By Writing Excuses | March 9, 2008 - 9:37 pm - Posted in Characters, Liner Notes, Season 1

What makes a good hero? Why is Dirk Pitt so cool? Why do people like Superman? And why does Howard-with-a-chest-cold start to sound like Barry White? Some of these questions are answered in this episode while others are better left unexplained.

LINER NOTES:

Howard repeatedly invoked John August’s blog post about heroes, protagonists, and main characters. Here it is.

By Writing Excuses | March 16, 2008 - 8:36 pm - Posted in Characters, Liner Notes, Season 1

Is there a difference between the two?  How do you use each appropriately in your writing?  And how lovable can a group of mercenaries be?

By Writing Excuses | March 23, 2008 - 8:19 pm - Posted in Characters, Liner Notes, Season 1

Are flaws necessary for villains? What traits make for a really good (err… evil?) villain? What’s the difference between Sauron and Gollum? (“That’s the LAST time I send you out shopping for Gollums, son…”)

Liner Notes: The Evil Overlord List, a handy reference for tropes to avoid (or, as the case may be, exploit…)

By Writing Excuses | June 8, 2008 - 9:13 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest, Live, Q&A, Season 1

While at CONduit, we recorded three episodes of Writing Excuses in front of an audience, and this is the first of those. In this episode we have Dan Willis join us as we take questions from the crowd. The four of us discuss voicing characters, naming things, writing Act II, and how you set about finishing your book.

Oh, and for all of you who have complained that fifteen minutes is not long enough… we ran clear out to 17:30 on this one. Enjoy!

Liner notes:

You can find Dan Willis’ website here: http://www.dansrealm.com/Dans_Realm/Home/Home.html

Orson Scott Card’s Essays on naming:

http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/2003-03-05-1.shtml and http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/2003-03-05-2.shtml

And this week, Writing Excuses is sponsored by The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn Mass Market Paperback by Brandon Sanderson.

By Writing Excuses | August 4, 2008 - 7:36 pm - Posted in Characters, Genre, Horror, Season 1, Writing Prompt

What is horror? Why is it scary? HOW is it scary? Forced by their grandfather’s will to spend an entire night in his spooky mansion, our podcasters gather to discuss the nuts and bolts of what horror is (and isn’t) and how it works behind the scenes. Here’s a hint: as with pretty much everything else in writing, the secret comes down to compelling conflicts with engaging characters. Be warned: Howard is going to say something scary, so don’t listen to this podcast alone and/or in the dark.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by something close to Dan’s heart.

Writing Prompt: A descent into madness written from the first person point of view. You are going to descend into madness, your writing will become gibberish or something horrible will happen, and then Brandon will scream.

In this, the last of our WorldCon 66 episodes, Brandon, Dan, and Howard interview Name of the Wind author Patrick Rothfuss. We discuss exposition, and how not to bore people as you move them through the learning curve. We start by covering some “don’ts”  - including the essay, the police-artist sketch, and the thesis statement.

And then we work into the “do’s” – show-don’t-tell, focus on character, and don’t write stuff the readers don’t care about.

   This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by Schlock Mercenary: The Teraport Wars  by Howard Tayler

By Writing Excuses | September 22, 2008 - 3:55 pm - Posted in Characters, Liner Notes, Season 1, Writing Prompt

Just as no burger is complete without its fries, no protagonist is complete without his sidekick, or his mother, or his entomologist, or whatever side character you decide to give him. This week we talk about why side characters are important, and how to do them well.

Liner Notes

Elantris Mad Prince Deleted Scenes

Dan’s Bunny Book (AKA Blacker Darkness) (Word 2003 format)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: This week's Writing Excuses is brought to you by Schlock Mercenary: The Teraport Wars  by Howard Tayler

Writing Prompt: Bring a side character from the future, bring them back to the past and write a story about them.

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By Writing Excuses | October 6, 2008 - 8:43 am - Posted in Characters, Season 1, Style, World Building

Everyone says you can’t teach style–each writer just has to figure it out on his or her own.  Well, we here at Writing Excuses have never met an ultimatum we didn’t immediately challenge, so today we take it head on. Can you teach style? Can you learn tone? What makes each writer’s voice unique?

Writing Prompt: Take a scene and write it as Dan would write it, then write it as Brandon would write it, and then write it as Howard would write it.

You didn’t think we’d just keep going with the same old stuff forever, did you? Well, actually we are, but now we’re calling it Season 2. This season begins with a series of episodes recorded at Mountain Con in Layton, UT, each of them rife with wisdom and wonder.

This week Writing Excuses is brought to you by the Writing Excuses Season One Collection on CD.

By Writing Excuses | October 27, 2008 - 8:05 am - Posted in Characters, Guest, Live, Season 2

No matter how grand your setting, how intense your conflicts, or how tight your plot, at some point you’re going to need characters. Join us as we discuss what makes a character interesting, memorable, and unique. Once again, the team is joined by Brandon Mull of “Fablehaven” fame.

Brandon Mull’s website

This week Writing Excuses is brought to you by the Writing Excuses Season One Collection on CD.

Eric James Stone joins us for our final Mountain-Con episode. This Q&A covers writing part-time (and Dan disqualifies himself from answering this question in future episodes), setting deadlines for yourself, writing plot twists, and providing character description within that character’s viewpoint.

