Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Once and Future Nerd: a style analysis

This post is part of a series to augment the Tips for Writing Fiction available for free download.

This and other writing workshops are gathered in my Workshops Directory for you to explore.

This post is also Part 4 of a series about The Once and Future Nerd. Start with Part 1 here.

I first connected with Madera and Glass in Part 1 of this guest series, and in Part 3 of this guest series, I provide the actual podcast review! The long-form style analysis below goes into much greater detail, diving into many aspects of storycraft, worldbuilding, and wordsmith techniques.

The Once and Future Nerd is an epic fantasy podcast written by Christian Madera and Zachary Glass, recorded by professional voice actors, and empowered by its own original score. This report pertains to the episodes in Book One of the podcast.


Five stars! This great story delivered something I've never seen before.


In this multi-faceted fantasy adventure, three high school students are transported to the fantasy realms of Iorden, teetering on the brink of war.

The old king has no legitimate heir, and treachery has replaced loyalty as order of the day.

Unable to return home, the students quickly get embroiled in a daring storyline of intrigue, comedy, and magic in this epic fantasy podcast.

The script for this story is immaculate. The voice actors breathe life into their roles, and witty narration ties the whole story together. I love how each character's unique personality shines through the dialogue; even the narrator's personality shines with sardonic dry wit.

The podcast's original score is engaging and heightens the story even further. As a purely audio story, this podcast hearkens back to the time of episodic radio stories, where whole families would gather around and listen to the latest adventures of their beloved characters.

Also, I loved the sound effects! The clop-clop and creak of a horse-drawn cart, the ringing of swords, and the haunting echo of insidious footsteps add depth and nuance to this storyline. I'm delighted at how vibrant and rife with detail the world of Iorden became thanks to these well-used and immersive sound effects.

Madera and Glass went above and beyond to include all these extra noises in their podcast script, a deft expression of imagery in their audio medium. At one point, the moans of a doomed man with his tongue cut out actually turned my stomach; the memory of the sound still haunts me. Well played!

Check these Tips for Writing Fiction to see more workshops!

The Once and Future Nerd might not be the first podcast out there to tell a fantasy story, but I am sure you won't find one with a higher caliber of storytelling or execution.

The concept itself is novel -- write an incredible story for an audio-only medium, hire professional voice actors to record the story, hire a professional orchestra to record an original score, and edit all the recordings together into thrilling episodes to be released for free every other Sunday.

It's a bold project, a huge workload, and a labor of love by Madera and Glass.

Aside from the unusual format and high-quality execution of this fantasy podcast, the story itself probed numerous facets of our human existence that aren't often deeply explored. Themes like intrigue and betrayal are fantasy staples; heroes being afraid of their own powers are not.

But it wasn't so much that the podcast explored these less-plumbed realms of human personality; it was how many characters presented such depths. Even minor characters swelled into complex tangles of human traits.

Beyond the well-crafted characters and the themes of humanity that Madera and Glass have explored through them all, The Once and Future Nerd also breaks the tired old fantasy mold in refreshing and masterful ways.

Check these Tips for Writing Fiction to see more workshops!

Common fantasy tropes often dictate unfolding storylines, and fantasy fans can often use these well-known guidelines to guess what is going to happen next. But not so with The Once and Future Nerd.

Madera and Glass call practically everything into question, from re-casting the immortal elves into aristocrats with southern accents, to leaning on the fourth wall as the transported students insist that the Cairn of Evil Untold will definitely have zombies.

And of course, let us not forget the F**k-Up-Your-Plans sprites that may or may not wreak havoc when novice characters discuss the dire state of their vehicles.

Overall, I devoured this podcast in a matter of days, and I'm so excited for their launch of the Book Two storyline! Every TOAFN episode asks listeners to leave a review on iTunes, so after I finalized my review, I did just that.

Have you heard this podcast? Help the creators and write your own review.

That's it for this series! Check out the latest writing workshops for more.

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