Writing Excuses

By Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

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Description

Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart.

Episode Date
15.38: Depicting Religions That Are Not Your Own
16:25
Your Hosts: Piper, Dan, and Tempest, with special guest Nisi Shawl Whether you’re writing about a real-world religion, or one you’ve created for your setting, there are numerous factors to be aware of. In this episode we discuss a few good and bad examples of depictions of religions, and the ways in which these examples … Continue reading 15.38: Depicting Religions That Are Not Your Own
Sep 20, 2020
15.37: Writing Under Deadlines
19:30
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard What’s it like to write under a deadline which has been set for your project by someone else? What strategies might help you bring the writing in under the deadline?  Can you train yourself to be ready for this? Those are all good questions. Hopefully we won’t run … Continue reading 15.37: Writing Under Deadlines
Sep 13, 2020
15.36: Collaboration, with Shannon and Dean Hale
15:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guests Shannon and Dean Hale We’ve had several discussions about collaboration, and we’ve learned that the answer to “how do you collaborate with other authors” is different with each collaboration team we talk to. Shannon and Dean Hale have written fifteen books together, and in this … Continue reading 15.36: Collaboration, with Shannon and Dean Hale
Sep 06, 2020
15.35: Tools for Writing and Worldbuilding, with Erin Roberts
21:33
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Lari, and special guest Erin Roberts We’ve received a number of questions about the ‘tools of the trade’ for organizing our work, especially with regard to worldbuilding. In this episode we talk about what we use, including some old-school analog tools like sticky notes and ballpoint pens. Credits: this episode … Continue reading 15.35: Tools for Writing and Worldbuilding, with Erin Roberts
Aug 30, 2020
15.34: Writing Deliberate Discomfort
15:34
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Lari, and Erin How do you proceed when the story you want to write includes elements that make you personally uncomfortable?  In this episode we step out of our own comfort zones to examine this challenge, and to offer some strategies to you. Credits: This episode was recorded remotely, and … Continue reading 15.34: Writing Deliberate Discomfort
Aug 23, 2020
15.33: The Long, Dark Second Act of the Soul
18:21
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard Many Writing Excuses listeners have asked us how we muscle through writing second acts, those big, chonky “middles” of our stories. In this episode we attempt to provide answers. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. The title of this episode is … Continue reading 15.33: The Long, Dark Second Act of the Soul
Aug 16, 2020
15.32: Short Story Markets
16:22
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, and Lari, with special guest Erin Roberts Erin Roberts joins us for a discussion of short story markets—a topic which is very susceptible to “churn” because of the way short story markets come and go. We cover how to research and evaluate the various markets based on what you need from … Continue reading 15.32: Short Story Markets
Aug 09, 2020
15.31: The Agent in the Room
19:59
Your Hosts: Dan, Dongwon, Piper, and Howard You had questions for agents, Dongwon has answers! How do you go about becoming an agent? How do an agent and author work together? At what point do agent and author talk about the “sticky stuff?” Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Aug 02, 2020
15.30: Write What You Want To Know, with Laurell K. Hamilton
18:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Laurell K. Hamilton We’ve all heard the “write what you know” rule. Laurell K. Hamilton joined us to talk about how she got started by writing what she wanted to know. In this episode we discuss our various paths to learning the things that fascinate us, and … Continue reading 15.30: Write What You Want To Know, with Laurell K. Hamilton
Jul 26, 2020
15.29: Barbie Pre-Writing, with Janci Patterson and Megan Walker
16:51
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, and Howard, with special guests Janci Patterson and Megan Walker Janci Patterson and Megan Walker joined us to talk about their pre-writing process, which involves role-playing in a room full of dioramas with Barbie dolls. As pre-writing processes go, this one was completely new to us, and we very quickly decided … Continue reading 15.29: Barbie Pre-Writing, with Janci Patterson and Megan Walker
Jul 19, 2020
15.28: Small Evils
16:36
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard Small evils? Yes, please! This episode isn’t about writing the big villainy of world domination, but about focusing on the more relatable villainy of small evils—the little crimes, the minor antagonisms—which can be the key to connecting the reader to the book. Liner Notes: The deadly nightshade incident Howard … Continue reading 15.28: Small Evils
Jul 12, 2020
15.27: Alternate History, with Eric Flint
22:23
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Eric Flint Eric Flint joined us at SpikeCon (host of the 2019 NASFIC) to talk about creating  alternate histories. His Ring of Fire book series is enormous in scope, and has many, many more people working on it than just Eric Flint. We get a bit … Continue reading 15.27: Alternate History, with Eric Flint
Jul 05, 2020
15.26: Taking the Chance, with David Weber
25:39
Your Hosts: Brandon, Howard, and Dan with special guest David Weber David Weber joined us at NASFIC to talk about the importance of risking failure on any path (especially a writer’s path) to success–whether you’re risking rejection in the submission process, or the possibility that the book you write won’t be the amazing thing you’ve … Continue reading 15.26: Taking the Chance, with David Weber
Jun 28, 2020
15.25: Using the MICE Quotient for Conflict
20:36
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The MICE quotient is a tool for categorizing story elements—Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event—and we’ve talked about it quite a bit in the past. When a listener asked how we might use the MICE quotient to create, inform, manage, and otherwise help us “do” conflict in our stories, … Continue reading 15.25: Using the MICE Quotient for Conflict
Jun 21, 2020
15.24: Keeping it Fresh, with Jim Butcher
17:04
Your Hosts: Brandon, Howard, and Dan, with special guest Jim Butcher Jim Butcher joined us at NASFIC for a discussion about how we can keep long-running serials engaging after numerous books. Credits: this episode was recorded before a live audience by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jun 14, 2020
15.23: Serialization
17:47
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Lari, and Dan, with special guest Jenn Court Let’s talk about serials. Jenn Court, whose work includes lots of  writing for TV (IMDB slink), joins us for the discussion. What are the elements that get us, as readers or viewers, to come back for episode after episode, and how do we, … Continue reading 15.23: Serialization
Jun 07, 2020
15.22 Writing For Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale
23:26
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale Shannon and Dean Hale join us again, this time to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write for¹ children. Children have their own unique sets of expectations for the books they read (as do their parents), and in this episode we talk about … Continue reading 15.22 Writing For Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale
May 31, 2020
15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale
18:47
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale Shannon and Dean Hale join us to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write about¹ children. We cover dialog tools, point-of-view elements, stakes, and character ‘quirks’ that can help signal to the reader that a character is a child. Credits: This episode was recorded … Continue reading 15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale
May 24, 2020
15.20: Mental Wellness and Writing
23:37
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard In this episode we’ll be talking about the things we do to stay creative, productive, healthy, and happy. For the purposes of this discussion, “mental wellness” is not about coping with mental illness, it’s about self-care. Liner Notes: Here’s the gridded lifestyle tracker for the homework, lifted directly from … Continue reading 15.20: Mental Wellness and Writing
May 17, 2020
15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition
17:45
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard “As you know, Bob…” is the trope-tastic line we use to refer to expository dialog which has no function beyond exposition. We get lots of listener questions about how to use dialog for exposition without making it feel like we’re using dialog for exposition. And as Bob already … Continue reading 15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition
May 10, 2020
15.18: Finding a Community, with Shauna Hoffman
19:23
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, and Lari¹, with special guest Shauna Hoffman Many Writing Excuses listeners (especially WXR alumni) already know Shauna Hoffman. She joins us to talk about how to deal with the fact that we, as authors, often feel isolated. The listener question that sparked this episode: “How do you keep the pressure … Continue reading 15.18: Finding a Community, with Shauna Hoffman
May 03, 2020
15.17: Asexual Representation
17:10
Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, Mary Robinette, and Howard Generally speaking, asexuality is a sexual orientation or identity typified by the absence of a desire to have sex. It’s complicated, and in this episode Tempest helps us unpack it so that asexual characters can be written more effectively. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered … Continue reading 15.17: Asexual Representation
Apr 26, 2020
15.16: Balancing Plot and Character
19:19
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard We’re often asked how to balance character arcs with the intricacies of the plots we create. In this episode we talk about the various ways in which we do this. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Apr 19, 2020
15.15: Dialog
17:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Listener questions drove this episode, and there are only two of them but they were pretty good drivers.  Here they are: Is it a problem that all my dialog ends up as logic-based debates between characters? What can I do to create more variety in my dialog … Continue reading 15.15: Dialog
Apr 12, 2020
15.14: Agent Query Trenches
21:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The title of this episode comes to us from listener questions along the lines of “what do you do when you’re ‘in the trenches’ querying agents?” Our answers, predictably, have almost nothing to do with actual trenches. Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by … Continue reading 15.14: Agent Query Trenches
Apr 05, 2020
15.13: Using Elections in Stories
16:22
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Daniel Friend Daniel Friend, who edits SF/F, has worked in election offices, has run for office, and has participated in campaigns. In this episode we talk about the ways elections can be worked into our stories. Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, … Continue reading 15.13: Using Elections in Stories
Mar 29, 2020
15.12: Writing the Other—Being an Ally
22:30
Your Hosts: Piper, Tempest, Dongwon, with special guest Erin Roberts What can we do to be allies to members of marginalized groups? Many of us want to find ways to help others have safe, comfortable places within our communities, but worry about coming across the wrong way. In this episode, our hosts talk about how … Continue reading 15.12: Writing the Other—Being an Ally
Mar 22, 2020
15.11: Digital is Different, with Cory Doctorow
26:01
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Piper, Howard, and special guest Cory Doctorow “How do you break in?” is one of those questions we always get asked in some form or another, and it’s also one for which those of us who “broke in” more than a couple of years ago are increasingly unqualified to answer. The … Continue reading 15.11: Digital is Different, with Cory Doctorow
Mar 15, 2020
15.10: Evaluating Ideas
20:26
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard We’ve talked in the past about how ideas are cheap, and that it’s execution upon those ideas which is what really matters. In this episode we’ll talk about how we evaluate things over there on the side of the equation where things are cheap and plentiful. Because while … Continue reading 15.10: Evaluating Ideas
Mar 08, 2020
15.09: Choose Your Own Adventurous Publishing Path
24:37
Your Hosts: Dan, Dongwon, Piper, and Howard “Should I go self-pub? Should I go traditional? Can I do both? How do I decide where my book fits?” In this episode we’ll cover these, and many more questions as best we’re able. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: … Continue reading 15.09: Choose Your Own Adventurous Publishing Path
Mar 01, 2020
15.08: Q&A on a Ship
26:37
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Dongwon, and Howard At WXR 19 we recorded live, and took audience questions aboard the ship. Here they are! (You’ll have to listen to the episode for the answers.) What have you learned in the past year that has improved your craft? When you’re having trouble, how do you know … Continue reading 15.08: Q&A on a Ship
Feb 23, 2020
15.07: Creating Chapters
19:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard How do you create chapters? What are the rules for carving your manuscript into numbered chunks? Is chaptering part of your outline, is it something you discover while you write, or is it something else entirely? In this episode we talk about how we do it, and how we … Continue reading 15.07: Creating Chapters
Feb 16, 2020
15.06: Prose and Cons, with Patrick Rothfuss
25:43
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Howard, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss How do you write beautiful prose? How do you set about telling a story with words that sing (and dance, and tell jokes) instead of just conveying information in word-sized chunks? In this episode we talk about how we do it, and how writers … Continue reading 15.06: Prose and Cons, with Patrick Rothfuss
Feb 09, 2020
15.05: Setting Goals for Your Career
22:03
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard What kind of career goal-setting do you do? We had a discussion in this vein with Dongwon a few weeks ago, but neither Brandon nor Victoria participated then, so it’s worth revisiting. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Feb 02, 2020
15.04: Revision, with Patrick Rothfuss
29:04
Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, and Mary Robinette, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss We begin our discussion of revision by addressing a question we hear a lot: How do you know what needs to be changed? We talk about our various techniques for getting distance from our work, incorporating feedback, and breaking the process down into … Continue reading 15.04: Revision, with Patrick Rothfuss
Jan 26, 2020
15.03: Self Publishing
24:12
Your Hosts: Howard, with special guests Victorine Lieske, Tamie Dearen, Bridget E. Baker, and Nandi Taylor Howard leads this discussion with four guests who are doing well with self publishing. They share some numbers with us, and talk about their strategies for reaching their audience, and making the most of their market. Liner Notes: Given, … Continue reading 15.03: Self Publishing
Jan 19, 2020
15.02: Writing Between the Lines
19:52
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joins us this year, and in this episode she helps us cover that deep concept of “theme,” and how we as authors can state our themes without coming straight out and stating them—writing our themes “between the lines.” Credits: This episode … Continue reading 15.02: Writing Between the Lines
Jan 12, 2020
15.01: Evolution of a Career
27:44
Your Hosts: Dan, Dongwon, Mary Robinette, and Howard Season 15 is going to be a bit broader than the previous seasons have, at least in the abstract. We’re going to focus on your questions. In this episode we tackle the topic that dominates our collection of these questions: CAREER. Liner Notes: It hasn’t actually been … Continue reading 15.01: Evolution of a Career
Jan 05, 2020
14.52: Game Mastering and Collaborative Storytelling, with Natasha Ence
18:24
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Natasha Ence Natasha Ence is a professional game master. (Yes, you read that correctly.) She joins us to discuss collaborative storytelling, and how the principles of game mastering for role-players can be applied to creating a fulfilling, engaging story. Credits: This episode was recorded live at … Continue reading 14.52: Game Mastering and Collaborative Storytelling, with Natasha Ence
Dec 29, 2019
14.51: A Farewell to Worldbuilding
21:31
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard We’ve spent all year focusing on worldbuilding, and it’s time to move on. Almost. In this episode we try to cover some points we may have missed, we talk about what we’ve learned, and discuss some of our favorite recent examples of worldbuilding. Credits: This episode was recorded … Continue reading 14.51: A Farewell to Worldbuilding
Dec 22, 2019
14.50: Write What You… No.
