By Writing Excuses | August 29, 2010 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Career and Lifestyle, Q&A

The last of our three recorded-live episodes is also the last episode of Writing Excuses Season 4. We took questions from the audience, and answered them with ABSOLUTE APLOMB.

Questions asked include:

How did we, as beginning writers, manage to write while holding down day-jobs and/or going to school?
What is the process for getting published?
How do you portray the various dynamics of an ensemble cast?
How do you keep tension up when death isn’t a problem for your characters?
How do you make the transition from writing fan-fiction to writing original fiction?
How important is it for an author to stay in touch with the fans online and at events?
What do you do when your cast of characters has grown too large for you to manage it?
What was the biggest stumbling-block for our creativity, and how did we overcome it?

You want the answers? Have a listen!

Writing Prompt: You walk out of a bookstore into torrential rain, and Howard attacks you with the POWER OF THUNDER.


This entry was posted on Sunday, August 29th, 2010 at 4:00 pm and is filed under Career and Lifestyle, Q&A. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. August 29, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

    We should’ve recorded one more episode! That rain was truely EPIC! Maybe you guys should have “Writing Excuses: The Northwest Edition” or something and do podcasts from different locations. Just a thought!

    Can’t wait til the next live broadcast, guys!

    Posted by Mike
  2. August 29, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

    I really appreciated the audience in this Q&A because they didn’t ask as many of the “standard” questions as usual. Excellent podcast once again.

    Posted by E. Antonio Colon
  3. August 30, 2010 @ 1:33 am

    Great podcast, I especially loved the live setting and the Q&A. Some good questions were asked and expertly answered.

    By the way Dan, I do read your blog and enjoy it.

    I am looking forward to reading Brandon’s new book. I loved Warbreaker and the Mistborn trilogy.

    I think another way to keep the tension up when death isn’t a problem for your characters (who may be immortal) is to threaten the lives of mortals that they care about.

    I also would like more information regarding the process for getting published. I understood step 1, Write. However, I kind of got lost on the rest. I would appreciate a link to a site with more information.

    Thanks, the writing excuses team rocks.

    Posted by Oletta Liano
  4. August 30, 2010 @ 9:26 am

    Great podcast good info.

    I’d like to throw in some unsolicited advice, to other authors. 😉

    Q: How do you make the transition from writing fan-fiction to writing original fiction?

    A: I started out writing fan-fiction, I’ve since moved on to original work. The way I did it was to take some of the things I loved about the source material but use a completely different core idea and setting.

    My fan-fiction was an urban fantasy, so I took some of the cool things from it and plopped it into an apocalyptic Sci-Fi setting.

    New characters are a good idea too. DON’T just rename them.

    But don’t abandon fan-fiction completely. It’s fun.

    Q: What do you do when your cast of characters has grown too large for you to manage it?

    A: I ran into having way too many characters. I started with two characters and at the height of my madness I ended up with seventeen so I killed some of them off, literally. When you have hostile alien animals, hostile survivors, and a hostile mother nature deaths are going to happen. It would be unrealistic to have everyone survive in that kind of setting.

    Now one other thing I did was to separate some of the characters from the POV. You don’t need and can’t fit everyone on the helicopter. Send some of the characters off to do other things away from the POV.

    Posted by Moose1942
  5. August 30, 2010 @ 10:07 am

    I would argue that personal interaction either online or face-to-face is crucial in today’s world. There’s way too many choices out there for people to attach themselves to and you obviously want them taking part in your writing.

    I work as part of a morning radio show and my partner wants nothing to do with the audience, is insulting to them and is extremely picky with who he talks to. I on the other hand will talk with any fan or critic and get thier opinion on our show. It shows them that you care and it allows them to either get something off their chest or express their admiration for your work. They then feel like a part of that process and will listen in (at least I hope so) for a long time to come.

    You let someone into your little sphere of writing, and are polite and conversational about it, they should come away from the experience with the same feelings.

