Writing Excuses 9.54: Capstone to Season 9

As 2014 draws to a close we say goodbye to Season 9, and talk a bit about what we’ve each learned this year.

  • Howard explained the surprising changes that came with a change in his work space
  • Mary told us how she reached a new understanding of pacing
  • Brandon talked about how recent time pressures have informed his writing process
  • Dan learned why he is writing

Hopefully our discussions of how we’ve changed as writers this year will offer you some insight into how your own writing has developed, and how you might take steps to develop it in the future.

We also talk about how Season 10 is coming, and is going to be a bit different than seasons past.

Thing We Failed To Do: get a picture of the possum. It turns out that those things are sneaky, and none of us a very good photographers.

Can of Already Open Worms: Writing for fun. “Didn’t you guys just talk about that?” Yes, we did, in an episode that was recorded 3 months later, but which aired just last week.

 

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What did you learn or accomplish this last year, and what are you hoping to learn in the coming year? Write this down, and then at the end of NEXT year, review what you wrote, and compare the reality of 2015 with your hopes for it here at the end of 2014.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson, narrated by Alison Larkin

The 2015 Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarships

As we announced in October, the third annual Out of Excuses Retreat will be bigger and better than ever, complete with guest instructors, more face-time with the podcasters, and, oh yeah, a Caribbean cruise. With all of that awesomeness to live up to, we’re amping up the scholarship as well. The first year we offered a scholarship based on monetary need, and the second year we offered one based on diversity. This year, we’re offering both.

The Carl Brandon Society Scholarship

We were so happy with last year’s scholarship that we are once again partnering with the Carl Brandon Society, an organization dedicated to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. The scholarship applications will be reviewed by a selection panel from the Carl Brandon Society.

The Out of Excuses Scholarship

Our second scholarship will be based on monetary need–someone who can’t afford to attend the Retreat on their own. As with the first year, this scholarship will be judged by the podcasters.

Each scholarship offers full tuition, a bed in a double occupancy room, and up to $500 of travel expenses to and from our departure port in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Because the food on the cruise is free, this covers essentially all of your expenses for the week. You may apply to either scholarship, but only to one of them (even if you qualify for both).

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so this year we’ve streamlined the process a little to help handle the volume. Please read the instructions carefully, and follow them exactly: Incomplete applications will be disqualified. To apply, please prepare the following scholarship package, and send it to writingexcusesscholarship@gmail.com with the subject line: “Scholarship Application: [name].”

  1. This cover sheet, filled out completely: Name: [name]Email: [email]Phone Number: [number]

    Scholarship: [“Carl Brandon Society” or “Out of Excuses”]

    I confirm that my scholarship is complete, including: a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.

    Personal Essay word count (between 450-700 words): [insert word count here]

    Letter of Recommendation 1: [Name of recommender]

    Letter of Recommendation 2: [Name of recommender]

    Letter of Recommendation 3: [Name of recommender]

    Writing Sample total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 10,000 total words): [insert word count here]

  2. A single attachment (.doc) containing all of the following, in order:
    1. Personal Essay: A 450-700 word personal essay explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit” as well.
    2. Letters of Recommendation: Three brief letters of recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives: friends, bosses, people from your writing group, anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are. Please note the change this year that we would like all three letters to be included in the scholarship package, and not to be emailed individually; we’ve had too many letters go astray, and we want to give you the chance to personally make sure every aspect of your scholarship package is complete before submitting it. If you have a concern with this, please contact Chersti Nieveen at assistant@thedanwells.com.
    3. Writing Sample: A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 10,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.

Again: make sure to send everything in one email or your application will be disqualified; please review it several times, or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will eject you on a technicality, just like an editor or publisher would. We’d much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

The application period for both scholarships opens on January 17, 2015, at 9am EST, and closes at midnight EST, March 14. We will contact the winners in May, and announce them officially the morning of May 18.

Writing Excuses 9.53: Writing For Fun

You know what’s fun? WRITING! Writing is fun. And that, more than anything else, is why we do it.

Or at least it’s why we decided to do it. Making sure that it is still fun is kind of tricky. Also tricky? Writing for nothing more than the fun of it. And this episode is about that.

Missing from this episode: Mary. For contractual reasons we found ourselves in need of 54 episodes during Season 9, and that meant an emergency recording session while Mary was on the road. It also meant you got 54 weekly episodes this year!

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Legion: Skin Deep, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Oliver Wyman

Writing Excuses Season 9.52: From the Page to the Stage

Allison W. Hill and C. Austin Hill joined us at the Out of Excuses Retreat to talk about turning A Night of Blacker Darkness, by Dan Wells, into a stage play. “From the page to the stage” is a thing that theater people actually say to describe this, so the process is one that has a lot of precedent behind it. We talk about the guiding principles behind adaptation, and then dive into the challenges that our guests face with this particular project.

(Note: We may be tweaking the audio on this episode in the future to remove the “Season 10” references right at the end. They’re confusing, and you don’t need that.)

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Take a monster from pop culture, and write it with all of the traditional weaknesses, but with none of the strengths.

Writing Excuses 9.51: Q&A At The Retreat

If there’s a crowd with good questions, it’s the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat attendees.

  • Given the trend toward moral ambiguity, is there still a place for an unquestionably evil character?
  • Should you publish a first book that isn’t in the style or genre that you’re ultimately interested in?
  • Is it possible to write epic fantasy with a single POV?
  • Of all of the myriad talents of the literary agents you work with, what’s the one that makes you stick with your agent?
  • How do you maintain your writing chops when you’re buried in the research phase of a project?
  • What are some issues a short story writer should be aware of when tackling a novel?
  • How do you go about discovery writing characters?
  • When you build a story, does the foreshadowing go in during the first pass, or in later edits?

Our sponsor, Audible, is giving away Legion: Skin Deep, by Brandon Sanderson between now and December 24th. Follow that link and get a free audio book!

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“Everywhere I look, everyone is covered with ketchup.”

Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway, narrated by Daniel Weyman

Writing Excuses 9.50: Writing for the Enfranchised Reader

Recorded live in front of the Out of Excuses students, a crowd of savvy readers if ever there was one, we talk about how to effectively write for readers who are familiar with the genre or story structure in which we’re writing. It’s a tricky problem, since genre fiction is supported in large part by the very tropes that prove problematic. Sometimes the solution is trope subversion, but that brings its own problems.

Dave Farland’s Writing Workshops sponsored us for this episode! Both Brandon and Dan have studied under Dave, and we’re all happy to wholeheartedly recommend his workshops to you. If you can’t fly to his place, well, visit MyStoryDoctor.com and take the online course. The coupon code for your Writing Excuses discount is EXCUSES, but don’t think that means you actually HAVE any of those…

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Take a mentor character, and outline a way for that character to NOT be killed off in order for them to not be more effective than the hero.