Dissecting Dragons: Episode 126: The Slow Death of Literature - What Readers Really Want

July 13, 2018

Episode 126: The Slow Death of Literature - What Readers Really Want

 

As avid readers and bibliophiles, Madeleine and Jules will pretty much tackle anything, no questions asked. As writers however, and especially as SFF writers, they all too often run aground against the literary merit debate. Said debate is that true literature which is worth reading should be hard, it should require effort to read and digest. Ultimately, literary fiction is more worthwhile than genre fiction. This week the dragons delve into the origins of this argument - where did literary fiction originate as a term? What is the genre divide? Who decides which is which? - as well as taking a look at the roots of the history of the novel and side trip through the disreputable origins of SFF, before confronting their own prejudices and snobberies over types of fiction. On the slab this week - The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell, The Book of Strange New Things - Michell Faber, The Night Circus - Erin Morgernstern, When the Moon was Ours - Anna-Marie McLemore and Sing Unburied Sing - Jesmyn Ward.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic 

 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 125: From a Certain Point of View - Multiple POVs, Dual Timelines and Reader Sympathies in Speculative Fiction.

July 6, 2018

Episode 125: From a Certain Point of View - Multiple POVs, Dual Timelines and Reader Sympathies in Speculative Fiction

 

This week the dragons tackle the advantages of having more than one character viewpoint in a piece of speculative fiction, and how that can easily spiderweb outwards until the world you have created grows by itself. Looking at storytelling techniques to manipulate and guide reader sympathies, shifting the preference from one character to their antagonist, Jules and Madeleine look at some of their favourite examples. In addition, they also examine multiple timescales within a story and how, with skill, that also facilitates a richer story telling experience. On the slab this week Legion, Westworld, A Song of Ice and Fire, and many more.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 124: Visitations and Forebodings - How Nightmares are used in Speculative Fiction

June 29, 2018

Episode 124: Visitations and Forebodings - How Nightmares are used in Speculative Fiction

 

Almost all of us have experienced the unpleasantness of bad dreams or nightmares at some point in our lives. While those experiences are uncomfortable at the time, nightmares do have their purpose, helping us to process stressful or conflicting input. As a literary device, however, nightmares are a great way of advancing the plot, creating tension, foreshadowing and playing mental games with the reader. This week the dragons look at how authors use nightmares in fiction and how they have used bad dreams in their own fiction. On the slab this week - the Unveiled Series, various works by Stephen King, Teen Wolf and many more. Join us for a shiversome episode.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 123: From the Deep - Mystery, Suspense and Sea Monsters in Historical Fantasy

June 22, 2018

Episode 123: From the Deep - Mystery, Suspense and Sea Monsters in Historical Fantasy

 

This week the dragons are delighted to welcome fellow fantasy writer, L.S. Johnson, who is the author of several books including the queer gothic romances, 'Harkworth Hall' and 'Leviathan'. Both the dragons and their guest take a look at what makes a mystery work from characterisation to suspense and tension. How do writers add aditional facets such as fantasy to mystery stories successfully? How do they know when to raise the stakes? Find out by joining us for this week's discussion. Under the microscope this time - Blackthorn and Grim by Juliet Marillier, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 122: Baby Doom - The Stork Visits in Speculative Fiction

June 15, 2018

Episode 122: Baby Doom - The Stork Visits in Speculative Fiction

 

A common plot device for female MCs, especially in fantasy, is for her to find herself pregant or, when a story arc is closed, make a happily ever after fixed and immutable by insisted the couple in question have children. The dragons have no issue with this per se but the problem is that many authors seem to through this in as shorthand or as a way of reviving a plot when they've got lost, and the characterisation often, if not always. suffers. This week Jules and Madeleine look at the strange case of the disappearing parent. On the slab this week - Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and many more.

