By Writing Excuses | February 16, 2009 - 9:32 am - Posted in Education, Writing Prompt

Brandon and Dan met during a creative writing class at Brigham Young University, and Brandon went on to get a Master’s Degree in the field. Howard has no formal training in the field. This begs the question… do creative writing classes help? Are they worth the time?

Short answer: Yes, but maybe not in the way you were expecting.

We discuss not only the formal education aspects of creative writing, but also the value of informal education — attending conventions and sitting in on panel discussions about the craft.  If you are looking to become a professional writer and are pondering your education options, this podcast is a must-hear. A must-listen-carefully, even.

Writing Prompt: Fore! In this case, a golf metaphor. But not a pun. Please.

By Howard Tayler | February 21, 2010 - 6:32 pm - Posted in Career, Conventions, Education, Guest, Live, Plot, Q&A

Recorded live at LTUE 2010, here’s a high-energy Q&A session with the Writing Excuses crew and our special guest James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner. We cover outlining vs. discovery writing, the return to the hairy palate, education for writers, killing people, whether or not we want a bagel, pragmatic approaches, authors who don’t inspire us (and by “us” we mean “James Dashner”), and cooking up complex plots.

Note: Brandon says “Episode 6″ but he was totally wrong. This is 4.7, for real.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: James pitches one of his favorites to usFalse Memory by Dean Koontz

Writing Prompt: You’re flying in an airplane when a wing falls off… but the plane keeps going.

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 | October 30, 2011 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Conventions, Education, Guest, Other Podcasts

Mur Lafferty, the Grand Dame of SF podcasting, joins Howard, Mary, and Dan to talk about ways in which writers can continue their educations. We’ve said time and again that nothing improves your writing skills like doing more writing, but there are some other things you can do so that your writing practice pays off faster.

We talk about writing workshops like Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp, Clarion and Clarion West, Writing Superstars, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, and Launchpad. We also talk about podcasts like Writing Excuses (you might have heard of that one) and Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing.

We also talk about information sources online like Turkey City Lexicon, Magical Words,  and Bookview Cafe, and of course we can’t let the episode end without touching on actual books writers can read, like Steven King’s On Writing, Ken Rand’s The 10% Solution, and Orson Scott Card’s Character and Viewpoint.

We wrap up with a reminder: learning a new thing will make writing more difficult before it makes it easier. Don’t panic. Don’t think you’ve broken your brain. It’s all part of the writing process. You’ll get your mojo back as soon as your brain finishes assimilating all this stuff you’ve just learned.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel, Book 1 by Seanan McGuire, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Prompt: Someone wants to go to a writing workshop but gets held up by chicken and waffles.

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 | March 4, 2012 - 7:45 pm - Posted in Criticism, Education, Season 7

David Brin joined Mary and Dan at World Fantasy to pound the importance of criticism into our heads. Our episode opens with a discussion of what your first book should be (a murder mystery) and why David recommends this to his students.

And then on to criticism. It’s important for us, as writers, to be criticized because we’re all liars, and criticism is the only way to get decent product quality out of us. Unfortunately, we tend to hate the thing that we need the most. So David, Dan, and Mary discuss how to reconcile these two competing points, and how to seek criticism (and lots of other stuff, including how to learn by re-typing something.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Startide Rising, by David Brin, narrated by George Wilson

Writing Prompt: What if dreams became so much more vivid that when you woke up, for a full hour you didn't know whether you were still dreaming or not?

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

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

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Writing Excuses | April 22, 2012 - 10:30 pm - Posted in Alternate History, Education, Research, Season 7

Larry Correia joins Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard in front of a live audience at LTUE on Utah Valley University campus. Larry knows guns inside and out, and talks to us about the mistakes that writers make when putting firearms into their stories.

Most of this is simple stuff, or at least it’s simple to fix, but that doesn’t change the fact that we get it wrong all the time. Have a listen, follow Larry’s advice, and get your guns right.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Spellbound: Book II of the Grimnoir Chronicles, by Larry Corriea, narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Writing Prompt: Give us a character who, after reading one Larry Correia novel, goes out and procures a grenade launcher.

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

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

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Mary Robinette Kowal | October 1, 2012 - 1:00 am - Posted in Bonus, Education, Site News

For the first time, the Writing Excuses team is hosting a workshop and retreat for our listeners. This week long event gives you one on one time with the hosts, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler.

Registration is currently sold out. Please scroll down for information about the waiting list.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

The week kicks off with three full days of intensive workshops taught by the WX hosts. All on-campus meals are included during the week.

WX will also be recording sessions while there, so you will get an opportunity to shape episodes by the questions you ask. Plus you get to watch the team record live.