By Writing Excuses | December 7, 2008 - 9:22 pm - Posted in Characters, Genre, Guest, Season 2, Writing Prompt

This week (and for the following two weeks) the Writing Excuses crew is joined by author Dave Wolverton, who also writes under the name David Farland. This week’s topic? ROMANCE. What can four adult males possibly have to say about the subject? The answer: We tell you absolutely everything we know in just sixteen minutes and fifty-one seconds. And there was time left over in there to stick in an advertisement.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by Rokit Fuel. That ad Howard recorded was powered in part by two bags of the stuff. They sent us samples, and we plowed through them like a tornado through a trailer park.

 

Writing Prompt: And now, the Writing Prompt: Your character walks into a room and sees three people whom he or she could end up with. You don't know which one it will be. Keep the reader guessing (and interested!)

Dave Wolverton joins us for a third and final episode, and the Writing Excuses team pumps him for information before letting him escape. We find out why he uses two names (David Farland and Dave Wolverton), how to name characters, and why writers don’t jump between genres much. Dave discusses the state of the genre-fiction publishing business, and prognosticates a bit on its future.  As a special treat, Dave explains how he broke into the industry, so be the first to listen to that bit and get a leg up on everybody else with this proven (and slightly bloody) strategy.

Writing Prompt: Juan and Gregorio Watanabe are in medieval England–and they belong there.  Explain why.

By Writing Excuses | January 25, 2009 - 8:50 pm - Posted in Characters, World Building, Writing Prompt

The Writing Excuses crew returns to world-building, this time to discuss the creation of non-human races. Why do genre-fiction writers use aliens and monsters, short folk, tusked folk, or any other variation on “people” who aren’t human? Can new writers successfully recycle the classic Tolkien races and use dwarves, elves, orcs, goblins, and trolls? If not, how can new races best be created?

How can races be made “three-dimensional?” What are the common pitfalls? How much religion, culture, and physiology do you have time to create? Why are the rabidly violent fans of the Klingon race going to come after Howard with a cheap, plastic bat’leth? (Answer: Because they have no honor.)

Writing Prompt: Create a believable Alien and write something from his/her perspective.

We took Writing Excuses on the road last month for “Life, The Universe, and Everything,” the symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy at Brigham Young University. The Guests of Honor were Tracy and Laura Hickman, and poor Tracy agreed to join us for a podcast or two, recorded in front of a live audience.

After the initial introductions we dig into clichés, starting with characters – specifically, how to avoid these kinds of problems in our characters. What’s the difference between a cliché and an archetype? Tracy saves us time and again with great answers that beg a dozen or more podcasts. It’s a good thing Tracy and Laura have their own podcast.

This episode has “clipping” problems. We need to buy some good audio gear for Jordan so he can fix problems like this. Or maybe some audio gear that will let him prevent problems like this.  But don’t discuss that in the comments. Discuss clichés, please.

Writing Prompt: Howard gets attacked by monkeys.

Last week we talked about reading critically, reading as writers. This week we decided to apply that critical reading skill to Watchmen, the Hugo award-winning graphic novel by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins. We start (once we get past the donuts in our mouths) by breaking it down into character, setting, and plot, and then we further dissect each of those elements based on what we thought of them.

This episode is chock full of spoilers. If you’re planning on reading Watchmen for the first time (or seeing the movie), you probably ought to do that before  you let us ruin it for you.

Writing Prompt: Write an alternate history for 2009 taking stylistic cues from Watchmen.

By Writing Excuses | June 14, 2009 - 8:41 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest, Live, Plot, Setting

This episode was recorded live at CONduit in Salt Lake City with special guest Aprilynne Pike. Our topic: How do we “keep it real” when writing speculative fiction? What does that even mean?

(Okay, it means making the stuff that exists in real life seem real.)

Short answer: Research. We talk about how we go about researching the “real” elements of our various works, all the while trying hard not to go “squee” with our very first #1 New York Times Bestelling guest. We also discuss many of the shortcuts and tricks we fall back on.

This week’s episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by editor Stacy L. Whitman and her World-Building in Middle Grade and Young Adult Speculative Fiction Seminar. The seminar will be held at the Provo Library in Provo, Utah from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Saturday, June 27th, 2009. The deadline for registration is June 19th.

Howard here… I’ve learned that it’s a really bad idea to run out for a bio-break between podcasts. When I returned to the packed panel room I could tell that everyone’s attitude towards me was subtly different. It wasn’t until we started recording that I realized Brandon had turned our Q&A panel into a “Stump Howard” panel. Our good friend Eric James Stone joined us for the fun.

As silly themes go, this one works well. So well, in fact, that we went six minutes into overtime. The questions were all good, and yes, according to the rules (of which I was not apprised, I should add in my defense) I got stumped one time. It was the question about making aliens seem alien. Go figure.

Writing Prompt: Start with a device that vaporises water, ala Batman Begins, and turn it into a believable superweapon which is not being used to destroy the world.

Howard here, folks. On behalf of the entire Writing Excuses team I’d like to apologize in advance for that which you are about to receive.

You know how sometimes one of those crazy thoughts seems like a good idea, and the more you talk about it the better the idea seems, and so then you actually do it and are left looking back at it with a mixture of awe and horror? This episode is like that.

