The guest writer pitches their story for five to eight minutes, and then, for the next forty-five or so minutes, the three hosts take the story apart, suggesting ways to make it better, where “better” is according to the needs of the writer. For instance, it might need more world-building, or better characters, or something exciting to put in Act 2. Whatever the guest writer is looking for, Dave, his co-host, and the guest host help, starting many phrases with “What if…” and offering up “literary gold.” (Or, as their disclaimer states, “complete bullshit.” I have found that disclaimer to be somewhat disingenuous, because even in the parts that don’t mesh with what the guest writer has in mind, there are nuggets of literary gold. If not for the guest writer, then for some of the listeners. :) ) The guest writer is involved, of course, answering questions, and clarifying any confusion on the part of the hosts.
It takes a while to work through the back episodes of a new-to-me podcast, because I have many podcasts I do the same thing with, simultaneously. When I discovered RTP, I put the first four or five episodes on in the car when me and my housemate were on the road to visit my mother a few hours away. I remember saying to her (the housemate), “I need to be on this podcast!” Listening to them brainstorm other people’s stories often gave me ideas for my own.
A couple of months into my catch-up activity, I noticed that no new episodes had appeared in iTunes for a while, and I went to their site to check and — Oh, no! They had gone on indefinite hiatus! (For good reasons, mind you.) I was heartbroken, because I really, really wanted to pitch my novel and be on the show. Crud!
After about a year (summer, 2014), they came back! I continued catching up. Again with the goal of becoming a guest writer in my mind, but not feeling like I knew enough about what my story was about to pitch it, effectively.
In February of this year, I decided to make my move. I had enough of an idea what my novel was about that I felt like I could coherently describe it to people. I started slamming episodes, listening to four or five of them at a time. Meanwhile, I went on their site and filled out the form to be a guest writer.
I got in! :) I won’t try to reproduce the sound I made when I got the email from Dave saying he was interested, but it resembled “squee,” and may have involved (since I was alone at the time) in-chair happy-dancing. I’m sure it was very dignified happy-dancing. You’ll have to trust me, as no video feed of the event exists.
We recorded my episode last Thursday night (4/12/2016). My “random” co-host was Heather Welliver and my guest host was Kat Richardson, one of my favorite writers in my genre (Urban Fantasy; her Greywalker series is very good and you should read all nine of them). She was one of two names I mentioned in my application under “Who would be your dream guest host?”
On Tuesday, May 31, an episode called “20 Minutes With Kat Richardson” will go live, and it will involve Dave’s patented stalkery introduction (which can go on for a good fifteen or twenty minutes) of Kat and then a forty- to forty-five-minute interview with her, with questions from both Dave and Heather. Then, a week later, on Tuesday, June 7, Episode 102, with me as the guest writer, will go live. Squee!
I invite all of you reading this to please go subscribe to The Round Table Podcast. It really is excellent. It’s basically a recorded session of “novel breaking” as practiced at Taos Toolbox and in the unofficial ‘free-time’ parts of Paradise Lost.
I got some really awesome suggestions. I’m still letting them swirl around in my brain to see what comes of them. I took roughly eight and a half pages of notes, and will end up archiving and listening to my own episode a time or two to get probably a couple more pages.
Now, a warning. Some people may or may not want to know the full plot of my novel, as they are expected to critique it at some point, and they won’t experience the twists if they listen to the episode and hear me outline the entire plot in 8 minutes. Assuming I don’t completely throw out my current plot based on what Dave, Heather, and Kat said. :) So if you’re among that crowd, just know that listening to the episode will spoil my novel. I’m not sure how badly, because after last Thursday, it may or may not end the same way. :)
<vague>. . . and not all of my characters may end up being the same people as they are currently.</vague>
As a side note: I’m a little miffed that I didn’t get to make my joke “on air,” as it were. Before the recording, co-host Heather remarked that we had three -sons on the show: Henderson, Richardson, Robison. Expecting her to make the same comment during the actual recording, I was ready to quip to Heather, “So, does that make you Fred MacMurray?”
Oh, no, you don’t! That was damned funny! And now only people who read this site will know the comedy gold they missed out on.
- This may seriously be the most pretentious phrase I have ever typed in my life.
- Until the extended hiatus, the co-host was almost always Brion Humphrey. After the hiatus, Brion had a new baby and other responsibilities, so now the co-host role is filled by different people in each episode, with a good bit of repeat “offenders.” ;) And “random” is in quotes because they’re selected at least partially based on the genre of the guest writer’s story.
- Oh, how wrong I was. Luckily, Dave is good at his job, and gave me some pointers to get my haphazard pitch streamlined and to focus on the parts that mattered, and damn! It worked. I couldn’t be happier with my pitch.
- Serially, you goofball, not simultaneously. But on 1.77x speed, which is the fastest I can listen and still understand and get anything out of it.