NaNoWriMo 2012: Bonus Episode 4, with Mary & Brandon

Brandon and Mary are back to offer you some last-minute help.

Are you stuck? We have a tip to get you un-stuck.

Is it being difficult? We will help you approach the difficulty differently, in a way you are certain to hate (and thank us for later.)

Sure, there are only two days left, and this was originally recorded to air while you still had a week, but don’t use our lateness as an excuse for slacking off. Slack ON!

Need additional motivation!!


Writing Excuses 7.48: Pixar Rules for Writing a Compelling Story

A while back one of the former storyboard artists at Pixar, Emma Coats, (@lawnrocket on Twitter) started tweeting the “22 Pixar Storytelling Rules” And now the cast of Writing Excuses reviews them, and offers some applications.

These rules cover character development, plot structure, process, and much more. No, we weren’t able to give them all deep coverage, but this serves as a great refresher on lots of things we’ve covered in the past.


“The Multi-Tentacled Space Goat cannot come and save us again.”

Foundation, by Isaac Asimov, narrated by Scott Brick

Writing Excuses 7.47: Raising the Stakes

What are the things that matter to your characters? What things matter to your readers? After we get the obligatory ambiguity out of the way, we settle into talking about the “stakes” and the escalation thereof.

As authors, we want our readers to feel that something is at risk, and that action on the part of the protagonist is important. It might only be important to the protagonist, but whether the world is at stake, or just one person’s reputation, the reader needs to believe that this matters.

In many outlining techniques (three-act structure, seven-point story structure, Hollywood formula) the writer is told to “raise the stakes” at certain points. So, not only must we put things at risk, we must find ways to either increase the amount of risk, or increase the character response to the risk already present.

We talk about the sorts of things that can be treated as “stakes” in the stories we tell, and how we can go about raising those stakes.


Raise the stakes without resorting to risks to reputation, livelihood, or mental health. Or explosions. Don’t use those, either.

Control Point: Shadow Ops, by Myke Cole, narrated by Corey Jackson

NaNoWriMo 2012: Bonus Mini-Episode 2, with Dan & Rob

Week two is over. You might be asking yourself if it’s worth it. Is it worth it?

Hey! Dan Wells and his brother Rob are here to tell you why this is worth it.

And then, in the spirit of distracting you, they tell you about their pop-culture podcast, Do I Dare To Eat a Peach?


Writing Excuses 7.46: Project in Depth The Emperor’s Soul

Spoiler alert! We’re going to talk in depth about The Emperor’s Soul, which just came out, and if you haven’t yet read it but want to, we’d rather not spoil it for you. The e-book is available here.

So… ready?

Brandon talks to us about the origin of the magic system, and why he decided it fit well for setting in the same world as Elantris. He also talks to us about the way in which he arrived at the ending, and how the ending grew very naturally from the early stages of defining the character.

We have fun comparing Howard’s interpretation of a story point with what Brandon actually intended, and Mary talks about the structural changes made between the draft she read and the final version, a change that perfectly fulfills the definition of killing a darling. And on the subject of darlings, Dan asks about the fight sequence, and whether that really needed to be part of the story. Then we talk about some darlings Brandon opted to NOT kill.

Audiobook Freebie (limited time only): Legion by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Oliver Wyman


Come up with a magic system based on stamps, but that has nothing to do with forgery.

Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov, narrated by William Dufris