Brandon thought it would be funny to have  a discussion about dialects in which Dan and I actually do dialects. So we did.

We’re all very sorry. In the spirit of eponymy, I shall now write an excuse: “It was late, and we were so tired that we thought this would be funny.”

By Writing Excuses | September 13, 2009 - 4:54 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest

John Brown, debut author of Servant of a Dark God, joins us for this discussion of  the avoidance of self-insertion. In polite company we call this the “Mary Sue,” because it’s difficult to say “self-insertion” in polite company, much less with a straight face.

In broader terms, what we’re covering is voice, and how to make our characters sound like themselves rather than us.

This week’s Writing Excuses is Brought to you by Servant of a Dark God by John Brown.

By Writing Excuses | September 27, 2009 - 9:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest, Theme

John Brown rejoins us for this discussion of  repetition. How do we, as writers, avoid repeating ourselves? We’re not just talking about the literal re-use of words and phrases here. We’re interested in avoiding the re-use of themes, character arcs, and plotlines.  Forget the problems Howard might have coming up with a new joke… he (and all of us) need to reach further than that to keep things fresh.

This week’s Writing Excuses is Brought to you by Servant of a Dark God by John Brown.

Writing Prompt:  The princess is trying to eat a pie, but someone is trying to stop her. Oh, and the fate of the world depends on the outcome.

By Writing Excuses | November 22, 2009 - 8:02 pm - Posted in Characters, Editing, Live

Dan, Howard, and Jordo descended into the basement at Dragon’s Keep where members of the local NaNoWriMo chapter were attempting to bolster their word-counts for the day. We talked to them about National Novel Writing Month, and about the things that were getting them stuck. Good times!

Writing Prompt: Kill one of your characters with a shovel.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible. Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.

*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | December 13, 2009 - 11:30 pm - Posted in Characters, Narrator, Plot

This episode totally would have updated earlier if I’d only known sooner that it was ready to go. Jordo says he emailed me early this evening, but if he HAD then you’d have been listening to this by 8:00pm Sunday.

So… how much of that do you believe? Is the Narrator lying to you, or is he just wrong?  Maybe he is lying to himself, and thinks he’s being honest with you.

Most importantly, though, how does any of this apply to your writing? Well, that’s what the podcast is for…

Writing Prompt: Have an event occur, and then provide five different character perspectives on the event… none of which are completely accurate.

Note: this episode updated a little late because I wanted an object lesson in the write-up, not because I was relaxing on the couch until 11:15pm.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

By Writing Excuses | January 11, 2010 - 10:07 am - Posted in Characters, Humor, Prose

Welcome to Writing Excuses Season 4, featuring new, shorter episode titles! Also, if you don’t count the bonus episodes or the Parsec Award Acceptance Speech, this is our 100th Episode!

Brandon kicks this off by asking “What does Howard do that’s funny?” and then by categorizing the sorts of things he finds Howard doing. Obviously this puts no pressure whatsoever on Howard to be funny during the podcast. Which is good, because he really wasn’t, cold medicine notwithstanding. Again, we manage talk about humor without being funny.

We manage to cover character-based humor, physical humor, and non-sequitur, brushing alongside cognitive humor and exaggeration as we go, but hey… we only had 15 minutes to work with. Oh, and we ran over by 4 minutes and fifty-seven seconds.

Writing Prompt: Write something funny using non-sequiturs and cold medicine.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible. Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.

*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | January 17, 2010 - 4:41 pm - Posted in Characters

If you want to write a good, heroic hero, this is the podcast for you. We’re not necessarily talking about the archetypical, classically-defined, capital-H “Hero” in this podcast, though. We’re talking about what makes readers stand up and cheer.

And yes, this can be applied to the archetype, but let’s not digress.

We talk about perseverance, sacrifice, hard work, fear-facing, and a bunch of other attributes that we find inherently heroic.

Audiobook Plug: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

Writing Prompt: Write a scene in which a character makes a noble sacrifice and is not rewarded.

Mystery Soundbite! We have no idea who those gents with mouthfuls of marshmallows were, but Jordo caught them on tape…

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible. Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.

*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | February 7, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Ideas

Roll for initiative, folks! Brandon, Dan, and Howard all play tabletop role-playing games, and sometimes even play together. The question of the hour (well… quarter-hour) is “how can these games help your world building, storytelling, and anything else having to do with good writing?”

If this ‘cast doesn’t make you want to play RPGs with your friends, congratulations on a successful Saving Throw vs. Dark Podcast Magic. If this ‘cast doesn’t make you want to sit down and start writing, you have our condolences. That’s not the saving throw you were supposed to make!

In the spirit of not-necessarily-related personal information: This week we learn that Howard is moister than Dan.

In related news, see the Writing Excuses crew this coming Saturday, February 13th, at the Life, The Universe and Everything Symposium at Brigham Young University in the Wilkinson Center. We’ll be there for the full symposium, but on Saturday we’ll actually be recording in front of an audience. You’ll also get to meet Bob Defendi, who gets mentioned at least three times in this episode.

Audiobook Plug: Nation, by Terry Pratchett

Writing Prompt: Don’t write about players being sucked into their RPGs. That’s been done a lot. Suck the RPG characters out into our world, and see what happens.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | March 7, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest

Jessica Day George joins us again, this time to tell us how to write men.  Brace yourselves for the bandying-about of generalities, for painting with broad brushes, and for assorted other potential points of offense!

