11.Bonus-02: Horrifying the Children, with Darren Shan

Darren Shan, whose name you might know from Cirque du Freak (or any of fifty other books,) joined Howard, and Dan, and Steve Diamond at the World Horror Convention for a discussion about writing horror for children and young adults. We talk about which lines his publishers didn’t want him to cross, how he first became drawn to the horror genre, and then we dig into how the “safe scare” of horror can be constructed.

Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by the generous support of the GenCon Indy Writer’s Symposium, and the Writing Excuses patrons at Patreon.

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Think back to your own childhood, and write up one of your young fears into a story.

The Thin Executioner, by Darren Shan

11.44: Project in Depth, GHOST TALKERS, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Spoiler Alert! 

If you haven’t yet read Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, this episode will spoil great swathes of book for you. Also, you probably won’t get as much out of it.


This week’s episode is a Project in Depth discussion focusing on Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. We begin with the difference between the catalog pitch and the pitch given to editors, and how critical that distinction is. Mary then talks to us about the decisions she made while plotting the book, and the things she did in order to best execute on the story she set out to tell.

 

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Hex, by Thomas Oldehuveldt

(and because we’ve mentioned that one recently…)

Your Psychic Powers, and How to Develop Them (1920), by Hereward Carrington

11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due

Our third Elemental Drama episode is a Q&A, featuring Tananarive Due. The questions are from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat:

  • Rather than having a protagonist change themselves, can elemental drama have the protagonist change others?
  • What happens when a character refuses to learn, refuses to overcome their flaw(s)?
  • What are the lines between drama and melodrama?
  • Do you have tips for describing body language that communicates character states?
  • Are there cases where you should not show character growth or change?
  • How do you keep it realistic when writing a character who undergoes a great change?

 

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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In preparation for next month, and Elemental Issue, define both sides of an issue about which you’re passionate. Write down the arguments in favor of the side you disagree with, but don’t use strawman arguments.

Ghost Summer, by Tananarive Due

11.42: Elemental Drama as a Sub-Genre

Focusing on elemental drama can be tricky. Remember, elemental drama is basically “character change.” A great many stories use character change in some way—it’s almost ubiquitous. In this episode we’ll pick at the ubiquity, and look at the many different ways in which character change can be featured, and what sort of tools we have at our disposal to make this happen in our stories.

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Take two scenes, each with a different conflict—a logistical one, and an emotional one—and blend them into a single scene.

Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, narrated by the author. In two weeks, Episode 11.44 will be a Project In Depth on this book, so if you want to do the homework, now’s a good time to start.

11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, with Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb joined us at GenCon Indy for a discussion of characterization and differentiation. And by “discussion,” what we really mean is “we ask Robin all the questions.” We learn about Robin’s process for creating characters, wrapping stories around them, and making these characters distinctly different from each other.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joel Burnham, and mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by the generous support of the GenCon Indy Writer’s Symposium, and the Writing Excuses patrons at Patreon.

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Pull some of your favorite books down, examine the dialog itself, without tags, and determine what tricks the writer has used to differentiate the character voices.

Hex, by Thomas Olde Huevelt

11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe

Navah Wolfe, an editor at Saga Press, joined us to talk about the manuscripts she would really like to see. Ordinarily we don’t encourage people to write to the market, but Navah asked specifically for the opportunity to tell our listeners what she’s looking for. As it happens, tracking Navah’s wish list as you write is unlikely to send you haring after the latest trend—you’re far more likely to develop some new writing skills that will make your work more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and ultimately easier to sell.

Spoiler Warning: In three weeks we’ll be doing a Project in Depth on Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. If you want to get the most out of that episode, you have three weeks to acquire and read the book.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

 

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Write two different “this meets that” pitches, once with a focus on the emotional heart, and once with a focus on set dressing.

The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, edited by Navah Wolfe (available October 18th, 2016. No audio version available yet.)