19:19
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard We’ve all heard the adage “write what you know,” and in this episode we set out to un-misinterpret it. The phrase is fraught, and perhaps the most perilous bit is that it can be used an excuse to not write. Here at Writing Excuses we’re pretty committed … Continue reading 14.50: Write What You… No.
Dec 15, 2019
14.49: Customs and Mores
20:27
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab In this episode we discuss how our customs and mores govern our own real-world interactions, and how our understanding of these interactions can be applied to our worldbuilding. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Dec 08, 2019
14.48: How to Practice Worldbuilding
18:47
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The entire year has been about learning how to worldbuild, and we’ve learned a thing or two ourselves while preparing material for you. In this episode we talk about some of those lessons, and try to answer stray questions that didn’t fit into any of previous episode … Continue reading 14.48: How to Practice Worldbuilding
Dec 01, 2019
14.47: Writing Characters With Physical Disabilities
15:54
Your Hosts: Piper, Dan, and Tempest, with special guest Nicola Griffith In this episode we discuss how to faithfully represent people with physical disabilities through the characters we create. Our guest, Nicola Griffith, walks us through the process of rigorously imagining how the world might look to someone with a particular disability. Credits: This episode … Continue reading 14.47: Writing Characters With Physical Disabilities
Nov 24, 2019
14.46: Unusual Resources
19:16
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Among science fiction and fantasy plot devices, the “uncommon resource” trope is common enough to almost seem cliché. Fortunately (?), the economic principle of scarcity is ubiquitous enough in real life that most of us don’t even blink when presented with the idea in fiction. So how … Continue reading 14.46: Unusual Resources
Nov 17, 2019
14.45: Economics
18:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Economists tend to see everything as economics, which is kind of how proponents of ANY discipline see their discipline, but it’s not a bad way to look at worldbuilding through the lens of economics. In this episode we talk about how this works for us, and how it … Continue reading 14.45: Economics
Nov 10, 2019
14.44: Realism vs. Rule-of-Cool
20:59
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Where do you draw the line between what seems plausible, and what would be cool? If you pick “plausible,” how do you stay cool? If you pick “cool,” how do you avoid knocking the readers out of the story? And finally, how might we structure things so … Continue reading 14.44: Realism vs. Rule-of-Cool
Nov 03, 2019
14.43: Sequencing Your Career Genome
19:25
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Let’s talk about career planning. It’s a lot more than just launching a career by selling a book, and in this episode we talk about the kinds of things we want to be thinking about and preparing for beyond simply selling our next book or project. Credits: … Continue reading 14.43: Sequencing Your Career Genome
Oct 27, 2019
14.42: Alternate History
20:48
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Alternate histories (and historical fantasies) are a staple of genre fiction. In this episode we talk about the worldbuilding process, the tools we use, and the pitfalls we try to avoid when constructing these kinds of stories. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered … Continue reading 14.42: Alternate History
Oct 20, 2019
14.41: History
17:48
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s make history! In this episode we talk about doing exactly that—creating real-feeling histories for secondary world settings. We discuss the resources we turn to, the pitfalls we try to avoid, and the places where we think the history has been done really well. Credits: This episode was … Continue reading 14.41: History
Oct 13, 2019
14.40: Deep vs. Wide
19:14
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard How do you decide between digging one really deep, narrow well, and digging one really wide, shallow ocean? In this episode we talk about our desires to build worlds which appear both vanishingly wide and unplumbably deep, when we have time to do neither. Credits: This episode … Continue reading 14.40: Deep vs. Wide
Oct 06, 2019
14.39: Positioning Your Book in the Marketplace
18:53
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon “Positioning feels like the most important question in all of publishing.” — Dongwon Song In this episode we talk about how to ask and answer the question of positioning, which is “who is this book for?” Credits: This episode was recorded before a live audience aboard Liberty of … Continue reading 14.39: Positioning Your Book in the Marketplace
Sep 29, 2019
14.38: Volunteer Opportunities for Writers, with Jared Quan
20:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Jared Quan Jared Quan serves as a volunteer on several non-profit boards, and joined us to talk about the opportunities that exist for writers. Administration, leadership, writing and editing, and teaching are just a few of the many kinds of roles available for volunteers. … Continue reading 14.38: Volunteer Opportunities for Writers, with Jared Quan
Sep 22, 2019
14.37: Outlandish Impossibilities
22:57
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Some science fiction and fantasy stories arise from a premise which, under even just rudimentary examination, appear utterly ridiculous. And some of these stories are hugely successful. In this episode we talk about how we manage our worldbuilding when the goal is less about building a world which … Continue reading 14.37: Outlandish Impossibilities
Sep 15, 2019
14.36: Languages and Naming
19:35
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab How do we come up with names? How do we do it in ways that enhance our worldbuilding? What are the elements that give our invented naming schemes (even the zany ones with lots of syllables and apostrophes) verisimilitude? In this episode we talk about some of the … Continue reading 14.36: Languages and Naming
Sep 08, 2019
14.35: What You Leave Out
18:31
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The advice commonly given to writers is to worldbuild an iceberg, but only to show the reader the tip. This is still too much work. Icebergs are big. In this episode we talk about worldbuilding the tip of the iceberg, and then worldbuilding as little as possible … Continue reading 14.35: What You Leave Out
Sep 01, 2019
14.34: Author Branding
23:21
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Authors have brands whether they want to have them or not. It’s a simple principle of marketing, and the better we understand that principle, the better able we are to control how it affects our careers. In this episode we talk marketing, and freely use terms like “relationship … Continue reading WX 14.34: Author Branding
Aug 25, 2019
14.33: Writing Imperfect Worlds
20:36
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard How do you write a setting in which the status quo is one with which you deeply disagree? How do you create a conflict of this sort without being overtly pedantic or preachy? In this episode we talk about creating engaging worlds while worldbuilding around—and yes, over—landmines. … Continue reading 14.33: Writing Imperfect Worlds
Aug 18, 2019
Worldbuilding Gender Roles
33:23
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Let’s talk about worldbuilding with gender roles. Most of us have grown up with a very strongly defined binary, that distinction need not be how we craft the worlds in which we set our stories. In this episode we discuss the resources we have to help us, … Continue reading Worldbuilding Gender Roles
Aug 11, 2019
14.31: Cultural Setting as Conflict
19:17
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab In this episode we talk about how to put characters in conflict with their setting, and how to structure our work so that these conflicts arise organically rather than feeling mandated by plot. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and master by Alex Jackson
Aug 06, 2019
14.30: Eating Your Way to Better Worldbuilding
25:22
Your Hosts: Piper, Dongwon, Amal, and Maurice We like food, and we like to talk about food. Our hosts this week talk about how this influences their fiction, (not to mention how incredibly complex [and interesting, and delicious] the subject is.) Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson 
Jul 28, 2019
14.29: Field Research
19:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard So, you’re going to go someplace and learn something you can’t learn in any other way. Maybe it’s location research for setting. Maybe you’re off to interview an expert. Whatever you’re planning, you need to be planning it well. In this episode we discuss the field research … Continue reading 14.29: Field Research
Jul 21, 2019
14.28: Warfare and Weaponry
18:42
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab How do you write about warfare in your stories when you’ve never fought in a war? How do you describe brilliant tactics when you’re completely untrained in military movements? How can you portray the emotions of someone on a battlefield without having been on a battlefield yourself? In … Continue reading 14.28: Warfare and Weaponry
Jul 14, 2019
14.27: Natural Setting as Conflict
19:13
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard In this episode we stories with the “Person-vs-Setting” structure. These are stories where nature fills the role of antagonist, and may also be what governs the pacing, and the delivery of key emotional beats. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jul 07, 2019
14.26: Lessons from Aristotle, with Rob Kimbro
17:03
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Rob Kimbro Rob Kimbro joins us this week to talk about Aristotle’s elements of tragedy, and how they might be applied to our writing. The six elements are (in Aristotle’s order of descending importance): plot, character, idea, dialog, music, and spectacle.  We discuss this tool … Continue reading 14.26: Lessons from Aristotle, with Rob Kimbro
Jun 30, 2019
14.25: Choosing Your Agent
22:05
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Guest-host Dongwon Song joined us at WXR 2018 as an instructor, and gave great advice regarding the business side of working as an author. In this episode he takes us through a conversation about choosing an agent. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered … Continue reading 14.25: Choosing Your Agent
Jun 23, 2019
14.24: Political Intrigue
17:06
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Political Intrigue stories are less about “politics” (as colloquially defined by pop culture) and more about mysteries. Per Mary Robinette, they’re often like heists of information. The word “politics” here is used in its purest sense: POWER. In this episode we talk about how we worldbuild for … Continue reading 14.24: Political Intrigue
Jun 16, 2019
14.23: Governments Large and Small
18:53
Answering questions about the power structures you live within can help you with the worldbuilding of politics in the fiction you write.
Jun 09, 2019
14.22: Characters out of Their Depth
17:50
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Sherlock Holmes has his Watson for a reason. Readers need a character to whom some things must be explained. In this episode we talk about how we create these gateway characters without delivering “maid and butler” dialog, or talking down to the reader. Credits: This episode was … Continue reading 14.22: Characters out of Their Depth
Jun 02, 2019
14.21: Writing The Other — Yes, You Can!
22:19
Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, and Dongwon The single most asked question we get on the subject of writing cultures other than our own is some variation on “can we even DO this anymore?” Short answer: YES, YOU CAN. Our objective with this episode is to encourage you to put in the work, do the research, … Continue reading 14.21: Writing The Other — Yes, You Can!
May 26, 2019
14.20: Allegory in Fiction
17:30
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard What is an allegory, anyway? This episode probably won’t settle that question, but we did manage a discussion on how to use our stories to teach things, or be stand-ins for things, and to do it in the ways that allegories and/or parables might. We talk about … Continue reading 14.20: Allegory in Fiction
May 19, 2019
14.19: Religion and Ritual
18:01
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab We often worldbuild religions and rituals for the stories we create. In this episode we discuss the decisions surrounding this, and our approaches for doing it well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 12, 2019
14.18: Setting as Theme
18:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Theme is one of those high-falutin’ concepts we’re often reluctant to approach in a nuts-and-bolts sort of way. In this episode we’ll talk about how our themes can be communicated through elements of our settings, deepening reader engagement with the things we write. We offer examples from … Continue reading 14.18: Setting as Theme
May 05, 2019
14.17: It’s Like “Car Talk” meets “Welcome To Nightvale”
18:14
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon This episode is about comp titles (comparative titles), which are those things you use to describe your project in terms of other works. We discuss the ones we’ve used (both successfully and unsuccessfully), and the criteria we use to come up with good ones. Credits: This episode was … Continue reading 14.17: It’s Like “Car Talk” meets “Welcome To Nightvale”
Apr 28, 2019
14.16: Your Setting is a Telegraph
16:32
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Your setting can quickly tell the reader what kind of a story they’re reading, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we make that happen. Think of it as the “establishing shot” principle from film making, expanded to cover whatever worldbuilding details we choose to reveal … Continue reading 14.16: Your Setting is a Telegraph
Apr 21, 2019
14.15: Technology
19:12
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab We’ve spent a lot of time talking about magic systems in our worldbuilding. It’s time to talk about  science and technology in that same way. This has been a staple (perhaps the defining staple) of science fiction since before “science fiction” was a word. At risk of opening the … Continue reading 14.15: Technology
Apr 14, 2019
14.14: When To Tell
16:42
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard “Show, don’t tell,” they tell us. Except sometimes showing is not always the best thing to do. Or even the right thing to do. Sometimes we should be telling. In this episode we’ll tell you about telling. (We’d show you about telling, but we still don’t have … Continue reading 14.14: When To Tell
Apr 07, 2019
WX 14.13: Obstacles vs. Complications
16:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard What’s the difference between an obstacle and a complication? Margaret Dunlap takes the lead on this episode for us, giving us the tools we need to create ‘impediments to main character progress’ which will drive our stories across page turns (and commercial breaks) in compelling, twisty ways. … Continue reading WX 14.13: Obstacles vs. Complications
Mar 31, 2019
14.12: Writing The Other — Latinx Representation
20:21
Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Tempest Bradford, Dongwon Song, and Julia Rios Julia Rios joins us to talk about writing characters who come from one of the many Latin-American cultures or subcultures. “Latinx” is a catch-all term for people with Latin-American heritage, including mixed-race people. In this episode we talk about mash-up cuisine, intersectionality, and how … Continue reading 14.12: Writing The Other — Latinx Representation
Mar 24, 2019
14.11: Magic Without Rules
20:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard When we say “without rules” we’re talking about stories whose magic is not held under logical scrutiny for the reader. There are lots of reasons why you might do this, and in this episode we’ll talk about not just about the why, but also the how. Credits: This … Continue reading 14.11: Magic Without Rules
Mar 17, 2019
14.10: Magic Systems
18:28
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s design magic systems! We talk about how we do it, and how the principles of magic system design apply to the science fiction systems we create, and vice-versa. NOTE: In this episode we’re talking about “hard” magic systems, where there are well-defined rule sets (even if the … Continue reading 14.10: Magic Systems
Mar 10, 2019
14.9: Showing Off
23:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Let’s infodump without infodumping. Let’s deliver lots of exposition without sounding expository. Let’s talk with the maid and the butler without having maid-and-butler dialog. Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Mar 03, 2019
14.8: Worldbuilding Q&A #1
25:19
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and DongWon We invited attendees at WXR 2018 to ask us some general worldbuilding questions. Here’s what they asked: What cultural stuff do you need to know during the writing process? How do you treat overlaps between real-world religions and fictional religions when the fictional religions are part of the … Continue reading 14.8: Worldbuilding Q&A #1
Feb 24, 2019
14.7: How Weird is Too Weird?
