By Writing Excuses | December 19, 2010 - 7:05 pm - Posted in Theory and Technique

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.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, December 19th, 2010 at 7:05 pm and is filed under 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. December 19, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

    I like these ones where you talk about your first novels- they help us first-time novelists know what to avoid. Good job, though, Dan. And happy birthday, Brandon!

    Posted by Andrew
  2. December 19, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    Yes I agree, this is a good way to teach new writers the things not to do. I would like to see more podcasts like this in the future. Especially when we learn new make up words to color our dialog.

    Posted by Jim Williams
  3. December 19, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

    “Discontiguity” may not be in the standard short-form dictionary, but it is on the Internet in some science articles . . .

    Posted by Matthew Bowman
  4. December 19, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

    Critiquing Dan’s First Novel made for an entertaining and educational show. But is this the very first novel Dan attempted to write or the first one he finished? If I could change anything about Writing Excuses, I would make it 30 minutes long because I’m not really in a hurry, and you guys are that smart. :)

    Posted by Oletta Liano
  5. December 20, 2010 @ 6:14 am

    Not downloading/showing on iTunes… Whine, whine, etc.

    Posted by Eliyanna
  6. December 20, 2010 @ 6:55 am

    Sorry about that! Couple of check-boxes weren’t checked. They’re checked now.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  7. December 20, 2010 @ 11:04 am

    Great episode! I found the advice on how to bring tension into a calm-before-the-storm moment particularly helpful. Comes up so often in fantasy, as was discussed.

    Brandon’s “breaking dawn” joke at the end = cheap shot! ;P

    Posted by Eliyanna
  8. December 20, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

    I can’t find the podcast! It doesn’t seem to be on the site OR on iTunes… *sad face*

    Posted by Cris
  9. December 20, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

    Sorry about that. Episode should be up now.

    Posted by Writing Excuses
  10. December 21, 2010 @ 12:23 am

    Does Dan’s book have a name? (If so, I didn’t catch it.)

    Posted by Katya
  11. December 21, 2010 @ 3:00 am

    Katya? I think the title is “Dan’s Honors Thesis” although I suppose it might have a more specific title, too. Perhaps The Follies of Fendis?

    Posted by Mike Barker
  12. December 21, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    Hello Writing Excuses guys, are you ever going to do a podcast about how to write a good steamy love scene that gets the blood pumping without it being too explicit? A lot of fantasy books, mostly written by women have love scene that go into too much detail. I want love scenes that are full passion, not a narrative of an XXX rated movie. Can you help?

    Posted by Oletta Liano
  13. December 22, 2010 @ 2:33 am

    Oletta: Less is more. Your best friend is the reader’s imagination…Well that’s my feeling anyway.

    Posted by BJ
  14. December 22, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    Advice on “less is more” in sex scenes from someone named BJ. Tee hee!

    Posted by Ed
  15. December 22, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    Many thanks to Dan for allowing us to hear this – you (and Brandon) are braver than I am, or perhaps easier to strong-arm. Brandon is right, this is more advanced than his own early book example. I could see chopping up some of those pretty descriptive bits and dropping them here and there in a manuscript, where they would work fine; just not all at once in a big lump. (And I, too, suffer from long sentences and have to break them up.)

    These critiques are particularly helpful – probably in the same way I learn more about writing from critiquing other people than I do from hearing critiques of my own work. I’d love to see you do something similar with story structure – show us what didn’t work and how to fix it.

    And again, good choice of Book-of-the-Week (I am on a personal mission to convert every reader to the worship of Pratchett). The Tiffany books aren’t my absolute all-time favorite Pratchett books – those being either Nightwatch or Going Postal or possibly Maskerade – but they’re pretty up there. And Stephen Briggs is one of the best readers I’ve heard, for those listening to the audio book.

    Posted by Laurie
  16. December 23, 2010 @ 2:09 am

    And for your holiday enjoyment — a transcript. Enjoy your reading!

    Posted by Mike Barker
  17. January 11, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

    Dawn is the main character of the book I’m writing, to answer your question.

    Actually… she just wants her name to be Dawn… so does that count?

    Posted by Ryan Larsen
  18. November 5, 2011 @ 5:17 am

    Oreads … not dryads.

    L remained at attention in spite of the aches in his joints and the pain of old wounds.


    Swallowed in the midst of a massive hall raised from the living stone

    We need to know story details before the line rewrite starts. :)

    Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis )