By Writing Excuses | October 23, 2011 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Demonstration

We’ve done brainstorming casts before. This time we’ve prepared something quite a bit different. It’s different, in fact, because we prepared it — in advance, even.

Producer Jordo provided your hosts Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard with four wacky news headlines. From these, we each hammered together rudimentary bits of story, and we did so independently. You get four different takes on this four-headline mashup.

The four headlines:

  • Wary of Iguanas, Bored Germans Finally Venture Out
  • Heroic Mailman Saves Three Lives While On the Job
  • Dolphin Charged With Battery Against Girlfriend
  • Austrian Power Company Tells Customer She is Dead

Mary goes first and sets the bar rather high with an entire story outline.

Brandon goes next, and gives us a magic system.

Then it’s Howard’s turn. What looks like story shrapnel turns out to be the prologue.

Finally, Dan gives us a nice, post-apocalyptic piece, or at least the robotic skeleton of one.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, narrated by Tom Weiner.

Writing Prompt: No prompt this week. Not unless you want to try your hand at these headlines.

Those Bullet Points from Brandon: Nope, not in Howard’s email. We’ll get them eventually. Or maybe not.


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This entry was posted on Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 at 6:00 pm and is filed under Demonstration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. October 23, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

    The perfect podcast before NaNoWriMo.

    Posted by Rafael
  2. October 23, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

    ^ – I second that statement. Great podcast! :)

    Posted by Mara
  3. October 23, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    Oh no! It’s Nanowrimo! I’d forgotten that it was so close. I was going to do that this year. Heck, I’m unemployed. Might as well do something with the extra time.

    Posted by Cornan
  4. October 24, 2011 @ 12:37 am

    @Cornan: You might as well give it a shot. There’s nothing to lose and everything to win.

    I love how such different approaches came out of a shared set of prompts. While I don’t often write by prompt, I feel more comfortable trying out weird and wild things now that I’ve listened to this episode.

    I’d like to see those liner notes…

    Posted by Len Berry
  5. October 24, 2011 @ 4:35 am

    Wohoo! I think this is one of the best podcasts you’ve done so far, hope you do more brainstorming in future!

    Posted by Luke Chaston
  6. October 24, 2011 @ 7:01 am

    I want to read Mary’s story!

    Posted by Minnie Pearl's Hat
  7. October 24, 2011 @ 7:12 am

    I really enjoyed this podcast, and actually got a few great ideas of my own from the headlines. Thanks!

    I already have a story I want to write for NaNo, but I think I’ll use one of these later on. 😛

    Posted by Gabriel Rumbaut
  8. October 24, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    Hey guys – long time fan, first time poster!

    After listening to the last few posts, especially those with Lou Anders, I was interested to see how this exercise would pan out and utilise the techniques discussed recently. And well, I’m left with a question.

    How much of what you do with regards to building antagonists, protagonists, conflict, relationship characters etc etc, is done consciously?

    In your 4 examples you’ve got sort of proto-forms of stories and there are some hints at conflict, character, setting etc. But I’m curious as to how many of those plot “facts” have been “put” there deliberately, and how many are just instinct? And, possibly more importantly, how much do you trust those instincts? Would you leave them alone when, perhaps, a heavily engineered, consciously contrived but ultimately less “organic” process might give a different, slightly neater approach?

    Posted by Hillsy
  9. October 26, 2011 @ 8:17 am

    Excellent podcast. I want to read Mary’s story now too. Seems almost like it could be a cyberpunk sort of story too, what with “rigging” animals. Could take that on a very Shadowrun twist.

    Also, last couple episodes have launched in the middle of Brandon saying the episode number. Is this just happening to me, or is it the engineering?

    Posted by PFoxen
  10. October 27, 2011 @ 12:41 am

    Just in case of a desire to read… A transcript.

    Posted by Mike Barker
  11. October 27, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

    Howard: I am a winner! … You open up the letter, and now you are a permanent winner.

    Me: Oh, so *that’s* what happened to Mat Cauthon.

    Posted by Sariah
  12. October 28, 2011 @ 9:59 am

    As fun as these brainstorming episodes are, I for one would really enjoy a few more in which the subject matter wasn’t quite so zany.

    I think the episode on Brainstorming Science Ideas has been the best.

    Posted by Michael Winegar
  13. October 31, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

    Too bad. I was looking forward to the bullet points. Would have helped a lot and made the concepts in this podcast more tangible. Oh well.

    Posted by Jeff
  14. November 5, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

    […] Writing Excuses 6.21 was hilariously awesome. All 4 brainstormed the kernel of a story from the same collection of random elements. Each of their processes are different and unique voices come through. Great stuff/Small package as always. |MP3| […]

  15. November 12, 2011 @ 5:29 am

    Wow. Given the very silly story seeds, I’m impressed by the seriousness of Mary’s outlined plot. I would read that. Or, even better, I’m going to buy one of her books.

    Posted by K. Bill Albrecht
  16. November 30, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

    […] wondered where to find a great idea? Try some Brainstorming from Story Seeds with the Writing Excuses […]

  17. December 29, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

    Good Episode! I was also hoping to come here to find Brandon’s outline. Oh well! I also agree with the others, Mary’s was very well thought out!

    Posted by James Criswell
  18. January 11, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    Love these brainstorming episodes. I love hearing the various processes of the hosts. It would be great to get more of these where you all show your process working out from the same basic story idea. An extended length episode would be nice as these always seem so short.
    I would also LOVE to see those points. I’ve always wanted to see one of Brandon’s outlines.

    Posted by Fardawg
  19. September 4, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    I haven’t listened to this podcast yet (I only just stumbled across them), but I felt the need to share. I read that 3rd prompt and my first thought was of a bionic dolphin caught cheating in a race against his girlfriend, not about domestic violence. What does that say about my brain? lol!

    Looking forward to hearing your (probably much better) ideas. ^_^

    Posted by Elanor
  20. November 20, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    […] MSNBC, or HuffPost  and use one of the headlines as a kick-off point (thanks to Writing Excuses Episode 6.21 for this […]