Writing Excuses

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

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.


Category: Literature

Open in iTunes


Open RSS feed


Open Website


Rate for this podcast



 Dec 29, 2018


 Nov 20, 2018

A Podcast Republic user
 Jul 25, 2018

A Podcast Republic user
 Jul 9, 2018

Description

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

Episode Date
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/02/17/14-7-how-weird-is-too-weird/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.7: How Weird is Too Weird?</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/02/10/14-6-fantasy-and-science-fiction-races/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.6: Fantasy and Science Fiction Races</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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? … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/02/03/14-5-viewpoint-as-worldbuilding/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.5: Viewpoint as Worldbuilding</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/01/20/14-03-world-of-hats/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.03: World of Hats</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/01/13/14-02-geography-and-biomes/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.02: Geography and Biomes</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/01/06/14-01-worldbuilding-begins-up-front-or-on-the-fly/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.01: Worldbuilding Begins! Up Front, or On the Fly?</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/12/30/13-52-working-dad-is-a-spaceman/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.52: Working Dad is a Spaceman</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/12/24/13-51-wrap-up-on-the-year-of-character/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.51: Wrap-up on the Year of Character</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/12/16/13-50-what-writers-get-wrong-with-zoraida-cordova/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.50: What Writers Get Wrong, with Zoraida Córdova</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/12/09/13-49-how-to-finish/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.49: How to Finish</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/12/02/13-48-character-death-and-plot-armor/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.48: Character Death and Plot Armor</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/11/25/13-47-qa-on-fixing-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.47: Q&A on Fixing Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/11/18/13-46-the-unsexy-side-of-space-with-bart-smith-and-ben-hewett/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.46: The Unsexy Side of Space, with Bart Smith and Ben Hewett</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/11/15/nanowrimo-2018-bonus-episode-with-mercedes-lackey/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">NaNoWriMo 2018 Bonus Episode, with Mercedes Lackey</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/11/11/13-45-next-level-narration/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.45: Next Level Narration</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/11/04/13-44-alien-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.44: Alien Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/10/28/13-43-characters-who-are-smarter-than-you-are/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.43: Characters Who Are Smarter Than You Are</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/10/21/13-42-writing-excuses-talks-to-an-astronaut-with-special-guest-kjell-lindgren/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.42: Writing Excuses Talks to an Astronaut, with Special Guest Kjell Lindgren</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/09/30/13-39-what-writers-get-wrong-with-wendy-tolliver/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.39: What Writers Get Wrong, With Wendy Tolliver</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/09/23/13-38-how-to-find-and-use-alpha-readers/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.38: How to Find and Use Alpha Readers</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/09/16/13-37-what-writers-get-wrong-with-j-y-yang/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.37: What Writers Get Wrong, with J.Y. Yang</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/09/09/13-36-confronting-the-default/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.36: Confronting the Default</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/09/02/13-35-cliche-vs-archetype/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.35: Cliché vs. Archetype</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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? … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/08/26/13-34-qa-on-character-arcs/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.34: Q&A on Character Arcs</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/08/22/13-b1-bonus-episode-elephants-and-death-with-lawrence-schoen/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.b1: Bonus Episode — Elephants and Death, with Lawrence Schoen</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/08/19/13-33-reading-outside-the-box/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.33: Reading Outside the Box</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/08/12/13-32-how-to-handle-weighty-topics/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.32: How To Handle Weighty Topics</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/08/05/13-31-learning-to-listen-as-a-writer/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.31: Learning to Listen as a Writer</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/07/29/13-30-project-in-depth-the-calculating-stars-with-kjell-lindgren/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.30: Project in Depth, THE CALCULATING STARS, with Kjell Lindgren</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/07/22/13-29-iconic-heroes/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.29: Iconic Heroes</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/07/15/13-28-what-writers-get-wrong-with-wildstyle/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.28: What Writers Get Wrong, with Wildstyle</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/07/08/13-27-characters-as-foils/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.27: Characters as Foils</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/07/01/13-26-character-relationships/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.26: Character Relationships</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/06/24/13-25-our-journey-with-character/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.25: Our Journey With Character</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/06/17/13-24-what-writers-get-wrong-with-piper-aliette-and-wesley-with-special-guest-ken-liu/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/06/10/13-23-internal-conflicts/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.23: Internal Conflicts</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/06/03/13-22-character-arcs/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.22: Character