Starting on Wednesday evening, the remainder of the week is time for you to put what you learned to good use, and write. You’re out of excuses… Read The Full Story…

By Writing Excuses | January 13, 2013 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Education, Fantasy, Ideas, Outlining, Plot, Prose, Season 8, Setting, Structure

Beowulf didn’t kill Grendel on a day trip, Luke didn’t overthrow Emperor Palpatine in just one season, and here at Writing Excuses, we didn’t get around to properly discussing the Hero’s Journey until we were well into the second decade of this century.

Sorry about that.

The Campbellian Monomyth, as defined in Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, is a system of comparative mythology that, for better or for worse, gets used a lot by writers. We talk about some of our favorite examples, and immediately begin arguing over terms. Hopefully this is delightful to you, and educational for everyone. Especially since the monomyth is not a checklist, and it should not be taken that way.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: At the time we recorded this, Hero With a Thousand Faces was available on Audible. It's not anymore. So... go find something else educational?

Writing Prompt: Take Goldilocks and the Three Bears, apply the Campbellian Monomyth, and give us a short story.

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

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

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Mary Robinette Kowal | April 17, 2014 - 9:50 am - Posted in Career, Characters, Conventions, Education, Gender, Lifestyle, Race, Site News, World Building

WtO logo

If you wanted to register for the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat and didn’t get in, I’m hoping that you might be interested in the Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat.

It’s held at the same location, Mary Robinette Kowal’s parents’ house.

Mary will be joined by NY Times Best-selling author David Anthony Durham; Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl, the authors behind the book Writing the Other; and K. Tempest Bradford, author and activist.

On Writing Excuses, some of the most common questions come in as variations of “How do you write someone who isn’t like you.” Many authors struggle to write beyond what they know and write the other. While we tackle this on the podcast, fifteen minutes is not enough time to delve into this tricky and nuanced skill. The Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat is designed with lessons and conversations, paired with a retreat, to give participants an opportunity to work on making their characters and worldbuilding deeper and more thoughtful. And David, Cynthia, Nisi, and Tempest really are that smart.

I hope the same urge that makes you listen to Writing Excuses will allow you to consider attending this retreat.

Eventbrite - Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat

By Writing Excuses | August 31, 2014 - 7:03 pm - Posted in Career, Education, Guest, Season 9

David Farland joins us, along with a live audience at FantasyCon 2014, for a discussion on writing instruction. Dave runs My Story Doctor, and firmly believes that almost anyone can learn to write fiction at a professional, conventionally publishable level.  In this episode we cover some of the methods and exercises used to train new writers, and how writers can use these on their own.

 

Writing Prompt: Writing sprint! Write for 15 minutes. Don't stop to edit or wordsmith. Just force yourself to keep the fingers moving and the words flowing.

By Writing Excuses | October 9, 2014 - 7:00 am - Posted in Education, Site News

Registration is now open for the 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat.

For the last two years the event has had a very limited size, and as a result has sold out very quickly. For 2015 we have moved to a new venue, removed the attendance limit, and increased the amount of instructor interaction—all without raising the price.

The 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat will be held from September 20th through the 27th on the Independence of the Seas.

It’s a cruise ship.

The base price of $1200 covers the full week of intensive seminars, writing exercises, and free writing time, plus meals, double-occupancy lodging, and a cruise to four different Caribbean destinations. Attendees will also be invited to submit questions for some of the episodes of Writing Excuses which will be recorded while we’re at sea.

At sea. Seriously.

SEMINARS

Each seminar will include writing exercises and Q&A time with the instructor. Topics will include:

  • Outlining
  • Revision
  • Pacing
  • Suspense
  • Humor
  • Worldbuilding
  • Character creation
  • … and much more.

ADDITIONAL BREAKOUT SESSIONS

There will be a limited number of additional breakout sessions and one-on-one sessions with individual instructors.  There is no additional charge for these, but because of the size of the event they will be distributed by lottery. The first 100 attendees registering prior to January 15th, 2015, will be entered in the lottery.

These breakout sessions include:

6-member novel critique groups: Members will submit excerpts up to 5000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)

6-member short story critique groups: Members will submit short stories up to 5000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)

6-member outlining sessions: Each person must come prepared with a story idea, including an ending. The host will help each attendee turn that into a working outline, ready for them to begin writing.

One-on-one Q&As: This is a 15-minute one-on-one session with one of the hosts, and you decide how that time will be spent. We can critique the first five pages of a manuscript, drill down on a worldbuilding conundrum, answer specific questions, or offer general advice.

GUEST HOSTS

Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson. (Photo (c)2011 by David Findlay)

To give you an even bigger bang for your buck, we are inviting other authors and industry professionals to help teach classes and breakouts throughout the week. The number of additional hosts depends on the number of attendees. We’re starting with at least one, though: Nalo Hopkinson has accepted our invitation, and will be joining us as the inaugural Out of Excuses Guest Host.

