Writing Excuses 4.21: Writing Practical Fantasy

Coming to you “live” from CONduit, Writing Excuses is pleased to welcome fantasy superstar L.E. Modesitt (plus a slightly different Howard, by which we mean that Howard was out of town and replaced by Dan’s brother Rob).

Our topic for this episode is “practicality,” which is another way of saying “fantasy and science fiction may be unrealistic, but they should still be plausible within your definition of reality.” In other words, if you have an army of 1000 armored knights, you’d better have an economy and political system capable of producing and supporting them.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., about a mage so powerful anything he thinks can become reality.

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Writing Excuses 4.20: Strategies for Getting Published

Your hosts here at Writing Excuses have tried to answer the “how to get published” question before. We’re going to try again.

In this episode we begin with a discussion of New Media. Welcome to the Age of the Internet, everybody! The Web is now “old media.” When we say “New Media” we’re talking about social media — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, user-generated content, and countless blogging tools.  After a brief warning about embracing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent, Brandon, Dan, and Howard provide some examples for how these tools can help you.

We talk a bit about some submission practices that you should not practice, most of which Stacy Whitman covered with us back in episodes 12 and 13 of  Season 1. Then we throw you some off-the-wall suggestions that might get you published. Some of these cost real money, and none of them come with guarantees that they’ll work. We restate our firm belief that the best strategies for getting published hinge upon writing excellently and networking with people who write.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Howard owes him a plug after last month’s epic faux-pas at Penguicon. After bringing it up in this context, Howard probably owes him ANOTHER one.

Writing Prompt: For some reason, 1000 years in the future the most cost-effective publishing involves writing on human skin…

Blame for That Horrible Mental Picture of Howard Dressed as an Elf Sans Pants: Brandon Sanderson owns that blame, down to the last mote of scowling-with-eyes-averted disapproval.

Why Mayan Calendars Predict The End of The World in 2012: seventeen minutes in…

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

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Writing Excuses 4.19: Discovery Writing

In previous episodes we’ve established the dichotomy between discovery writing and outline writing. In our ‘casts about process, we’ve mostly talked about outlining, working from an outline, and the worldbuilding that goes behind all of that. We’ve never talked much about the process of discovery writing, though.

It is time for us to correct that egregious oversight.

In this installment your hosts muse upon the pros and cons of discovery writing, and how we handle the discovery writing process. We discuss false starts, and how they may not be false at all. We cover dialog, which is always a fun place to start writing, and we offer up some structures that discovery writers may begin with in order to provide themselves direction.

We also tackle endings, which are where most discovery writers have their largest problems.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Way of the Wolf, by E.E. Knight, who has been called the best fantasy author you’ve never heard of.

Writing Prompt: Look around. Now, pick six unrelated items and weave them together in the first chapter. Two of them are Chekov’s Guns.

Abrupt Ending That Came Not Quite Abruptly Enough: 17 minutes and 52 seconds, with screams.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

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Writing Excuses 4.18: How to Steal for Fun and Profit

We here at Writing Excuses have talked about the Anxiety of Influence before, we’ve discussed genre-blending, and we’ve talked about where ideas come from. Now we’re going to blend all of those in one ‘cast as we talk about stealing stuff without plagiarizing.

You can call it “borrowing” if you want to, but as Howard Tayler once said, “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” (Note: It’s possible that Pablo Picasso also said this.) We offer examples from books, film, music, and the visual arts — done right, done wrong, and done award-winningly well. If you’re coming up short on ideas, this is the ‘cast for you. It’s probably a good ‘cast even if you’re NOT coming up short on ideas.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Himself, which is a great example of stealing (from Kipling in this case) and getting away with it (and getting a Hugo Award in this case.)

Writing Prompt: Hit the button labeled “click here to be randomly teraported into the archives” at Schlock Mercenary (it’s under the calendar navigation to the right of the comic), read three or four strips, and steal from them to create something new.

Funny Song That Would Have Been Funnier If We’d Mentioned Baloo The Zombear: “Brain Necessities.”

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

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Writing Excuses 4.17: Living with the Artist

Sandra Tayler, Dawn Wells, and Kenny Pike  take over the ‘cast with some coaching from Dan (and heckling from Howard)  to talk about what it’s like to live with an artist. We cover the ups and the downs, and share embarrassing anecdotes because we know you want to hear them, and we’re not afraid of the fact that the Internet Never Forgets.

Beyond the fact that Sandra and Dawn are stay-at-home moms, and Kenny is a stay-at-home Dad, the three of them each have important roles to play in their spouses’ careers, and those roles go far beyond mere cheerleading and moral support. We talk about that, and then Sandra, Dawn, and Kenny offer advice to those who may find themselves as significant others to creative types.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Wings, by Aprilynne Pike, in which a 15-year-old girl discovers that she’s a fairie, and it’s nothing like the storybooks suggested.

Writing Prompt: From the desk of the Fake AP Stylebook — write something involving a blue, Italian, rocket-propelled, monkey-piloted dirtbike.

Bit Jordo Accidentally Left In: IRS agents will delight in the dirt that runs from 10:43 to 10:54. Whoopsie!

Spanish Pun We Didn’t Use Even One Time: “Writing Esposas.”

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

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