15:55
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard How weird, how far outside the realm of what the reader feels to be familiar, is too weird? Where is the line beyond which the fantasy is too fantastic, the unreal too unrealistic, or the aliens too alien? In this episode we discuss finding that line, and with the … Continue reading 14.7: How Weird is Too Weird?
Feb 17, 2019
14.6: Fantasy and Science Fiction Races
16:37
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s talk about race, sort-of. Let’s talk about creating races—species of people, really—which is a critically important activity in much of our worldbuilding. In this episode we discuss a few of the pitfalls, some of our own techniques, and a few of our favorite alien¹ races. ¹Can of … Continue reading 14.6: Fantasy and Science Fiction Races
Feb 10, 2019
14.5: Viewpoint as Worldbuilding
17:31
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard When you’re defining your world for the reader, some voice in the text must speak those definitions. This episode is about how we use character voices—their dialog and their narrative view points—to worldbuild. What do they see? How do they perceive it? What are their favorite jokes? … Continue reading 14.5: Viewpoint as Worldbuilding
Feb 03, 2019
14.03: Writing the Other—Bisexual Characters
18:35
Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, Dongwon, and TJ This is the first of our Writing The Other episodes, in which we set out to help writers portray people who are unlike them. In this episode we’re joined by T.J. Berry. She walks us through the language and terminology of bisexuality.  
Jan 27, 2019
14.03: World of Hats
17:55
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Margaret Dunlap joins us during season 14 to talk about worldbuilding. In this, her first episode with us, we talk about worlds in which a monolithic culture (like, say, ‘everyone wears hats’) is represented. We cover how to use the trope to your advantage, and how to avoid … Continue reading 14.03: World of Hats
Jan 20, 2019
14.02: Geography and Biomes
18:47
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Mahtab Narsimhan joins us this year for a dozen episodes on worldbuilding, and this week we’re talking about geography and biomes. These pieces of our settings can be central to the stories we tell, but they can also be backdrops, and the story purposes they serve may determine … Continue reading 14.02: Geography and Biomes
Jan 13, 2019
14.01: Worldbuilding Begins! Up Front, or On the Fly?
21:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Season 14 is all about worldbuilding¹, and we’re kicking it off with a discussion of when you do that bit of work. Do you handle worldbuilding before you write the story, as you write the story, or after you’ve finished the story? We’ll talk about how we … Continue reading 14.01: Worldbuilding Begins! Up Front, or On the Fly?
Jan 06, 2019
13.52: Working Dad is a Spaceman
20:55
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn. Last week’s episode may have sounded like the last one for 2018, but that’s an artifact of December having five Sundays rather than four. Fifth Sundays are our “wildcards,” and something wild seems like a nice way to round out the year. Tom Marshburn, … Continue reading 13.52: Working Dad is a Spaceman
Dec 30, 2018
13.51: Wrap-up on the Year of Character
25:26
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard We decided to wrap up this year on character by letting Brandon ask us some deep questions. “We decided” might be the wrong phrase, because nobody except Brandon knew what the questions were, so it might be more accurate to say “we rolled with it.” It rolled quite nicely. … Continue reading 13.51: Wrap-up on the Year of Character
Dec 25, 2018
13.50: What Writers Get Wrong, with Zoraida Córdova
20:23
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Zoraida Córdova Zoraida Córdova, an award-winning author of urban fantasy, was born in Ecuador and grew up in Queens. She joins us to talk about what writers get wrong (and what they can get right and do well) when portraying latinas in the United … Continue reading 13.50: What Writers Get Wrong, with Zoraida Córdova
Dec 16, 2018
13.49: How to Finish
19:24
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice Last week we talked about character death. This week we talk about other, less fatal ways in which a character story can be finished, and how we, as writers, can tell when we’re done with a character arc. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered … Continue reading 13.49: How to Finish
Dec 09, 2018
13.48: Character Death and Plot Armor
20:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The characters we create are not all destined for long lives. Sure, some are, but a great many of them are on paths that will end in an abrupt fatality of one kind or another, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we choose which characters to … Continue reading 13.48: Character Death and Plot Armor
Dec 02, 2018
13.47: Q&A on Fixing Characters
18:43
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard You had questions about fixing character problems. We had had answers! Here are the questions: How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? How do you maintain … Continue reading 13.47: Q&A on Fixing Characters
Nov 25, 2018
13.46: The Unsexy Side of Space, with Bart Smith and Ben Hewett
27:24
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett When we talk about space travel we’re usually talking about rocket scientists and astronauts. In this episode we spoke with our guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett, about the “unsexy” (read: possibly boring but don’t be deceived) side of the … Continue reading 13.46: The Unsexy Side of Space, with Bart Smith and Ben Hewett
Nov 18, 2018
NaNoWriMo 2018 Bonus Episode, with Mercedes Lackey
16:43
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Mercedes Lackey NaNoWriMo 2018 is half-way over today. Are you stuck? Do you need to get unstuck? Mercedes Lackey joined us at GenCon Indy back in 2017 to talk about writer’s block, and how it’s very likely a symptom of something else. In this … Continue reading NaNoWriMo 2018 Bonus Episode, with Mercedes Lackey
Nov 15, 2018
13.45: Next Level Narration
21:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice Narration is that stuff which tells your story, but isn’t dialog. It’s the voice of your narrator, and it might be multiple voices depending on how you’re handling point of view. In this episode we’ll talk about the things you can do to challenge yourself and level … Continue reading 13.45: Next Level Narration
Nov 11, 2018
NaNoWriMo 2018 Mini-Episode 2
2:35
Your Mini-Episode Hosts: Amal El-Mohtar and Maurice Broaddus, with Special Asides from Mary Robinette Kowal We’re a week in to NaNoWriMo. If you’re scared of it, Amal is here to tell you that it’s okay to feel that way, Maurice is here with the encouraging words “consequence-free.”
Nov 07, 2018
13.44: Alien Characters
18:34
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard As writers of speculative fiction we are frequently tasked with writing a species or race of alien people. In this episode we talk about some of the tricks we use to create non-human characters in ways that make them both comprehensible and compelling, and the pitfalls we … Continue reading 13.44: Alien Characters
Nov 04, 2018
NaNoWriMo 2018 Mini-Episode 1
5:18
Your Mini-Episode Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Back in 2017 we recorded a bonus episode for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and then forgot to air it. Here, then, in the spirit of never throwing anything away, is a spot of motivation which is both timely AND one year late.
Oct 31, 2018
13.43: Characters Who Are Smarter Than You Are
25:34
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Amal Many of us write characters who know more than we know, and/or who think faster than we do. Writing those characters is tricky. In this episode we talk about our own tricks, and the tricks we’ve seen others use. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, … Continue reading 13.43: Characters Who Are Smarter Than You Are
Oct 28, 2018
13.42: Writing Excuses Talks to an Astronaut, with Special Guest Kjell Lindgren
18:25
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special space-guest Kjell Lindgren Kjell Lindgren, flight surgeon, Expedition 44/45, joined us for an episode that perhaps should have been called “we ask the space-man all of the things.” We asked him stuff that we wanted to know more about, and came away richer for the experience. If … Continue reading 13.42: Writing Excuses Talks to an Astronaut, with Special Guest Kjell Lindgren
Oct 21, 2018
13.41: Fixing Character Problems, Part II
22:36
Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice This is the second of our pair of episodes in which we talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Oct 14, 2018
13.40: Fixing Character Problems, Part I
16:06
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This is the first of two episodes in which we’ll talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work. Credits: this episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson
Oct 07, 2018
13.39: What Writers Get Wrong, With Wendy Tolliver
17:47
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Wendy Tolliver Wendy skis, and snowboards, and  writes YA novels. She is also the parent of three, one of whom suffers from mental illness. She joined us to talk about how writers can do a better job of depicting it, and how to avoid the … Continue reading 13.39: What Writers Get Wrong, With Wendy Tolliver
Sep 30, 2018
13.38: How to Find and Use Alpha Readers
20:17
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard We begin by making a useful distinction between alpha and beta reader: the alpha reader is an industry professional, while the beta reader is a stand-in for the eventual audience of readers. We then set about discussing how to find alpha readers, and how to employ them in … Continue reading 13.38: How to Find and Use Alpha Readers
Sep 23, 2018
13.37: What Writers Get Wrong, with J.Y. Yang
20:06
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard with special guest J.Y. Yang J.Y. Yang is a Hugo-nominated short story writer from Singapore who identifies as non-binary. They joined us to talk about this non-binary identification, and how writers can do a better job of depicting it (beyond simply using non-gendered pronouns.) Credits: This episode was … Continue reading 13.37: What Writers Get Wrong, with J.Y. Yang
Sep 16, 2018
13.36: Confronting the Default
18:17
Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice If you live in the northern hemisphere, inland, perhaps above the 40th parallel, you are probably quite sure that there are four distinct seasons. There are, however, many, many people for whom “seasons” are things that happen to other people. This is the conflict between your default and … Continue reading 13.36: Confronting the Default
Sep 09, 2018
13.35: Cliché vs. Archetype
20:29
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Tropes, archetypes, and even cliches are tools in our toolboxes. There’s no avoiding them, but there are definitely ways to use them incorrectly. In this episode we’ll talk about how we shake off our fear of using tropes through understanding how they work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan … Continue reading 13.35: Cliché vs. Archetype
Sep 02, 2018
13.34: Q&A on Character Arcs
19:17
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard You had questions. We came up with answers. The questions are below: How do you fulfill promises about character arcs without being cliché? How do you subvert character tropes without betraying the reader? Do you need to complete each character arc in a single story featuring multiple characters? … Continue reading 13.34: Q&A on Character Arcs
Aug 26, 2018
13.b1: Bonus Episode — Elephants and Death, with Lawrence Schoen
18:10
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Lawrence Schoen Lawrence Schoen, clinical psychologist, cognitive hypnotist, small press publisher, Klingon language expert, and novelist, joined us at GenCon Indy for a bonus episode about elephants and death. Howard and Lawrence both write uplifted elephants into their stories, and their stories also feature death as a … Continue reading 13.b1: Bonus Episode — Elephants and Death, with Lawrence Schoen
Aug 22, 2018
13.33: Reading Outside the Box
20:41
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with Kristie Claxton Kristie Claxton joined us at WXR 2017 to talk about reading outside of the spaces where we’re comfortable and familiar. Specifically, we focused on how to learn about people who are not you by reading stories by and about them. Credits: This episode was recorded … Continue reading 13.33: Reading Outside the Box
Aug 19, 2018
13.32: How To Handle Weighty Topics
30:00
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice How can we, as writers, best handle weighty matters? This is our year on character, so we’ll approach this with a focus on character creation, depiction, and dialog? This topic is, in and of itself, weighty. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex … Continue reading 13.32: How To Handle Weighty Topics
Aug 12, 2018
13.31: Learning to Listen as a Writer
20:46
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard “Write what you know” gets misapplied a lot. In this episode we’ll talk about how to know things by listening well. In particular, we’re looking at writing interesting characters by listening to real people. We also talk about the more formal act of interviewing people¹, and how to … Continue reading 13.31: Learning to Listen as a Writer
Aug 05, 2018
13.30: Project in Depth, THE CALCULATING STARS, with Kjell Lindgren
31:22
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, and Dan, with Kjell Lindgren Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t yet read The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel, by Mary Robinette Kowal, you may wish to rectify that prior to listening. In this episode we go into great depth on Mary’s novel with the expert technical help of NASA astronaut … Continue reading 13.30: Project in Depth, THE CALCULATING STARS, with Kjell Lindgren
Jul 29, 2018
13.29: Iconic Heroes
18:33
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard The term “iconic hero” allows us to differentiate between different kinds of heroes who appear in series. Nancy Drew and Conan the Barbarian are iconic, but Leia Organa and Aragorn are epic. In this episode we discuss how (and why) to go about writing a hero with no … Continue reading 13.29: Iconic Heroes
Jul 22, 2018
13.28: What Writers Get Wrong, with Wildstyle
17:06
At GenCon Indy 2017 we were joined by Wildstyle (@MrWildstyle on Twitter), who wears many hats, and many of the hats he wears are donned in service of producing hip-hop. One of the most interesting revelations (especially for Howard, whose background in audio engineering predates MP3 technology by half a decade) was just how many … Continue reading 13.28: What Writers Get Wrong, with Wildstyle
Jul 15, 2018
13.27: Characters as Foils
18:52
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice A foil is a character who serves as a contrast to another character. The foil might be a sidekick, an antagonist, a romantic interest, or really any other character who gets enough focus for the contrast to be useful. In this episode we talk about foils, offering examples, … Continue reading 13.27: Characters as Foils
Jul 08, 2018
13.26: Character Relationships
21:23
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Our characters become far more interesting when they begin interacting with each other. These interactions—these relationships—are often how our stories get told. In this episode we explore ways in which we can fine tune relationships in service of our stories. The tools include the Kowal Relationship Axes (Mind, … Continue reading 13.26: Character Relationships
Jul 01, 2018
13.25: Our Journey With Character
18:25
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard Brandon wanted to ask us how our perspectives on character have changed since the very beginning of our writing. It’s a difficult question to answer, and a very soulful sort of thing to answer in front of other people. So Brandon went first while the rest of us racked … Continue reading 13.25: Our Journey With Character
Jun 24, 2018
13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu
22:33
Your Hosts: Piper Drake, Aliette de Bodard, and Wesley Chu, with special guest Ken Liu Our hosts for this episode are experts in a great many different things. One thing that they have in common is that they’re all members of the Asian Disapora, and in this episode we’ll learn what kinds of things writers get … Continue reading 13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu
Jun 17, 2018
13.23: Internal Conflicts
26:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we can tell when it’s not working. Notes: the MICE quotient is Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. Mary’s … Continue reading 13.23: Internal Conflicts
Jun 10, 2018
13.22: Character Arcs
16:09
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard When Mary says we could do fifteen different episodes on character arcs, she’s being conservative. Notwithstanding, we set out to talk meaningfully about character arcs in one episode rather than in fifteen (or fifty.) We look at the shapes of these arcs, how they progress in our narratives, … Continue reading 13.22: Character Arcs
Jun 03, 2018
13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation
20:07
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard Our listeners submitted some great questions! How do you fairly and even-handedly write a deeply compelling character you deeply dislike? What’s the best way to discuss a character’s underlying motivations without expressly stating them in narrative or dialog? How well should characters understand their own motivations? How do … Continue reading 13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation
May 27, 2018
13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman
19:41
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with special guest Emma Newman Emma Newman, author, audio book narrator, and podcaster, joined us on the Baltic sea for WXR 2017, where, six days after a brilliant presentation on overcoming fear, she recorded a session with us on the same topic. The class was just that good. … Continue reading 13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman
May 20, 2018
13.19: Backstories
19:32
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Character backstories: these are the tales that describe how the characters in your story became who they are by the time they arrive in the book. How much backstory needs to be written before you start in on the manuscript? How much needs to be in the manuscript … Continue reading 13.19: Backstories
May 13, 2018
13.18: Naturally Revealing Character Motivation
19:00
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What motivates us? What really motivates us? Why? (Note: our motivations are probably not in service of some overarching plot.) How can we use this information to believably motivate characters? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 06, 2018
13.17: What Writers Get Wrong, with Jamahl Crouch
16:17
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Jamahl Crouch Jamahl Crouch (Illusmm1 on Instagram) joined us at the GenCon Indy Writers Symposium to talk about what writers get wrong about street art. Jamahl is many things, and one of those is “street artist.” We discuss the differences between graffiti and street art, where things like commissioned … Continue reading 13.17: What Writers Get Wrong, with Jamahl Crouch
Apr 29, 2018
13.16: Avoiding Flat Characters
16:42
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard For our purposes, the term “flat character” refers to a character who lacks the depth required to maintain reader interest. In this episode we discuss how to avoid putting flat characters front-and-center in our writing, and how we go about fixing manuscripts that have flat character problems.