Let’s say, for a moment, that you’re not a man. How do you go about writing men? Now let’s turn the question around… suppose you ARE a man. How do YOU write men? And now let’s cut to the heart of the matter by comparing these two processes. Are they different? Should they be? And where do knitting and superconductivity enter into the picture?

This is why it’s so cool to have Jessica with us Y-chromosome types. We all get to learn stuff.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Writing Prompt: Alternative history! Take an absurd 19th-century folk belief, treat it as absolute fact, and write a story hinging on that principle.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | March 14, 2010 - 3:14 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Genre, Guest

Jessica Day George joins the Writing Excuses crew again, this time for a discussion of writing for young adults, and maybe for teens, or even middle-grade readers. This isn’t a podcast about rigidly defining the boundary between the YA and middle-grade genres, though. That’s publishing. We’re talking about writing.

If you enjoyed last week’s discussion with the sweeping generalizations and the appropriate application thereof, this ‘cast should be every bit as intriguing. What are teenagers interested in, and how is that different from what interests adults? Do stories need to be simplified for teenagers, or are we underestimating them when we do that? How does the age of your protagonist determine the age-group to whom your publisher will market the book? Why is it genre-appropriate for Dumbledore to repeatedly withhold crucial information from Harry, Hermione, and Ron?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen, because a pit-fighting dragon is way cooler than the dragons of Christopher Paolini.

Writing Prompt: Take a protagonist younger than about 16 and put him or her in charge of a group of adults.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | March 28, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Fantasy, Genre, Sci-fi, Setting, Structure, World Building

“Dude, that’s totally epic.”

“Epic fail! Epic fail!”

These phrases have only passing relation to epic storytelling, and to epic fantasy. Brandon and Howard write epics, and we’re going to talk about how we do it. And Dan’s going to help, because even if his launching-this-week I Am Not a Serial Killer novel is not an epic, Dan knows his stuff.

(Also, epic win for Dan! His book launches this week!)

We talk about some of our favorite epic fantasy and epic science fiction series, and then discuss elements like scope, plotlines, and characters. We also address some of the common pitfalls new writers fall into when trying to write their first epic.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Uplift Trilogy: Brightness Reef, Infinity’s Shore, and Heaven’s Reach by David Brin

Writing Prompt: Google “Epic Win” (or just visit “Epic Win FTW“), take one of the images on the site, and then craft an epic story around that image.

Joke Not Told By Howard In The Podcast: If a new writer attempts to create an epic and falls flat on his or her face in the attempt, it is, in fact, Epic Fail.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | April 4, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Fantasy, Horror, Plot

We called “can-of-worms” on multiple viewpoints last week because the topic is too big to share the ‘cast with anything else. We talk about why multiple viewpoints are useful, and then how to do it well. We discuss the pitfalls and how to avoid them, and then the strategies we use to pull off multiple viewpoints well.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: John Ringo’s Live Free or Die, in which the main character is based on Howard Tayler, only shorter and more Napoleonic.

Writing Excuses Podcaster Book Launch-of-the-Week: I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells is available now in the United States, and he’s on tour promoting it.

Writing Prompt: Write a multiple viewpoint story in which a single tree serves as the focus for each of the different viewpoints.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*. *Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please! Audible® Free Trial Details Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | June 6, 2010 - 5:45 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Guest, Lifestyle, Live, Q&A

Recorded live at CONduit with the inestimably valuable help of our friends at Dungeon Crawlers Radio, here’s an episode full of the randomness that is “questions from the audience.” These include:

  • What do people get wrong when they write military science-fiction?
  • How do you develop action sequences?
  • What makes a good foil character?
  • How do you schedule your time as a writer?
  • How do you write good, true-to-character dialog for each of your characters?

Our podcasters for this episode were Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, L.E. Modessit Jr., and Robison Wells.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Haze by L.E. Modessit, Jr.

Writing Prompt: Why does she NOT sound like the guy she’s interested in?

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.

*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | June 20, 2010 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Collaboration, Demonstration, Guest, Ideas, Plot

James Dashner and Julie Wright join Brandon and Dan at CONduit in Salt Lake City, and may end up wishing they hadn’t. Brandon throws sets of story concepts at the crew, and asks them to quickly frame serious stories with a solid settings and cool characters.

The  first set of story elements:

  • Church accountant
  • contact lenses that ruin your vision
  • brain implants

The second set of story elements:

  • Hell for English Majors
  • Key that will lock any door

The third set of story elements:

  • Janitors are trying to take over the world
  • They’re going to be stopped by a superhero with no arms
  • It can’t be silly

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan

Writing Prompt: This whole episode was made of writing prompts. Pick one!

Fun Random Fact: Howard worked as a church accountant for a while and he owns contact lenses that do, in fact, impair his vision.

Freaky Bonus Thanks: We couldn’t have recorded this episode without help from our friends at Dungeon Crawlers Radio.

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By Writing Excuses | July 5, 2010 - 9:45 am - Posted in Characters, Dialog, Scenes

“As you know, we’ll be discussing stilted dialog” said Howard. “We should do something different for the introduction.”

“Let’s speak our dialog tags” said Brandon cleverly.

“We mustn’t forget to include adverbs” said Dan pensively.

