Trends and Tropes of our First 52 Episodes

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statisticsOne of the many distinguishing aspects of the Roundtable Podcast is our listeners. In addition to showing unparallelled good taste, they’re a creative and insightful crew, always keen to find a new way to look at what everyone thinks they’ve already seen.

One such listener is Peter Ellis. Six months ago, he showed us the trends and tropes of our first 25 episodes. And now, at our one year anniversary, Peter has graciously returned and delivered an even more thorough and revealing summary of an entire year of story workshops.

Thank you so much for this, Peter… the patterns and rhythms of the year affirm the path we’re on and help us chart our course for the year ahead. We’re in your debt, sir! 🙂


Congratulations on completing a full year of roundtable podcast. I have continued listening and analyzing the story pitches. I’m sure you are interested in the results, but I need to, as you say “Cover my ass”.

In categorizing the Genre/themes/tropes/etc. of the stories pitched on “The Roundtable Podcast” the assessments were my own subjective judgment.

That is not to say that I was arbitrary. I spent time considering things like “Are all Post-Apocalyptic stories Dystopian?” or “Mystery, Conspiracy, and Espionage stories all depend on secrets, does that make them the same?” (I decide no and no by the way. On the other hand I did decide that Dystopian does require Conspiracy.)

So here is what I found…

Out of 52 episodes

Genre

  • 26 SF [50%]
  • 22 Fantasy [42%]
  • 1 Science Fantasy (SF disguised as Fantasy)
  • 2 stories which may be either
  • 1 story which may be neither

I think it is interesting how close this comes to even. SF is slightly ahead of Fantasy, but not by much.

Setting

  • 23 Set in or near present day (3 with access to “magical” realms) [44%]
  • 9 are post-apocalyptic (including 1 Undersea setting) [17%]
  • 7 are set in another reality (i.e. Secondary World Fantasy) [13%]
  • 7 are set in past historical periods [13%]
  • 5 are set in other solar systems (SF) [10%]
  • 1 is set in Earth’s far future (SF)

Present day (U.S.A.) is by far the most popular setting; of course that includes both SF and Fantasy. Post-Apocalyptic are as popular as Superheroes, Urban Fantasy, or Aliens in the other categories (There was of course one Post-Apocalyptic/Superhero pitch) but still are less than 20%.

Sub-Genre

  • 9 Superhero [17%]
  • 9 Urban Fantasy [17%]
  • 6 Conspiracy [12%]
  • 5 Epic Fantasy [10%]
  • 5 Mystery [10%]
  • 5 Space Opera [10%]
  • 4 Western
  • 3 Time Travel
  • 2 Espionage
  • 1 Ghost Story
  • 1 Vampire Story
  • 1 “Zombie” Story

Dividing between “Sub-Genre” and “Theme” is not easy. In general I considered “Sub-Genre” to be things which almost define the plot (So a Mystery story suggests a certain plot structure, while a Ghost story suggests a different plot structure). “Theme” on the other hand seems to me to be things which are significant to the story but don’t define the plot.

Theme

  • 9 Aliens [17%]
  • 8 AI/Robots [15%]
  • 8 Religion [15%]
  • 5 Steampunk [10%]
  • 4 Virus
  • 2 Demons
  • 2 Nanites
  • 2 Psionics
  • 1 Martial Arts
  • 1 Dreams
  • 1 Music
  • 1 Werewolves

Tone

  • 8 YA & Midgrade [15%]
  • 4 Distopia
  • 4 Noir
  • 3 Satire
  • 2 Erotic
  • 2 Surreal

I went for a broad definition of “Tone” to fit some different ideas. I also admit that there were a number of pitches that did not suggest a specific tone to me.

While the guest authors covered a wide variety of stories, I have not heard any story pitches with Dinosaurs or Military Campaigns. There were characters that were military or ex-military personnel, but no “war stories”.

I have also been looking at some other details. For the authors sharing their stories 11 were women (21%) and 41 were men (79%).  I do realize that you are not responsible for the gender ratio of people volunteering to share a story on the show; you have very little control over that.

The guest authors on the other hand you do have some control over. In the first 52 episodes there were 15 women (29%) and 37 men (71%).  I am not accusing you guys of bias; I am just reporting the facts.

— Peter R. Ellis

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About Author

Dave Robison has indulged in creative pursuits his entire life. His CV includes writing Curious George fan-fiction at the age of eight, improv theater at age ten, playing trumpet at age twelve, as well as a theater degree, creating magazine cover art, writing audio scripts, designing websites, creating board games, hosting mythological roundtables and generally savoring the sweet drought of expression in all its forms. His years of exploration give him a unique, informed, and eloquent perspective on the art of storytelling.

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