Dissecting Dragons
Episode 273: The Dark Descent into Hell - Tracing the Origins of Persephone and Other Underworld Goddesses

Episode 273: The Dark Descent into Hell - Tracing the Origins of Persephone and Other Underworld Goddesses

May 7, 2021

The dragons aim to please where possible, so this episode was born out a question asked by a long term listener. In recent years, the story of Persephone's abduction by Hades and eventual, conditional, release from the underworld has gained a new surge of popularity. Whether you're horrified by the graphic violent kidnap and rape version or enamoured of the Olympian pantheon's power couple, there is something about the myth and about Persephone herself which captures the imaginations. Jules and Madeleine take a deep dive into the (likely) origins of the (probably) much more juicy story and theorise about how it became the myth we now know. Comparing Persephone with Inanna, Ishtar and Astarte, the dragons trace the recurring myth of the Goddess' descent into the underworld.

Episode 272: This is Not 1984 - Stopping Dystopia and False Utopia Spilling into Reality

Episode 272: This is Not 1984 - Stopping Dystopia and False Utopia Spilling into Reality

April 30, 2021

Let's face it, the last year or so has been varying shades of tough for everyone. More than ever during the pandemic, it's been necessary to work, interact, learn and even 'play' online. Living in the middle of a significant world historical event has not been fun for anyone and the ability to connect with each other remotely has been a lifesaver for many people. However, this increased necessity to interact via internet has showed up the disadvantages more strongly than before too. 

This week, the dragons return to the subject of dystopia - in fiction, in perception of real life and in comparison between the two. Whether you find comfort in the bleak or catharsis in visiting a fictional worse reality, this is an episode which looks at the ideas and fears that underpin the fiction. On the slab this week - The Hunger Games, The Stand, The Walking Dead, 1984 and many more.

 

Title music - Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 271: Maintaining the Mood - How to Avoid Misusing Tone in Speculative Fiction

Episode 271: Maintaining the Mood - How to Avoid Misusing Tone in Speculative Fiction

April 23, 2021

Ever been reading a book or watching a film, feeling really engaged, then abruptly found yourself jolted out of the story? And you can't quite put your finger on why? Chances are the writer or producer shifted the tone of the story without giving the audience necessary, subtle clues to foreshadow what was coming. So what exactly is tone in narrative terms? How do you use it in writing, both in individual scenes and in the book as a whole? And how can tone go wrong? This week the dragons look at the dos and don'ts (guidelines not prescriptive writing rules) of using tone in your writing. On the slab this week - Lucifer, A Court of Silver Flames, Buffy teh Vampire Slayer, Blackadder and many more.

Episode 270: Its Complicated - the Highs and Lows of Relationships in Speculative Fiction

Episode 270: Its Complicated - the Highs and Lows of Relationships in Speculative Fiction

April 16, 2021

If you want your characters to pop and have layers of nuance, then you need to master the art of character interaction. This week, Jules and Madeleine take a look at several broad relationship categories and dig in to what makes them easy or difficult. From parent-child interactions to sibling dynamics to how these early relationships might inform your characters' behaviour and friendships later on in their lives, the dragons drill down to what aspects you (the writer) might need to consider. Under the microscope this week - My Hero Academia, It by Stephen King and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 269: Making Friends and Influencing People - The Heroine’s Journey in Speculative Fiction

Episode 269: Making Friends and Influencing People - The Heroine’s Journey in Speculative Fiction

April 9, 2021

Most writers and fans of speculative (or any) fiction are aware of the 'hero's journey'. It's a narrative structure device by which the main character undergoes a period of change and growth through the medium of plot. There are various well attested tropes and archetypes used along the way. So what if the fiction you write just doesn't fit this well discussed structure? It's possible that you are actually writing the 'heroine's journey' instead. In fact you might have been all along and just not realised it. The terms 'hero' and 'heroine' are in themselves misleading because they are narrative descriptors and not indicative of gender - a hero or heroine in this context may be any gender at all! So what is the Heroine's Journey? The dragons get into the weeds on that and the ways it differs from the hero's journey in this week's episode. On the slab this week: My Hero Academia, Protector of the Small - Tamora Pierce, Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

