Category Archives: Q&A

11.13: Elemental Idea Q&A

Shannon Hale joined us at LTUE 2016 to field questions about the Idea elemental genre. Here are the questions:

  • How do you keep an elemental idea story from feeling like you’re just waiting for the idea to “unlock.”
  • How do you tie your character motivations to the idea?
  • How do you know when you’ve satisfactorily explored the idea?
  • Are there elemental idea stories that you just need to give up on?
  • Is there such a thing as “idea clutter?”

Credits: This episode was recorded live by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Writing Prompt: Pick your favorite idea from the brainstorming exercise, and then work your way forward, plotting out the consequences, and work your way backward, plotting the reasons.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, narrated by Cynthia Bishop

11.09: Q&A on the Element of Wonder

Gama Ray Martinez joins us at LTUE to field questions on the Element of Wonder, which were submitted by members of our audience. Here are the questions:

  • How do you create wonder in non-genre stories, where there are no super-powers, spaceships, or spellcasters?
  • How do you avoid making the wonder stale?
  • Are there stages of wonder, similar to the stages of grief?
  • Does wonder come from the style of the prose, the pacing, or from other things?
  • How would you foreshadow wonder?

 

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Writing Prompt: Have a world-weary character, one who is not in awe, and find ways to help the reader experience wonder despite being in the POV of a character who is not.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Shadowguard, by Gama Ray Martinez, narrated by Adam Verner

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 10.47: Q&A on Revision

And now for your questions about revision. Or rather, questions from the WXR attendees, who were aboard the Independence of the Seas with us (the answers to these questions are secreted away in the audio file…):

  • During revision, when do you think it’s acceptable to throw the whole thing out?
  • How do you fit the whole structure in your head?
  • What do you find you most often need to add?
  • What do you do when your revisions have made things worse?
  • How do you avoid over-writing during the revision process?
  • When revising, how many passes do you make, and what order are they in?
  • Do you take the sounds of words into account when writing and revising?

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a concrete bunker somewhere in the midwest by Alex Jackson.

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Writing Prompt: Read your piece aloud. The whole thing. Yes, THE WHOLE THING. Take notes while you do so.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Blindsight, by Peter Watts, narrated by T. Ryder Smith

Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood

Dan and Howard are joined by Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood for an anything-goes Q&A at the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium. We had reached the end of our two-hour block, but the audience hungered for the chance to ask their questions of these guests, so the Symposium gave us an extra half hour in the room. The audience had already been in this room for 120 minutes, but they wanted more more more, so we ran a bit long.

  • Can you advise us about Writing the Other especially regarding avoiding cultural appropriation? (yes, this question deserves an entire symposium all by itself. We answered as best we could.)
  • If you were trying to break in right now, what would you do, and how would you do it?
  • How do you best handle slithering out of making a commitment to help someone with their writing, and how do you deliver bad news to those writers if you end up committing to help anyway.
  • How soon do you telegraph a plot twist?
  • How do you, as a non-writer, be a good resource to the writers in your life?
  • Do you know your title at the beginning of the writing process, or does it come to you later?
  • How do you know when you need another revision pass, vs. when you need to simply rewrite the whole thing again?

*NOTE: Back in July we attempted to record an episode on cultural appropriation with several guests hailing from marginalized and commonly misappropriated cultures, races, and backgrounds. The discussion was wonderful, but the recording itself was unusable due to an equipment failure. We wanted to share it with you, but even our brilliant mastering engineer Alex couldn’t make it listenable. We promise to address this topic in the future, and we’ve purchased all new recording gear to ensure that we capture the discussion correctly.

This episode was recorded and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Writing Prompt: Take a piece of real world astronomical phenomenon, something recently discovered if possible, and make it part of your story.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga, by Kameron Hurley, narrated by Liza Ross

Writing Excuses 10.43: Q&A on Endings, with Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman joined us aboard the Independence of the Seas for our question-and-answer installment on endings. The questions came from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop, which was, lest anyone forget, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  The questions:

  • Why do more short stories than novels end on tragic notes?
  • How do you keep an ending from being predictable or boring?
  • How do you write a stand-alone ending with sequel potential?
  • What are the best ways to avoid infodump endings?
  • Are there differences between writing the first novel in a series and other novels in the series?
  • How do you know which questions to leave unanswered?
  • What sort of attention do you give to your last lines?

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a soundproofed bullet-train by Alex Jackson.

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Writing Prompt: You finished your book? TAKE A BREAK! This week's homework is for you to relax a bit, and do whatever it is you do with a spot of time off. Revision begins soon, and you may need a palate-cleanser.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman, narrated by Robin Miles