Season 12 Archives

12.1: Variations on First Person

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re beginning a new season, and during 2017 we will be focusing our topics on structure. We are also going to shake things by expanding our cast a bit. You’ll be hearing some new voices soon! They belong to: Wesley Chu Piper J. Drake Mary Anne Mohanraj We’ll post … Continue reading 12.1: Variations on First Person

Take something you’ve written, and put it in the three different forms of 1st person — reflective, epistolary, and immediate.

The Star-Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi, narrated by Priya Ayyar

WXR 2017 in the Baltic Sea

Hello, 2017! And hello to you, dear Writing Excuses listeners. We’ve already started our new year of episodes, which focuses on the nitty-gritty details of story structure and includes some exciting guest hosts, so check it out. Our other exciting announcement, of course, is the retreat. 2017 will be our fifth Writing Excuses Retreat, and … Continue reading WXR 2017 in the Baltic Sea

12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about character voice, and how to get it right in First Person. This POV is a strong tool for developing memorable characters. We cover sentence structure, linguistic tweaks, accents, and much more, as well as some exercises you can try out to develop … Continue reading 12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person

Write a page or two of first-person POV in which the character is trying to complete a task. Now write that same task-completion scene from the POV of someone else who is attempting the task.

Perennial, by Mary Anne Mohanraj

12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler This Project in Depth episode contains spoilers for “Risk Assessment,” which is included in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12. The story was written by Sandra Tayler, and illustrated by Natalie Barahona. Howard handled the writing and illustrating for the framing story, but this episode isn’t about that … Continue reading 12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler

Write a “meet cute,” that scene in which our romantic leads meet, and we get to have crushes with, or perhaps on them.

In the Cube, by David Alexander Smith (out of print, but available used)

12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler Piper J. Drake joins the cast for our week-four episodes, of which this is the first. This week we’ll be drilling down into hybrid viewpoints—blending 1st and 3rd person, framing stories, stories-within-stories, and unreliable narration—and how to best serve our work with these techniques.

Put a framing story around something you’ve already written.

Absolute Trust, by Piper J. Drake

12.5: Literary Fiction

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about the genre of Literary Fiction. Our first hurdle is the word “literary” whose use in this context can imply that all other genres are somehow not literature. In that vein, then, we’re talking about mainstream, or “non-genre” fiction which is crafted with … Continue reading 12.5: Literary Fiction

You drive your spouse to the airport and watch them fly away on a trip. Then you go straight home, and find them there in the house, sitting at the computer…

Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie (print and ebook available here)

12.6: Variations on Third Person

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode focuses on the third person POV, and some variations on them, like omniscient and limited, and some sub-variants like cinematic and head-hopping. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Write a passage, and then re-write it in limited, omniscient narrator, head-hopping, and cinematic POVs.

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho, narrated by Jenny Sterlin

12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley The third-person POV lens can be used for simultaneously describing the world to the reader and describing the character. In this episode we’ll talk about where we deploy these tools, where the pitfalls are, and how to do it well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, … Continue reading 12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens

Homework assignment: read Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craftand dive into the exercises there.

Amberlough, by Lara Elena Donnelly

12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due

Tananrive Due, whose short-fiction expertise is exemplified in her collection, Ghost Summer, joined us on the Oasis of the Seas to talk about how to use short stories to explore aspects of the craft. We discuss the importance of allowing ourselves to fail, and how we can learn from those failures, and continue to push … Continue reading 12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due

Take something larger that you’ve written  and find a short story in it. Write that story.

Summer“, by Tananarive Due, which you can find in the Ghost Summer collection.