 

Episode 268: He Growled, She Ejaculated - Reader Peeves and How to Avoid Them

Episode 268: He Growled, She Ejaculated - Reader Peeves and How to Avoid Them

April 1, 2021

Every reader has then own personal turns of phrase, descriptions and even tropes which they find irritating. No writer is ever going to please everyone. That said, writers can and do inadvertently learn bad habits from each other, and from reading other writers' books. There are a lot of plates to keep spinning when you write and it's easy to fall into bad or even lazy habits. The dragons don't believe in prescriptive writing advice so this episode is about raising your awareness of what you're putting on the page. Curated from internet sources, Jules and Madeleine present the most common reader peeves: those little irritations that knock readers out of the flow of your book and may even make them put it down all together. And before you become to worried, please be aware that EVERY writer has fallen afoul of at least some of these, dragons included! Join us for a light hearted look at how to tighten your prose.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic.

Episode 267: The Beast Within - Exploring Characters with Darker Sides

Episode 267: The Beast Within - Exploring Characters with Darker Sides

March 26, 2021

Writers sometimes like to take the saying 'you're your own worst enemy' to a literal extreme with their characters, by posing the question 'what if there was an uncontrollable aspect of your personality or psyche that was literally messing up your life?' This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at characters with unwanted darker side. From the classic and tragic werewolf mythos to the Incredible Hulk, the dragons ask what inspired these sorts of character arcs and how best can they be used in speculative fiction? On the slab this week: An American Werewolf in London, The Hulk, Lucifer and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 266: That’s Not Equality - When Sexism Dresses as Feminism in Speculative Fiction Part 2

Episode 266: That’s Not Equality - When Sexism Dresses as Feminism in Speculative Fiction Part 2

March 18, 2021

While there's definitely been a shift towards rebalancing gender roles and female leads in SFF in the last couple of decades, lately there's also been an upswing in the number of books marketed as 'feminist' which are anything but. Some of the tropes and portrayals of female characters are just silly, and some are more sinister. This week, Jules and Madeleine take a look at the problems inherent in pitching a book as feminist when it's success is predicated on recycling the same tired, sexist tropes readers and writers have been combatting since the 70s. On the slab this week: A Court of Silver Flames - S J Maas, The Cities of the Dead - Alys Arden, Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs, The Avengers (Marvel Studios) and many more. Part 2 of a two episode topic.

 

Please note that this episode will contain major spoilers for every book or film discussed.

Episode 265: That’s Not Equality - When Sexism Dresses Up as Feminism in Speculative Fiction: Part 1

Episode 265: That’s Not Equality - When Sexism Dresses Up as Feminism in Speculative Fiction: Part 1

March 12, 2021

While there's definitely been a shift towards rebalancing gender roles and female leads in SFF in the last couple of decades, lately there's also been an upswing in the number of books marketed as 'feminist' which are anything but. Some of the tropes and portrayals of female characters are just silly, and some are more sinister. This week, Jules and Madeleine take a look at the problems inherent in pitching a book as feminist when it's success is predicated on recycling the same tired, sexist tropes readers and writers have been combatting since the 70s. On the slab this week: A Court of Silver Flames - S J Maas, The Cities of the Dead - Alys Arden, Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs, The Avengers (Marvel Studios) and many more. Part 1 of a two episode topic.

 

Please note that this episode will contain major spoilers for every book or film discussed.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 264 Challenging the System - How Magic Helps Us Deconstruct History, Politics and Social Issues

Episode 264 Challenging the System - How Magic Helps Us Deconstruct History, Politics and Social Issues

March 5, 2021

This week Jules and Madeleine are delighted to welcome special guest Nicole Glover to the show. Nicole is the author of the historical fantasy 'The Conductors', which is set in Philadelphia just after the Proclamation of Emancipation and covers many of the themes discussed in this week's episode. Every fantasy fan loves a good magic system and as aspects both of a well built fantasy world and tools to explore a variety of real life issues, magic systems can be invaluable. The dragons delve into what makes a magic system work and where writers really need to be careful that they're saying what they think they're saying. Under the microscope this week The Conductors by Nicole Glover, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H G Parry, The X-men, The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App