Nalo is a professional writing teacher, and one of our favorite panelists to listen to at conventions—she’s personable, funny, and brilliant. She’s been nominated for the Philip K. Dick award, the Nebula award, and Aurora award, all multiple times; her short story collection “Skin Folk” won the World Fantasy award, and her novel The New Moon’s Arms won the Sunburst award. She’s a Jamaican-Canadian whose tap roots extend to Trinidad and Guyana. She is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside. She has taught numerous times at both Clarion and Clarion West. Her short story collection Falling in Love With Hominids will appear from Tachyon Books in 2015. In short, she’s very good at what she does, and very good at teaching others how to do it. She’ll be an excellent addition to the workshop, and we’re excited to have her.

CRUISE ITINERARY

  • 20th Sept: Depart Ft. Lauderdale 4:00pm
  • 21st Sept: At Sea
  • 22nd Sept: Labedee, Haiti 8:00am to 5:00pm
  • 23rd Sept: Falmouth,Jamaica 10:30am to 7:00pm
  • 24th Sept: Georgetown, Grand Cayman 8:00am to 4:00pm
  • 25th Sept: Cozumel, Mexico 10:00am to 7:00pm
  • 26th Sept: At Sea
  • 27th Sept: Arrive Ft. Lauderdale 7:00am

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS

All Out of Excuses seminar attendees must be 18 years of age or older. Children from the ages of 12 to 17 may attend if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Children aged 11 and under are welcome aboard ship, but cannot attend the Out of Excuses seminars. Child care and age-appropriate curriculum is available  through Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean® youth program.
All attendees, attendee guests, and accompanied minors must have a valid passport. Getting onto the ship? You need a passport!

FAMILY RATES

There are plenty of things to do on the cruise ship besides attend the Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat. If you’d like to bring a significant other or family member, it’s just $800 for a non-workshop berth. And if the family member is between the ages of 12 and 17, and has an interest in writing, they can pay that reduced price and still attend the seminars with you.

If you want to bring more than three family members, we’ll put you in touch with Lisa Harding, our cruise manager, who can help you with pricing and any other arrangements.

REFUND POLICY

If you need to cancel your registration for any reason, your registration fee will be refunded based on the date of your cancellation:

  • Full refund until June 1st
  • 75% refund until July 1st
  • 50% refund until August 1st
  • 25% refund until September 1st
  • No refunds after September 1st

FAQ:

Q: What does “double-occupancy” mean?
A: It means that the price is for half of a room. You’ll have a roommate. This can be a friend that you arrange to room with ahead of time, it can be a family member, or it can be another Out of Excuses attendee.

Q: Can I get a private room?

A: Yes, but it will cost more. When you register, at the bottom of the form select “Single Occupancy” from the “additional items.”
Private room prices:

  • Standard Interior Stateroom $1200 + $450 = $1650
  • Promenade Stateroom $1300 + $475 = $1775
  • Oceanview Stateroom $1400 + $550 = $1950
  • Oceanview with Balcony $1500 + $750 = $2250

Q: What level of writing expertise should I have attained prior to attending?
A: “Level of expertise” is far less important than your desire to improve. The workshop is structured to be accessible and useful for new writers with a passion for learning, and to be challenging and rewarding for seasoned professionals looking for refinement, or additional perspectives. Different classes will be designed for different levels of experience.

Q: Can young children attend?
A: Children aged 11 and younger are welcome aboard the ship, but cannot attend the Out of Excuses seminars. Royal Caribbean has an excellent youth program which includes child care. Follow this link for more details about Adventure Ocean®.

Q. Will you have a scholarship again this year?
A. Yes! We will be partnering with the Carl Brandon Society again this year. 

Q: How big is the ship?
A: The Independence of the Seas holds 3000 guests, of which we’ll be a small percentage. The Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat has its own dedicated spaces, ours alone 24 hours a day, for classes, writing time, impromptu discussions, or other activities (like, say, a Magic draft with Brandon). We’ll also have our own area of the dining room, and the podcasters will rotate tables each night to sit with different guests. While the ship is large, it will be similar to being at a convention in a very nice hotel. You’ll know your tribe, you’ll know where to find them, and you’ll have places to hide from all the scary non-writer people.

Q: How big is the event?
A: If previous years’ registration numbers and waiting lists are any indication, there should be between 75 and 150 of us; there may be less, there may be more, we’re honestly not sure what to expect. As mentioned above, the podcasters and our guest hosts will be rotating tables at dinner, and participating in other activities in order to make ourselves accessible to each and every one of the attendees.