No matter how grand your setting, how intense your conflicts, or how tight your plot, at some point you’re going to need characters. Join us as we discuss what makes a character interesting, memorable, and unique. Once again, the team is joined by Brandon Mull of “Fablehaven” fame.

Brandon Mull’s website

This week Writing Excuses is brought to you by the Writing Excuses Season One Collection on CD.


This entry was posted on Monday, October 27th, 2008 at 8:05 am and is filed under Guest, Live Audience, Season 2, Theory and Technique. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. October 27, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

    Danget, why couldn’t this have been up at 0130 before I left for work.
    At least I will be able to listen to it on the truck tomorrow. Ok, I am going to listen to it right now as well, but it is easier to absorb it when not being pestered by your offspring.

    Posted by WEKM
  2. October 27, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

    Haha! I like the hanging out with 12-year-old girls comment. 😀

    I have decided that Writing Excuses is the perfect cure for bus ride boredom. Thanks, guys, for helping me live through my daily commute!

    Posted by Callisto
  3. October 27, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

    GAH!! I can’t find my script writing book by Syd Field! I think I may have loaned it out, and never got it back. If I remember right, Syd was not specifically big on the 3-act format.

    He did say that certain plot points needed to be made a certain times in a film, or the audience won’t remain engaged. If I remember correctly, he suggested having the first plot point hit within the first 10 minutes of the film — the first challenge to the main character, but not necessarily the overall conflict itself.

    In retrospect, I start looking for the 3-acts in my stories only after I’ve completed a first draft. And I can see 3 acts in a short, 30 minute script I’ve done. Proportionately, the first act was only the first 10 minutes or so of the set up, then 15 minutes of complications, with only about 5 minutes of resolution.

    I guess it’s much like any other writing contraint — the more you force it into your story, the less your story will flow naturally.

    Posted by Karl
  4. October 28, 2008 @ 6:53 am

    My works always come out a lot shorter than I expect them to. I don’t think I’ve ever given a single thought to whether I’m conforming to any sort of three-act structure. I think it was Brandon who made a point concerning that possible connection during the podcast. I recognized myself in it right away. I’ve always thought it meant that I’m just a terse, minimal writer with delusions of writing epic fantasy. Maybe it does mean that. Or maybe it’s actually a problem with the way I structure my stories. Food for thought from the Writing Excuses guys….

    Posted by Sam
  5. October 28, 2008 @ 3:05 pm

    My stories tend to be a bit short, but I think that may be a product of my training to be a journalist. Still, it is a problem when I’m trying to write fiction. I think this cast has given me a couple of ideas that can help me work around it.

    Posted by Jake
  6. October 28, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

    The three act format isn’t a have-to in novels. You write a story, and as things go alone, the task gets harder. You throw more things at the characters, and make them adjust. It’s better to think of it that way for those whose stories end shorter than planned. Plan your story, as you plan make sure you know the begining and the end. While you are writing your outline, make bad things happen along the way that make the task more difficult. The hardest part is making the things that go wrong relivent to the over all story–making things harder, while moving the plot. That’s still something I’m trying to improve on myself.

    Posted by Jame
  7. October 28, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

    Ok, now this one was just chock full o’ goodness. I replayed the first half about five times alone today. Now to go and throw rocks at my characters in a tree.

    Posted by WEKM
  8. October 29, 2008 @ 12:55 am

    Close to a transcript, anyway.

    Posted by Mike Barker
  9. October 29, 2008 @ 3:12 am

    Y’know, guys, I’d appreciate it a lot if there were less Q&A episodes again.
    While the guest insight on some things is nice, the questions themselves are a lot less interesting as they seem to be mostly asked by amateurs.
    And while it’s funny to hear wasted-by-con Brandon rambling on, I long to hear more from the series on world building! 😉

    Posted by Ineluki
  10. October 29, 2008 @ 7:56 am

    700.000 words in AMoL??
    Even with revisions that would amount to something twice thesize of LoC….

    That simple sentence has made mefeel like a giddy fanboy all day.. Well there really is a first time for everything it seems.

    Oh, the rest was brilliant aswell.

    Posted by Chris
  11. October 29, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

    AMoL could be 1.5 million words and I would want more. This is awesome!

    Posted by Eliyanna
  12. October 29, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

    I’m sure it’ll end up being as long as it needs to be, but how on earth did it get from 400k to 700k?

    Either way, I guess I can feel less bad about my “huge” novel, which will probably end up at 120k words…

    Posted by Raethe
  13. October 30, 2008 @ 8:30 am

    For whatever reason, this is right in the middle of convention season and most of these first several episodes were recorded with audiences. However, we are cutting back on the Q&A thing, so even when we record live at some big event (like Howard’s last book release) it’s much more like a standard episode than a Q&A.

    Posted by Dan Wells
  14. October 30, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

    Just pondering — could Howard explain a little more about how he sees the interaction of 3 act format and one-two-three-punchline panels? It seems to me he’s got a four-panel beat going, perhaps a one-week ebb-and-flow, and all that is underneath a 3 Act play, but I’m intrigued as to how he thinks about this?

    Posted by Mike Barker
  15. November 4, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

    Good podcast, guys. I’m intrigued by this “three-act structure” thing. I can’t think of any novels that actually do that (unless you count trilogies)… or maybe I should just keep it in mind next time I read a novel? Anyway, I think keeping that structure in mind will help me outline the revision of my novel.

    Posted by Clare K. R. Miller
  16. January 31, 2014 @ 9:22 am

    This was very helpful with my English assignment and I listened to the short story one as well. I really like that there is something online that can teach important helpful things.

    Posted by Drea