By Howard Tayler | June 14, 2015 - 5:00 pm - Posted in Guest, Season 10, Theory and Technique

We are often asked questions about the young reader markets, and while there are numerous professionals writing, editing, and publishing for that demographic, we haven’t yet had an in-depth discussion with someone who really has their finger on the actual pulse of a group of those readers: a school librarian.

Kiley Snyder, Media Specialist at Discovery Middle School in Indiana, joins us to talk about hooking younger readers. Five days a week she hands books to the very people for whom you’re trying to write (sometimes she even gets those books back from them.) We ask her about reluctant readers, about the common elements she sees in the books that hook her students, and about the power of shelving.

Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Uprooted by Naomi Novik, narrated by Julia Emelin

Writing Prompt: You're going to have to leave the house for this one: Visit a library, and tell a librarian three books you've loved. Then get a recommendation for something outside your regular genre. Then read it.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Per the syllabus for the Season 10 Master Class, June is for painting a scene, and in this episode we’re going to talk about that paint.

We have all heard the “show, don’t tell” rule. In this episode we’ll discuss showing—how to do it well, how to do it consistently, and how to use it to accomplish things that telling just can’t get across.

Liner Notes: We make several references to Episode 3.14, in which Mary (in her first guest-hosting on the show) told us about the four rules of puppetry, as they apply to her writing. That was almost six years ago, so it’s probably been a while since you listened to it.

Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, by Shallee McArthur, narrated by Cassandra Morris

Writing Prompt: Sit in a room and describe the room. Do this for half an hour. Five or ten minutes in you'll be ready to express hatred for the person assigning the exercise. Keep going for the full 30 minutes. Now describe the same room in the specific style of a genre—epic fantasy, film noir, police procedural—using only 250 words. Finally, describe this room from the POV of one of the characters in your current project.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Howard Tayler | June 3, 2015 - 1:54 pm - Posted in Announcements & News

Congratulations, Shveta Thakrar! 

The scholarship jury at The Carl Brandon Society selected Shveta Thakrar as the recipient of this year’s Writing Excuses Scholarship. Shveta has accepted, and we all look forward to meeting her in person at the Out of Excuses event in September.

The Carl Brandon Society jury members were:

  • Nisi Shawl
  • Chesya Burke
  • Lisa Bolekaja
  • K.T. Bradford (Chair)

As we congratulate Shveta and welcome her to the event, we also extend our thanks to Nisi, Chesya, Lisa, and Tempest for their work in reviewing the applications and the submitted works. Their volunteered efforts make this scholarship possible, and we appreciate their willingness to work with us.

With the second scholarship announced, our only remaining announcement is that registration will close on July 1st. The prices have gone up since our original bloc sold out, but there are still slots available… for another 26 days, or thereabouts. Registration can be found here, at Eventbrite.

If you haven’t read Mary’s latest novel, Of Noble Family, this episode contains many spoilers, and you’ll get a lot more out of the discussion if you read the book (or listen to the book) before listening.

So… spoilers.

Of Noble Family is set in Mary’s Glamourist Histories universe, an alternate history setting, on the island of Antigua. Our discussion focuses primarily upon the research that Mary did, and the way she tested and then applied that research to the story. This includes how the research touched on the magic system of  the Glamourist Histories, and how linguistic and cultural differences might affect the use of Glamour.

Liner Notes

 

 

Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal, narrated by Prentice Onayemi, Robin Miles, and Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Prompt: Take something common, an activity or object that you're familiar with, and then have a character describe it to someone who has a completely different frame of reference.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Howard Tayler | May 24, 2015 - 3:17 pm - Posted in Q&A, Season 10, Theory and Technique

We went to you for questions about world building, and you had some really good ones. The questions are listed below, and our answers are secreted within MP3 file.