Apr 22, 2018
13.15: What Writers Get Wrong, with Mike Stop Continues
19:04
Recorded live at WXR 2017. Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with special guest Mike Stop Continues Mike has multiple areas of expertise, but for this episode he’s talking to us specifically about the things that writers get wrong about being a gay man. Credits: This episode was recorded live by Bert Grimm, and … Continue reading 13.15: What Writers Get Wrong, with Mike Stop Continues
Apr 15, 2018
13.14: Character Nuance
17:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Let’s talk about characters who have conflict built right into them; characters whose attributes and attitudes might seem to contradict one another; characters who like, y’know… actual people. (And let’s talk about how to write them.)
Apr 08, 2018
13.13: Character Voice
23:38
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Character voice, the flow, order, and feel of words that is unique to a particular character, is extremely useful in defining characters for the reader. In this episode we discuss our tools for shaping character voices, and the ways in which we make sure each one unique. Liner Notes: … Continue reading 13.13: Character Voice
Apr 01, 2018
13.12: Q&A on Heroes, Villains, and Main Characters
17:13
Your Cast: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, Howard You had questions about heroes, villains, and main characters. We have answers! Here are the questions: How do you make planned power increases not seem like an ass-pull¹? What do you do when your villain is more interesting/engaging than your hero? How do you know when a character is … Continue reading 13.12: Q&A on Heroes, Villains, and Main Characters
Mar 25, 2018
13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris
17:13
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Charlaine Harris Charlaine Harris joined us in front of a live audience at the GenCon Writers Symposium to talk with us about secondary characters—why they’re so important, why they can be difficult to write well, and how she brings her secondary characters to life without … Continue reading 13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris
Mar 18, 2018
13.10: Handling a Large Cast
23:12
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice What are our favorite techniques for managing large casts of characters, and how do our processes differ from when we’re writing small casts? What does “large” and “small” mean for us? Liner Notes: No, Howard was not in the room. Yes, despite his absence, he was wearing both trousers and … Continue reading 13.10: Handling a Large Cast
Mar 11, 2018
13.9: Quick Characterization
18:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard How do you go about defining a character for your readers when you don’t have many words to devote to the project? What are the tricks for quickly establishing someone’s individuality within your story? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 
Mar 04, 2018
13.8: Making Characters Distinctive
21:20
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard What do we do to make our characters distinctive? Often we categorize the distinctions as flaws or quirks, and in this discussion we use those as our starting points. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 
Feb 25, 2018
13.7: What Writers Get Wrong, with Lou Perry
14:56
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Lou Perry joined us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about law and courtrooms, and what writers get wrong when setting their stories amid legal procedures.  
Feb 18, 2018
13.6: External Conflicts for Characters
20:33
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice An external conflict is a story driver that originates outside the protagonist. In this episode a large part of what we’ll focus on is person-vs-environment as opposed to person-vs-person. PvE rather than PvP, if you will. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson, both of whom understand … Continue reading 13.6: External Conflicts for Characters
Feb 11, 2018
13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle
18:20
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What’s the difference between villains and antagonists? How is an obstacle character different from those other two? How are they alike? And most importantly, how can we use this information to write effective opposition to our heroes, protagonists, and main characters? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan … Continue reading 13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle
Feb 04, 2018
13.4: Protagonists Who Aren’t Sympathetic
20:05
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard This week we’re joined by Valynne Maetani, who’ll be one of our hosts all year. We’re discussing protagonists who, per writer intent, do not engender audience sympathy. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Jan 28, 2018
13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard
22:15
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard This year’s third-week episodes will all follow a common theme: “what writers get wrong.” Each of these episodes will feature an expert guest who will help us understand what writers get wrong about something in which they have expertise. Aliette de Bodard will be co-hosting several of these week-three episodes, … Continue reading 13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard
Jan 21, 2018
13.2: Writing Active Characters
19:22
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice This week we welcome Amal El-Mohtar and Maurice Broaddus to the Writing Excuses cast for a discussion of active characters. We cover characters who move stories forward, who make decisions that influence plot-critical events, and whose actions draw the reader into the book. Liner Notes: you’ll be hearing … Continue reading 13.2: Writing Active Characters
Jan 14, 2018
13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character
17:27
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard 2018 is our Year of Character, and we kick it off with a quick exploration of the differences between heroes, protagonists, and main characters. Beginning with addressing the question “wait, aren’t they all the same person?” Because that’s the elephant in the room. Or maybe it’s three elephants. Or … Continue reading 13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character
Jan 07, 2018
12.53: Writing Excuses True Confessions
29:27
It’s the end of 2017, so let’s talk about the things that we’ve tried to make work, and failed at. Not things that we tried before arriving at career-level measures of success—things that we’ve folded, spindled, and/or mutilated since then. There were a lot of them! This episode runs close to thirty minutes long…  
Dec 31, 2017
12.52: Cross-Genres as Gateways
17:46
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Howard, and Dan What are the books which have drawn us from the bookshelf genres where you’re the most comfortable into bookshelves you haven’t read from? What can we learn about our own writing by reading these gateway books? How can we set about writing them ourselves? Credits: this episode was recorded in … Continue reading 12.52: Cross-Genres as Gateways
Dec 24, 2017
12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga
18:51
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, Dan, with guest host Beth Meacham Dirk Elzinga, an associate professor of linguistics, joined us live at LTUE to talk about constructed languages, and how we, as writers, might go about constructing them for our work. Liner Notes: The big stack of notes from Dirk required its own page. Below are links to specific tools … Continue reading 12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga
Dec 17, 2017
12.50: Form and Function
22:58
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How does the shape of your physical medium change the art you’re making? What are the tools that affect our storytelling, and what are those effects? Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Dec 10, 2017
12.49: Non-linear Narratives
17:39
We begin the final month of our year on structure with a discussion of non-linear structures. These include flashbacks, POVs that are out of chronological order,  and a host of other storytelling techniques. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Dec 03, 2017
12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan
24:59
Brian McClellan joined us to field questions about writing novels and series. Here are the questions: How do you write an ending that is open for sequels, but isn’t a cliffhanger? Is it a good idea to take a large novel, and release it instead as serial novellas? Can you debut with a series, or … Continue reading 12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan
Nov 26, 2017
12.47: Screenwriting and the Writers Room, with JD Payne
19:16
Screenwriter JD Payne joined us before a live audience at LTUE to talk about writing for the screen, specifically regarding doing this work with others in a room full of writers.
Nov 19, 2017
12.46: Reinventing Yourself
21:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We discuss the idea of “reinventing yourself,” which can mean anything from “trying something new” to “completely re-branding yourself as a writer,” and how it’s a difficult thing to do without figuring out what it actually is that you’re currently doing. We talk about how we’ve done it, … Continue reading 12.46: Reinventing Yourself
Nov 12, 2017
12.45: Structuring a Series
23:09
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Before you can decide on a structure for your series, you may find it helpful to decide what kind of series you’re actually building. We talk about a few of the available options, and how each of them affects the structure. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan … Continue reading 12.45: Structuring a Series
Nov 05, 2017
12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer
18:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re going to share some of our experiences with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in an effort to encourage you to participate in ways that will advance you toward your goals. Note: After a week, this is the only photo we’ve found of Wounded Howard. Dan took it, and Howard was clearly putting on … Continue reading 12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer
Oct 29, 2017
12.43: Serialized Storytelling
22:24
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We’re talking about the extreme long-form serial story here, and how to keep things interesting without forcing the main characters into an absurdly high number of character-developing moments. Brandon leads by aiming the question at Howard, since Schlock Mercenary has been running now for seventeen years (it was only 16 … Continue reading 12.43: Serialized Storytelling
Oct 22, 2017
12.42: Adapting Your Stories for Game Play, with Alan Bahr
14:27
Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Alan Bahr of Ragnarok Publications, joined us at  LTUE 2017 to talk about adapting a licensed property for a game, and preserving the feel of the work while doing so. Credits: this episode was recorded live at LTUE 2017 by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex JacksonRecorded
Oct 15, 2017
12.41: Raising the Stakes
20:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley When we talk about “raising the stakes,” we mean making the outcomes of the events in a story increasingly important to the reader. In this episode we talk about the tools we use to raise the stakes in ways that are more sophisticated than just queuing up larger and … Continue reading 12.41: Raising the Stakes
Oct 08, 2017
12.40: Structuring a Novel
18:53
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What makes something a novel, rather than just a serialized collection of stuff that happens? How do we use structure to turn collections of stuff into something more cohesive? What tools do we use to outline, map, and/or plan our novel writing? Reference Note: “Scene and sequel” comes … Continue reading 12.40: Structuring a Novel
Oct 01, 2017
12.39: Q&A on Short(er) Fiction
20:01
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners sent us  some questions about writing shorter fiction. Here are the questions: How do you market short stories today? Has ebook self-publishing made novellas more viable? How do you structure a short story? How short is too short? Is publishing sections of a novel a viable way … Continue reading 12.39: Q&A on Short(er) Fiction
Sep 24, 2017
12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo
17:13
Your Hosts: Dan and Howard Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo joined Dan and Howard to discuss what it is that editors “really want.” Question To Help You Decide Whether Or Not To Send Your Editor Bad News: “Will this news get better if I wait?” Credits: this episode was recorded at GenCon Indy 2016, and mastered by … Continue reading 12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo
Sep 17, 2017
12.37: Subplots
20:32
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a plot a subplot? Must subplots and main plots be linked by something more binding than the actual binding of the book? In this episode we answer these questions, and ask and answer plenty more. Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and … Continue reading 12.37: Subplots
Sep 10, 2017
12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece
19:50
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Larger than a short story, smaller than a novel… there’s quite a bit of space between those two thresholds, and in this episode we discuss the ways in which we go about filling that space with a well-structured story. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios … Continue reading 12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece
Sep 03, 2017
12.35: Short Fiction Markets, with Spencer Ellsworth and guest host Beth Meacham
16:32
Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Spencer Ellsworth and Beth Meacham joined us before a live audience at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of short fiction markets, which ones we love, and why. Credits: this episode was recorded live at LTUE 2017 Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex … Continue reading 12.35: Short Fiction Markets, with Spencer Ellsworth and guest host Beth Meacham
Aug 27, 2017
12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan
20:08
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Brian McClellan joins us for a discussion on fulfilling the promises we make to our readers—specifically the genre-specific promises made by the simple fact of where the book is shelved. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex … Continue reading 12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan
Aug 20, 2017
12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful
20:35
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’ve talked about some of the structural guidelines for short stories. In this episode we’ll discuss how to write in the short form while still putting down enough words to convey the story powerfully. Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by … Continue reading 12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful
Aug 13, 2017
12.32: Structuring a Short Piece
22:03
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We begin our exploration of short story structure with a re-cap of the MACE quotient (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, Event). Then we apply that tool to how we structure the pieces we write—specifically the short ones. Liner Notes: Here’s “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal And here’s a handy MICE quotient chart! Credits: … Continue reading 12.32: Structuring a Short Piece
Aug 06, 2017
12.31: What Makes a Good Monster, with Courtney Alameda
17:48
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest host Susan Chang Courtney Alameda joined us at LTUE 2017 to talk monsters, and what makes the best ones so good. We discuss some of our favorites, and how the criteria we apply to them can be applied in the creation of monsters of our own. Credits: this … Continue reading 12.31: What Makes a Good Monster, with Courtney Alameda
Jul 30, 2017
12.30: Tools for Writers
20:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We are often asked what software we use to get our work done. In this episode we answer that question in a bit of detail. Liner Notes: Here’s a linked list of the tools referenced during this episode. Aeon Timeline Asana Time Management Dropbox Excel OpenOffice Scrivener Wikidpad Word … Continue reading 12.30: Tools for Writers
Jul 23, 2017
12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney
20:49
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Steve Diamond, and special guest Joe McKinney We invited Steve Diamond, who has been a guest before, and who has some law enforcement background, to help us grill Joe McKinney, who has tons of that background, and who also happens to be a best-selling author. This Week’s Liner Notes are … Continue reading 12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney
Jul 16, 2017
12.28: Trimming and Expanding
19:46
Revision: it's when you make a too-short piece longer, or a too-long piece shorter.
