By Writing Excuses | July 22, 2012 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Q&A, Season 7, Theory and Technique

Microcasting! Again!! Now with exclamation points!!! You’ll have to have a listen for our answers, but here are the questions:

  • How do you deal with bad reviews?
  • How do you apply Brandon’s magic system rules to science fiction?
  • Dan, will you do the marshmallow voice for us again?
  • How do you keep tension high without exhausting the reader?
  • You’ve made your manuscript as good as you know how to. Now you need to make it even better, based on feedback. What do you do?
  • Any tips on creating suspension of disbelief?
  • How do you deal with annoying fans?

“Oddly, no. Sometimes you guys are dull.” 5:22, Mary Robinette Kowal.

Mary’s Shmoozing 101 Link: Right here.


Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, narrated by Jenny Sterlin

Writing Prompt: The story of the writer and her VERY ENTHUSIASTIC alien fan who is impossible to escape.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 at 6:00 pm and is filed under Q&A, Season 7, 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. July 22, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    I would have thought that restraining orders would be useful against annoying fans.

    I try to do two things as a potentially annoying fan. 1) I keep it short, sweet, and light hearted 2) I buy your books, despite it being ridiculously easy to pirate them (and in the case of Howard, I wouldn’t even have to steal anything).

    And sorry Brandon for coercing you into poking my wife’s dragon-carrying belly at the Alloy signing in Huntington. Your magical touch was a success, though, and he turned out awesome (so far).

    Posted by Duke
  2. July 22, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

    That was much fun, thank you. (Also, I think Dan should do an entire podcast in the marshmallow voice.)

    Posted by M.A.
  3. July 22, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

    The way I create suspension of disbelief is to follow this rule:

    “Start normal, get crazy.” It typically works for me.

    Posted by Len Berry
  4. July 23, 2012 @ 3:31 am

    I notice there have been a lot of Microcasts this season. Why is that?

    Also, when are you going to get to The Hero’s Journey (and fulfill a promise to the listeners)?

    Posted by The Stray
  5. July 23, 2012 @ 4:42 am

    Many thanks Team.

    Mary, I’ve a backlog of books to read, but I’ve just decided I need to read one of yours.
    I’m struggling with building convincing romantic progression – I’m guessing your works will help.

    Looking forward to next week.


    Posted by Julien
  6. July 23, 2012 @ 9:15 am

    @The Stray

    Brandon talked a little about the Hero’s Journey in one of the online class lectures recently. It may tide you over until they do a WE on it. I think he did it from memory so it’s a little wonky, though.

    I recommend Christopher Vogler’s website (and especially his book) for a really good overview of the Journey, and how it applies to a variety of modern stories, for those unfamiliar with it.

    Posted by CM
  7. July 23, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    Great episode! Quotables galore! From Howard alone, AT LEAST two different quotes that I want to memorize (sell the annoying fan something; I am the sage others meet along their heroic journey). And a great writing prompt. Thanks for all you work!

    Posted by Robinton
  8. July 23, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    You guys have broken down the Christopher Nolan Batman movies before and why they were so good. I would LOVE it if you commented on what you thought of the third movie The Dark Knight Rises. That episode would be a real treat because I really respect your opinions on storytelling and I’d love to know what you all thought of it.

    Thanks for ALL the great episodes! I haven’t listened to a bad one yet and I continue to learn so much by listening. Thank you all so much for putting out this podcast!

  9. July 23, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    Great cast folks. Howard, a very nice look into your role into the larger hero’s story of the fan. Appreciate it.

    Posted by Levi
  10. July 23, 2012 @ 11:58 am

    The “boiling of the frog” scenario that Howard mentioned is what I call “Going Down the Rabbit Hole” (which I have linked to before, feel free to ignore if you already read it) where you start with a plausible scenario and you work your way into the fantastical.

    The best example is Hogwart’s Express. As the characters travel from Muggle London to Hogwarts more fantastic elements are introduced. By the time the arrive at the castle, the characters (and by extension) the readers are fully immersed in the wizarding world.

    Further thoughts here:

    Posted by Rafael
  11. July 23, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

    *cough* MiCOcasting?

    I don’t think you’ve done micocasting before…

    R got swallowed… Sorry, compulsiveness on my part. ^^;; Howard can cry and cry and cry about that.

    Posted by Rachel Udin
  12. July 23, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

    One more time, with words this time!

    A transcript for your reading pleasure.

    Posted by Mike Barker
  13. July 24, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    Funky Widget would be a good name for a band.

    Posted by Paul Jannise
  14. July 26, 2012 @ 12:15 am

    I am curious what is considered an “annoying fan?” You guys have talked about going to Cons and talking to authors, editors, etc. I myself have ended up talking to Con guests over lunch more than once. So when does it switch from interested and nice to talk to and becomes annoying?

    Also, what exactly is Mary’s version of the “social compact?”

    Posted by Allandre
  15. July 27, 2012 @ 9:51 am

    The nerd in me can’t help but point out that it was Jean Luc Picard’s brother whom he spent time with back home during that episode on TNG. Otherwise…valid point and example. :-)

    Posted by Hannah Kincade
  16. August 2, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    Thanks – I think these are my favorite ‘casts. I second the motion for Dan to do an entire podcast in Marshmallow Man Mode. And I applaud the choice for Book of the Week – that’s one of my favorite books.

    Posted by Laurie
  17. August 14, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

    Here’s a review for Dan… which he won’t read…

    Book review haiku:
    I Am Not a Serial
    Killer by Dan Wells

    Obsessed with killers,
    teenage sociopath hunts
    the Clayton Killer.

    Disturbingly great,
    Horrifyingly awesome
    from start to finish!

    Posted by Wes
  18. August 14, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

    And one for Brandon…

    Book review haiku:
    Brandon Sanderson’s epic
    The Way of Kings

    Kaladin Stormblessed,
    windspren, giant crustaceans,
    and an assassin.

    Incredible book!
    5th time through, and still awesome!
    … Push through the prologues…

    Posted by Wes
  19. August 19, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    You mentioned the podcast where you came up with the magic-system rules, but I don’t know how to go about finding it. Can someone give me a link please?

    Posted by Alsadius