We’re doing something new, and Howard gets to go first.

The plan is to take something one of us has completed, and which you’ve had ample time to read, and grill the creator about the project. Obviously there will be spoilers. Also, we’re going to run a bit long on these.

First up in our “Project In Depth” series: Howard’s most recent online volume of Schlock Mercenary, Force Multiplication. You can read it for free at the link above. It’s been nominated in the Best Graphic Story category for this year’s Hugo Awards, this entire episode features Howard on the spot answering questions about the project from Brandon, Dan, and Mary.

The biggest issue discussed is the female perspective. In Force Multiplication Howard challenged himself by casting all of the leads for the story as women, and it changed the storytelling process for him significantly.

He also talks about the setting — Haven Hive — and how he needed the setting to functionally isolate a small ensemble cast. He talks about naming a little, and finally talks about how he turned a sterile-sounding high-concept plot into an interesting story.

Next up on our Project In Depth series: The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. You have been warned. We’ll also be doing Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamour in Glass and Dan Wells’ Hollow City. We’re NOT doing this back-to-back. You’ve got a little time.

Thing That Would Make Howard Sound Smarter: Remove every last “you know” from his dialog. (Note that this would not actually increase Howard’s IQ.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs

Writing Prompt: Do this with your own work—have your friends interview you in depth about something you've finished, or something you're currently working on.

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By Writing Excuses | December 18, 2011 - 10:49 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Demonstration, Structure

Let’s talk about character foils, and how to use them. We begin with a definition of character foils, expertly read by Mary. Then we talk about some archetypes, like the straight-man and the funny-guy, the hero and the sidekick, and offer some examples.

And then it’s nuts-and-bolts time: we talk about how and why to do this. Howard offers the example of Reverend Theo and Kevyn in the Schlock Mercenary books. Mary explains how she used a foil to strengthen her short story “For Want of a Nail,” (which went on to win a Hugo award.) Brandon tells us how adding a foil character was critical to The Way of Kings. Finally, Dan reveals to us (spoiler alert!) how John Cleaver and Mr. Crowley are foils for one another in I Am Not a Serial Killer.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Late Eclipses: an October Daye Novel, by Seanan McGuire, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Writing Prompt: Generate a list of five character pairs. Pick the most interesting of the set, and write about them.

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 Writing Excuses | April 24, 2011 - 3:18 pm - Posted in Bonus, Conventions, News & Reviews

Question: What does Writing Excuses have in common with Isaac Asimov, Michael Whelan, and Batman?

Answer: We’ve all been nominated at some point for a Hugo award! (Just not all in the same year.)

Specifically: “Writing Excuses Season 4″ by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, produced by Jordan Sanderson, has been nominated for the 2011 “Best Related Work” Hugo. We’re honored, and we’re thrilled.

In very, very related news, Dan Wells has been nominated for the John W. Campbell award for Best New Writer, and Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel has been nominated for Best Graphic Story.

Several former guests here on Writing Excuses have also been honored with nominations. Larry Correia was nominated for a Campbell Award, Eric James Stone’s “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” is up for Best Novelette, Moshe Feder is up for Best Editor, Long Form, Mary Robinette Kowal’s “For Want of a Nail” is up for Best Short Story, and Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius Volume 10 is up for Best Graphic Story.

The voting will take place between now and sometime in July, and the winners will be announced at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno.

For a full list of Hugo and Campbell award nominees, as well as information about voting, past awards, and the history of the award itself visit thehugoawards.org. There’s also a list here on the Worldcon site.

Note: We’ll have a regular episode of Writing Excuses up in an hour or so. Don’t worry — we’re not using this nomination as an excuse to depart from our regular schedule of leaving you out of excuses.

By Writing Excuses | March 20, 2011 - 5:00 pm - Posted in Editing

We were fortunate enough to record two episodes with Tracy Hickman and Dave Wolverton at Life, The Universe, and Everything XXIX. In this second installment these masters of the craft school us on the subject of rewrites.

We are introduced to terms like “triage editing” and “shotgun editing,” we talk about the difference between what you want to say and how you want to say it, and we have a great time telling stories on the sadly absent Brandon Sanderson, who we all agree to be a brilliant re-writer.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dragons of the Dwarven Depths: The Lost Chronicles Volume 1, by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss, narrated by Sandra Burr

Writing Prompt: Take the climax of your story and ask yourself what you’ve left out of earlier scenes that might be preventing it from being the best moment of the story. You’ve certainly left SOMETHING out. Go put it in.

Worst Podcast or Panel Etiquette Ever: Taking a phone call from the stage during a recording session in front of a live audience while Tracy Hickman is talking. What soulless knave would do such a thing? Listen and find out…

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First and foremost: a close examination of the rules for Hugo Nominations reveals that Writing Excuses Season 4 is eligible to be nominated under the “Best Related Work” category. If you attended WorldCon in Melbourne, or if you already have your Renovation membership, you’re eligible to do some nominating. So, for your consideration, Writing Excuses Season 4. It ran from January 2010 through August 2010, and the full content is available online at this site. The easiest way to surf it all is to use the date widgets over in the right sidebar. But for heaven’s sake don’t do it all in one sitting. Those episodes probably add up to at least nine full hours of us not being that smart because you’re in a hurry.

Secondly: We just performed a WordPress upgrade, and upgraded the plugins we use as well. If you see weirdness, let us know so we can figure out what we broke. (And by “we” we actually mean “Howard.”)

Third: This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we’ll be variously attending (Dan and Howard) and presenting (Brandon) at the Superstars Writing Seminar in Salt Lake City. We hope to record a few interview episodes while there, because the list of presenters for that event is pretty stellar.

By Writing Excuses | October 24, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Ideas

We’re off to a great start, with a dangling preposition right there in the title.

We end each podcast with the tagline “you’re out of excuses, now go write,” but many people still come up with plenty of excuses. How does the professional writer deal with these sorts of things? We talk about the absence of the muse, the wrong space, the absence of ideas, discouragement, lack of time, distractions, and pants.

Howard’s pants, of course.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons.

Writing Prompt: You need to change your shoes, or something awful is going to happen.

Full Circle: Pants at the beginning and the end. Oh, good. That means we wore them the whole time.

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!

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.