Jul 09, 2017
12.27: Choosing a Length
21:49
We discuss the ways in which we decide upon the length of the stories we write, and at which point(s) in the creative process we make that decision.
Jul 02, 2017
12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing
20:29
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners had questions about outlining and discovery writing. Here are a few of the very best: Do you outline scenes? How? How do you know when to STOP outlining something? How much do you have to know about your character and/or world before you start writing? What … Continue reading 12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing
Jun 25, 2017
12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker
18:50
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Callie Stoker Callie Stoker joined Howard and Dan at the World Horror convention to answer our questions about hiring an editor, which is part of the process by which self-published authors build the team of people who will make the manuscript far better than they can make it by … Continue reading 12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker
Jun 18, 2017
12.24: Creating Great Outlines
20:46
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How might you go about creating great outlines? There are many processes, and we cover several of them.   Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jun 11, 2017
12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries
21:29
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about selling your stuff. In this episode we discuss query letters, pitches, and proposals—the tools that you use to present your material to people who can pay you for it, and who will partner with you in the task of selling it to the general public. … Continue reading 12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries
Jun 04, 2017
12.22: Hybrid Outlining and Discovery Writing
18:57
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard What can discovery writers learn from outlining? What can outliners learn from discovery writing? Is there a balance between the two that can serve as a happy, productive place for writers? (summary of answers: lots, lots, and yes-but-not-all-writers.)  
May 28, 2017
12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel
20:26
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guests Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel Bill and Carrie both have extensive experience writing for games, and they joined us at GenCon Indy to talk about writing for an interactive story, like a tabletop RPG, or a video game. Narrative Bumper Pool: This term comes to us from Tracy Hickman’s … Continue reading 12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel
May 21, 2017
12.20: Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft
21:23
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’re speaking again, at least in part, to discovery writers. In this case, we’re talking about how to take a non-outlined work and apply a structure to it in revisions. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
May 14, 2017
12.19: Structure on the Fly
19:30
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode is for you discovery writers, especially those of you for whom our current season of structure seems to be locking you down, or pointing up methods which you just don’t like to use. We talk about how these methods, these structural principles, these mechanical advantages in … Continue reading 12.19: Structure on the Fly
May 07, 2017
12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson
19:02
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest-host Susan Chang, and special guest J.R. Johannsen J.R. Johannson joined Howard, Mary, Dan, and guest-host Susan Chang at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of gendered dialect. We lead with a quick introduction to the Genderlect theory, by Deborah Tannen, which uses a very broad brush to describe key differences between the … Continue reading 12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson
Apr 30, 2017
12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing
23:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We fielded some questions on style, diction, and paragraphing: Is it okay to have pretty prose in a straightforward adventure story? How do author voice and character voice differ? How do you prevent paragraphs from rambling? I feel like my writing is derivative of the writers whose work … Continue reading 12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing
Apr 23, 2017
12.16: Writing Crime Fiction with Brian Keene
19:57
Brian Keene joined Dan and Howard at the World Horror Convention to talk about writing crime fiction, including how he goes about getting readers to feel the things he wants them to feel to drive the story forward. Liner Notes: The Horror Show with Brian Keene
Apr 16, 2017
12.15: Pacing With Chapters
21:24
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a chapter? WHY is a chapter? How do we chapter, and do we always chapter the same way? Should our chapters be this many parts of speech? This episode will answer these questions and more, except for that last question, to which the answer is … Continue reading 12.15: Pacing With Chapters
Apr 09, 2017
12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure
20:26
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about the structural tools we use to control pacing. These include sentence length and punctuation.   Also, white-space.   Liner note: Here is the Feb 12, 2017 Schlock Mercenary strip mentioned around the 18-minute mark. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the … Continue reading 12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure
Apr 03, 2017
12.13: Beautiful Prose, Purple Prose
22:34
The rising, golden sun crested the snowcapped eastern mountains, its first morning rays pouring like molten lemon through the window to glisten and gleam from the chrome grille of the studio microphone.
Mar 26, 2017
12.12: Words as Words, with Linda Addison
21:07
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Special Guest Linda Addison Linda Addison joined us at the World Horror Convention in 2016 for a discussion of the shapes and sounds of words as seen from the perspective of the poet, and how this approach can inform our prose.
Mar 19, 2017
12.11: Diction
19:58
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley Let’s talk about word choice. And when we say “let’s” we mean “we’re going to talk to you about it. You don’t actually get to talk back.” So maybe “let’s” wasn’t the best of the possible openers. Our discussion covers what we want to say, how specific … Continue reading 12.11: Diction
Mar 12, 2017
12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style
19:13
Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard talk about authorial voice, and how to stop being afraid of examining how you "sound" when you write.
Mar 05, 2017
12.9: Q&A on Viewpoint
25:02
Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard answer listener questions on viewpoint.
Feb 26, 2017
12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due
14:26
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Tananrive Due, whose short-fiction expertise is exemplified in her collection, Ghost Summer, joined us on the Oasis of the Seas to talk about how to use short stories to explore aspects of the craft. We discuss the importance of allowing ourselves to fail, and how we can learn … Continue reading 12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due
Feb 19, 2017
12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens
20:27
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley The third-person POV lens can be used for simultaneously describing the world to the reader and describing the character. In this episode we’ll talk about where we deploy these tools, where the pitfalls are, and how to do it well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, … Continue reading 12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens
Feb 12, 2017
12.6: Variations on Third Person
19:13
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode focuses on the third person POV, and some variations on them, like omniscient and limited, and some sub-variants like cinematic and head-hopping. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Feb 05, 2017
12.5: Literary Fiction
20:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about the genre of Literary Fiction. Our first hurdle is the word “literary” whose use in this context can imply that all other genres are somehow not literature. In that vein, then, we’re talking about mainstream, or “non-genre” fiction which is crafted with … Continue reading 12.5: Literary Fiction
Jan 29, 2017
12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints
19:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler Piper J. Drake joins the cast for our week-four episodes, of which this is the first. This week we’ll be drilling down into hybrid viewpoints—blending 1st and 3rd person, framing stories, stories-within-stories, and unreliable narration—and how to best serve our work with these techniques.
Jan 22, 2017
12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler
23:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler This Project in Depth episode contains spoilers for “Risk Assessment,” which is included in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12. The story was written by Sandra Tayler, and illustrated by Natalie Barahona. Howard handled the writing and illustrating for the framing story, but this episode isn’t about that … Continue reading 12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler
Jan 15, 2017
12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person
21:27
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about character voice, and how to get it right in First Person. This POV is a strong tool for developing memorable characters. We cover sentence structure, linguistic tweaks, accents, and much more, as well as some exercises you can try out to develop … Continue reading 12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person
Jan 08, 2017
12.1: Variations on First Person
23:49
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re beginning a new season, and during 2017 we will be focusing our topics on structure. We are also going to shake things by expanding our cast a bit. You’ll be hearing some new voices soon! They belong to: Wesley Chu Piper J. Drake Mary Anne Mohanraj We’ll post … Continue reading 12.1: Variations on First Person
Jan 01, 2017
11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray
24:54
Claudia Gray joined us aboard Oasis of the Seas to answer our attendees questions about the Elemental Ensemble. Here are the questions: Can you fit an ensemble into a short story? What the minimum size for an ensemble? Is there a perfect length? Can you put a traitor into an ensemble story? How do I give … Continue reading 11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray
Dec 24, 2016
11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas
17:02
Lynne M. Thomas joins us to continue our discussion of the Elemental Ensemble, which is one of our favorite elemental tools. It’s not just for heists. It adds interest, emotion, and lots of plot possibilities to everything from sense of wonder to the hard-hitting issue. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas … Continue reading 11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas
Dec 18, 2016
11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood
24:06
Michael R. Underwood has talked to us about hand-selling books before, but that was about pitching to agents and editors. This time around he’s talking about placing your product in the hand of your customer, the reader. With Michael’s help, we cover some specific sales techniques, guidelines for convention displays, and strategies for bookstore appearances, with an … Continue reading 11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood
Dec 11, 2016
11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas
24:17
Michael Damien Thomas, co-publisher and co-editor-in-chief of Uncanny Magazine, joined us for a discussion of the elemental genre that contains most of the stories we refer to as “heists.” It’s all about a well-rounded cast in which the group relationship is what’s pulling us forward. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas … Continue reading 11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas
Dec 04, 2016
11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch
17:56
Elizabeth Bear  and Scott Lynch joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy to talk about fantasy food, and how we engage our readers’ appetites with our fiction. We talk economics, logistics, sensory engagement, and we goof off quite a bit in the process. We might have been hungry at the time. There is good fun … Continue reading 11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch
Nov 29, 2016
11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song
22:20
DongWon Song, literary agent with HMLA, joins us for a Q&A on the elemental genre of “Issue.” Here are the questions, which were submitted by the attendees at WXR ’16: Can only certain people tackle certain issues in certain stories? Science Fiction often explores issues by changing the context. Why does this work? How would … Continue reading 11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song
Nov 27, 2016
11.47: Issue as a Subgenre, with Steven Barnes
24:21
Steven Barnes joins us to tackle Elemental Issue, round two, in which we look at how to address it as a sub-element. He describes the thesis/antithesis approach, and we move then to logical frameworks, and how to avoid making our stories dogmatic.   Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert … Continue reading 11.47: Issue as a Subgenre, with Steven Barnes
Nov 20, 2016
11.46: Colonialism, with Steven Barnes, Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and Shveta Thakrar
27:02
Our listeners have been asking for an in-depth, “crunchy” episode on colonialism, and related issues like cultural appropriation, for a couple of years now. Our voices, however, are not the ones our listeners should be hearing on the subject. Finding the right voices has not been easy, but it has been worth it. This episode runs … Continue reading 11.46: Colonialism, with Steven Barnes, Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and Shveta Thakrar
Nov 13, 2016
11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch
24:30
For November, our elemental genre is “Issue,” and we were joined by actor, writer, and comedian Desiree Burch. The Elemental Issue is similar to the Elemental Idea, but the type of idea being explored is a point of social conflict, like racism, teen pregnancy, or corporate greed. Authors writing Elemental Issue stories raise questions for the readers. … Continue reading 11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch
Nov 06, 2016
11.Bonus-03: Some Books Have Maps in the Front, with Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James Sutter
19:45
Three days late for the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2016, here’s a bonus episode about maps. Because nothing says “keep writing” like “hey, let’s draw a map now!” Dan and Howard were joined by Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James L. Sutter, who wanted to talk about maps. As Napoleon Bonaparte is rumored to have said prior … Continue reading 11.Bonus-03: Some Books Have Maps in the Front, with Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James Sutter
Nov 03, 2016
11.Bonus-02: Horrifying the Children, with Darren Shan
23:32
Happy Halloween! Darren Shan talks horror with us in this bonus episode, made possible by our Patreon supporters.
