To raise awareness, and hopefully some money, for the Wellington Rape Crisis Annual Appeal we live-streamed this episode of Better off Read on Sunday 2 May at 8.00 pm.
I talked with M. Darusha Wehm about their work with a special focus on narrative and plot. I’m particularly excited to talk to Darusha about their new work The Qubit Zirconium a riotous science fantasy novel from the smash hit game, KeyForge.
We don’t talk directly about sexual violence in this live-stream, but I do talk at the start of the episode, in a general way, about the work Wellington Rape Crisis does.
In the second episode in the Plot season of Elements, I talk to Dan Kois about plot and narrative and what it is to write it.
There are four seasons in the Elements series. We’ll be talking about Plot until June. I realised now I used the word ‘Plot’ because I liked the way it sounded with ‘Place’. When I talk about plot what I mean is how a story works. I’m talking about things like narrative and structure but also, something more basic than that – ideas like, Why are some of the world *in* the story and why are some *not in* it? What makes a story ‘finished’? What does a story need to do to make us satisfied?
Dan chose a sound mixing board as the object for our discussion about plot. We talk about the mixing board in this video
Take a narrative you know well – it could be a TV commercial or a fairy tale – something relatively simple. Now write the narrative in three minutes. Now write the story following one of the other characters (you could make up another character). Then try this again, write the story following another character. The final step of this exercise is to turn these stories up and down – as if you had a mixing desk. You could literally cut up the sentence in each point of view and arrange them on a table or floor. What happens? You could obviously do this with some of your own writing – a scene, short story or poem.
In the first episode in the Plot season of Elements, I talk to Ingrid Horrocks about plot and narrative and what it is to write it.
There are four seasons in the Elements series. For the next three months we’ll be talking about Plot. I realised now I used the word ‘Plot’ because I liked the way it sounded with ‘Place’. When I talk about plot what I mean is how a story works. I’m talking about things like narrative and structure but also, something more basic than that – ideas like, Why are some of the world *in* the story and why are some *not in* it? What makes a story ‘finished’? What does a story need to do to make us satisfied?
Toward the end of the conversation we talk about a paper Ingrid and Dr Laura Jean McKay are teaching at Massey called ‘Eco-fictions and Non-Fictions’. Here’s a poster for that course:
I really enjoyed the way Ingrid talked about crafting true events. I wonder if it would be interesting to keep your own ‘log’ for a week. Maybe set aside 5 minutes to free write about the day. You also might like to keep a link from the front page of a NEWS site for each day. At the end of the week you could see if there are any events that could be used to sort the work into a narrative. What would you focus on/pay more attention to in your next week of keeping logs? What would you pay less attention to? This could be an interested exercise to keep going for a month or so. You could either do your crafting as you go, or look at the log at the end of the month and see if it can be shaped.
One important thing to note, because of the nature of Ann’s work is that the plants discussed in these texts, and their uses, can be dangerous, even lethal. These texts are presented here as background research for a body of artworks and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Do not mess with these plants.
Toward the end of the podcast we talk about New York being in lockdown for a year, we just want to acknowledge that New York was in varying degrees of lockdown over this time.
Ann talks about starting with a plant and composing around it. I wonder if this could be an interesting way to start a piece of writing. You could find out about the uses of a plant you see every day. Or you could start with a physical condition and find a plant associated with this. Then free write.
Kerry talks about how we can make things that are internally dramatic outwardly expressed in place/setting/world. You could think of a thing that is dramatic internally – an emotion, a memory, an idea – and express it as landscape.
In the fourth episode in the Place season of Elements, I talk to Charlie Pearson, Helen Lehndorf and Marolyn Krasner about place and what it is to write it. This episode was recorded the morning after their incredible show From the 4410 to the 4412.
What happens when you introduce imaginary people into a place you live in? Choose an imaginary person – it could be a character you devised, it could be an imaginary person from TV or books. Now put that person in a place you live or know well. It could be where you’re sitting right now. Free write for as long as you want. Try not to lift your pen. Introduce another person. Make them have a fight.
What does it feel like to use an object to write about place. Look around, pick up the first you-sized object you see. Now write about place through this object. Perhaps start with the sentence, ‘I am in the [object name]…’.
In the second episode in the Place season of Elements, I talk to Victor Rodger about place and what it is to write it.
