12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due

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 from those failures, and continue to push our own limits. We also talk about how we go about pushing those limits, and what we do in order to most effectively explore new techniques.

 

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Take something larger that you’ve written  and find a short story in it. Write that story.

Summer“, by Tananarive Due, which you can find in the Ghost Summer collection.

12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens

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, who heard the AC turn back on, and mastered by Alex Jackson, who was happy to not need to digitally filter the AC out of the mix.

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Homework assignment: read Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craftand dive into the exercises there.

Amberlough, by Lara Elena Donnelly

12.6: Variations on Third Person

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.

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Write a passage, and then re-write it in limited, omniscient narrator, head-hopping, and cinematic POVs.

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho, narrated by Jenny Sterlin

12.5: Literary Fiction

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 close attention to the finer points of the prose. After framing our discussion, we dive into the nuts and bolts of writing in the Literary Fiction genre.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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You drive your spouse to the airport and watch them fly away on a trip. Then you go straight home, and find them there in the house, sitting at the computer…

Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie (print and ebook available here)

12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints

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.

Play

Put a framing story around something you’ve already written.

Absolute Trust, by Piper J. Drake

The 2017 WX Retreat Scholarships

The fifth annual Out of Excuses Retreat will be in Europe! And we couldn’t be more excited. Some people were worried about our ability to provide scholarships this year, because flying people to Europe is so much more expensive than flying them to Florida, but we have learned to never underestimate the power of our amazing listeners. Our alumni from previous retreats have donated enough to finance two scholarships, even at the elevated price, and the rest of you have contributed enough through our Patreon to finance two more. So yes: just like last year, we are now able to offer four scholarships to this year’s retreat: two Out of Excuses scholarships for writers who can’t afford the cruise on their own, and two Carl Brandon Society scholarships for writers of color.

Information and Entry Rules

Each scholarship offers full tuition, $1000 of travel expenses, a bed in a double occupancy room on the ship, and hotel expenses in Germany for one night both pre- and post-cruise. Because the food on the cruise is free, this covers essentially all your expenses for the week, though depending on the flights you arrange, you might need to cover some of the travel yourself. You may apply to either scholarship, but only to one of them (even if you qualify for both).

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so please read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly; incomplete applications will be disqualified.

To apply, please prepare the following scholarship package as a Word document, and send it to writingexcusesscholarship@gmail.com with the subject line: “Scholarship Application: [name of scholarship].” Please copy and paste the cover sheet to the main body of the email, and also include it as the first page in the package.

1) This cover sheet, filled out completely:

Name: [name]

Email: [email]

Phone Number: [number]

Scholarship: [“Carl Brandon Society” or “Out of Excuses”]

I confirm that my scholarship is complete, including: a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.

Personal Essay word count (between 450-700 words): [insert word count here]

Letter of Recommendation 1: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 2: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 3: [Name of recommender]

Writing Sample total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 10,000 total words): [insert word count here]

2) A single attachment, saved as [Name of Scholarship Your Name]

We will accept the following three file formats.

* .DOC

* .DOCX

* .RTF

Examples:

Out of Excuses Scholarship Jane Doe.doc

Carl Brandon Scholarship Jane Doe.doc

The attachment should contain all of the following, in the following order:

1. The Cover Sheet, again, as described above. Yes, we want it twice.

2. A Personal Essay: A 450-700 word personal essay explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will also be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit.”

3. Letters of Recommendation: Three brief letters of recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives: friends, bosses, people from your writing group, anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are. Please note that we would like all three letters to be included in the scholarship package, and not to be emailed individually; we’ve had too many letters go astray, and we want to give you the chance to personally make sure every aspect of your scholarship package is complete before submitting it. If you have a concern with this, please contact Kenna Blaylock at assistant@thedanwells.com.

4. Writing Samples: A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 10,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.

Again: make sure to send everything in one email or your application will be disqualified!

Please review it several times, or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will reject applications on technicalities, just like an editor or publisher would. We would much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

The application period for both scholarships opens on January 16, 2017, at 9am EST, and closes at midnight EST, March 12. We will contact the winners in April, and announce them officially the morning of April 17. That gives the winners just over three months of notice before the retreat.

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, email Kenna Blaylock at writingxcuses@gmail.com.

FAQ:

Q: What do The Letters of Recommendation need?
A: Think of this like a college entry application letter. Have your friend answer “Why are you the best candidate for the scholarship?” The one writing the letter can point out what they think might be relevant to the decision that the committee would otherwise not know. The letters help us round out the picture for each candidate.

Q: Are the scholarships open to anyone?
A: Provided you meet the basic qualifications, yes. We welcome writers from any country anywhere in the world, though remember that a) the classes will be taught in English, and b) the scholarships only cover $1000 of travel.

Q: Okay, so remind me of the basic qualifications again.
A: The Out of Excuses scholarships are for writers in financial need: if you can’t afford the scholarship on your own, you qualify. The Carl Brandon Society scholarships are for writers of color: if you’re a person of color who writes, you qualify.

Q: What about kids? Can I win the scholarship as a teenager?
A: Teens are welcome on the cruise and in the classes, but will need to be accompanied by an adult. If you have questions, please contact Kenna Blaylock at writingxcuses@gmail.com

Q: How can I contribute to next year’s scholarship fund?
A: The easiest way is through our Patreon. We have a pledge level specifically designed for scholarship donations.