WXR16 Attendee Reports, AKA “The Testimonial Page”

We have returned from the 2016 Writing Excuses Retreat, and it’s difficult to quickly describe how the event went beyond simply saying “better than we had any reason to expect.” If you’re considering attending a future Writing Excuses Retreat, you probably want more information than that.

Also, due diligence dictates that you get your information from somebody other than us.

To that end, this post has links to the reports from our attendees. We’ve sorted them alphabetically by surname, and aren’t filtering out anything that happens to be critical of the event. We’ll link to everything we know about, and we’ll keep this page updated as new reports show up.


Attendee Reports

11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout

Greg van Eekhout joined us at Phoenix Comic Con for a live-audience Q&A session about Elemental Relationship writing. Here are the questions:

  • What is your favorite way to establish relationships?
  • How do you recover when a relationship starts to feel forced?
  • How do you show a “best friend” relationship?
  • How do you decide the pacing of the romance?
  • Do you try to make the nature of character relationships clear, or do you leave it to subtext?
  • How do you go about writing transsexual relationships?
  • What are your favorite relationships to write?
  • How do I write the beginning of a relationship between characters the reader has not yet really met?
  • How do you transform love into hate, and vice-versa?
  • When writing a love triangle, how do you avoid telegraphing the final resolution?
  • Do you have recommendations for books that focus on familial friend relationships rather than romance?

Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic-Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Identify something about your location that would provide, in an alternate universe, a source of magic unavailable in other locations.

California Bones, by Greg VanEekhout

11.38: The Elemental Relationship as a Sub-Genre

We find the elemental relationship in all kinds of stories that are not fundamentally about relationships. The intimate interaction between characters is part of how we define the characters, how we understand who they are as they go on to do the stuff that the story is about.

In this episode we’ll talk about how to apply the principles of relationship writing to stories whose page-turning impetus comes from somewhere else.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Take your notes from the rom-com homework two weeks ago, and build a different relationship onto those beats.

And I Darken, by Kiersten White, narrated by Fiona Hardingham

11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez

Live from Phoenix Comic Con, Gama Martinez joins us for a discussion of casting your book. This is the process by which you create a cast of characters for your story ahead of creating the story itself, allowing you to stay ahead of your default decisions for who will step into the scene next.

Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Cast your book! The instructions are here, and you’ll follow them by filling out something that looks like this casting sheet. The sheet is read-only, but you can copy it or print it or whatever you need to do in order to create one of your own.

 

Child of the Wilde, by Gama Martinez

11.36: The Elemental Relationship

In elemental relationship stories the primary page-turning driver is the relationship between two or three characters ¹. In this episode we discuss ways in which we can write character relationships—parent/child, buddy-cop, romance, and more—to be compelling.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson


¹We’re differentiating “Relationship” from “Ensemble” because in our elemental genre model the elemental ensemble story is quite a bit different from the elemental relationship.

Play

Grab a romantic comedy of some kind. Watch it, and take notes of the things that define their relationship, and how it progresses.

11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab

For our third Elemental Humor episode Victoria Schwab joins us as we field questions taken from our audience at Phoenix Comic-Con. Here are the questions:

  • How do you add humor to a serious story without breaking the tension?
  • How do I move beyond the “Dad jokes” and into properly funny writing?
  • When is humor necessary in horror?
  • Where is the line between a comedic book, and a book that uses humor as a subgenre.
  • How do you make dialog sound natural, while still sounding funny?

Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Write  a joke, and have each of your characters tell that joke. Find a way for them to tell that joke “in character,” in their style.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab