Writing Excuses

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

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 Dec 29, 2018


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Description

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

Episode Date
14.33: Writing Imperfect Worlds
20:36
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard How do you write a setting in which the status quo is one with which you deeply disagree? How do you create a conflict of this sort without being overtly pedantic or preachy? In this episode we talk about creating engaging worlds while worldbuilding around—and yes, over—landmines. … <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
33:23
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Let’s talk about worldbuilding with gender roles. Most of us have grown up with a very strongly defined binary, that distinction need not be how we craft the worlds in which we set our stories. In this episode we discuss the resources we have to help us, … <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
19:17
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab In this episode we talk about how to put characters in conflict with their setting, and how to structure our work so that these conflicts arise organically rather than feeling mandated by plot. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and master by Alex Jackson
Aug 06, 2019
14.30: Eating Your Way to Better Worldbuilding
25:22
Your Hosts: Piper, Dongwon, Amal, and Maurice We like food, and we like to talk about food. Our hosts this week talk about how this influences their fiction, (not to mention how incredibly complex [and interesting, and delicious] the subject is.) Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jul 28, 2019
14.29: Field Research
19:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard So, you’re going to go someplace and learn something you can’t learn in any other way. Maybe it’s location research for setting. Maybe you’re off to interview an expert. Whatever you’re planning, you need to be planning it well. In this episode we discuss the field research … <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
18:42
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab How do you write about warfare in your stories when you’ve never fought in a war? How do you describe brilliant tactics when you’re completely untrained in military movements? How can you portray the emotions of someone on a battlefield without having been on a battlefield yourself? In … <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
19:13
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard In this episode we stories with the “Person-vs-Setting” structure. These are stories where nature fills the role of antagonist, and may also be what governs the pacing, and the delivery of key emotional beats. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jul 07, 2019
14.26: Lessons from Aristotle, with Rob Kimbro
17:03
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Rob Kimbro Rob Kimbro joins us this week to talk about Aristotle’s elements of tragedy, and how they might be applied to our writing. The six elements are (in Aristotle’s order of descending importance): plot, character, idea, dialog, music, and spectacle.  We discuss this tool … <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
22:05
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Guest-host Dongwon Song joined us at WXR 2018 as an instructor, and gave great advice regarding the business side of working as an author. In this episode he takes us through a conversation about choosing an agent. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered … <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
17:06
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Political Intrigue stories are less about “politics” (as colloquially defined by pop culture) and more about mysteries. Per Mary Robinette, they’re often like heists of information. The word “politics” here is used in its purest sense: POWER. In this episode we talk about how we worldbuild for … <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
18:53
Answering questions about the power structures you live within can help you with the worldbuilding of politics in the fiction you write.
Jun 09, 2019
14.22: Characters out of Their Depth
17:50
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Sherlock Holmes has his Watson for a reason. Readers need a character to whom some things must be explained. In this episode we talk about how we create these gateway characters without delivering “maid and butler” dialog, or talking down to the reader. Credits: This episode was … <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!
22:19
Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, and Dongwon The single most asked question we get on the subject of writing cultures other than our own is some variation on “can we even DO this anymore?” Short answer: YES, YOU CAN. Our objective with this episode is to encourage you to put in the work, do the research, … <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
17:30
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard What is an allegory, anyway? This episode probably won’t settle that question, but we did manage a discussion on how to use our stories to teach things, or be stand-ins for things, and to do it in the ways that allegories and/or parables might. We talk about … <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
18:01
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab We often worldbuild religions and rituals for the stories we create. In this episode we discuss the decisions surrounding this, and our approaches for doing it well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 12, 2019
14.18: Setting as Theme
18:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Theme is one of those high-falutin’ concepts we’re often reluctant to approach in a nuts-and-bolts sort of way. In this episode we’ll talk about how our themes can be communicated through elements of our settings, deepening reader engagement with the things we write. We offer examples from … <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”
18:14
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon This episode is about comp titles (comparative titles), which are those things you use to describe your project in terms of other works. We discuss the ones we’ve used (both successfully and unsuccessfully), and the criteria we use to come up with good ones. Credits: This episode was … <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
16:32
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Your setting can quickly tell the reader what kind of a story they’re reading, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we make that happen. Think of it as the “establishing shot” principle from film making, expanded to cover whatever worldbuilding details we choose to reveal … <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
19:12
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab We’ve spent a lot of time talking about magic systems in our worldbuilding. It’s time to talk about  science and technology in that same way. This has been a staple (perhaps the defining staple) of science fiction since before “science fiction” was a word. At risk of opening the … <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
16:42
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard “Show, don’t tell,” they tell us. Except sometimes showing is not always the best thing to do. Or even the right thing to do. Sometimes we should be telling. In this episode we’ll tell you about telling. (We’d show you about telling, but we still don’t have … <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
16:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard What’s the difference between an obstacle and a complication? Margaret Dunlap takes the lead on this episode for us, giving us the tools we need to create ‘impediments to main character progress’ which will drive our stories across page turns (and commercial breaks) in compelling, twisty ways. … <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
20:21
Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Tempest Bradford, Dongwon Song, and Julia Rios Julia Rios joins us to talk about writing characters who come from one of the many Latin-American cultures or subcultures. “Latinx” is a catch-all term for people with Latin-American heritage, including mixed-race people. In this episode we talk about mash-up cuisine, intersectionality, and how … <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
20:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard When we say “without rules” we’re talking about stories whose magic is not held under logical scrutiny for the reader. There are lots of reasons why you might do this, and in this episode we’ll talk about not just about the why, but also the how. Credits: This … <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
18:28
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s design magic systems! We talk about how we do it, and how the principles of magic system design apply to the science fiction systems we create, and vice-versa. NOTE: In this episode we’re talking about “hard” magic systems, where there are well-defined rule sets (even if the … <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
23:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Let’s infodump without infodumping. Let’s deliver lots of exposition without sounding expository. Let’s talk with the maid and the butler without having maid-and-butler dialog. Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Mar 03, 2019
14.8: Worldbuilding Q&A #1
25:19
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and DongWon We invited attendees at WXR 2018 to ask us some general worldbuilding questions. Here’s what they asked: What cultural stuff do you need to know during the writing process? How do you treat overlaps between real-world religions and fictional religions when the fictional religions are part of the … <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?
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