By Writing Excuses | June 30, 2013 - 5:55 pm - Posted in Genre, Sci-fi, Season 8, Setting

This week’s episode covers the perjoratively-named sub-genre, space opera. These are adventure stories in which the setting is futuristic, but in which the science is secondary. The lines are blurry, as they are with any definition of genre, but we’re pretty sure that Howard writes space opera.

A possible definition? Space Opera is when the author uses science to justify the cool stuff he or she has come up with.

We talk about the decisions that go into writing a space opera, how Howard has gone about it, and what you might focus on in order to write a compelling, adventurous romp.

Pithy Howardism: “If I pee far, it’s because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

Writing Prompt: Posit a faster-than-light drive that nobody else has thought of. Or at least that you haven't heard of.

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Let’s talk commo! How does the ubiquity of communication tech affect your story? How far out of your own experience do you need to step in order to build a culture whose communications are believable?

We talk about the Great Wall of China, Napoleon’s visual semaphore, the Brin P2P Plan, and cell-phones in the X-files. Our goal? To get you to think about how the people in your stories communicate with each other, and how those communications can fail whether you’re writing fantasy or science-fiction.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, narrated by Jonathan Davis.

Errata: The Ringworld is not 93 million miles in diameter. That was the approximate radius. Also, Howard got the circumference wrong. If only we’d had instant access to some sort of database, some network of computational resources while we were recording this episode…

Writing Prompt: Start with a fax machine, make it a 3d-printer/prototyper, and run from there…

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By Writing Excuses | June 19, 2011 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Lifestyle

As you may or may not know, Mary Robinette Kowal is currently the Vice President (a volunteer position) of SFWA, the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. And after killing two minutes talking about acronyms and the composition and pronunciation thereof, we start into the actual topic — professional organizations, why or why not to join them, and what they offer.

We spend a lot of time talking about SFWA specifically, which is hopefully useful to anybody who might want to write genre fiction. We talk a little bit about the National Cartoonist’s Society (of which Howard is not a member), and about NASE (the National Association for the Self-Employed) to which Howard and Sandra do both belong.

Mary then gives us some considerations for joining any professional service organization — personal reasons (what can the organization do for you specifically), and societal reasons (what additional clout can your participation in the organization generate.) Dan talks to us about the Horror Writers Association, a group with the awesome “horror.org” domain.

If you’ve ever wondered what SFWA or other professional organizations have to offer, this ‘cast may be helpful.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner. This novel has been nominated for the Best Novel Hugo Award this year.

Writing Prompt: Come up with a way for Howard to join SFWA. It must involve rappelling.

Professional Organization Links of Note: SFWANCS, and NASE, the Horror Writers Association, and Webcomics.com.

Mary’s Herculean Task: Get 952 science-fiction and fantasy authors to vote on the upcoming SFWA ballot.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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By Writing Excuses | May 22, 2011 - 6:21 pm - Posted in Characters, Dialog, Genre, Guest

John Scalzi joins Brandon and Howard at Penguicon for a discussion of writing dialog. John’s advice begins thusly: “start reading outside Science Fiction and Fantasy.” It’s good advice regardless, but John’s justification for it is fascinating.

Dialog in prose is not very much like real-life dialog. Your goal as a writer is to convince the reader that it is. And that’s what we’re going to try to teach you how to do. Or at least how to learn how to do.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Fuzzy Nation, John Scalzi’s reboot of H.Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy, narrated by Wil Wheaton

Writing Prompt: Write a dialog between someone ordering at a drive-through and someone taking the order, but the person taking the order is being held up at gunpoint.

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 | May 23, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Conventions, Submitting

Your hosts here at Writing Excuses have tried to answer the “how to get published” question before. We’re going to try again.

In this episode we begin with a discussion of New Media. Welcome to the Age of the Internet, everybody! The Web is now “old media.” When we say “New Media” we’re talking about social media — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, user-generated content, and countless blogging tools.  After a brief warning about embracing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent, Brandon, Dan, and Howard provide some examples for how these tools can help you.

We talk a bit about some submission practices that you should not practice, most of which Stacy Whitman covered with us back in episodes 12 and 13 of  Season 1. Then we throw you some off-the-wall suggestions that might get you published. Some of these cost real money, and none of them come with guarantees that they’ll work. We restate our firm belief that the best strategies for getting published hinge upon writing excellently and networking with people who write.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Howard owes him a plug after last month’s epic faux-pas at Penguicon. After bringing it up in this context, Howard probably owes him ANOTHER one.

Writing Prompt: For some reason, 1000 years in the future the most cost-effective publishing involves writing on human skin…

Blame for That Horrible Mental Picture of Howard Dressed as an Elf Sans Pants: Brandon Sanderson owns that blame, down to the last mote of scowling-with-eyes-averted disapproval.

Why Mayan Calendars Predict The End of The World in 2012: seventeen minutes in…

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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 | March 14, 2010 - 3:14 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Genre, Guest

Jessica Day George joins the Writing Excuses crew again, this time for a discussion of writing for young adults, and maybe for teens, or even middle-grade readers. This isn’t a podcast about rigidly defining the boundary between the YA and middle-grade genres, though. That’s publishing. We’re talking about writing.

If you enjoyed last week’s discussion with the sweeping generalizations and the appropriate application thereof, this ‘cast should be every bit as intriguing. What are teenagers interested in, and how is that different from what interests adults? Do stories need to be simplified for teenagers, or are we underestimating them when we do that? How does the age of your protagonist determine the age-group to whom your publisher will market the book? Why is it genre-appropriate for Dumbledore to repeatedly withhold crucial information from Harry, Hermione, and Ron?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen, because a pit-fighting dragon is way cooler than the dragons of Christopher Paolini.

Writing Prompt: Take a protagonist younger than about 16 and put him or her in charge of a group of adults.

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.