At the end of this episode Victor and I talk about the amazing work Rūrangi which is screening in New Zealand from 4 February. You can read more about Rūrangi at rurangi.com
Victor talks about how he changed the location of the bar Club Paradiso is based on. What happens if you take a place you know well and move its location? You could place yourself in this newly located place and have a look around. Write for 3 minutes.
Trust the start of your new year is going as well as possible.
In 2021, I’m trying something new with the podcast. I’m creating a year-long series of podcasts centered around elements of storytelling.
I’m producing four seasons throughout the year, each focused on a particular element: Place, Plot, Point and Character.
A selection of folk will be asked to provide an object to prompt a discussion about one of these elements. A poet might provide an image to talk about setting. A novelist a poem to discuss character. A graphic novelist might have insights into alternate plot structures.
The Elements Series begins later this month with the first of six episodes discussing Place. We’ll be talking around and about how we set or position our work.
This series is made with the help of Copyright Licensing New Zealand contestable funding. Thank you CLNZ!
Look forward to seeing you there.
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For a transcript of this episode (with audio) please go to the Better off Read Podscribe page
Or you can listen to it here:
Pip Adam (19s): Hi, this is Pip Adam. Mmm. I’m just popping in to make a very, very quick announcement. So, I think I’ve got three things. So, the first thing I want it to say is welcome to 2021. I hope that your start to the new year as going as well as possible, I sort of just want to acknowledge that things are tough for a lot of people and yeah, I am sending hope and love and yeah, I hope everybody everywhere is just finding slight moments of peace and amongst all the chaos and scariness and yeah.
Pip Adam (1m 9s): Anyway, love you all heaps. The second thing I wanted to do is just thank everybody for all of their support and 2020. Mmm. Yeah. I’m very grateful to all of the people who came on and recorded a podcast. Thank you for your time, your energy, your thinking, your minds. Yeah. Thanks heaps for that. I also wanna thank all the people that helped fund the podcast. I’m particularly grateful to Creative New Zealand. I’m grateful to Toi Poneke, who provide a community art space. We can rent and record the podcasts. I wanted to thank Unity Books in Wellington who allowed us to broadcast.
Pip Adam (1m 56s): Is it the right word – podcast? Some of the events that took place there. So thank you very much. Oh, and of course the biggest, thank you. Well, maybe not the biggest thank you, but thank you also to everyone who listened to the podcast and thanks to everyone who got in touch its always lovely to hear it from you. Yeah. I’m sitting here by myself and my room with the window open and it all sometimes feels a little strange, but thank you so much to people that contacted me and yeah, long may it lasts. The third and final thing I wanted to talk about is that in 2021, I’m going to try something new with a podcast.
Pip Adam (2m 36s): I’m creating a year-long series of podcasts centered around elements of storytelling. I’m producing four seasons throughout the year, each focused on a particular element. The first is on Place. The second is on Plot. The third is on Point and the fourth is on Character, which I now realized I could have called ‘People’ and had the sort of a quadruple ‘P’, but I didn’t do that, so I will stick with ‘Character’. In this series a selection of folk will be asked to provide an object to prompt a discussion about one of these elements. Oh, there goes to the countdown truck. So a poet might provide an image to talk about setting and a novelist, a poem to discuss character and a graphic novelists might have insights into alternate plot structures.
Pip Adam (3m 19s): As well as these people who create work in writing or for the page, I’m also going to be talking to people who perhaps create art in different spaces and how these, perhaps, literary elements affect or don’t affect or how they think about them in their own work. The Elements Series begins later this month, with the first of six episodes discussing Place. In this season will be talking around and about how we set or position our work. I’m imagining that we’ll probably also be offering some writing exercises at the end of the episodes.
Pip Adam (4m 4s): You could use these as a bit of a writing prompt. Yeah. Anyway, however you want to use them, use them that way. So yeah. So the series is also made with the help of Copyright Licensing New Zealand contestable funding so thank you CLNZ. The money makes it possible for me to pay the guests, which I’m very grateful for it. And also a smaller amount of the money that goes into some of the costs of producing the podcast and a small amount goes towards paying me for some of the time that I take to produce the podcast. So, I’m very, very grateful to Copyright Licensing New Zealand.
Pip Adam (4m 45s): Thank you very much. I think that’s the three things I wanted to talk to you about. Yeah. Thanks for listening. And I look forward to seeing you later in January, when we we’re going to be having a chat about Place