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 121: If We Were Villains - What Shakespeare has to say to a Modern Audience

June 8, 2018

Episode 121: If We Were Villains - What Shakespeare has to say to a Modern Audience

 

It would be virtually impossible to be a fan of the written word and yet never to have come across the works of William Shakespeare. As well as craeting words and phrases that have been used in common vernacular so long that few people realise they are quoting the Bard when they say them, good old Will wrote some of the most compelling, weird, wonderful and emotionally intelligent plays in known literature. This week the dragons take a look at just why Shakespeare is still so relevant when many playwrights both before his time, contemporary to him and subsequent have faded into obscurity. What makes Shakespeare both accessible and relatable to a modern audience? Jules and Madeleine take a light hearted and by no means exhaustive, or even thourough, trip through the Complete Works. Join us for a discussion of our own experiences with the Bard.

 

Title Music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 120: Bards, Troubadours and Skalds - The Musician Archetype in Speculative Fiction

June 1, 2018

Episode 120: Bards, Troubadours and Skalds - The Musician Archetype in Speculative Fiction

 

For fans of epic and high fantasy, the idea that there will nearly always be musician or bard character will come as no surprise. While not often the main character, no band of unlikely misfits is complete without a character who turns up for every quest toting a guitar, lyre, harp or  trombone. Such characters are disguised a little better in Sci-fi but they are still very much present - Gurney Halleck anyone? This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at exactly why the bard character is so ubiquitous. What is the purpose of the musician archetype and how does it feed into story telling? And just how strong is the relationship between music and politics? Taking examples from a wide range of myths, legends and other literary and films sources, the dragons set off to find out.

 

Title music: 'Ecstacy' by Smilin Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 119: Love Conquers All - Power Couples who destroyed the Story

May 25, 2018

Epiosde 119: Love Conquers All - Power Couples who destroyed the Story

 

Be warned: This Episode contains spoilers for both Sarah J, Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses series (especially A Court of Frost and Starlight). If you don't wish to be spoilified, it may be best to skip this one. 

 

The dragons have discussed the spec fic romantic subplot before. And the shipping of two characters. Let's face it we all want our ships to sail, don't we? But what if two characters getting together romantically is the absolute worst thing that could happen to a series? Narratives are driven by conflict. If you hope to write a six book series but the two MCs get together in book three, that conflict needs to come from somewhere else - and it had better have been set up in book two as a subplot! This week Jules and Madeleine look at favourite sff 'power couples' and where it worked for them to get together as opposed to where it spelled 'death' for the franchise. (There is some overly salty language from Jules here on the latest S.J. Maas novella so gird your loins.) Drawing from their own experience as writers, the dragons discuss how you can eat your cake and have it when it comes to resolving a romantic subplot, as well as the importance of retiring tier one characters to second or third tier in a series when it's time.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

 

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 118: You Fancy Me Mad - Renfield, Lear & Ophelia: Madness in Speculative Fiction

May 18, 2018

Episode 118: You Fancy Me Mad - Renfield, Lear and Ophelia: Madness in Speculative Fiction

 

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and as usual the dragons are coming at the subject from a slightly different angle. Fiction has - not to put it indelicately - misunderstood, misrepresented and often exploited mental illness. SFF authors Jules and Madeleine delve back into the origins of this rather toxic trope in gothic fiction. Just why was 'madness' such a popular component of the gothic novel? What was the relationship between madness and nature? And where did this chain of association begin? On the slab this week - Frankenstein - Mary Shelley. Dracual. Bram Stoker, The Moonstone and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte and of course, Edgar Allen Poe.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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Dissecting Dragons: Episode 117: Dinosaurs and Mega Cryptids - Man-made Monsters in Speculative Fiction

May 11, 2018

Episode 117: Dinosaurs and Mega Cryptids - Man-made Monsters in Speculative Fiction

 

The monster movie has held a certain amount of fond nostalgia for sff fans since the early advent of cinema. These creatures tend not to be direct correlations of creatures of myth, legend or history, and often embody both the capricious, phenominal power of nature, and the fatal curiosity of human kind. Obviously some of these films have aged slightly better than others! This week the dragons take a look at the origins of these creatures and how they feed our need to confront fear - even if only from a cosy armchair perspective. On the slab this week - Jurassic Park, King Kong, Alien, Jawsand many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

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