The Dead Robots' Society

Writers on Writing


Episode 196 – Creating A Brainstorming Tapestry With Eliyanna

This week Justin and Terry sit down to help Eliyanna brainstorm a fantasy novel that she’s having trouble with. We hope you enjoy the discussion, and please let us know if you have ideas of your own. We appreciate all the help we can get.

This week’s promo – UNKILLABLE, a podiobook from Patrick McLean



  1. I really like your world building and magic system, Eliyanna. I’m trying to figure out if your MC’s highest goal is to create a society in which the embroiders are in control without having to be stuck in a castle. This could be the main arc of the series (maybe even beyond a trilogy). Then the initial conflict that leads to her wanting to escape illustrates why she wants such a free society for her kindred.

    What if a new person comes into power and treats them more like slaves and with less reverence? (i.e. her sisters are beaten and raped at will instead of once a week them getting to choose their mate, and that their embroidery is being sold to an evil dictator/despot instead of to her people’s allies).

    Another idea is to have a spy come in to steal their secrets. She tries to stop her/him and has to kill this person before their secret is out, but realizes she’s the only one who suspected this person, and therefore must flee.

    A question about the magic system is if the line is drawn on human action on the elements. Since you said the elements could still drown someone cloaked w/military cloth, what about flaming arrows? Is it because a human fired it that the spell protects the wearer?

  2. There’s a great killing-someone-with-a-needle scene in Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. (Awesome book overall.)

    Of course, the women have to have something around to cut cloth and thread, if you don’t want to go with the needle.

    Poison could be pretty effective against these cloth-protected troops. Maybe a rival power managed to poison a bunch of the troops and took over the country, or at least the part of the country where the santuary is. And the sisters kill one of these high-ranking invaders, and flee to try to get in touch with the rest of their country’s forces.

  3. @Tim Ward: I think you are right on about the main arc of the trilogy. It’s all about balancing power, I think. All good ideas, too. The reversal of fortune is much what like was Justin was suggesting with the ‘lock down’ and I LIKE it. Spying is less plausible to me. You can spy, but without a Patternmaker, you can’t steal the tech. So it’s all about kidnapping and human smuggling, I think. As to your question, yes, it’s because a human fired the arrow. I should probably think twice too before using the word ‘elements.’ A man-made object could kill someone, as long as it wasn’t used by an opponent, i.e. you can have accidents, actually fall on pointy objects, etc.

    @Mercy Loomis: Poison! Now there’s a clever idea, and such a classic female weapon. Yes, definitely food for thought. Thanks also for the book tip, and yes, I agree, there are more pointy objects in the world than embroidery needles that one uses in a sewing room.

  4. I posted while I was still listening and thought of an idea. What if a rival crocheting group pops up somewhere else? Maybe even say, a matriarchy in some hard to get to place, so there is an allure of a place where they could run and stop being forced to make babies and the cloth. This rival group could have ulterior motives or they could secretely be controlled by men but it’s not the sanctuary that the women are looking for which could be some drama in book 2 or so. This rival crocheting group also crochets something different, maybe something that is less powerful but still effective. I just think it’d be weird that this would only manifest itself in one nation and never in any other.

    Also, wouldn’t such a powerful nation start conquering lands? If your army is nearly invinceable, how easy would it be to go out and take what you want? Or browbeat other nations into giving you trade that is skewed way in your favor? Could introduce some good drama.

    It would also be interesting if either your mc or someone she knows at some point creates a whole new branch of the magic.

  5. @Caitrin – Thanks for the nice words! A rival group is another intriguing possibility.

    You raise an excellent point about why they aren’t out conquering lands… I will have to think hard on that. I definitely have complicated trade relations that are influenced by the magical economy already, which I didn’t really talk about, but I hadn’t considered the issue of militarism…



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