Writing Excuses

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

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 Dec 29, 2018

 Nov 20, 2018

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 Jul 25, 2018

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 Jul 9, 2018


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

Episode Date
15.03: Self Publishing
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2020/01/19/15-03-self-publishing/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">15.03: Self Publishing</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 19, 2020
15.02: Writing Between the Lines
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2020/01/12/15-02-writing-between-the-lines/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">15.02: Writing Between the Lines</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 12, 2020
15.01: Evolution of a Career
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2020/01/05/15-01-evolution-of-a-career/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">15.01: Evolution of a Career</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 05, 2020
14.52: Game Mastering and Collaborative Storytelling, with Natasha Ence
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/12/29/14-52-game-mastering-and-collaborative-storytelling-with-natasha-ence/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.52: Game Mastering and Collaborative Storytelling, with Natasha Ence</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 29, 2019
14.51: A Farewell to Worldbuilding
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/12/22/14-51-a-farewell-to-worldbuilding/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.51: A Farewell to Worldbuilding</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 22, 2019
14.50: Write What You… No.
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/12/15/14-50-write-what-you-no/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.50: Write What You… No.</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 15, 2019
14.49: Customs and Mores
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
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/12/01/14-48-how-to-practice-worldbuilding/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.48: How to Practice Worldbuilding</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 01, 2019
14.47: Writing Characters With Physical Disabilities
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/11/24/14-47-writing-characters-with-physical-disabilities/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.47: Writing Characters With Physical Disabilities</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 24, 2019
14.46: Unusual Resources
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/11/17/14-46-unusual-resources/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.46: Unusual Resources</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 17, 2019
14.45: Economics
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/11/10/14-45-economics/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.45: Economics</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 10, 2019
14.44: Realism vs. Rule-of-Cool
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/11/03/14-44-realism-vs-rule-of-cool/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.44: Realism vs. Rule-of-Cool</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 03, 2019
14.43: Sequencing Your Career Genome
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: … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/10/27/14-43-sequencing-your-career-genome/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.43: Sequencing Your Career Genome</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 27, 2019
14.42: Alternate History
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/10/20/14-42-alternate-history/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.42: Alternate History</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 20, 2019
14.41: History
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/10/13/14-41-history/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.41: History</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 13, 2019
14.40: Deep vs. Wide
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/10/06/14-40-deep-vs-wide/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.40: Deep vs. Wide</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 06, 2019
14.39: Positioning Your Book in the Marketplace
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/09/29/14-39-positioning-your-book-in-the-marketplace/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.39: Positioning Your Book in the Marketplace</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 29, 2019
14.38: Volunteer Opportunities for Writers, with Jared Quan
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. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/09/22/14-38-volunteer-opportunities-for-writers-with-jared-quan/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.38: Volunteer Opportunities for Writers, with Jared Quan</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 22, 2019
14.37: Outlandish Impossibilities
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/09/15/14-37-outlandish-impossibilities/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.37: Outlandish Impossibilities</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 15, 2019
14.36: Languages and Naming
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/09/08/14-36-languages-and-naming/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.36: Languages and Naming</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 08, 2019
14.35: What You Leave Out
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/09/01/14-35-what-you-leave-out/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.35: What You Leave Out</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 01, 2019
14.34: Author Branding
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/08/25/wx-14-34-author-branding/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.34: Author Branding</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 25, 2019
14.33: Writing Imperfect Worlds
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. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/08/18/14-33-writing-imperfect-worlds/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.33: Writing Imperfect Worlds</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 18, 2019
Worldbuilding Gender Roles
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/08/11/worldbuilding-gender-roles/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">Worldbuilding Gender Roles</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 11, 2019
14.31: Cultural Setting as Conflict
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
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
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/07/21/14-29-field-research/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.29: Field Research</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 21, 2019
14.28: Warfare and Weaponry
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/07/14/14-28-warfare-and-weaponry/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.28: Warfare and Weaponry</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 14, 2019
14.27: Natural Setting as Conflict
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
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/06/30/14-26-lessons-from-aristotle-with-rob-kimbro/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.26: Lessons from Aristotle, with Rob Kimbro</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 30, 2019
14.25: Choosing Your Agent
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/06/23/14-25-choosing-your-agent/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.25: Choosing Your Agent</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 23, 2019
14.24: Political Intrigue
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/06/16/14-24-political-intrigue/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.24: Political Intrigue</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 16, 2019
14.23: Governments Large and Small
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
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/06/02/14-22-characters-out-of-their-depth/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.22: Characters out of Their Depth</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 02, 2019
14.21: Writing The Other — Yes, You Can!
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, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/05/26/14-21-writing-the-other-yes-you-can/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.21: Writing The Other — Yes, You Can!</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 26, 2019
14.20: Allegory in Fiction
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/05/19/14-20-allegory-in-fiction/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.20: Allegory in Fiction</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 19, 2019
14.19: Religion and Ritual
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
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/05/05/14-18-setting-as-theme/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.18: Setting as Theme</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 05, 2019
14.17: It’s Like “Car Talk” meets “Welcome To Nightvale”
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/04/28/14-17-its-like-car-talk-meets-welcome-to-nightvale/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.17: It’s Like “Car Talk” meets “Welcome To Nightvale”</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 28, 2019
14.16: Your Setting is a Telegraph
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/04/21/14-16-your-setting-is-a-telegraph/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.16: Your Setting is a Telegraph</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 21, 2019
14.15: Technology
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/04/14/14-15-technology/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.15: Technology</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 14, 2019
14.14: When To Tell
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/04/07/when-to-tell/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.14: When To Tell</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 07, 2019
WX 14.13: Obstacles vs. Complications
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. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/03/31/wx-14-13-obstacles-vs-complications/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">WX 14.13: Obstacles vs. Complications</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 31, 2019
14.12: Writing The Other — Latinx Representation
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/03/24/14-12-writing-the-other-latinx-representation/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.12: Writing The Other — Latinx Representation</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 24, 2019
14.11: Magic Without Rules
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/03/17/14-11-magic-without-rules/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.11: Magic Without Rules</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 17, 2019
14.10: Magic Systems
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/03/10/14-10-magic-systems/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.10: Magic Systems</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 10, 2019
14.9: Showing Off
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
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 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2019/02/24/14-8-worldbuilding-qa-1/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">14.8: Worldbuilding Q&A #1</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Feb 24, 2019
14.7: How Weird is Too Weird?
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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