Mary is back! We still had a Mary Robinette Kowal episode from WorldCon 67, and now you have it too! We take questions from the audience, and then answer them. Here are the questions:

  • What do you do if your characters revolt and start to take over the story?
  • When you became a writer what most surprised you with its difficulty?
  • How do you build the history for the worlds your books are set in?

Three huge questions, TWELVE answers. Enjoy!

Oh… and your writing prompt: write about The Predestined Monkey.


This entry was posted on Sunday, September 20th, 2009 at 5:55 pm and is filed under Guest, Q&A, 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. September 20, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

    Monkey’s seem predestined to find themselves in front of keyboards eventually, Other than that, eating bananas and flinging poop seem to be the whole of their lives.

    Posted by Jake
  2. September 20, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

    You mean there’s more to life than that? What have I been missing out on?

    It is always great when I get a podcast before bedtime. Even better than getting it before work.

    Posted by WEKM
  3. September 20, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

    You forgot picking off each other’s fleas. šŸ˜‰

    Posted by Matthew Whitehead
  4. September 20, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    If I attended any con with you guys speaking, I know the question I’d ask: Why are you so good at podcasting?! :)

    You misnamed the podcast in the itunes directory though. It was like another time-travel one: “Writing Excuses Episode 3 Season 17.” My first reaction was “What? What have I missed?” šŸ˜‰

    Posted by Ellyn
  5. September 21, 2009 @ 8:39 am

    Chucky needed his diaper changed. He was being quiet, however. The squishy feeling was kind of nice.

    He heard the door open. His mother was trying to be quiet as well, but it would help if she had father oil the squeaky bottom hinge. She woke him up all the time coming to fuss over him. Not this time, however.

    She climbed up the side of his crib with two legs and one hand. Her index finger and thumb were over her nose. Soft hair brushed his forehead.

    “Poor little Lightbringer,” she cooed, “So good you never even fling your leavings.”

    Throw it around? Chucky had never thought of that. Maybe next time.

    Posted by June
  6. September 21, 2009 @ 10:30 am

    Brandon needs to change his picture on the site, he looks really bizarre, kind of stoned.

    Posted by Evergreen
  7. September 21, 2009 @ 11:14 am

    Brandon needs new headshots is what Brandon needs. The current picture is a photoshopped convention snap in which the distracting background bits have been removed. I think this is a placeholder until new headshots are have been taken.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  8. September 21, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

    I think Predestined Monkeys created about 99% of Usenet. šŸ˜‰

    Posted by Mark
  9. September 21, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

    […] they are going to notice what colour the walls are and if the paintings are crooked. That is from this week’s Writing Excuses (by Mary Robinette Kowal specifically). Bringing it back to testing. If a scripter tests a […]

  10. September 21, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

    I’m surprised someone else picked up on Brandon’s picture, because last week I brought it up and then no one commented on it :(

    I imagine the predestined monkeys as having little Schlock-tech antennas coming out of their heads, so all their thoughts and actions are being controlled by some outside force; hence the name “Predestined Monkeys”.

    Posted by AlanHorne
  11. September 21, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

    I think that there was twelve of these monkeys.

    Re Brandon’s picture, I noticed and agreed with Alan, but didn’t see fit to comment. You should probably just revert to the previous pic, which made him look like he was actually happy to be on the website.

    Posted by Ed
  12. September 21, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    By the way, on a technical note; when we post, there is a redirect that tries to locate us at our posting, with a URL ending like so:

    However, the <a name=36527> that would make that function correctly looks like it’s been deleted from the PHP file. I think that because the source code for my comment above on this page says this: <div class=”com-entrymtext”>September 21, 2009 @ 8:17 pm</a> (newline) </div> – note the unmatched </a>. Perhaps it’s intentional, but I am guessing not.

    Posted by Ed
  13. September 22, 2009 @ 2:46 am

    Fantastic podcast as usual. Can we have Mary every month? :)

    I googled her and discovered she was the creator of this:

    So obviously attention to detail is another one of her many talents.

    Posted by Elizabeth
  14. September 22, 2009 @ 10:18 am

    On the subject of characters taking over the story, I really identified with what Dan said. Here is my policy when it comes to characters taking a new tack on the story, “I can’t throw away anything that I haven’t already written.” So, if the story is going somewhere I didn’t expect, I just write it and see what happens. A lot of the time, this is even better than what I had imagined. Sometimes it is garbage. But the point is that if I hadn’t written it, I never would have known its quality.

    Posted by Matthew Watkins
  15. September 23, 2009 @ 7:32 pm


    I’m surprised no one else has noticed. Especially since the Title of the podcast on the writing excuses website is wrong too. It’s not just Itunes.

    I guess it shows how much of us pay attention to detail. Were just eager to get to the good stuff in the podcast.

    One wonders however if this slip up was intentional?

    Maybe next weeeks podcast is about the importance of writing groups(podcast groups?) in editing your work?

    Posted by Turmith
  16. September 23, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

    Hah! Fixed.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  17. September 25, 2009 @ 8:07 am

    @ Ed: Hehe, you’re right! Brandon’s current pic looks kinda like a mugshot! Howard, is Schlock behind him with his cannons?

    How about the trio doing a podcast on titles? Book titles, series titles, etc.?

    Posted by Peej
  18. September 25, 2009 @ 11:10 am

    How different people write is fascinating, and I think educational for us to hear on it from the pros. Thanks for another great podcast. I’ll agree that the Brandon photo is less than stellar, and definitely squinty. I’m not sure it requires derision, but I’m sure everyone is just concerned that Brandon put his best “face” forward.

    By the way I got my first rejection on a short sent to F & SF. Woot! Taking Brandon’s advice, I mailed a very short thank-you letter. I will probably frame the rejection at some point – it is after all on a conveniently small sized piece of paper.

    Posted by Clifton Hill
  19. September 26, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

    A bit slow this week, but we have a transcript…

    Posted by Mike Barker
  20. January 12, 2010 @ 2:00 am

    So… It cuts off between 8 and 9 minutes… I’d really like to hear the rest of this one.

    Posted by Jeremiah
  21. May 22, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

    […] tropes above are just tools for your writing tool kit. For more you can listen to this […]