Arcs</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/05/27/13-21-qa-on-character-depth-and-motivation/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/05/20/13-20-fear-and-writing-with-emma-newman/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/05/13/13-19-backstories/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.19: Backstories</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/04/29/13-17-what-writers-get-wrong-with-jamahl-crouch/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.17: What Writers Get Wrong, with Jamahl Crouch</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/04/15/13-15-what-writers-get-wrong-with-mike-stop-continues/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.15: What Writers Get Wrong, with Mike Stop Continues</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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: … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/04/01/13-13-character-voice/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.13: Character Voice</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/03/25/13-12-qa-on-heroes-villains-and-main-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.12: Q&A on Heroes, Villains, and Main Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/03/18/13-11-writing-secondary-characters-with-charlaine-harris/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/03/11/13-10-handling-a-large-cast/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.10: Handling a Large Cast</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/02/11/13-6-external-conflicts-for-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.6: External Conflicts for Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/02/04/13-5-villain-antagonist-obstacle/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/01/21/13-3-what-writers-get-wrong-with-aliette-de-bodard/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/01/14/13-2-writing-active-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.2: Writing Active Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/01/07/13-1-hero-protagonist-main-character/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/12/24/12-52-cross-genres-as-gateways/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.52: Cross-Genres as Gateways</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/12/17/12-51-constructed-languages-with-dirk-elzinga/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/11/26/12-48-qa-on-novels-and-series-with-brian-mcclellan/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/11/12/12-46-reinventing-yourself/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.46: Reinventing Yourself</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/11/05/12-45-structuring-a-series/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.45: Structuring a Series</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/29/12-44-nanowrimo-2017-primer/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/22/12-43-serialized-storytelling/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.43: Serialized Storytelling</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/08/12-41-raising-the-stakes/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.41: Raising the Stakes</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/01/12-40-structuring-a-novel/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.40: Structuring a Novel</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/24/12-39-qa-on-shorter-fiction/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.39: Q&A on Short(er) Fiction</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/17/12-38-what-do-editors-really-want-with-toni-weisskopf-and-cat-rambo/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/10/12-37-subplots/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.37: Subplots</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/03/12-36-structuring-a-mid-length-piece/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/27/12-35-short-fiction-markets-with-spencer-ellsworth-and-guest-host-beth-meacham/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.35: Short Fiction Markets, with Spencer Ellsworth and guest host Beth Meacham</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/20/12-34-fulfilling-the-readers-fantasy-with-brian-mcclellan/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/13/12-33-how-to-be-brief-yet-powerful/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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: … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/06/12-32-structuring-a-short-piece/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.32: Structuring a Short Piece</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/07/30/12-31-what-makes-a-good-monster-with-courtney-alameda/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.31: What Makes a Good Monster, with Courtney Alameda</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/07/23/12-30-tools-for-writers/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.30: Tools for Writers</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/07/16/12-29-oh-crap-the-cops-are-here-with-joe-mckinney/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/06/25/12-26-qa-on-outlining-and-discovery-writing/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/06/18/12-25-hiring-an-editor-with-callie-stoker/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/06/04/12-23-proposals-pitches-and-queries/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/05/21/12-21-narrative-bumper-pool-with-bill-fawcett-and-carrie-patel/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/05/07/12-19-structure-on-the-fly/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.19: Structure on the Fly</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/30/12-18-gendered-dialect-with-j-r-johansson/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/23/12-17-qa-on-style-diction-and-paragraphing/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/09/12-15-pacing-with-chapters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.15: Pacing With Chapters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/03/12-14-controlling-pacing-with-structure/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/03/12/12-11-diction/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.11: Diction</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/02/19/12-8-short-stories-as-exploration-with-tananarive-due/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/02/12/12-7-description-through-the-third-person-lens/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/29/12-5-literary-fiction/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.5: Literary Fiction</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/15/12-3-project-in-depth-risk-assessment-by-sandra-tayler/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/08/12-2-how-to-nail-character-voice-in-first-person/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/01/12-1-variations-on-first-person/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.1: Variations on First Person</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/24/11-52-elemental-ensemble-qa-with-claudia-gray/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/18/11-51-ensemble-as-a-sub-genre-with-lynne-m-thomas/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/11/11-50-hand-selling-your-book-to-potential-readers-with-michael-r-underwood/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/04/11-49-elemental-ensemble-with-michael-damien-thomas/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 04, 2016