Nov 01, 2016
11.44: Project in Depth, GHOST TALKERS, by Mary Robinette Kowal
33:14
Spoiler Alert!  If you haven’t yet read Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, this episode will spoil great swathes of book for you. Also, you probably won’t get as much out of it. This week’s episode is a Project in Depth discussion focusing on Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. We begin with the difference … Continue reading 11.44: Project in Depth, GHOST TALKERS, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Oct 30, 2016
11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due
19:27
Our third Elemental Drama episode is a Q&A, featuring Tananarive Due. The questions are from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat: Rather than having a protagonist change themselves, can elemental drama have the protagonist change others? What happens when a character refuses to learn, refuses to overcome their flaw(s)? What are the … Continue reading 11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due
Oct 23, 2016
11.42: Elemental Drama as a Sub-Genre
21:16
Focusing on elemental drama can be tricky. Remember, elemental drama is basically “character change.” A great many stories use character change in some way—it’s almost ubiquitous. In this episode we’ll pick at the ubiquity, and look at the many different ways in which character change can be featured, and what sort of tools we have at our disposal to make this happen … Continue reading 11.42: Elemental Drama as a Sub-Genre
Oct 16, 2016
11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, with Robin Hobb
20:29
Robin Hobb joined us at GenCon Indy for a discussion of characterization and differentiation. And by “discussion,” what we really mean is “we ask Robin all the questions.” We learn about Robin’s process for creating characters, wrapping stories around them, and making these characters distinctly different from each other. Credits: This episode was recorded by … Continue reading 11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, with Robin Hobb
Oct 13, 2016
11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe
20:02
Navah Wolfe, an editor at Saga Press, joined us to talk about the manuscripts she would really like to see. Ordinarily we don’t encourage people to write to the market, but Navah asked specifically for the opportunity to tell our listeners what she’s looking for. As it happens, tracking Navah’s wish list as you write is … Continue reading 11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe
Oct 09, 2016
11.40: Elemental Drama
16:22
The word “drama” gets thrown around a lot. What do we mean when we use “drama” as an elemental genre? For us, Elemental Drama focuses on one character’s transformation, and how that transformation affects everyone around them. This is a narrow definition of the word, but it’s a very useful way to look at books where the … Continue reading 11.40: Elemental Drama
Oct 02, 2016
11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout
19:45
Greg van Eekhout joined us at Phoenix Comic Con for a live-audience Q&A session about Elemental Relationship writing. Here are the questions: What is your favorite way to establish relationships? How do you recover when a relationship starts to feel forced? How do you show a “best friend” relationship? How do you decide the pacing … Continue reading 11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout
Sep 25, 2016
11.38: The Elemental Relationship as a Sub-Genre
19:45
We find the elemental relationship in all kinds of stories that are not fundamentally about relationships. The intimate interaction between characters is part of how we define the characters, how we understand who they are as they go on to do the stuff that the story is about. In this episode we’ll talk about how … Continue reading 11.38: The Elemental Relationship as a Sub-Genre
Sep 18, 2016
11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez
17:29
Live from Phoenix Comic Con, Gama Martinez joins us for a discussion of casting your book. This is the process by which you create a cast of characters for your story ahead of creating the story itself, allowing you to stay ahead of your default decisions for who will step into the scene next. Credits: … Continue reading 11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez
Sep 11, 2016
11.36: The Elemental Relationship
17:12
In elemental relationship stories the primary page-turning driver is the relationship between two or three characters ¹. In this episode we discuss ways in which we can write character relationships—parent/child, buddy-cop, romance, and more—to be compelling. Credits: this episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson ¹We’re differentiating “Relationship” from “Ensemble” because … Continue reading 11.36: The Elemental Relationship
Sep 04, 2016
11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab
22:03
For our third Elemental Humor episode Victoria Schwab joins us as we field questions taken from our audience at Phoenix Comic-Con. Here are the questions: How do you add humor to a serious story without breaking the tension? How do I move beyond the “Dad jokes” and into properly funny writing? When is humor necessary … Continue reading 11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab
Aug 28, 2016
11.34: Humor as a Sub-Genre
22:12
Humor is present as an element, at least to some degree, in a substantial amount of the media we consume. In this episode we discuss some stylistic tools for applying humor  to our work, and how these tools can best be employed. WX Trivia: Episode 11.34 represents a pair of firsts for us here at Writing … Continue reading 11.34: Humor as a Sub-Genre
Aug 21, 2016
11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab
21:07
Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joined us in Phoenix to talk about crossover fiction—in this context the term means books that target a given demographic but which have a much broader appeal, or books which straddle the line between age demographics. We discuss some good crossover examples, and how some of the … Continue reading 11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab
Aug 14, 2016
11.32: The Element of Humor
23:22
“Talking about humor is the least funny thing you can do.” —Howard Tayler You have been warned! and with that out of the way… What is the driving force that gets readers to turn pages in a book that is primarily a work of humor? More importantly, how do we as writers get that driver … Continue reading 11.32: The Element of Humor
Aug 07, 2016
11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips
16:46
Trina Marie Phillips joined us at Phoenix Comic Con to talk about her work as a futurist. Futurism, for those unfamiliar with our use of the term here, is related to science fiction, but it remains rooted in existing technology and trends, then seeks to be predictive in useful ways. Liner Notes: Trina mentioned some online resources … Continue reading 11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips
Jul 31, 2016
11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A
20:29
We fielded the following questions about the “Thriller” elemental genre from listeners on Facebook and Twitter: How do I build tension consistently through my story? How do you maintain tension during dialog? When do you not use a cliffhanger? Do you ever picture your scenes as if they were in a movie? How much elemental … Continue reading 11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A
Jul 24, 2016
11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre
20:03
Thrillers are, by their very nature, page-turners. In this episode we look at the thriller element as part of a story whose principal driver is one of the other elemental genres. We consider some examples of blended-with-thrill stories, and then drill down a bit and look at how we can incorporate this in our own work. Credits: … Continue reading 11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre
Jul 17, 2016
11.28: Impostor Syndrome, with Alyssa Wong
26:27
Alyssa Wong, Campbell Award nominee and Nebula Award winner, joins us to talk about impostor syndrome. This is the frame of mind that many successful writers suffer from, in which they worry that they’re not really good enough at writing to be enjoying their success. Worse, this mindset can prevent us from continuing to create. … Continue reading 11.28: Impostor Syndrome, with Alyssa Wong
Jul 10, 2016
11.27: The Elemental Thriller
16:32
Let’s get this out of the way up front: in the syntax of elemental genres, the phrase “the element of thriller” is clunky. But we’ll say it anyway. We discuss the difference between the drivers in thrillers, horror stories, and mysteries, and use the elemental genre tools to assist in the differentiation. We also cover … Continue reading 11.27: The Elemental Thriller
Jul 03, 2016
11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A
19:19
In this episode we field some questions about elemental mystery. Here they are! How do you balance between two mysteries in the same story? What types of mysteries can fit well as sub-plots? What do you do when beta readers figure out the mystery really early? In the MICE quotient, are mysteries all “Idea” stories? … Continue reading 11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A
Jun 26, 2016
11.25: Elemental Mystery is Everywhere
17:25
Per our Elemental Genre theme, this week we further explore elemental mystery. Elemental mystery can be found in any work in which our curiosity is what keeps us turning pages. The type of satisfaction we feel at the reveal may also reveal the elemental genre in which the element of mystery has been embedded. Credits: This episode was … Continue reading 11.25: Elemental Mystery is Everywhere
Jun 19, 2016
11.24: Stakes!
18:44
We talk a lot about “raising the stakes” in our writing. When we say “stakes,” we’re referring to the things that keep our characters involved in the conflict, rather than just walking away and doing something else. We dig into what this really means, and how everyone in the story must be driven by things … Continue reading 11.24: Stakes!
Jun 12, 2016
11.23: The Element of Mystery
19:11
Mystery may well be the most common element in use, at least in some form or another, across the many bookshelf genres comprising “fiction.” We discuss the driving force of elemental mystery, how to evoke those feelings in the reader, and the importance of being able to write mystery effectively. Liner Notes: we mentioned Episode … Continue reading 11.23: The Element of Mystery
Jun 05, 2016
11.22: Examining Unconscious Biases, with Shannon Hale
20:31
Shannon Hale joins us at LTUE for a live-audience session in which we explore gender biases, and extrapolate from there to our many other unconscious biases. Our unconscious biases are not just the things that we consider to be “just the way things are,” or “common sense.” They’re the things we don’t even see, much … Continue reading 11.22: Examining Unconscious Biases, with Shannon Hale
May 29, 2016
11.21: Q&A on Elemental Horror, with Steve Diamond
20:43
Steve Diamond joins us for our third and final Elemental Horror episode as we field your questions about this particular building block. Here are the questions we selected from your submissions: If I want to make peanut butter terrifying without being silly, how do I do that? What is your personal line between horror and “gore-nography?” … Continue reading 11.21: Q&A on Elemental Horror, with Steve Diamond
May 22, 2016
11.20: Horror as a Subgenre
22:04
Steve Diamond joins us again to talk horror, this time about using elemental horror as part of our stories’ elemental ensemble. We discuss how the sense of dread can be a page-turning motivation, and how it can complement the other “keep on reading” motivations we set out to invoke. Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel … Continue reading 11.20: Horror as a Subgenre
May 15, 2016
11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney
19:03
How do we go about describing the clothing our characters are wearing? How do we use that to add depth to our story? What are the common mistakes that writers make when they start dressing their characters? Rebecca McKinney joined us on stage at LTUE to address all this. Liner Notes: We mentioned some resources for … Continue reading 11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney
May 08, 2016
11.18: Elemental Horror
21:41
Steve Diamond joins us to kick off our month on the elemental genre of horror. We explore the emotional components that readers seek from horror, and then drill down into the ways that we can create those reactions in our readers. Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.   
May 01, 2016
11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A
22:33
You may still have questions about how to apply elemental adventure in your work. Hopefully your questions are similar to the ones we collected below, because these are the ones we answered: What do readers like more: protagonists going through lots of different incidents and locations, or through a few that are similar to each other? … Continue reading 11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A
Apr 24, 2016
11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre
22:59
Let’s be adventurous. Let’s move beyond simply being cooks, and strive to become chefs. In this episode we explore using the element of adventure as an ingredient in something that has far more than adventure going on in it. Why do we like adventure? What draws the reader forward? Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and … Continue reading 11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre
Apr 17, 2016
11.15: The Environment, with L.E. Modessit, Jr.
17:21
L.E. Modesitt, Jr. joined us at LTUE for a world building discussion centered around the way the environment informs the story. We talk about lead in Roman plumbing, water lilies in Las Vegas sewers, and coal power in the British Empire, and how these examples can help us more effectively use the environments in our … Continue reading 11.15: The Environment, with L.E. Modessit, Jr.
Apr 10, 2016
11.14: The Element of Adventure
20:38
Our exploration of elemental genres continues with the sense of "I want to do that."
Apr 03, 2016
11.13: Elemental Idea Q&A
16:07
This is a Q&A about ideas that does NOT include the question "Where do you get your ideas?"
Mar 27, 2016
11.12: Idea as Subgenre, With Nancy Fulda
19:35
Nancy Fulda is back for our second episode on the Idea elemental genre. We cover some tools for exploring an idea, and then drill down a bit on how to use that exploration, or even multiple explorations as “seasoning” elements for a larger work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by … Continue reading 11.12: Idea as Subgenre, With Nancy Fulda
Mar 20, 2016
11.11: Self Publishing in 2016, with Michaelbrent Collings
18:13
Recorded live at LTUE, Michaelbrent Collings guest-starred for a discussion about self publishing. The landscape continues to change, and Collings is fully engaged in it. He begins by stressing the importance of truly understanding the craft of writing—every professional writer needs this—and then talks turkey about Kindle Direct, Bookbub, formats and lengths, output, available resources, publicity activities, … Continue reading 11.11: Self Publishing in 2016, with Michaelbrent Collings
Mar 13, 2016
11.10: Idea, as Genre, with Nancy Fulda
20:27
Nancy Fulda joins us to talk about the Elemental Genre of Idea, and how to write stories driven by a sense of fascination.
Mar 06, 2016
11.09: Q&A on the Element of Wonder
17:48
Gama Ray Martinez joins us at LTUE to field questions on the Element of Wonder, which were submitted by members of our audience. Here are the questions: How do you create wonder in non-genre stories, where there are no super-powers, spaceships, or spellcasters? How do you avoid making the wonder stale? Are there stages of … Continue reading 11.09: Q&A on the Element of Wonder
Feb 28, 2016
11.08: Wonder as a Subgenre
18:32
If the Element of Wonder is the driving force behind “sense of wonder” science fiction and fantasy, then that same element can be used to give wondrous flavor to stories whose driving force lies among the other elemental genres. We talk about how to use wonder at smaller scales, how to create it with context, … Continue reading 11.08: Wonder as a Subgenre
Feb 21, 2016
11.07: The Convention Survival Kit, with Gail Carriger
18:32
Gail Carriger joins us to talk about her Convention Survival Kit, which is full of things most of us wish we'd known to pack with us years ago.
Feb 14, 2016
11.06: The Element of Wonder
18:15
We’ve introduced the concept of Elemental Genre already. It’s time to start digging in to the elements themselves, beginning with the Element of Wonder. We started with this one because “sense of wonder” is a term that gets used to describe what makes some science fiction stories work. In this episode we expand upon the … Continue reading 11.06: The Element of Wonder
Feb 07, 2016
11.05: Writing and World Building for Role Playing Games
17:10
Michelle Lyons McFarland, Monica Valentinelli, and Shanna Germain join Howard and Dan at GenCon, and talk about the craft of world building for role playing games.
Jan 31, 2016
11.04: Newton’s Laws of Writing
19:17
Let's map Newton's Laws of Motion onto writing. Because a wordcount at rest tends to remain at rest...
Jan 24, 2016
11.03: Layering The Elemental Genres
18:41
Elemental Genre becomes particularly useful when you start blending the elements for sub-plots, character arcs, or even mash-ups.
Jan 17, 2016
11.2: How To Get The Most Out Of A Conference, with Kathy Chung
19:48
What's the difference between a conference and a convention? How do we, as writers, get the most out of them?
Jan 10, 2016
Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre
16:52
The word “genre” has a lot of weight to it. Arguments about whether a particular work is, or is not, part of a given genre are long, and tedious. Season Eleven will not be engaging in those arguments. We’re giving all that a wide miss by adding an adjective, and defining a new term: Elemental Genre. … Continue reading Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre
Jan 03, 2016
Writing Excuses 10.52: Moving On, with Ellen Kushner
21:50
Ellen Kushner joins us for the last episode of Season 10. Per the title, folks, it’s time to be done. What does “done” mean? How do you go about declaring a project “finished” when you know there are still things wrong with it? How do you clear your head, your work space, and your life for … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.52: Moving On, with Ellen Kushner
Dec 27, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.51: Q&A on Showing Your Work, with Daniel José Older
22:50
Daniel José Older joins us for a Q&A on showing your work around. Here are the questions, which were submitted by attendees at the Out of Excuses workshop: What’s the best way to meet editors and agents at conventions? How do you write a good query letter? What do you mention as credentials in your … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.51: Q&A on Showing Your Work, with Daniel José Older
Dec 20, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.50: How to Hand-Sell Your Manuscript to Agents and Editors, with Michael Underwood and Marco Palmieri
16:48
Marco Palmieri and Michael Underwood took the stage with Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy 2015 to discuss hand-selling manuscripts. Marco Palmieri is a senior editor at Tor, and Michael Underwood is an author, and is also the North American Sales and Marketing manager for Angry Robot Books. We begin with a list of the things … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.50: How to Hand-Sell Your Manuscript to Agents and Editors, with Michael Underwood and Marco Palmieri
Dec 13, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.49: What Do I Do With This Thing Now?