That’s not exactly how it went down, but that’s a nicely stilted object lesson, right? And let me state for posterity that writing it was painful.

What is “stilted dialog?” Who is wearing stilts, and why? More importantly, how can we avoid writing dialog that staggers about on leg extensions?

We offer a few tricks, including heavily re-writing (after first racing to get as much dialog on the page as possible), using turns of phrase that are in-character for the person saying it, and turning exposition into arguments.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, which is currently being read by the Internet reading group One book, One Twitter.

Writing Prompt: This is a two-parterStart by writing the very worst infodumping maid & butler dialog you can (using an actual maid and an actual butler.) Now rewrite it with the maid & butler arguing viciously. Include all the same information, but make the dialog believable and entertaining.

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By Writing Excuses | July 11, 2010 - 8:28 pm - Posted in Characters, Dialog, Editing, Plot, Scenes, Structure

What do you do when, halfway through the book you’re writing, you realize it needs to be completely rebuilt? More importantly, how do you figure this out in the first place? This podcast came about as a result of a question from a listener, but the question was specific to “what if you find out it’s too derivative?” As it turns out, that’s just one of the many problems you can discover midway through a novel.

We spend the first half of the cast discussing how each of us identify the showstopping problems that require us to overhaul our works.

We then talk about the process of fixing things that might, at first glance, appear to be completely unfixable. Sometimes we shift pieces of paper around, sometimes we push blocks of text around in our word processors, and sometimes we have to do something really significant, like adding an entirely new character or point-of-view.

One of the best features of this particular ‘cast is the bit in the second half where Howard and Dan grill Brandon about his process for Towers of Midnight. Wheel of Time fans won’t find any spoilers, but they’ll certainly gain some insight.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett, which Howard loves because of the “stand-up-and-cheer” moments of heroism throughout the book.

Writing Prompt: Take something you’ve already written, grab a throwaway concept in that story, and rewrite that scene or chapter so the throwaway bit is now the major focus.

Moment of Extreme Hubris: “I give lessons.” Listen for it.

That Episode on Stealing for Fun and Profit: Right here.

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By Writing Excuses | August 8, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Dialog, Editing

We return to White Sand (original version), Brandon’s first book, written while he was a teenager. Again, you’ll need to suspend your disbelief as we assume that the story edits and other major content passes are complete, and what’s on the page now only needs refinement.

In this episode we’re drilling down on the dialog, which includes not only what the characters are saying, but also the said-bookisms (most of which are going to need to go.) We prune, we trim, and do all kinds of little things to make the conversations flow better, serve the plot better, and better engage the reader.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde. Note that there are three dramatizations available. Our first link is to the one with James Marsters.

Writing Prompt: From Producer Jordo: The Importance of Being Earnest Goes To Jail. Or Camp. Whatever. Think “Oscar Wilde/Earnest mashup.”

White Sand Excuses: The decades-long spin-off podcast in which over the course of 10 years we line edit this book down to around 200,000 words.

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By Writing Excuses | August 22, 2010 - 8:17 pm - Posted in Business, Characters, Editing, Ideas, Plot

Recorded live at Dragons & Fairy Tales, this episode is for anybody who has a novel or two (or more) sitting in the bottom of their trunk. What are the best ways to re-use old material you’ve set aside? We talk about rewriting entire novels, repurposing plots or characters, and moving stories from one place to another.

Sometimes we do this because an idea is just too good to let sit, but the execution on that idea (at least the first time around) wasn’t good enough. And sometimes we shouldn’t do it at all.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Feed by Mira Grant – it’s 1/3 zombie novel, 2/3 political thriller.

Writing Prompt: “Interspeciated workplace.” Go!

Prompt #2: You just got a “Cease & Desist” from a webcartoonist…

Audience Noises: Delivered on cue, thanks to cleverly positioned signs…

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By Writing Excuses | September 7, 2010 - 12:53 pm - Posted in Characters, Narrator

We’ve talked about point of view before, but only in general terms: this time we delve into third-person limited in detail, explaining how to use it and when to use it and why.

We apologize for the lateness of the post, and the lameness of this episode description: this is what happens when all three of us go to conventions on the same weekend. Expect a cooler update soon.

[ONE WEEK LATER]

So… yeah, that original post pretty much sums it up. Why should you employ third-person limited, as opposed to first-person, or third-person omniscient, or third-person cinematic? What are the pitfalls, and how can you avoid them?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Soulless by Gail Carriger. Vampires, werewolves, and parasols in a steamy, punky, bodice-rippy, alternate-history London.

Writing Prompt: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Producer Jordo all walk through a room, and each of us sees the room differently.

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By Writing Excuses | September 12, 2010 - 3:38 pm - Posted in Characters, Humor, Narrator

Special guest Bree Despain of the Dark Divine trilogy joins us for a ‘cast on character quirks.

A character quirk, avoiding the tautological definition, is something that makes your character memorable. We talk about good quirks, bad quirks, and how to tell the difference. We also laugh a lot because it was late and we were punchy.

We also discuss ways in which stereotype-breaking quirks can be employed without delivering humor, and reasons why we might do this.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Regarding That “No Spoilers” Shouting-Match: If you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender (animated) in its entirety yet, it’s possible Bree gave something away in the last two minutes of the ‘cast.

