By Writing Excuses | May 12, 2008 - 8:47 am - Posted in Liner Notes, magic, Season 1

Does magic need rules? Sometimes yes and sometimes no; our intrepid podcasters talk about how to know which situation is which, and explore the pros and cons of each method. We’ll also yak for a while about the differences between Superman and Gandalf, which makes us, if nothing else, huge nerds.

Liner Notes:

Sanderson’s first law

This week from our sponsor, Tor: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B ,by Ben Bova (Editor)

By Writing Excuses | May 18, 2008 - 7:09 pm - Posted in magic, Season 1

This week the Writing Excuses team discusses magic again, this time focusing on the cost of magic. Whether or not your magic system has internally-consistent rules your readers can follow (per Sanderson’s First Law and last week’s ‘cast) you need to consider the ramifications of using magic in the worlds you create. Or at least, that’s what we think. Have a listen and find out why.

Also, this week Howard attempts to create “Tayler’s First Law” using a donkey. It can’t have gone too well, since by the end of the podcast he’s willing to give the donkey away.

This week from our sponsor, Tor: Jack: Secret Histories , by F. Paul Wilson

By Writing Excuses | May 30, 2010 - 9:26 pm - Posted in Fantasy, Genre, Government, Live, magic, Setting, World Building

Coming to you “live” from CONduit, Writing Excuses is pleased to welcome fantasy superstar L.E. Modesitt (plus a slightly different Howard, by which we mean that Howard was out of town and replaced by Dan’s brother Rob).

Our topic for this episode is “practicality,” which is another way of saying “fantasy and science fiction may be unrealistic, but they should still be plausible within your definition of reality.” In other words, if you have an army of 1000 armored knights, you’d better have an economy and political system capable of producing and supporting them.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., about a mage so powerful anything he thinks can become reality.

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Let’s talk commo! How does the ubiquity of communication tech affect your story? How far out of your own experience do you need to step in order to build a culture whose communications are believable?

We talk about the Great Wall of China, Napoleon’s visual semaphore, the Brin P2P Plan, and cell-phones in the X-files. Our goal? To get you to think about how the people in your stories communicate with each other, and how those communications can fail whether you’re writing fantasy or science-fiction.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, narrated by Jonathan Davis.

Errata: The Ringworld is not 93 million miles in diameter. That was the approximate radius. Also, Howard got the circumference wrong. If only we’d had instant access to some sort of database, some network of computational resources while we were recording this episode…

Writing Prompt: Start with a fax machine, make it a 3d-printer/prototyper, and run from there…

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 | November 11, 2012 - 8:23 pm - Posted in magic, Project in Depth, Season 7

Spoiler alert! We’re going to talk in depth about The Emperor’s Soul, which just came out, and if you haven’t yet read it but want to, we’d rather not spoil it for you. The e-book is available here.

So… ready?

Brandon talks to us about the origin of the magic system, and why he decided it fit well for setting in the same world as Elantris. He also talks to us about the way in which he arrived at the ending, and how the ending grew very naturally from the early stages of defining the character.

We have fun comparing Howard’s interpretation of a story point with what Brandon actually intended, and Mary talks about the structural changes made between the draft she read and the final version, a change that perfectly fulfills the definition of killing a darling. And on the subject of darlings, Dan asks about the fight sequence, and whether that really needed to be part of the story. Then we talk about some darlings Brandon opted to NOT kill.

Audiobook Freebie (limited time only): Legion by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Oliver Wyman

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov, narrated by William Dufris

Writing Prompt: Come up with a magic system based on stamps, but that has nothing to do with forgery.

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By Writing Excuses | February 3, 2013 - 9:35 pm - Posted in Characters, Dialog, magic, POV, Sci-fi, Season 8, Setting

Oh yeah, it’s time to break some rules! We’ve said that you’ve got to learn the rules before you break them, but here, eight seasons in, you probably already know them. So let’s make with the breaking!

We talk about some of the rules we’ve broken, and some of our favorite broken rules in other people’s work. We also talk about why any of us got away with it.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Holes, by Louis Sachar, narrated by Kerry Byer

Writing Prompt: Here is a rule for rule-breaking: The best format for experimenting with rule-breaking is the short. So! Pick your three favorite rules and break all three in a short story.

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

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