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

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

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard 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 … 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.

12.11: Diction

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley Let’s talk about word choice. And when we say “let’s” we mean “we’re going to talk to you about it. You don’t actually get to talk back.” So maybe “let’s” wasn’t the best of the possible openers. Our discussion covers what we want to say, how specific … Continue reading 12.11: Diction

Exercise 1: Take some dialog you’ve written recently. Replace the dialog with dialog that uses completely different words (except for articles, prepositions, and names.)

Exercise 2:  Write a scene in sentences no longer than seven words, then rewrite it in a single long sentence.

Sins of Empire by Brian McCellan

12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about the structural tools we use to control pacing. These include sentence length and punctuation.   Also, white-space.   Liner note: Here is the Feb 12, 2017 Schlock Mercenary strip mentioned around the 18-minute mark. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the … Continue reading 12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure

Change up a piece of fiction of yours by changing the length of paragraphs and sentences.

Tea & Jeopardy: A GeekPlanetOnline Community Podcast, by Emma Newman and Peter Newman

12.15: Pacing With Chapters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a chapter? WHY is a chapter? How do we chapter, and do we always chapter the same way? Should our chapters be this many parts of speech? This episode will answer these questions and more, except for that last question, to which the answer is … Continue reading 12.15: Pacing With Chapters

Examine a book that made you keep turning its pages, and consider how it does that. Then look at a book you did not like, and consider how it nevertheless kept you reading it.

Jed and the Junkyard War, by Steven Bohls

12.16: Writing Crime Fiction with Brian Keene

Brian Keene joined Dan and Howard at the World Horror Convention to talk about writing crime fiction, including how he goes about getting readers to feel the things he wants them to feel to drive the story forward. Liner Notes: The Horror Show with Brian Keene

Experiment outside of your genre for 30 minutes of writing time each day for a week. Focus on the character. At the end of the week, take the character you’ve created and see if they can be fit into something else you’re working on.

The Complex, by Brian Keene

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Writing Excuses scholarships!

Let me tell you something right up front: our listeners are amazing. This year we had more scholarship applications than ever before, and the quality was through the roof. Choosing just four applicants out of this unbelievably talented batch was incredibly hard, and incredibly painful. We had fiction submissions this year that are publisher-ready, right … Continue reading Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Writing Excuses scholarships!

12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We fielded some questions on style, diction, and paragraphing: Is it okay to have pretty prose in a straightforward adventure story? How do author voice and character voice differ? How do you prevent paragraphs from rambling? I feel like my writing is derivative of the writers whose work … Continue reading 12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing

Ask your alpha readers for their definition of your voice.

Wayward, Volume 1, by Jim Zub (writer),  Steven Cummings (Illustrator), John Rauch (Illustrator), and Tamra Bonvillain (Illustrator)