Writing Prompt: A physical attribute that in some way influences the character’s religion

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By Writing Excuses | September 19, 2010 - 3:37 pm - Posted in Characters, POV, Style

Bree Despain joins us for a discussion of writing the first-person viewpoint. We talk about “method writing” and get briefly creeped out by Dan. We discuss some key aspects of this particular POV, including the unreliable narrator, the over-the-shoulder vs. the memoir perspective, and the presence or absence of a framing story.

We cover a few pitfalls, including the clichéd “mirror scene,” and then offer advice to new writers who are looking for ways to get first person right the first time.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Beastly, by Alex Finn

Writing Prompt: The main character has a secret. Write from that character’s point of view, but keep the secret from the reader.

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By Writing Excuses | October 3, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Characters

“Write what you know.”

Really? What about when we need to write about a relationship with which we have no experience, or about a real-world location to which we’ve never been? How do we go about writing what we most explicitly do NOT know?

Dan discusses writing about a sociopathic teenager in a mortuary. Howard covers writing about the relationships in a close-knit military organization. We talk about research, extrapolation, and talking to friends who have had the experiences we lack. But what separates the amateur from the master in this regard?

We talk about all this at length, discussing our own experiences, where we’ve fallen short, where we’ve excelled, and what we’ve done to close the gap. Because we are, of course, masters, and in this regard it’s EASY for us to talk about what we know.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Mr. Monster, by Dan Wells. This is the sequel to Dan’s first book, I Am Not a Serial Killer. While it is less bloody than the first, it is far, far more disturbing.

Writing Prompt: Watch Ian McKellen explain how to act. Many of you may have already seen this, but watch it again. Then let it inspire you…

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By Writing Excuses | October 10, 2010 - 4:58 pm - Posted in Business, Characters, Q&A

You’re going to love this one. This fast-paced episode of Writing Excuses goes out to everybody who thinks Writing Excuses isn’t already fast-paced enough.

We’ve done Q&A episodes before, but this one is special. This time we applied our “shot clock” to each question we fielded, and set out to knock each one down within three minutes.

The Questions:

What’s the right way to kill a character?

Who are the authors who have influenced you the most, and why?

When do you quit your day-job?

Brandon, would killing you and partaking of your flesh grant the killer your powers?

What do you do when you discover you hate a character you’re writing?

How do you respond to accusations of having written Mary Sue characters?

What are some basic tools for ensuring that all characters in a story have different voices?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

Writing Prompt: Two critics who reviewed Dan Wells’ book and who had completely opposite reactions actually read two different books…

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By Writing Excuses | October 17, 2010 - 4:36 pm - Posted in Characters, Dialog, Genre

Melodrama. What is it? What do people mean when they say something is too melodramatic?

Usually they do NOT mean “it’s too much like a classical melodrama,” but it helps if we start with that definition: a melodrama is a story in which each character only expresses one emotion, and/or only has one trait. When we refer to melodrama, we’re usually complaining about over-acting.

So… how do we avoid it? How do we create characters in conflict without overdoing the conflict or the characterization. In many ways it comes back to something we say over and over (and over and over) again: make your characters into real people.

But we’re not going to leave it at that. We’re not just going to repeat what we’ve been telling you for three years now. No, we’ve got good tools you can use for writing powerful, emotional moments without your readers whining about melodrama.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Tomb: Repairman Jack #1, by F. Paul Wilson

Writing Prompt: Write a story in which you take a cliched, angsty hero in a completely new direction, so that it doesn’t feel cliched.

Dramatic Reading: Stick around after the ‘cast for Howard’s reading of Mike O’s response to our “magical ink” writing prompt.

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By Writing Excuses | October 31, 2010 - 5:10 pm - Posted in Characters, Plot

John Brown joins us this week for a discussion of plot threads specific to characters. These can be the main plot thread, interesting sub-plots, or just things that shape characters. Sometimes they’re things we do deliberately, and sometimes we discovery-write our way into these arcs. We talk about how we do this, and how we know when it is (and isn’t!) working well.

We ran a little long, but there were four of us, and we put LOTS of nuts-and-bolts stuff in this ‘cast.

Writing Prompt: Your cast of characters is trapped on an emotionally-responsive roller-coaster that mimics their own emotional arcs. How do they use this knowledge?

This Tuesday: John’s first novel, Servant of a Dark God, is out in paperback!

ALSO This Tuesday: The polls are open for you, you citizens of the United States! Go vote!

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1, by Jonathan Stroud, read by Simon Jones.

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By Writing Excuses | November 14, 2010 - 7:50 pm - Posted in Characters, Q&A

It was so popular when we did it the first time, we decided to do it again. Here’s a second rapid-fire Q&A, with questions coming to us from Twitter, Facebook, and email.

  1. How do you do bad things to your heroes and not feel bad about it?
  2. How far into writing a novel should you begin letting others read it and provide feedback?
  3. Do the bad things you do to your characters always have to suit the story?
  4. How do you design frightening creatures?
  5. How far into the outlining process do you actually start writing?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk, narrated by Jim Colby. Content warning! This book has naughty words and some very adult concepts in it. Dan recommends it anyway.

Writing Prompt: You have decided to start “Zoo Club,” and you just punched an elephant REALLY HARD.

