All posts by Howard Tayler

Writing Excuses 10.25: What Makes a Scene?

What defines a scene? How do we, as writers, structure things using scenes? When does a scene begin, when does it end, and when has it gone on too long?

We each do this a little differently, and obviously the definitions and processes will vary widely across mediums. In this episode we talk about how we do this, and we make reference to Scene/Sequel format, the MICE quotient, and pacing.

 

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Look at the next few scenes you need to write, and identify their plot function, identify what your main character’s goal is. Now consider where the starting and stopping points can be placed to best serve those elements.

The Devil’s Only Friend, by Dan Wells, narrated by Kirby Heyborne

This will be our Project-in-Depth book in August, so dive in now!

Writing Excuses 10.24: Hooking Younger Readers

We are often asked questions about the young reader markets, and while there are numerous professionals writing, editing, and publishing for that demographic, we haven’t yet had an in-depth discussion with someone who really has their finger on the actual pulse of a group of those readers: a school librarian.

Kiley Snyder, Media Specialist at Discovery Middle School in Indiana, joins us to talk about hooking younger readers. Five days a week she hands books to the very people for whom you’re trying to write (sometimes she even gets those books back from them.) We ask her about reluctant readers, about the common elements she sees in the books that hook her students, and about the power of shelving.

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You’re going to have to leave the house for this one: Visit a library, and tell a librarian three books you’ve loved. Then get a recommendation for something outside your regular genre. Then read it.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik, narrated by Julia Emelin

Writing Excuses 10.23: Can You Tell Me How To Show?

Per the syllabus for the Season 10 Master Class, June is for painting a scene, and in this episode we’re going to talk about that paint.

We have all heard the “show, don’t tell” rule. In this episode we’ll discuss showing—how to do it well, how to do it consistently, and how to use it to accomplish things that telling just can’t get across.

Liner Notes: We make several references to Episode 3.14, in which Mary (in her first guest-hosting on the show) told us about the four rules of puppetry, as they apply to her writing. That was almost six years ago, so it’s probably been a while since you listened to it.

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Sit in a room and describe the room. Do this for half an hour. Five or ten minutes in you’ll be ready to express hatred for the person assigning the exercise. Keep going for the full 30 minutes.

Now describe the same room in the specific style of a genre—epic fantasy, film noir, police procedural—using only 250 words.

Finally, describe this room from the POV of one of the characters in your current project.

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, by Shallee McArthur, narrated by Cassandra Morris

Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarship Announcement, Part 2

Congratulations, Shveta Thakrar! 

The scholarship jury at The Carl Brandon Society selected Shveta Thakrar as the recipient of this year’s Writing Excuses Scholarship. Shveta has accepted, and we all look forward to meeting her in person at the Out of Excuses event in September.

The Carl Brandon Society jury members were:

  • Nisi Shawl
  • Chesya Burke
  • Lisa Bolekaja
  • K.T. Bradford (Chair)

As we congratulate Shveta and welcome her to the event, we also extend our thanks to Nisi, Chesya, Lisa, and Tempest for their work in reviewing the applications and the submitted works. Their volunteered efforts make this scholarship possible, and we appreciate their willingness to work with us.

With the second scholarship announced, our only remaining announcement is that registration will close on July 1st. The prices have gone up since our original bloc sold out, but there are still slots available… for another 26 days, or thereabouts. Registration can be found here, at Eventbrite.

Writing Excuses 10.22: Project-in-Depth—Of Noble Family

If you haven’t read Mary’s latest novel, Of Noble Family, this episode contains many spoilers, and you’ll get a lot more out of the discussion if you read the book (or listen to the book) before listening.

So… spoilers.

Of Noble Family is set in Mary’s Glamourist Histories universe, an alternate history setting, on the island of Antigua. Our discussion focuses primarily upon the research that Mary did, and the way she tested and then applied that research to the story. This includes how the research touched on the magic system of  the Glamourist Histories, and how linguistic and cultural differences might affect the use of Glamour.

Liner Notes

 

 

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Take something common, an activity or object that you’re familiar with, and then have a character describe it to someone who has a completely different frame of reference.

Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal, narrated by Prentice Onayemi, Robin Miles, and Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Excuses 10.21: Q&A on World Building

We went to you for questions about world building, and you had some really good ones. The questions are listed below, and our answers are secreted within MP3 file.

  • Has there ever been a piece of world building that you didn’t include, and regretted not including?
  • How do you remain consistent?
  • How do you decide between writing a secondary world fantasy, and creating an historical fantasy?
  • Can you avoid cultural appropriation while still using elements inspired by other cultures?
    • (This one is getting a can of worms: there’s an entire episode on cultural appropriation coming up)
  • What’s the minimum amount of world building required?
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Our next master class episodes are on description. Take a scene that includes some things that you’ve world-built, and rewrite that scene using completely different words.

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal