Season 01 Archives

Writing Excuses Episode 5: Heroes and Protagonists

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 … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 5: Heroes and Protagonists

Writing Excuses Episode 7: Villains

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…)

Writing Excuses Episode 12: Submitting to Editors Part 1

This week, special guest Stacy Whitman joins us from Mirrorstone books (an imprint of Wizards of the Coast). Stacy works there as an editor, and helps us understand the submission process, including acting like a professional, doing your research, following submission guidelines, and all sorts of things NOT to do with your submissions. Stacy also … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 12: Submitting to Editors Part 1

Writing Excuses Episode 15: Costs and Ramifications of Magic

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, … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 15: Costs and Ramifications of Magic

Writing Excuses Episode 16: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard

Howard kicks this off with his own sure-fire cure for Writers’ Block, “BIC HOK:” Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. The Writing Excuses team takes off from there, discussing the different kinds of Writers’ Block, and how to overcome each of them. We cover free-writing, re-reading and reviewing, and focusing on your motivations for writing… … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 16: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard

Writing Excuses Episode 17: This Sucks and I’m a Horrible Writer

The Writing Excuses crew tackles writer’s block again, this time approaching the “This Sucks And I’m A Horrible Writer” mindset. Dan relates his Neil Gaiman anecdote, Brandon explains why he’d written so many books before getting published, and Howard throws down the gauntlet on neverending Chapter One revisions. If you’re stuck because you think your … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 17: This Sucks and I’m a Horrible Writer

Writing Excuses Episode 24: Research

How much research do you do? Howard’s answer: “Just enough to get by.” In this podcast we talk about why we research, how we research, and when we feel like we’ve researched enough. We also discuss hiding a lack of knowledge, and finding ways to get by without doing truly exhaustive research. Listen closely and … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 24: Research

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson

Writing Excuses Episode 26: Horror

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 … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 26: Horror

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.

Writing Excuses Episode 27: World-Building Religion

The Writing Excuses team sits down to talk about religion as a world-building device: your characters probably believe in something, so what is it? How does it affect their lives? How does it change their thoughts and motivations (and swear words)? And when you’re developing a fake religion, how do you avoid religious bias and … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 27: World-Building Religion

Develop a religion where people worship something that no one would ever worship in our world. And it can’t be silly.

Writing Excuses Episode 28: Writing for Webcomics with Phil and Kaja Foglio

This is the first of five episodes recorded on location at WorldCon 66 in the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Brandon, Dan, and Howard are joined by Phil and Kaja Foglio, and we discuss writing for webcomics… no, wait… writing for “sequential picture-assisted storytelling.” Phil and Kaja are the creators of Girl Genius, the web’s … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 28: Writing for Webcomics with Phil and Kaja Foglio

Writing Excuses Episode 31: Talking RPG and Game Writing with Steve Jackson

One of the biggest areas of professional creative writing these days is game writing, and who better to talk to about it than Steve Jackson–yes, THE Steve Jackson. We start off trying to talk about game adaptations, and the challenges they present for writers, but then we devolve into a more straightforward discussion of writing for … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 31: Talking RPG and Game Writing with Steve Jackson

Writing Excuses Episodes 32: Talking Exposition with Patrick Rothfuss

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 … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episodes 32: Talking Exposition with Patrick Rothfuss

Writing Excuses Episode 33: Side Characters

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 … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 33: Side Characters

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

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

Writing Excuses Episode 34: What The Dark Knight Did Right

Like all right-thinking people, we loved The Dark Knight–but because we are also writers obsessed with the craft of storytelling, we liked it for very specific, very nerdy reasons. Join us as we take a journey through What The Dark Knight Did Right: strong characters,  excellent dialogue, a layered plot that blended perfectly (and unexpectedly) … Continue reading Writing Excuses Episode 34: What The Dark Knight Did Right

Pull out an old piece of writing from the last year or so. Pick a dialogue scene and try to take each piece of dialogue up a half of a notch, evoking a little more character. The outcome or conclusion of the dialogue scene should remain the same.

Writing Excuses Episode 35: Voice, Tone and Style

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?

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.