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By Writing Excuses | November 21, 2010 - 7:46 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Guest, Plot, POV, Structure

How do you write the second book? Zombie John Brown joins us for a discussion of that second novel.

(Note: As of this writing, John Brown remains NOT DEAD. Not UNDEAD, mind you. NOT DEAD. John D. Brown, author, is alive and well, and his nose is healing up quite nicely.)

We’ve got three possible approaches to take. The first is “your second unpublished novel.” The second is “your second published book.” The third is “the second book in a series.” All three of these are worth discussing, so of course we give the second one a wide miss.

We start with that second unpublished novel. This is the book where you move past the momentary validation of finishing the first novel, and sit down at the keyboard again. The lessons learned during the first novel are applied quickly. We talk about some of those lessons, and how they applied to each of us.

We then talk about the second book in a series. We look at what works well in sequels, in second acts, and subsequent installments in an ongoing series. We talk about the dangers of sequel-itis, especially as Hollywood suffers from it, and how we can avoid falling into these traps.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Good Guy, by Dean Koontz, narrated by Richard Ferrone

Writing Prompt: The growth on your nose… is it an alien, is it occult, or are you going to tell a love story?

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By Writing Excuses | December 19, 2010 - 7:05 pm - Posted in Characters, Editing, POV

Late last season we took a look at Brandon’s first novel and did some line-editing and critiquing. It was so much fun we decided that Dan needed to take a turn in the dunking booth.

He totally gets wet.

In the course of dunking Dan we cover beginnings, descriptions, character development, pacing, and viewpoint as we tear into the first couple of pages of this novel. Brandon and Howard argue a bit over stylistic approaches, and of course Dan doesn’t get a say in things because he drowned. (Note: Dan does get a say in things, but mostly because he is not defending his old work at all.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

Writing Prompt: Take an idiomatic expression and make it literal (not as a pun.) For instance, “the crack of dawn” as an actual crack in the sky through which dawn’s light shines.

Word That Is Not A Word But Totally Should Be: Discontiguity: [dis-kon-ti-gyoo-i-tee] – noun. A break in a series of things in continuous connection. A severance of contact.

Word That Isn’t In The Book, But Brandon Totally Put It There: Scrumptiously.

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By Writing Excuses | December 27, 2010 - 8:27 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Dialog, Editing

This week’s episode, a day later than usual because of extended eggnogging*, features the submissions of a few brave souls who participated in Brandon’s tagless, unnarrated dialog exercise.

The rules were simple: Write a scene featuring nothing but dialog between two characters. The characters should have distinct voices, and the scene should communicate both setting and conflict. A great example of this is “They’re Made Out of Meat,” by Terry Bisson, which was a Nebula award nominee in 1992 (not a Hugo winner, though Brandon thought it was.) If you haven’t read it before, it’s a right treat and you should click on the story title and go read it right now.

Well… in 20 minutes or so (we ran long.) Listen to the podcast first, and pay attention as Brandon, Dan, and Howard gently dissect and critique the submissions of tagless, unnarrated dialog.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dune, by Frank Herbert, narrated by Scott Brick , Orlagh Cassidy , Euan Morton , and Simon Vance

Writing Prompt: You are walking down a back alley, and you meet Jason from DragonMount. He’s getting all uppity about how good his submission was. What do you do to him?

Word That In This Context Is A Euphemism For “Howard Got Sick”: Eggnogging: [egg-nah-ging]

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By Writing Excuses | January 2, 2011 - 7:50 pm - Posted in Characters, Genre, Plot, Setting

Send your angry emails to Howard, because this was totally his idea.

This is a discussion of avoiding unnecessary offense. Sometimes, especially in humorous works, offense is a required risk, so that’s not where we’re going here. We’re going to talk about the sorts of things we sometimes do that offend our readers, and how we can prevent those sorts of elements from entering into our writing — at least into our final drafts.

Some of the offenses we might offer include talking down to the reader, certain racial and gender demographics, poor representation of a particular culture and/or gender (anyone remember RaceFail from two years ago?), straw men, potemkin villages, open moralizing, and breaking the promises we make to our readers.

Book of the Week: Dragon’s Ring by Dave Freer, available now in paperback from Baen Books. Ask for it by name at the bookstore.

Inspiration for This Podcast: A completely unrelated request from Oletta.

Howard’s New Band Name: “Nuke The Blue Monkeys”

Writing Prompt: Start with hard science-fiction, move to werewolf romance.


By Writing Excuses | January 16, 2011 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Criticism, Dialog, Editing

The rules: Write dialog with no dialog tags and no narration. Write it in such a way that we get character, conflict, and setting. We did this a few weeks ago, and have more examples from you, our daring, sharing listeners!

We ran waaay long this time, but it’s okay because we spent a bunch of time reading the submissions. After each reading we discuss what went right and what went wrong, and what to learn from it.

Lots of principles come out of this, including avoiding Maid-and-Butler dialog, how to write natural banter, how to establish a character with that character’s voice, and how dialog-only, “white-room” pieces just can’t tell certain types of stories effectively.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Empire of the East, by Fred Saberhagen, narrated by Raymond Todd

Writing Prompt: Brandon decided to read the first two paragraphs of Empire of the East to us, because it’s all dialog and seemed to fit.

Special Guest Appearance: Howard’s pants. We haven’t heard from them in almost a month. They’re back.

