By Writing Excuses | January 20, 2015 - 9:32 am - Posted in Season 10, Theory and Technique

Cherie Priest joins us for our “wildcard” episode on Lovecraftian horror this month. We’re still doing the master class format, and part of that format is that once per month we’ll have a guest, or otherwise step away from the month’s topic a bit.

This episode talks about what Lovecraftian horror is, its influence on genre fiction, and the tools it offers for modern writers.

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Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest, narrated by Johanna Parker and Roger Wayne.

Writing Prompt: Take a character, and from that character's point of view, describe their reaction to something horrific and awful, but do so without describing the thing itself.

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By Writing Excuses | September 14, 2014 - 8:17 pm - Posted in Career and Lifestyle, Guest, Live Audience, Q&A, Season 9, Theory and Technique

Peter Orullian joins us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 for a Q&A. The questions include:

  • As a writer, how do you handle reviewing other people’s books?
  • How do you compartmentalize your writing to prevent that obsession from displacing everything else?
  • How do you create frightening, unique creatures?
  • What are the basics about networking at a convention?
  • Is there a yield for the average story idea?
  • What rules do you follow and what rules do you break when writing epic fantasy?
  • What can you do in critique groups to teach craft if you’re avoiding prescriptive critique?
  • How strongly do you believe that the audience won’t remember what you’ve told them, but will remember how you said it?

 

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Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Spellcaster by Claudia Gray, narrated by Khristine Hvam.

Writing Prompt: Write about a support group for writers.

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By Writing Excuses | May 13, 2012 - 10:26 pm - Posted in Career and Lifestyle, Guest, Live Audience, Season 7

Michael R. Collings and his son Michaelbrent Collings join us live at UVU to talk with us about cathartic horror. In particular, we talk about how the catharsis is part of what makes horror such a delightful genre. Michael leads with an example from his own writing, a novel called The Slab. Brandon talks about the physiological response, and Mary compares the cautionary aspects of horror to the early (read: pre-Disney) fairy tales. Dan cautions us against didacticism, and explains about how the underlying story is usually quite different from what’s on the page. Michaelbrent further explains how our personal catharses empower us to write good stories and invoke similar responses from our readers.

Free Shot: No, Howard wasn’t even in the room for this episode.

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Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Slab, by Michael R. Collings, narrated by Andy Bowyer

Writing Prompt: Adapt the unadaptable fairy tale Mary introduced us to (the one about the little old lady who catches on fire and dies).

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By Writing Excuses | January 29, 2012 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Guest, Season 7

Dan and Mary were joined by Sam Sykes at World Fantasy, and invited him to talk about sensory writing, which he had recently discussed in a workshop.

The heart of the discussion is which senses (typically beyond sight) to include as we write. Sounds, smells, tactile information, and even tastes are necessary to engage the reader. And while it’s possible to include too much of that, Sam counsels writers to err on the side of excess because it’s always easy to edit things back a notch should you find upon re-reading that you’ve gone too far.

Sam, Mary and Dan offer lots of good advice on the matter — when it’s important and why, how to do it well, and how not to overdo it.

Term of the Week: “Literary diabetes.”

Disclaimer of the Week: No grandparents were harmed in the recording of this podcast, nor were any chihuahuas.

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Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Terrorists in Love: The Real Stories of Islamic Radicals, by Ken Ballen, narrated by Peter Ganim

Writing Prompt: Write the point-of-view of a character whose vision is obscured, and describe how they use their other senses to attempt to determine where they are.

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By Writing Excuses | November 20, 2011 - 6:44 pm - Posted in Theory and Technique

Let’s face it. The characters in your book will do some dumb things. We’re here to help you make sure they do those dumb things for the right reasons.

Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of dumb, and how you as an author can write dumb smart. Or smartly write dumb. Something like that.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Variant, by Robison Wells, narrated by Michael Goldstrom.

Writing Prompt: Create a solid romance in which the characters cannot be together because of good, intelligent, character-driven reasons.

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Let’s talk about some ways in which your descriptions can do more than just describe. You’re not just trying to tell us what the room is like. You’re also setting the mood, telling us about the POV character, and establishing some of our progress through the story.

