3.14: The Four Principles of Puppetry, with Mary Robinette Kowal

Aside from being a delightful author and a Campbell award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal is a professional puppeteer. She joined us at WorldCon 67 in Montreal, and totally schooled us in front of a live audience.


If you want to learn something new about writing, and I mean something really NEW you need to listen to Mary talk about puppetry. You can’t see the perpetual looks of astonishment and epiphany us jaded professionals wore during this recording, but I assure you they were there. We learned so much from Mary we decided to record two more episodes with her. Not because we felt like you, our listeners, necessarily deserved it. We wanted these recordings for ourselves.

Mary required us to share. It was part of the deal.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 13: Dialects and In-World Jargon

Howard here, folks. On behalf of the entire Writing Excuses team I’d like to apologize in advance for that which you are about to receive.

You know how sometimes one of those crazy thoughts seems like a good idea, and the more you talk about it the better the idea seems, and so then you actually do it and are left looking back at it with a mixture of awe and horror? This episode is like that.

Brandon thought it would be funny to have  a discussion about dialects in which Dan and I actually do dialects. So we did.

We’re all very sorry. In the spirit of eponymy, I shall now write an excuse: “It was late, and we were so tired that we thought this would be funny.”


Help make the Writing Excuses Website better

Hey all, Jordan here.

Howard and I have discussed ways to make the site better, such as adding tagging to posts so you guys can group content, and I thought I’d go ahead and ask you all on feed back on the site. Now keep in mind that this is a wordpress site and so there are changes that won’t happen if it requires me to change code–I just don’t have the time–but if there are things that have WordPress Plug-ins and are requested enough we’ll look at adding them.

Also if there are things in the sidebars you think should be re-arranged (content being hard to find or poorly labeled) let us know that as well.

So feel free to leave comments in this thread and if you know your suggestion has a WP Plug-in it would help if you gave us it’s name–but I don’t expect people to go searching for plug-ins (unless you want to) so don’t let that stop you from giving us suggestions.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 12: Subplots

Meanwhile, several side-characters found themselves looking for a sub-plot in the tavern. Something funny, or perhaps romantic to take the load off of the main story, but still tense enough to keep the pace going. Or maybe something that will let them introduce important elements to the main plot without the reader knowing that’s what’s going on…

And that’s pretty much what subplots are, and what they’re for. But if we skip to the ending that way they can’t do their job! So listen to the whole eighteen-minute podcast, and we’ll rejoin our main characters next week, as the automated orbital lance counts down to zero…


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 11: Trimming

Let’s talk “trimming.” Why do it? Well… because your manuscript is longer than it needs to be. Yes, we’re talking to you. AND you. And you, too. None of you are exempt! (Well… maybe YOU are, but you can’t be allowed to believe it.)

So… what do you trim? We’ve covered “Killing Your Darlings” way back in Season One Episode Three, so while those are certainly on the list of things to cut, we’re going to focus on tightening your prose and reducing word-count without changing the story. So that’s what we cover in a brisk, 15-minute ‘cast whose synopsis is at least fifty words longer than it needs to be. Maybe fifty-two.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 10: The Dos and Don’ts of Attending Cons

Last week we discussed what kinds of events that you, the aspiring author, should be attending. This week we cover what you should and shouldn’t be doing there. And we start with some don’ts.

The word of the day? “Booth Barnacle.”

If last week’s ‘cast was a little long-winded, this one is downright rambling, coming in at a hefty nineteen minutes and thirty-eight seconds. Oh, the anecdotes! If you thought we were name-dropping last week (Phil Foglio, Kevin J. Anderson, and Lawrence Schoen) this week we throw around names like Larry Niven, Steve Jackson, John Ringo, and Tom Doherty. We sure hope you can learn from our meandering, celebrity-brushing reminiscences.

And speaking of celebrity-brushing, brush up against us this week in Montreal at the World Science Fiction Convention! The Writing Excuses Panel is on Friday from 2:00pm to 3:30pm in P-513C, and will feature all three of your Writing Excuses hosts with as-yet-unnannounced special guests from the world of publishing, editing, and of course authoring genre fiction.

And again, on the topic of celebrity-brushing and networking in general: one piece of linkage you introverts (and you untrained extroverts) absolutely MUST have – “Networking 201: How to Work a Room,” by Diana Rowland.

The long-awaited writing prompt (last week we just gave you the first half) is… a man arrives at a convention with something important in his pocket. It is an entire universe… and it has not been peace-bonded.

This week’s episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by the bad accents of Dan and Howard as they pitch Dungeon Crawlers Radio.