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By Writing Excuses | January 30, 2011 - 6:12 pm - Posted in Business, Characters, Guest, Plot

Mary Robinette Kowal and Dave Wolverton join Dan and Howard for a discussion of movie considerations and formulas. Dave explains the three-act structure to us, and we talk about how this applies for transitioning stories to the screen.

And on the subject of screens, Moses Siregar III of Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing captured us on video as we recorded this ‘cast. It’s up on YouTube.

We talk about taglines, and for an example Mary tells us that Shades of Milk and Honey would be pitched as “Jane Austen with magic.” She then relates to us the tale of how Lou Anders Hollywood formula saved the ending of her book.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Runelords, by David Farland, narrated by Ray Porter. The first four books in the series which are available now in audio format.

Writing Prompt: Come up with an eight-word tagline for your novel or short story. It needs to be pithy, punchy, memorable, and easily comprehensible.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | February 6, 2011 - 9:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Fantasy, Humor, Sci-fi, Setting, World Building

Mary Robinette Kowal and Dave Wolverton again join Dan and Howard, and this time we’re talking about holidays in fantasy and science-fiction. This ‘cast was recorded at Superstars Writing Seminars, and  Moses Siregar III of Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing captured us on video as we recorded.

What sorts of things result in holidays? Historically we see them at the solstices and the equinoxes, planting and harvest, and commemorations of important events. We talk about all of these, and how to work them into your own writing without sounding like you’re just filing the serial numbers off of Christmas, Halloween, and Mardi Gras.

So of course we also talk about how to do this wrong.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: METAtropolis: Cascadia, by Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Elizabeth Bear, Ken Scholes, Karl Schroeder, and Tobias Buckell, and narrated by Rene Auberjonois, Kate Mulgrew, Wil Wheaton, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Jay Lake.

Writing Prompt: Make up a holiday that isn’t based on anything you’ve seen.

Exclamation Howard Thought He’d Never Use: Bone Puppet Day!

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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By Writing Excuses | February 27, 2011 - 10:11 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest, Horror, Humor, Setting, Suspense

Sherrilyn Kenyon, a multiple New York Times bestselling author of all kinds of novels, helps us tackle the tricky work of making the reader fear for the characters in the book.

The first step? Make the reader sympathize with the characters. Then make the reader love them. And then? Then you put them through the wringer while your readers bite their nails bloody in horror.

Here in the blurb we make it sound easy and formulaic. Listen to the ‘cast for pointers on the difficult bits.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Night Pleasures: The Dark Hunters, Book 1, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie

Writing Prompt: Take a Lovecraftian beastie and shove him into The Shire.

Legal Note: The Lovecraftian beastie may lie in the public domain, but The Shire most certainly does not. Additional points for making your Shire and your Hobbits C&D-proof with clever name changes and a shave of their feet.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | April 24, 2011 - 3:42 pm - Posted in Characters, Genre, Setting, World Building

Let’s talk about bibles. Specifically, story bibles. What are they, why do we use them, why might we NOT use them, and what tools are working for us?

Howard again plugs wikidpad, which he converted Brandon to, and which Dan Wells just couldn’t bring himself to love. Dan uses several different Open Office files. The important thing, though, is that when we need to store information about the book in someplace besides the book itself, we write it down in our story bibles.

Dan talks about his new project, how important the story bible was for that, and what sorts of things absolutely have to go in there. Howard talks about the sorts of Schlock-tech that often end up

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Freakonomics, by Steven D. Leavitt and Stephen J. Dubner, narrated by Stephen J. Dubner.

Writing Prompt: Someone is a were-animal. Pick an animal that hasn’t been done. Were-banana-slug, perhaps?

9:40 through 10:10: Yes, we went kind of quiet there. Somebody kicked a cable, maybe?

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | May 15, 2011 - 7:16 pm - Posted in Characters, Fantasy, Genre, Guest, Humor, Live

Jim Hines joins Brandon and Howard at Penguicon for a discussion of parody, satire, and why things are funny.

We start by defining parody and satire, and then Jim tells us why he wrote his he-calls-them-satirical Goblin novels, and why aspects of gamer culture so badly need to be satirized. Howard provides his formula for delivering the satire in Schlock Mercenary, and then we begin bandying about the terms “absurdification,” “commodification,” and “DisneyficationTM.”

And believe it or not, we manage to discuss humor in a way that is actually funny, at least some of the time.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Eyes Like Stars, by Lisa Mantchev, narrated by Cynthia Bishop

Writing Prompt: Start with a highly magical, pseudo-medieval fantasy setting. Now… how do you deal with baldness?

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | May 22, 2011 - 6:21 pm - Posted in Characters, Dialog, Genre, Guest

John Scalzi joins Brandon and Howard at Penguicon for a discussion of writing dialog. John’s advice begins thusly: “start reading outside Science Fiction and Fantasy.” It’s good advice regardless, but John’s justification for it is fascinating.

Dialog in prose is not very much like real-life dialog. Your goal as a writer is to convince the reader that it is. And that’s what we’re going to try to teach you how to do. Or at least how to learn how to do.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Fuzzy Nation, John Scalzi’s reboot of H.Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy, narrated by Wil Wheaton

Writing Prompt: Write a dialog between someone ordering at a drive-through and someone taking the order, but the person taking the order is being held up at gunpoint.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.