Howard (who rarely works in prose) offers some unexpected insight by talking about the way panels are composed in his comic. Mary offers even better insight by pulling the same principles through the domain of puppetry. Dan tells us how some of this is done by filmmakers. But yes, we finally do come back around to prose and how to accomplish these things with words.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Shades of Milk and Honey, written and narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Prompt: Go someplace, use all five of your senses, and for thirty minutes write about the place you’re in. Not the people though. Just the place.

And Because It Needs To Be Google-able: “Mary Robinette Koala” — it might be more than just a pronunciation guide.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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By Writing Excuses | June 5, 2011 - 5:00 pm - Posted in Career and Lifestyle, Theory and Technique

One of our most popular guests ever, Mary Robinette Kowal, finally joins Brandon, Dan, and Howard as a full-time cast-member. And now that she’s with us, we’re going to go back and revisit the very first topic we attempted to record (in a lost episode you can only hear in the bonus material on the 1st Season CD), which is whether or not creativity can be taught.

Mary says aspects of it can be taught. Howard’s inner Zen master says nothing can be taught, but anything can be learned. And from there we dive all the way in.

And you know what? Mary totally rescues the discussion, bringing perspectives that we were missing in that first session back in 2008. Especially right at the end, where she gives us some awesome creativity exercises.

Welcome to the team, Mary Robinette Kowal. We’ve needed you for three years.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1 by George R.R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice

Writing Prompt: Take one of the creativity exercises and run with it. Alternatively, use this mash-up: “The Silence of the Mexican Herbie Part 2: The Two Towers.”

Pearl of Wisdom Not To Be Taken The Wrong Way: “Stealing from children is an awesome tool.”

Liner Note Link: Here is the narration and context exercise Mary mentioned.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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By Writing Excuses | February 27, 2011 - 10:11 pm - Posted in Guest, Theory and Technique

Sherrilyn Kenyon, a multiple New York Times bestselling author of all kinds of novels, helps us tackle the tricky work of making the reader fear for the characters in the book.

The first step? Make the reader sympathize with the characters. Then make the reader love them. And then? Then you put them through the wringer while your readers bite their nails bloody in horror.

Here in the blurb we make it sound easy and formulaic. Listen to the ‘cast for pointers on the difficult bits.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Night Pleasures: The Dark Hunters, Book 1, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie

Writing Prompt: Take a Lovecraftian beastie and shove him into The Shire.

Legal Note: The Lovecraftian beastie may lie in the public domain, but The Shire most certainly does not. Additional points for making your Shire and your Hobbits C&D-proof with clever name changes and a shave of their feet.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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By Writing Excuses | September 26, 2010 - 7:26 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

This episode of Writing Excuses features our special guest, Smokey-Smoke Sanderson who spent the first half of September on tour abusing his voice.

Suspense! What is it? What isn’t it? What is the relationship between suspense and mystery, and for that matter horror, humor, and adventure? This ‘cast is chock full of pithy quotes, useful advice, and anecdotal examples.

Oh, and a bomb. THERE IS A BOMB HIDDEN UNDER THE TABLE.

DUN DUN DUN DUUNNNN!

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson, which was the #1 bestselling book on Audible the week prior to this recording. Forty-five hours and thirty minutes of Sandersonian fantastical goodness, read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.

Writing Prompt: “I have coated my left hand with magical ink.”

That Episode on Pacing We Promised to Link To: Right here, and it features James Dashner!

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.

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By Writing Excuses | April 4, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Career and Lifestyle, Theory and Technique

We called “can-of-worms” on multiple viewpoints last week because the topic is too big to share the ‘cast with anything else. We talk about why multiple viewpoints are useful, and then how to do it well. We discuss the pitfalls and how to avoid them, and then the strategies we use to pull off multiple viewpoints well.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: John Ringo’s Live Free or Die, in which the main character is based on Howard Tayler, only shorter and more Napoleonic.

Writing Excuses Podcaster Book Launch-of-the-Week: I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells is available now in the United States, and he’s on tour promoting it.

Writing Prompt: Write a multiple viewpoint story in which a single tree serves as the focus for each of the different viewpoints.

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

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*. *Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please! Audible® Free Trial Details 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.

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