Writing Excuses 7.36: Writing Gaming Fiction with Monte Cook

Fans of role-playing games should know the name Monte Cook well, because he’s been writing some of the highest-profile tomes in the field for two-and-a-half decades now. Monte joins us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy 2012 to talk about writing games.

We start by talking about some of the differences between straight-up prose, and prose tooled for games. With role-playing games, this often boils down to the fact that it’s not the writer doing the storytelling — it’s the role-players. The writer’s job is to provide the gamers with the tools they need. Monte and the hosts cover the roles of world-building, character development, and plotting, and talk a little about the path you might consider if you’re looking to get published in this field.

If you’re ready to relinquish story control to your readers, if you are prepared to let them breathe life into the places, monsters, and characters you’ve created, this is the episode for you.

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For some reason one character is put into the body of another character.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon, narrated by David Colacci

Writing Excuses 7.34: How to Start the Next One

Let’s talk about how to start the next one — not the next book in a series, necessarily. Your next project might not leverage the worldbuilding or characters you used in your previous project. We discuss the challenges each of us have faced, and how we’ve cleared those hurdles.

If you’re having trouble letting go of your previous project, this ‘cast should help you, if only because you can see it’s something each of us had difficulty with as well. Of course, we also offer you some pointers and some tricks to make this transition easier.

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“The Hairy Housewife,” because Brandon didn’t hear Howard correctly the first time he said “harried.”

The Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant, wraps up with Blackout, and is a very satisfying example of a series that does something different with each book.

Writing Excuses 7.33: Authentic Emotion

Writers, like actors, have to animate the inanimate, and evoke emotions that we may not have ever felt, and in this episode we talk about the things that we do in order to accomplish that. We talk about making faces, remembering analogous events, playing thematic music, and running around the kitchen with a knife.

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Describe a setting. Then, without using any emotion-words, describe that same setting again three more times from a happy, sad, and angry point of view.

All Men of Genius, by Lev AC Rosen, narrated by Emily Gray

Writing Excuses 7.32: Astronomy 101 for Writers

Eric James Stone, Nebula winner and “graduate” of NASA’s Launchpad workshop, joins us to talk about astronomy in our world-building.

We talk about tides, habitable zones, planetary orbits and axial tilts, stellar life-cycles, and other fun factors for authors to take into account. But obviously we can’t teach you everything you need to know about astronomy in 15 minutes, so we wrap with some handy resources for you to begin your continuing education:

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Your colonists are going to a world whose axial tilt is different from Earth’s. How are the seasons different?

Helliconia Spring by Brian Aldiss, narrated by Christopher Slade