    Posted by Jay Randall
  6. August 31, 2010 @ 9:25 am

    Just have to say that there is a torrential rain storm here right now as I listen to the podcast and when I happened to scan down to the writing prompt, I laughed.

    I happen to live on an rain forest island in the pacific. It might make a humour setting for a writing prompt. Because it’s not a tropical island in the pacific. 😛

    I give you a free setting.

    Posted by Tiomela
  7. September 1, 2010 @ 6:59 am

    Excellent podcast! I loved this Q&A. And I’d really like to read some of that Rifts fan-fiction…


    Posted by Ben Godby
  8. September 2, 2010 @ 12:49 am

    And before we hit the WorldCon/Labor Day/whatever… a transcript!

    Posted by Mike Barker
  9. September 2, 2010 @ 3:41 am

    I applaud the crowd for some excellent questions, and I look forward to next season.

    Posted by Christopher Ryan
  10. September 2, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    An aside: just got Brandon’s new book yesterday, and literally used it as a doorstop this morning while I was taking out the trash and recycling.

    At first, I didn’t even realize what I’d done. Then I had a giggle.

    Posted by Eliyanna
  11. September 5, 2010 @ 9:04 am

    Oh, before I forget. Congrats on winning another price guys!

    Posted by Rafael
  12. September 5, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

    Off topic, but I met both Dan and Brandon yesterday at the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia. Fantastic people; if you ever get the chance to meet them yourselves, do so. Turns out, Dan had looked at my blog last week when I referenced one of his blog entries, and he pulled it up on his iPad at the signing table and I got my picture taken with him and my blog. I’ve been bragging about it ever since. Thanks, guys, for a great day!

    Posted by Sam
  13. September 6, 2010 @ 6:53 am

    Do the guys generally answer questions sent to the show’s email?

    Posted by Christopher Ryan
  14. September 6, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    Hey, I read Dan’s blog. And I answer his poll questions too.

    I’d say Brandon made the right choice in terms of reader interaction. I literally became a fan of his reading his blog posts about the Wheel of Time. Only afterward did I even start any of his books.

    I listened to this podcast a bit late because (once I’d finished with homework) I got my copy of the Way of Kings! Yay Way of Kings! I finished it Saturday night and annoyed my entire family by separately telling each of them at midnight-thirty! After having already twittered it. <- Not really related to the 'cast, but I'm excited. So there.

    Posted by Rinzi
  15. September 6, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

    Yay! I got the Way of Kings too!
    Brandon Sanderson, you are astoundingly amazing.

    Posted by Mokona Go
  16. September 7, 2010 @ 5:09 am

    I also grabbed Way of Kings, last Thursday, I believe… So far, I’m really impressed. I’ve been talking about it on my blog and I can’t wait to read more of it today.

    Part I of X is the rumor I heard though… Sheesh, I may have to buy a kindle and only have the Stormlight Archives on it! 😉

    Posted by BA Matthews
  17. September 7, 2010 @ 7:52 am

    When can we expect the first episode of season 5? I’m really impatient now.


    Posted by Bram Kaandorp
  18. September 7, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    IIRC, that was Brandon’s original outline for the series, not a rumour. :)

    Posted by Matthew Whitehead
  19. October 6, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

    So, after having Brandon mention that it’s important to keep reading in the genre in which you’re writing, I thought it’d be interesting to see what the three of you are reading. Do any of you have a Goodreads or Shelfari account that you keep updated that you could post on your blog/website/here? Would be very interesting to see.

    Posted by Dan Smyth
  20. April 11, 2011 @ 3:22 am

    It’s pronounced “neesh”.

    Posted by Bethany Rogers
  21. December 12, 2012 @ 9:03 am

    Great episode!!!!!!! I love the question and answer thing! It answered some of my questions, but I do have one other question, what if a kid wanted to start writing, what should he or she do first with their time and writing?

    Posted by GRS