Category Archives: Guest

11.05: Writing and World Building for Role Playing Games

Michelle Lyons-McFarland, Monica Valentinelli, and Shanna Germain joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy for an episode which is a thinly-veiled indulgence for Howard to glean advice from three people who know far more about the craft of RPG design than he does.

Our discussion centers around how world building for role playing games, and especially the manner in which the world is presented, differs from world building for novels. We don’t talk about rule sets or physics simulations. We’re after the things that players want and need to read in order to immerse themselves in the setting, and get “in fiction.”

Pro-Tip: There are two major things, listeners, that you can get from this podcast: first, soak up the incredibly valuable writing-for-RPGs information provided by our guests. Second, listen to how Howard abases himself when he has the opportunity to sit down with experts who have information he desperately needs.

Liner Notes: Howard habitually mispronounces the word “ablative.” The accent should be on the first syllable: [ab-luh-tiv]

Addendum: As of this posting The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game is not yet available for purchase. Details about the project can be found here.

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Writing Prompt: Write about a non-player, non-heroic character (say, the NPC who cleans the alley behind the tavern) in your setting. What do they want? What do they fear? What do they love? How might their story play out independently from the story told by the players?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Perdido Street Station, By China Mieville, narrated by John Lee

11.2: How To Get The Most Out Of A Conference, with Kathy Chung

Kathy Chung runs the Surrey International Writing Conference, which is a professional development event, rather than one of the fan-run conventions, which are primarily reader and/or consumer events. She also helped us put together the 2015 Out Of Excuses event, where we were fortunate to witness her expertise first-hand.

Naturally, we invited her to talk with us about conferences and conventions. She’s easy to talk to, and she knows more about them than we do.

We cover some of the key differences between conferences and conventions (especially from the writer’s point of view,) and, per the subject, how to get the most of them.

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Writing Prompt: Homework: Research conventions and conferences in your area.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk, narrated by John Lee

Writing Excuses 10.52: Moving On, with Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner joins us for the last episode of Season 10. Per the title, folks, it’s time to be done.

What does “done” mean? How do you go about declaring a project “finished” when you know there are still things wrong with it? How do you clear your head, your work space, and your life for the next thing you need to do?

Out of Excuses: Per Brandon’s plug in the episode, registration is open for the 2016 Out of Excuses WritingWorkshop and Retreat!

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Writing Prompt: Try something new. Brainstorm something new, something different from what you've written before.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells, narrated by Christopher Kipiniak

Writing Excuses 10.51: Q&A on Showing Your Work, with Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older joins us for a Q&A on showing your work around. Here are the questions, which were submitted by attendees at the Out of Excuses workshop:

  • What’s the best way to meet editors and agents at conventions?
  • How do you write a good query letter?
  • What do you mention as credentials in your query letter?
  • You didn’t cover self publishing at all this month. Self publishing is legit, right?
  • Can you submit the same work to more than one agent or editor at a time?
  • Can you re-submit a revised work to an agent who previously rejected the piece?
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Writing Prompt: Write a query letter for a book that you love, but did not write. Then write a query letter for your own work.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Mystic, by Jason Denzel, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Excuses 10.50: How to Hand-Sell Your Manuscript to Agents and Editors, with Michael Underwood and Marco Palmieri

Marco Palmieri and Michael Underwood took the stage with Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy 2015 to discuss hand-selling manuscripts. Marco Palmieri is a senior editor at Tor, and Michael Underwood is an author, and is also the North American Sales and Marketing manager for Angry Robot Books.

We begin with a list of the things to avoid doing, including the classic mistakes like chasing editors into restrooms, but we quickly move on to where you get started, and what your task list is going to look like. We cover resources like Literary Marketplace, Locus, and Publishers Lunch, and the not-so-secret-anymore #MSWL hash-tag.

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Writing Prompt: Your character has to go undercover at a writing conference, and steal a super-secret manuscript from an editor

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Providence of Fire: Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne, book 2, by Brian Staveley, narrated by Simon Vance

Writing Excuses 10.49: What Do I Do With This Thing Now?

We’re at the end of our Season Ten Master Class, and if you’ve been diligent about the homework, you may very well have a finished manuscript in your hands. What do you do with it?

Daniel José Older joins us for a bit of reminiscence. We talk about some of our first submissions, and what we did right, wrong, and weirdly. We cover our criteria for selecting publishers to whom we’d like to send our stuff, and we include the shiny intangibles in that list.

 

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in an abandoned missile silo by Alex Jackson.

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Writing Prompt: Research the market for that thing you've written. Find things that are similar to what you wrote, and read up on who published them. Find out who the editors were. Then make a list of places where you'd like to submit your work.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Half-Resurrection Blues: Bone Street Rumba, Book 1, written and narrated by Daniel José Older.