Writing Excuses 5.17: Dialog Exercises

This week’s episode, a day later than usual because of extended eggnogging*, features the submissions of a few brave souls who participated in Brandon’s tagless, unnarrated dialog exercise.

The rules were simple: Write a scene featuring nothing but dialog between two characters. The characters should have distinct voices, and the scene should communicate both setting and conflict. A great example of this is “They’re Made Out of Meat,” by Terry Bisson, which was a Nebula award nominee in 1992 (not a Hugo winner, though Brandon thought it was.) If you haven’t read it before, it’s a right treat and you should click on the story title and go read it right now.

Well… in 20 minutes or so (we ran long.) Listen to the podcast first, and pay attention as Brandon, Dan, and Howard gently dissect and critique the submissions of tagless, unnarrated dialog.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dune, by Frank Herbert, narrated by Scott Brick , Orlagh Cassidy , Euan Morton , and Simon Vance

Writing Prompt: You are walking down a back alley, and you meet Jason from DragonMount. He’s getting all uppity about how good his submission was. What do you do to him?

Word That In This Context Is A Euphemism For “Howard Got Sick”: Eggnogging: [egg-nah-ging]

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Writing Excuses 5.16: Critiquing Dan’s First Novel

Late last season we took a look at Brandon’s first novel and did some line-editing and critiquing. It was so much fun we decided that Dan needed to take a turn in the dunking booth.

He totally gets wet.

In the course of dunking Dan we cover beginnings, descriptions, character development, pacing, and viewpoint as we tear into the first couple of pages of this novel. Brandon and Howard argue a bit over stylistic approaches, and of course Dan doesn’t get a say in things because he drowned. (Note: Dan does get a say in things, but mostly because he is not defending his old work at all.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

Writing Prompt: Take an idiomatic expression and make it literal (not as a pun.) For instance, “the crack of dawn” as an actual crack in the sky through which dawn’s light shines.

Word That Is Not A Word But Totally Should Be: Discontiguity: [dis-kon-ti-gyoo-i-tee] – noun. A break in a series of things in continuous connection. A severance of contact.

Word That Isn’t In The Book, But Brandon Totally Put It There: Scrumptiously.

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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Writing Excuses 5.12: Time Travel!

Well, we’re back, and we’ve rescued our time travel episode. Unfortunately, almost all mentions of Lincoln have been redacted, and his gold is conspicuously absent. Instead, Brandon, Dan, and Howard all travel in time (sort of) to offer advice to our past selves.

What do we have to say to our earlier incarnations?

  • Stop playing video games.
  • What you’re doing is actually working. Keep doing it.
  • Stop waiting on your collaborator.
  • Don’t try to write to the market.
  • Try outlining all the way to the end.
  • Try new things.
  • Stop worrying.
  • You can make a living as an artist.

So… there’s the advice. Now listen to the ‘cast and get all of it in context.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

Special Plug: Superstars Writing Seminar — Brandon will be presenting this January with Dave Wolverton, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Eric Flint, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Writing Prompt: Go forward in time and get next week’s writing prompt.

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 Nominated for 2010 Podcast Award for Education

It has just come to our attention that Writing Excuses has been nominated for the 2010 Podcast Awards: The People’s Choice under the Education category.

If you are a “people” and would like to make Writing Excuses your “choice,” visit podcastawards.com and vote! You may vote once every 24 hours from now until December 15th, which might mean this is “The Fanatically Devoted Or Maybe Automated People’s Choice,” but this is the World Wild Web, and that’s how things seem to be done.

We, of course, are honored to have been nominated, and are pleased to see so many other quality podcasts similarly honored. May the best botnet win!

Writing Prompt: Imagine a future in which political elections are now voted by botnet. Give us a story in which this is actually the best of all possible democracies.

Writing Excuses 5.15: Steampunk with Scott Westerfeld

Brandon and Howard are again joined by Scott Westerfeld, again in a boomy room in the Provo Library, this time for a discussion of steampunk.

What is steampunk? Basically, it’s Victorian-era science-fiction as written by non-Victorian-era writers. Why do we write it? We talk about the way it lets authors bend some science-fiction rules, and how the sensibilities of an era a sesquicentury past inform the plot, prose, characters, and (of course) setting.

How does one go about writing steampunk? Scott offers some advice on the approach, from idea synthesis to world-building,. His books Leviathan and Behemoth are both great examples of the genre, though they might fit the “diesel-punk” label a little better.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld, narrated by Alan Cumming.

Writing Prompt: It’s 1912, and Nikola Tesla is the President of the United States…

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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