Category Archives: Guest

13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris joined us in front of a live audience at the GenCon Writers Symposium to talk with us about secondary characters—why they’re so important, why they can be difficult to write well, and how she brings her secondary characters to life without giving them a POV.


Take something you’ve already written. Make your protagonist a secondary character, and make a secondary character your protagonist. Tell a new story with them in those roles.

Grave Sight, by Charlaine Harris, narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan

13.7: What Writers Get Wrong, with Lou Perry

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Lou Perry joined us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about law and courtrooms, and what writers get wrong when setting their stories amid legal procedures.



Select a Supreme Court opinion. Read it, and then read the dissent.

13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard

This year’s third-week episodes will all follow a common theme: “what writers get wrong.” Each of these episodes will feature an expert guest who will help us understand what writers get wrong about something in which they have expertise.

Aliette de Bodard will be co-hosting several of these week-three episodes, but this week her role is “subject matter expert.” She has several fields of expertise, and among the hats she expertly wears which writers often fail to correctly describe is a hat labeled “motherhood” (note: not an actual hat.) 

Credits: This episode was recorded at WXR 2017 in the Baltic Sea by Bert Grimm, and mastered on dry land by Alex Jackson 


List the subject matter experts in your life. Make checks next to their names this year as you speak with them about their expertise (it’s like a to-do list.)

The House of Shattered Wings (Book 1 of Dominion of The Fallen), by Aliette de Bodard

12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, Dan, with guest host Beth Meacham

Dirk Elzinga, an associate professor of linguistics, joined us live at LTUE to talk about constructed languages, and how we, as writers, might go about constructing them for our work.

Liner Notes: The big stack of notes from Dirk required its own page. Below are links to specific tools mentioned during the episode.

Credits: This episode was recorded live at LTUE by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson and mastered beneath a pyramid of stone tablet encyclopedias by Alex Jackson.



Come up to with a non-combat, non-warfare metaphor to talk about a debate.

Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin

12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan

Brian McClellan joined us to field questions about writing novels and series. Here are the questions:

  • How do you write an ending that is open for sequels, but isn’t a cliffhanger?
  • Is it a good idea to take a large novel, and release it instead as serial novellas?
  • Can you debut with a series, or should you establish yourself with standalone novels first?
  • How do you keep readers coming back for each new novel when there’s a long time between them?
  • Should you have more than just one book done before querying agents?
  • What do you do if your novel turns out to be too short to be a novel?
  • Is it possible to write a series as a discovery writer?
  • How do you foreshadow big things that are a long way out?

Take two books or movies, suggested from friends. Those are parts 1 and 3 of a series. Now figure out how part 2 works.

Hungry Ghosts, by Stephen Blackmoore

12.47: Screenwriting and the Writers Room, with JD Payne

Screenwriter JD Payne joined us before a live audience at LTUE to talk about writing for the screen, specifically regarding doing this work with others in a room full of writers.


Give a character description using only visual cues in 20 words or less

Boilerplate by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett