By Writing Excuses | October 20, 2013 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Editing, Lifestyle, Season 8

Mary pitched this subject to us — it’s a discussion of the difference between that voice that says “this will make your story better” and the voice that says “nothing can save this story because you’re awful and should quit forever.”

You’ve probably heard the staple bit of sage advice that which says, in essence, “silence your internal editor.” Some of us need that internal editor, though, and the distinction between the editor and the heckler is critically important. And some of us need to train up those voices in our heads so that they say something useful.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination, an anthology edited by John Joseph Adams, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Mary Robinette Kowal, Justine Eyre

Writing Prompt: Oh no! We forgot to give you a writing prompt! Fine... Your internal heckler turns out to be a real person/entity/being/whatever. Not everybody's internal heckler—yours. Why?

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By Writing Excuses | August 11, 2013 - 5:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Editing, Genre, Lifestyle, Live Audience, Q&A, Season 8

Microcasting! It’s what we call a Q&A, because it’s like several little podcasts in one! Here are the questions (you’ll have to listen to the show for the answers):

  • How do you manage your workload?
  • Are writing contests worth it? Which ones are good?
  • How do you make it clear that the weird aspects of your world are done on purpose rather than just being bad science?
  • How do you know when to take a break from your writing?
  • What are your word count suggestions for various markets?

Some Worthy Links: Writer Beware, Writers of the Future

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Madman's Daughter, by Megan Shepherd, narrated by Lucy Rayner

Writing Prompt: Keep track of your hourly word count for a day's writing. Then set goals to beat that word count in subsequent sessions.

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By Writing Excuses | December 12, 2010 - 8:17 pm - Posted in Career, Collaboration, Genre, Lifestyle, Submitting

Well, we’re back, and we’ve rescued our time travel episode. Unfortunately, almost all mentions of Lincoln have been redacted, and his gold is conspicuously absent. Instead, Brandon, Dan, and Howard all travel in time (sort of) to offer advice to our past selves.

What do we have to say to our earlier incarnations?

  • Stop playing video games.
  • What you’re doing is actually working. Keep doing it.
  • Stop waiting on your collaborator.
  • Don’t try to write to the market.
  • Try outlining all the way to the end.
  • Try new things.
  • Stop worrying.
  • You can make a living as an artist.

So… there’s the advice. Now listen to the ‘cast and get all of it in context.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

Special Plug: Superstars Writing Seminar — Brandon will be presenting this January with Dave Wolverton, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Eric Flint, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Writing Prompt: Go forward in time and get next week’s writing prompt.

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By Writing Excuses | November 7, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Dialog, Guest, Ideas

The now cancer-free John Brown joins us again, this time for a discussion of the creative process. John has presented a seminar on this subject in the past, the focus of which is to teach people to unlock their creativity. At the core of this is the problem-solving we all engage in at some point. You have a problem, so you sit down and try to solve it. BAM. Creativity.

With John’s help we set out to de-mystify creativity, showing how everybody has to be creative on a regular basis, and how this skill set can be broadened through certain types of behavior, and immersion in particular domains. We explore strategies for developing what feels like a good idea, tactics for getting un-stuck when we’re bogged down, and finally figuring out when we’re done.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold, read by Marguerite Gavin

Writing Prompt: A person gets surgery so in order to imitate He Who Never Sleeps…

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By Writing Excuses | July 18, 2010 - 7:21 pm - Posted in Conflicts, Ideas, Plot, Structure

When Oscar Hammerstein wrote “Let’s start at the very beginning // A very good place to start” he was talking about teaching children to sing, not writing a novel. Sometimes the beginning is the very worst place to start, so in this ‘cast the Writing Excuses crew starts at the end.

Dan leads with a reminder that we should all watch his five-part lecture on story structure, and then hits a couple of the high points in his process. Brandon points out that he and Dan both start in the same way, even though Dan usually discovery-writes his way to the selected ending, and Brandon typically outlines towards it in advance of putting chapters down. Unsurprisingly, Howard starts in the same place.

So what are the problems with working backwards? How do we prevent those things from happening? What are some great things about working backwards? How can we ensure that those happen every time?

That’s the first half of the ‘cast. The second half is a right treat, as you get to listen to Brandon, Dan, and Howard attempt to brainstorm a great ending from which they can work backwards to a beginning. Producer Jordo provides a pair of headlines as prompts, including programmable matter, Harley Davidson motorcycles, and a thrown puppy.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Furies of Calderon: Codex Alera Book 1, by Jim Butcher — a book that Brandon tells us was written when somebody dared Jim Butcher to build epic fantasy around Pokémon.

Writing Prompt: What’s the character arc for our mathematical analyst biker dude? Yes, you’ll have to listen to the ‘cast in order to figure this prompt out.

Sound Effect of the Week: George Jetson’s Harley

Weekly Feature You Won’t See Every Week: Sound Effect of the Week.

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By Writing Excuses | April 18, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Artwork

Isaac Stewart, the interior artist for the Mistborn books, joins Brandon and Howard for a discussion of the visual elements in our work, and how to make them cohere. We talk about the yellow ball-on-a-stick fiddly-bits in the Schlockiverse, and how they unify the hi-tech of that world. We talk about all the symbols Isaac drew as he tried to conveny with the visual sensibilities of the Mistborn world. And we explain how these and other examples of art and design unify the worlds we build and the stories we tell.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, narrated by Wil Wheaton and Kate Reading.

Writing Prompt: Sketch out a starship, with interesting features, and then work those features into your story.

Additional Plug, Just Because We Can: We mentioned XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery, by Tracy and Curtis Hickman. You can get it here, at Amazon, or at any hobby and game store.

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

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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Howard Tayler | February 21, 2010 - 6:32 pm - Posted in Career, Conventions, Education, Guest, Live, Plot, Q&A

Recorded live at LTUE 2010, here’s a high-energy Q&A session with the Writing Excuses crew and our special guest James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner. We cover outlining vs. discovery writing, the return to the hairy palate, education for writers, killing people, whether or not we want a bagel, pragmatic approaches, authors who don’t inspire us (and by “us” we mean “James Dashner”), and cooking up complex plots.

Note: Brandon says “Episode 6″ but he was totally wrong. This is 4.7, for real.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: James pitches one of his favorites to usFalse Memory by Dean Koontz

Writing Prompt: You’re flying in an airplane when a wing falls off… but the plane keeps going.

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

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | October 25, 2009 - 4:23 pm - Posted in Conflicts, Demonstration, Fantasy, Ideas, Plot, Setting

You are going to love this episode. Seriously.

Brandon throws an idea at Dan and Howard, and then we spend 15 minutes expanding on that idea as if we were going to base a story around it.

You people who keep asking where we get our ideas? You’re asking the wrong question. Ideas are easy to come by — everybody has them. The right question is “how do you turn an idea into a story?”

This podcast skips to the important part of answering the question: demonstration. Enjoy!

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Your writing prompt: Bugs are now magical. Ohcrap.

*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | October 4, 2009 - 5:53 pm - Posted in Guest, Writing Prompt

John Brown joins us again, and tells us that fiction “is all about guiding an emotional response in a reader.” We begin with a discussion of depression, which John (like many of us) had to deal with. He tells us about the paths for emotional response, and how a beginning writer can end up in the depths of depression just by looking at the work of successful writers.

But working through that, especially with cognitive therapy, can provide the writer with fantastic tools for informing his or her writing. And those tools are really why you’re here. Listen closely!

Writing Prompt: Give us villainous heroes, romance, and something that evokes terror.

By Writing Excuses | September 27, 2009 - 9:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest, Theme

John Brown rejoins us for this discussion of  repetition. How do we, as writers, avoid repeating ourselves? We’re not just talking about the literal re-use of words and phrases here. We’re interested in avoiding the re-use of themes, character arcs, and plotlines.  Forget the problems Howard might have coming up with a new joke… he (and all of us) need to reach further than that to keep things fresh.

This week’s Writing Excuses is Brought to you by Servant of a Dark God by John Brown.

Writing Prompt:  The princess is trying to eat a pie, but someone is trying to stop her. Oh, and the fate of the world depends on the outcome.