20:19
We’re at the end of our Season Ten Master Class, and if you’ve been diligent about the homework, you may very well have a finished manuscript in your hands. What do you do with it? Daniel José Older joins us for a bit of reminiscence. We talk about some of our first submissions, and what … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.49: What Do I Do With This Thing Now?
Dec 06, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.48: Project in Depth, The Devil’s Only Friend
21:01
Spoiler Alert! We'll be discussing the latest John Cleaver book from Dan Wells with author, podcaster, and unrepentant bacon-lover Dan Wells! If you haven't read it, and you want to be surprised by it, stop listening and grab a copy now!
Nov 29, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.47: Q&A on Revision
19:51
And now for your questions about revision. Or rather, questions from the WXR attendees, who were aboard the Independence of the Seas with us (the answers to these questions are secreted away in the audio file…): During revision, when do you think it’s acceptable to throw the whole thing out? How do you fit the … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.47: Q&A on Revision
Nov 22, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?
23:27
The microphones again find us aboard the Independence of the Seas*, to talk about how terribly ugly this manuscript is, and what we can do to make it pretty. In this episode we drill down on line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph revisions. This stage of the revision process is where our prose gets wordsmithed. This episode runs long, touching on: … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?
Nov 15, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood
27:06
Dan and Howard are joined by Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood for an anything-goes Q&A at the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium. We had reached the end of our two-hour block, but the audience hungered for the chance to ask their questions of these guests, so the Symposium gave us an extra half hour … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood
Nov 08, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.44: How Do I Fix What is Broken?
21:31
November is “Revision” month here in the Writing Excuses Season 10 Master Class, so while many of you may be tempted by NaNoWriMo, there’s a different kind of work to be done… Delia Sherman joins us again, this time for a frank talk about the tools and techniques we use during our revisions.   This episode … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.44: How Do I Fix What is Broken?
Nov 01, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.43: Q&A on Endings, with Delia Sherman
22:38
Delia Sherman joined us aboard the Independence of the Seas for our question-and-answer installment on endings. The questions came from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop, which was, lest anyone forget, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  The questions: Why do more short stories than novels end on tragic notes? How do you keep an ending from … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.43: Q&A on Endings, with Delia Sherman
Oct 25, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.42: How In The World Do I Tie All This Together?
21:54
Nalo Hopkinson joins us again, at sea, for our second Master Class installment on endings. We cover some of the reasons why an ending might not be working, and then talk about the sorts of diagnoses that will help you solve the problem. You’ll likely need to dig deep in your toolbox. Our episodes covering the … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.42: How In The World Do I Tie All This Together?
Oct 18, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.41: Your Character’s Moral Pendulum
16:16
Brad Beaulieu and Jaym Gates join us from the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium to talk about good versus evil, and how your character might swing between the two. And it’s all about that swing. Moral grey areas are more interesting if we move through them. We talk about how we swing the pendulum, what difficulties we encounter, … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.41: Your Character’s Moral Pendulum
Oct 11, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.40: What’s the Difference Between Ending and Stopping?
18:38
Nalo Hopkinson joins us for this episode, which we recorded before a live audience of Out Of Excuses Workshop & Retreat attendees. October’s master class episodes focus on endings, and in this first installment we talk about what an ending really is. It’s obviously the last part of the book, but the gestalt of “ending” … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.40: What’s the Difference Between Ending and Stopping?
Oct 04, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.39: Q&A on Plot Twists with Kevin J. Anderson
17:14
Kevin J. Anderson joined us at Sasquan/WorldCon 73 to take questions about plot twists. Here are the questions that came in from our live audience: Genre Twists: good, bad, or ugly? Can you compare and contrast a good plot twist with a bad one? What is the biggest mistake professional authors make with regarding plot … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.39: Q&A on Plot Twists with Kevin J. Anderson
Sep 27, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.38: How Does Context Shape Dialog?
21:51
Our second installment for the Master Class’s month of context covers the way dialog between characters may change meaning depending upon the context you create for them. This context may be the setting or genre, and it may also be the “beats” in which you describe what a person is doing while speaking. We talk … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.38: How Does Context Shape Dialog?
Sep 20, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.37: Being a Good Panelist and a Great Moderator, with Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin
18:21
This month’s wildcard episode comes to you from the 2015 GenCon Indy Writers’ Symposium, where Dan and Howard had the opportunity to interview Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin. Susan is one of the finest moderators the symposium has ever seen, and Marc directs the event, building the schedule around good panelists and great moderators. … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.37: Being a Good Panelist and a Great Moderator, with Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin
Sep 13, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.36: How Does Context Shape Plot Twists?
19:46
We’ve talked about plot twists before. This episode covers the way in which the type of plot twist is dependent on, or signaled by, the context of the story. Getting plot twists right may mean surprising the reader, but it’s just as important to have the twist surprise the character. SPOILER ALERT: Avengers: Age of … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.36: How Does Context Shape Plot Twists?
Sep 06, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.35: Breaking In, With Charlie N. Holmberg
16:15
Charlie N. Holmberg, who was recently signed by Amazon’s 47 North imprint, joined us in front of a live audience it Sasquan (the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention) to talk about breaking in to the industry. Brandon and Dan broke in a decade ago, and Howard never actually bothered breaking in. This episode is brought … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.35: Breaking In, With Charlie N. Holmberg
Aug 30, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.34: Q&A on Pacing
19:40
We wrap up this month’s discussion of pacing with a Q&A. Here are the questions we pulled out of the virtual hat (read: Twitter) for answering during the episode: What are some early indications of a pacing problem? How do you chart pacing so that it remains even? Can you control pacing using scene/sequel format? How do … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.34: Q&A on Pacing
Aug 23, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.33: Combat, with Marie Brennan
19:01
Marie Brennan joins us again, this time for a discussion about writing combat. She’s studied fencing, combat choreography, and is *this close* to having a black belt in shotokan karate, bringing a valuable perspective to the discussion. Also, she’s written an ebook called Writing Fight Scenes, so she knows how to talk about this stuff. … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.33: Combat, with Marie Brennan
Aug 16, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.32: How Do I Control the Speed of the Story?
19:07
Words take time to read, but that's not the same amount of time that the words communicate...
Aug 09, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.31: How Do I Control the Reader’s Sense of Progress?
18:57
Are we making progress? How do we communicate that to the reader?
Aug 02, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.30: Q&A on Middles, with Marie Brennan
19:45
Marie Brennan joins us again, this time to help us field your questions about middles. Here are the questions we collected from the various social media feeds: How do you maintain interest without having something explode every other chapter? In short fiction, how do you prevent try-fail cycles from bloating the story? How do you prevent … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.30: Q&A on Middles, with Marie Brennan
Jul 26, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.29: Why Should My Characters Fail Spectacularly?
17:36
Character failure is a big part of making the middle of a story work. We talk about why, and offer tips about how to make this work well for you.
Jul 19, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.28: Polytheism in Fiction, with Marie Brennan
20:32
Marie Brennan joins us for a discussion of polytheism (and really any belief system) in our fiction.
Jul 12, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.27: Why Can’t I Just Jump to the Ending?
17:17
Lots of people struggle with the middles of their books. One way to look at the middle is that it’s the point where you’re no longer working on that new project that has you excited, but haven’t yet gotten to the cool ending that has you excited. We talk about why the middle is important, … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.27: Why Can’t I Just Jump to the Ending?
Jul 05, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.26: Q&A on Scenes and Description
18:19
How do you "show, don't tell" a character's thoughts? We answer this question, and more!
Jun 28, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.25: What Makes a Scene?
18:37
We talk about how we define and structure scenes in our writing, and we make reference to Scene/Sequel format, the MICE quotient, and pacing.
Jun 21, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.24: Hooking Younger Readers
17:24
Media Specialist Kiley Snyder joins us to talk about hooking young readers.
Jun 14, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.23: Can You Tell Me How To Show?
20:10
Instead of saying "show, don't tell," we say "here's how to show."
Jun 07, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.22: Project-in-Depth—Of Noble Family
30:43
Spoilers ahead! We dig into Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal, focusing on language, culture, and the extensive research Mary did.
May 31, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.21: Q&A on World Building
18:14
We answer questions about consistency, alternate histories, and the Great Spoke Plague of '77
May 24, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.20: How Do I Write a Story, Not an Encyclopedia?
16:53
You’ve done piles of world building. How do you convey this world to reader without infodumping? We talk about the different skill levels involved, and then the techniques that you’ll be using as you get better and better at what is probably the most critical skill unique to genre fiction writers.
May 17, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.19: Intrigue
18:37
What's the difference between intrigue, suspense, and mystery? We talk about this, and then drill down on intrigue.
May 10, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.18: Build an Entire World? Are You Crazy?
20:56
This one's for all you folks who like to do some world building on-the-fly.
May 03, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.17: Q&A on Beginnings
We've talked beginnings all month. Now we take your questions about them.
Apr 26, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.16: What Do I Do With All This Blank Space?
17:13
Let's get that first page written in a way that will bring the reader to all the rest of the pages.
Apr 19, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.15: Worldbuilding Wilderness with Wes Chu
16:02
Wes Chu, author and adventurer, recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and has some things to say about all the wilderness trekking that our characters do in the books we write, and how we often forget to say anything about sleeping on inclines, altitude sickness, or packing toilet paper. The salient point: we need to remember that our … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.15: Worldbuilding Wilderness with Wes Chu
Apr 12, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.14: How Much of the Beginning Needs to Come First?
17:45
How do you know which bits of your story have to come first?
Apr 05, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.13: Where is My Story Going?
18:05
Any discussion of story structure must necessarily take a look at that big, long bit between the beginning and the end, that piece where almost everything actually happens. In this episode we talk about the middles of stories, and how formulaic structures will help you get them to do all of the things that you need … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.13: Where is My Story Going?
Mar 30, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.12: Story structure Q&A, with Special Guest Wesley Chu
22:07
Wes Chu joins us again for a Q&A about this month’s topic: story structure! Here are the questions: Do you make a conscious decision about how to structure your story before you begin writing? Is it necessary to use multiple structures (three-act, Hollywood formula, etc) in order to ensure that your story works? What tools … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.12: Story structure Q&A, with Special Guest Wesley Chu
Mar 23, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.11: Project In Depth: “Parallel Perspectives”
20:23
If you haven’t yet read “Parallel Perspectives,” from Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, we have a PDF for you to download and read before you start listening to this episode. It’s a 33mb file in a public DropBox folder. Parallel Perspectives PDF for Writing Excuses listeners Got the file? Done reading? Okay, let’s go… This week … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.11: Project In Depth: “Parallel Perspectives”
Mar 15, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.10: Q&A with the I Ching
20:15
Wesley Chu joins us for a literal shake-up of our structure for one episode. We had loads of fun with this one. The I Ching is a collection of poems which you consult with numbered sticks. You ask a question, shake a random stick from the cup, and the corresponding poem holds your answer. In writing … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.10: Q&A with the I Ching
Mar 08, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.9: Where is My Story Coming From?
20:36
This month’s syllabus topic is story structure, and we’ll be starting with the part we start with. And that part usually isn’t the beginning — that’s where the story starts for the reader. We’re going to talk about where the story starts for you. It’s the answer to questions like “where is my story coming … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.9: Where is My Story Coming From?
Mar 02, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.8: Q&A on Character
23:45
It’s time for a Q&A on characters! The questions for this episode were provided by the attendees at the 2014 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat: How do you have a character grow in power and/or expertise without needing to ridiculously overpower the villains? How do you give a flawed character a growth arc without … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.8: Q&A on Character
Feb 22, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.7: Who Are All These People?
17:24
Our character-focused month continues with an exploration of the challenges involved in building a cast for your story. Whether you’re building a large or small cast, you need to know why you’re putting these people in the book, whether they’re main characters, secondary characters, or spear-carriers, and what purpose each of them actually serves in … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.7: Who Are All These People?
Feb 16, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.6: The Worldbuilding Revolves Around Me (“The Magical 1%”)
17:42
In which Max Gladstone introduces us to the concept of the Magical 1%
Feb 09, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.5: What Do You Mean My Main Character is Boring?
19:14
Does your draft have a boring main character? You're not alone! Also, the problem can be solved.
Feb 02, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.4: Q&A on Ideas
16:24
At the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat we premiered the Season 10 concept, and we invited our attendees to give us the questions we need this month. (They’ll also be the ones providing our questions for February, but we’ll cast our net wide for questions in March.) Ideas are hard! Is it ever acceptable for … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.4: Q&A on Ideas
Jan 25, 2015
2015 Hugo Award Eligibility – SHADOWS BENEATH
1:45
Don't forget to nominate for the 2015 Hugo Ballot, and if you like Writing Excuses, please consider nominating Shadows Beneath for Best Related Work.
Jan 21, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.3: Lovecraftian Horror
19:43
Cherie Priest joins us for a discussion of Lovecraftian horror.