  • Has there ever been a piece of world building that you didn’t include, and regretted not including?
  • How do you remain consistent?
  • How do you decide between writing a secondary world fantasy, and creating an historical fantasy?
  • Can you avoid cultural appropriation while still using elements inspired by other cultures?
    • (This one is getting a can of worms: there’s an entire episode on cultural appropriation coming up)
  • What’s the minimum amount of world building required?
Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Prompt: Our next master class episodes are on description. Take a scene that includes some things that you've world-built, and rewrite that scene using completely different words.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Dan Wells | May 19, 2015 - 3:23 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

The time has come! For…half of you. We had hoped to announce both of our Retreat scholarships yesterday, but the Carl Brandon Society is still working hard, choosing among the many worthy applications, and so that half of the announcement will be delayed. If you applied for the Carl Brandon scholarship, that winner will be announced on June 5. We thank you for your patience.

But if you applied for the Writing Excuses scholarship, we’re announcing that RIGHT NOW!

*drum roll*

We are delighted to report that Suzanne Gale will be joining us on the Writing Excuses cruise this September! Our decision was unanimous but difficult, because so many of the applications were so strong. We’re delighted and honored that so many of our listeners are such great writers. To all of our applicants: good job! You’re awesome!

And to all of you, scholarship applicants or not: start saving your pennies for next year, because we’re already working on another fantastic retreat. It’s going to be awesome.

And of course, enrollment for this year’s retreat is still open…

You’ve done piles of world building. How do you convey this world to reader without infodumping? We talk about the different skill levels involved, and then the techniques that you’ll be using as you get better and better at what is probably the most critical skill unique to genre fiction writers.

Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Autumn Republic, by Brian McClellan

Writing Prompt: This week's exercise: Take a spec gee-whiz, and have something go wrong with it. Write a scene in which the main character must deal with the problem. Communicate each of the following:

  1. How it works
  2. What it looks like
  3. The main character's relationship to it

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Howard Tayler | May 10, 2015 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Season 10, Theory and Technique

What’s the difference between intrigue, suspense, and mystery? We answer this (it comes down to reader knowledge vs character knowledge), and then talk about what makes intrigue useful as a tool for any story, and how to use it without falling back on idiot character plots, or simply withholding information from the reader.

Intrigue is also its own genre, with spy stories and political intrigue stories fitting into this space. We talk a bit about how those stories work, and how they’re built.

Upcoming Homework: We’ll be doing a Project-In-Depth on Mary’s new book, Of Noble Family, in two weeks (episode 10.21, airing on May 24th.) To get the most out of that episode without having anything spoiled, pick up a copy now and start reading!

Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: A Spy in the House: The Agency 1, by Y.S. Lee, narrated by Justine Eyre

Writing Prompt: Write dialog in which each of the speakers has a different subtext and motive. Without explicitly stating those, try and make them clear to the reader.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

This is for you folks who started writing the story before you finished building your world. Which is what we wanted you to do all along! Sneaky! We’re talking about letting your story drive your world building efforts, so that you can be more efficient.

We cover some of the tools that we use, as well as when world building fits into, then out of, and then back into our respective processes.

Out of Context Quote: “Sometimes you just need to take the underpants off the puppet.”

Other Worldbuilding Episodes to Reference: Brandon promised a list of links. Here’s a pretty comprehensive one!

We recommend not listening to all of them in one go. You’re supposed to be out of excuses and writing, not podcast diving for another two hours…

Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Stormdancer: The Lotus War, Book One, by Jay Kristoff, narrated by Jennifer Ikeda

Writing Prompt: Pick your gee-whiz, whatever it may be, and describe it in 150 words from ten different perspectives. Yes, that's 1500 words.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Howard Tayler | April 26, 2015 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Q&A, Season 10

We’ve talked about beginnings this month. Now we’ll answer some of your questions on the matter. Here are the questions:

  • What are there differences between the beginnings in different forms?
  • How do you begin in media res when you’re not writing action?
  • What’s the biggest mistake that can be made when plotting the beginning?
  • I see a lot of big-name author beginnings that aren’t all that strong. Why should I spend time making my beginning awesome?
  • How do you balance the need to have something happening right away against the need to have the reader know something about the characters?
  • In creating a character, where do you start in the development process, and what do you begin revealing first?

 

Play

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Shepherdess of Sienna: A Novel of Renaissance Tuscany, by Linda Lafferty, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Prompt: Take the world-building you've done, write your beginning, and then secretly write down your "gee-whiz." Now run that beginning past some alpha readers, and have them attempt to identify the "gee-whiz." Compare their answers with your own.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.