Jan 20, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.2: I Have an Idea; What Do I Do Now?
18:09
Writing Excuses Season 10, the podcasted master-class, continues with this exploration of that critical second step: what do do once you’ve got an idea that has story-legs. (Note: When we say “two weeks ago” over and over, that’s just bad math. You haven’t missed an episode.) We talk about our various approaches to this, many … Continue reading Writing Excuses 10.2: I Have an Idea; What Do I Do Now?
Jan 12, 2015
Writing Excuses 10.1: Seriously, Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
19:59
Brandon, Howard, Mary, and Dan offer useful answers to that age-old question: "Where do you get your ideas?"
Jan 05, 2015
Writing Excuses 9.54: Capstone to Season 9
29:54
As 2014 draws to a close we say goodbye to Season 9, and talk a bit about what we’ve each learned this year. Howard explained the surprising changes that came with a change in his work space Mary told us how she reached a new understanding of pacing Brandon talked about how recent time pressures have informed his … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.54: Capstone to Season 9
Dec 29, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.53: Writing For Fun
15:47
You know what’s fun? WRITING! Writing is fun. And that, more than anything else, is why we do it. Or at least it’s why we decided to do it. Making sure that it is still fun is kind of tricky. Also tricky? Writing for nothing more than the fun of it. And this episode is … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.53: Writing For Fun
Dec 22, 2014
Writing Excuses Season 9.52: From the Page to the Stage
21:07
Allison W. Hill and C. Austin Hill joined us at the Out of Excuses Retreat to talk about turning A Night of Blacker Darkness, by Dan Wells, into a stage play. “From the page to the stage” is a thing that theater people actually say to describe this, so the process is one that has … Continue reading Writing Excuses Season 9.52: From the Page to the Stage
Dec 15, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.51: Q&A At The Retreat
19:08
If there’s a crowd with good questions, it’s the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat attendees. Given the trend toward moral ambiguity, is there still a place for an unquestionably evil character? Should you publish a first book that isn’t in the style or genre that you’re ultimately interested in? Is it possible to write … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.51: Q&A At The Retreat
Dec 08, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.50: Writing for the Enfranchised Reader
18:21
Recorded live in front of the Out of Excuses students, a crowd of savvy readers if ever there was one, we talk about how to effectively write for readers who are familiar with the genre or story structure in which we’re writing. It’s a tricky problem, since genre fiction is supported in large part by … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.50: Writing for the Enfranchised Reader
Dec 04, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.48: Neurobolics of Characters
19:44
As authors we spend a lot of time trying to make our readers care about the characters we create. We have a wide variety of techniques at our disposal to accomplish this. But do we ever ask ourselves why any of this is possible in the first place? What is it about our brains that makes us … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.48: Neurobolics of Characters
Dec 01, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.49: Hiding the Open Grave
18:39
So, you’re planning to kill somebody, but you don’t want anyone to see it coming. How do you make that happen? We begin by talking about the hints that writers inadvertently drop, and why they drop those hints. Then we look at how to write without sending those cues, and how to get away with … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.49: Hiding the Open Grave
Nov 24, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.47: Conversation With a Bookseller
16:39
Sara Glassman joins us to talk about back cover copy, covers, query letters, signings, and what booksellers look for on page one.
Nov 18, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.46: Disability in Narrative
14:42
Charlie Harmon, one of the luminaries of Utah area fandom, joined us to talk about disability in narrative. She’s been going blind gradually since she was a child, and these days while she can see some colored blurs, she cannot read, or recognize faces. We talk about some of the nuances of disability that many … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.46: Disability in Narrative
Nov 09, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.45: Tools for Writing from Oral Storytelling
17:08
M. Todd Gallowglas is a writer and a storyteller who has spent years doing traditional oral storytelling at renaissance fairs. He joined us at FantasyCon/Westercon 67 before a live audience and talked to us about how this tradition has informed his writing, and how these principles can inform our writing as well. He also schools us (okay, … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.45: Tools for Writing from Oral Storytelling
Nov 03, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.44: Getting in the Writer’s Mindset with Peter Beagle
18:40
We were thrilled to have Peter Beagle join us for an episode, recorded live at Westercon 67. We talked about the writer’s mindset, and how to get into it. Peter schooled Brandon before the episode even began, and then proceeded to school all the rest of us. Peter is an absolute delight to listen to. We hope you … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.44: Getting in the Writer’s Mindset with Peter Beagle
Oct 27, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.43: Writing Mysteries
17:58
Live from Westercon 67 and Fantasy Con, Mette Ivie Harrison and J.R. Johannson join us to talk about writing for the mystery genre. We begin by talking about the key differences between thrillers and mysteries, and then move into how this understanding can drive our story structures. We discuss how characters with arcs and iconic characters … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.43: Writing Mysteries
Oct 20, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.42: The Convention-Author Relationship, with Deirdre Saoirse Moen
18:49
Deirdre Saoirse Moen, who organizes fan-run literary cons and schedules programs for them, joins us to talk about programming from the convention's point of view.
Oct 12, 2014
Registration is open for the 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat
8:23
Registration is now open for the 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat. For the last two years the event has had a very limited size, and as a result has sold out very quickly. For 2015 we have moved to a new venue, removed the attendance limit, and increased the amount of instructor … Continue reading Registration is open for the 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat
Oct 09, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.41: Fan Writing, with Christopher J. Garcia
16:02
Christopher J. Garcia, publisher and editor of The Drink Tank, joins us for a discussion of fan writing.
Oct 05, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.40: Understanding Royalties, with Paul Stevens
22:15
Paul Stevens, an editor at Tor, joined us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 to talk about royalties.
Sep 28, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.39: Publicity for Books
21:03
Patty Garcia, Director of Publicity at Tor, joins us to discuss publicizing books
Sep 22, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.38: Q&A at Westercon
22:23
Peter Orullian joins us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 for a Q&A. The questions include: As a writer, how do you handle reviewing other people’s books? How do you compartmentalize your writing to prevent that obsession from displacing everything else? (Here are the signs we talked about) How do you create frightening, … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.38: Q&A at Westercon
Sep 15, 2014
9.37: Training A Critique Group, with Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
21:14
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury, the forum moderator at the Hatrack River writers group joined us at Westercon 67 to talk about critique groups. We cover how critiques should be offered, as well as importance of receiving critiques graciously and without defense, and we reflect on lots of the good and bad writing groups and critique groups we’ve … Continue reading 9.37: Training A Critique Group, with Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Sep 08, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.36: Writing Instruction
16:30
David Farland joins, along with a live audience at Westercon 67, for a discussion on writing instruction.
Sep 01, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.35: What to do when you disagree with your editor
17:55
Peter Orullian joins us to discuss managing the author-editor relationship when things go wrong.
Aug 24, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.34: Science Fiction as Science Education
16:50
Brad "Doctor Zombie" Voytek talks to us about making science accessible and attractive through science fiction.
Aug 17, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.33: Microcasting
17:08
Q&A in which we cover proofreading, writing time, career stuff, and no, you can't have any of our DNA.
Aug 10, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.32: Adjusting Character Proactivity
19:03
We talk about how to make characters more or less proactive in the stories we tell.
Aug 03, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.31: Critiquing “An Honest Death”
33:00
The fourth of the SHADOWS BENEATH critique episodes, in which Howard is stuck...
Jul 27, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.30: Critiquing A Fire in the Heavens
21:58
The third of the SHADOWS BENEATH critique episodes, in which Mary schools us with Milford...
Jul 20, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.29: Part 2 of 2, Critiquing Sixth of the Dusk
21:48
The second of the SHADOWS BENEATH critique episodes, in which we thrash on a new Cosmere story from Brandon Sanderson so that he can fix it. Part 2 of 2.
Jul 13, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.28: Part 1 of 2, Critiquing Sixth of the Dusk
18:08
The first of the SHADOWS BENEATH critique episodes, in which we thrash on a new Cosmere story from Brandon Sanderson so that he can fix it. Part 1 of 2.
Jul 06, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.27: Pre-writing
18:00
Pre-writing: It's like pre-cooking, only with more abandoned prologues and fewer refried beans.
Jun 30, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.26: Adjusting Character Competence
18:54
In which we discuss adjusting how competent our characters appear...
Jun 23, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.25: Adjusting Character Sympathy
18:56
In which we discuss adjusting how sympathetic the reader is toward a particular character...
Jun 16, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.24: Side Quests
18:42
Side quests come in a couple of forms — they may be something inside the book that takes the characters away from the main plotline, or they may be adventures that take place outside of the book itself. We talk about the first type, and how to make sure they’re in the book for the … Continue reading Writing Excuses 9.24: Side Quests
Jun 09, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.23: World Building Without Breaking Viewpoint
18:24
How do you describe water from the point of view of a fish?
Jun 02, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.22: Microcasting
19:30
Prologues, motivations, and research, oh my!
May 26, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.21: Sanderson’s 3rd Law
20:42
When building your world, go deep rather than going wide.
May 19, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.20: Creator vs Creation
18:36
How do we interact with readers who find meaning in our works that we don't recall putting in there?
May 12, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.19: Showing Emotion
17:49
How to go about showing a character's emotions without them seeming emo.
May 05, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.18: Microcasting
18:40
We answer questions on tropes, narrative styles, editing, rule-breaking and more.
Apr 28, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.17: Microcasting
18:23
A Q&A episode with Eric James Stone
Apr 21, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.16: Coming up with a New Ending Halfway Through
19:45
What to do when you discover your planned ending isn't actually going to work...
Apr 16, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.15: Becoming a Writer—Full Disclosure
18:18
Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard talk about the unpleasant surprises their careers dropped on them.
Apr 07, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.14: How to have an Opinion as a Public Figure
20:16
We talk about expressing controversial opinions on the Internet. And just talking about it might be controversial...
Apr 04, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.13: Three Pronged Character Development
20:05
We explore a three-value model for troubleshooting characters: Competence, Proactivity, and Sympathy
Mar 30, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.12: Microcasting! Twice in a row!
18:20
A Q&A covering editing, rule-breaking, writing the other, gift-giving, and more.
Mar 24, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.11: Microcasting
20:21
Eric James Stone joins us to answer questions about editors, pitching, pantsing, and encouragement.
Mar 17, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.10: Engaging Characters
18:34
What makes characters engaging, and how is that different from them being sympathetic?
Mar 10, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.9: What to do When Truth is Stranger than Fiction
17:49
How do you put true stuff in your books when the truth is just too strange?
Mar 03, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.8: When is your Handwavium Good Enough?
15:53
What is handwavium? How does it work? What happens when it doesn't work?
Feb 24, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.7: Last Pass Revisions with Eric James Stone
18:51
Eric James Stone joins us for a discussion of revision, and what the final pass process looks like.
Feb 16, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.6: The Experience of Time
20:16
Time passes, and we have lots of ways to tell readers how quickly that's happening.
Feb 10, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.5: Hijacking the Knowledge You Already Have, with Mette Ivie Harrison
19:06
Mette Ivie Harrison joins us to talk about how to "hijack" the knowledge you already have in order to make you a better writer.
Feb 03, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.4: Artificial Intelligence with Nancy Fulda
19:41
Nancy Fulda talks Artificial Intelligence with Brandon, Mary, and Howard.
Jan 27, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.3: Character Perception vs. Narrative Perception with Nancy Fulda
19:05
Nancy Fulda joins the cast for a discussion of narrative versus character perceptions
Jan 19, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.2: Hard Science Fiction with Eric James Stone
17:57
Eric James Stone joins us for a discussion of hard science fiction -- what it is, what it isn't, and how to do it well.
Jan 13, 2014
Writing Excuses 9.1: Chronology of a Book Deal with Eric James Stone
22:16
Eric James Stone joins us to talk about the book deal chronology for UNFORGETTABLE.
Jan 06, 2014
Writing Excuses 8.52: You Think You Don’t Have Time to Write, with Mette Ivie Harrison
18:31
Mette Ivie Harrison joins us to talk about the reasons you think you don't have time to write.
Dec 30, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.51: Creative non-fiction with Mette Ivie Harrison
17:49
Mette Ivie Harrison joins us to discuss creative non-fiction, the genre in which the tools of creative writing are applied to factually accurate narratives.
Dec 23, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.50: Q&A with Mercedes Lackey
20:47
Mercedes Lackey joins Brandon, Mary, and Howard to field listener questions at GenCon Indy.
Dec 15, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.49: Hard Social Science Fiction with Joel Shepherd
16:06
Joel Shepherd joins Brandon, Mary, and Howard to talk about hard social science.
Dec 08, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.48: Long-Form Storytelling with Sam Logan
20:43
Sam Logan of "Sam and Fuzzy" talks long-form storytelling with Brandon, Mary, and Howard
Dec 01, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.47: Roguishness with Scott Lynch
19:15
Scott Lynch, author of The Republic of Thieves, joins Brandon, Howard, and Mary before a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about roguishness. Why do we like rogues? What can a roguish character accomplish in terms of story purposes? Can the rogue accomplish things a more classically moral character cannot? Most importantly, what do authors … Continue reading Writing Excuses 8.47: Roguishness with Scott Lynch
Nov 25, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.46: Editing with Aeryn Rudel
16:53
Aeryn Rudel from Privateer Press and Skull Island X joins us at GenCon Indy to talk about editing.
Nov 17, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.45: Gencon Q&A With Wesley Chu
16:56
Wes Chu joins Brandon, Mary, and Howard for a live audience Q&A at GenCon
Nov 11, 2013
Writing Excuses 8.44: Talking Publishing with Tom Doherty
16:12
Tom Doherty, president and founder of Tor books, joins us at GenCon to talk publishing.
Nov 03, 2013