By Writing Excuses | March 18, 2012 - 5:00 pm - Posted in POV, Season 7, Style

Let’s talk omniscience, because we’re TOTALLY that smart. Specifically, we’re talking about the omniscient viewpoints. This is the POV from which Tolkien wrote, but we see it a lot less often these days. Has it fallen out of fashion, or does it just not work well?

Generally speaking, the omniscient viewpoint is where the narrator can see all of the action, all of the character thoughts, and is not limited to which character we’re following at any given time. We break this down a little, talking about the different types or styles of omniscient POV, discussing the strengths of each, and offering examples from Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Tom Clancy, Terry Pratchett, David Eddings, James P. Hogan, Frank Herbert and others (including some of our own stuff.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Acacia, by David Anthony Durham, narrated by  Dick Hill

Writing Prompt: 1) Stick an omniscient narrator scene in between two 3rd-person limited scenes. 2) Have two characters carry on a dialog which is out of sync with what each of them are thinking.

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By Writing Excuses | February 20, 2011 - 6:46 pm - Posted in Career, Guest, Setting

Kevin J. Anderson joins us for a discussion of writing in other people’s universes. After the opening shots (and an obligatory Jar-Jar joke), we tackle the question “how do you get to write a Star Wars book?”

Our discussion ranges from the general to the practical, and presses the Fanfic hotbutton more than once. We discuss Kevin’s career with numerous licensed properties, and Brandon’s experience with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Hidden Empire: The Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 1, by Kevin J. Anderson, narrated by George Guidall

Writing Prompt: A group of aliens come to a writing conference to learn to write stories that humans will want to read.

That Noise In The Background: The hotel staff was vacuuming the room behind us.

Best Metaphor Ever, Courtesy of Kevin J. Anderson: As authors in other creators’ universes we are Lando Calrissian borrowing the Millenium Falcon and promising to return it to Han Solo without a scratch.

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By Writing Excuses | April 25, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Isaac Stewart, interior artist for the Mistborn books and Rocket Road-Tripper joins us again for a discussion of the fourth wall, and the breaking thereof. We talk about the theatrical origins of the term, and how the technique it represents might be used by authors and others. We talk about why Howard broke the fourth wall a lot more in early Schlock Mercenary strips than he does now, and why Isaac broke the fourth wall in some video game writing he did. We also talk about when it would be absolutely, inarguably inappropriate to break the fourth wall.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson, in which the 1st-person narrator, Alcatraz, breaks the fourth wall a lot.

Writing Prompt: Write something in which somebody is literally the son of a shark, and in which you break the fourth wall. Oh, and the fourth wall is the glass wall of an aquarium.

Audio Glitch We Hate at 3:13: For some reason we lost one channel of audio for about 20 seconds. That’s why this episode is monaural, and why between 3:13 and 3:34 the volume drops off a bit.

Related Linkage: Here’s a link to the article about the HBO Game of Thrones adaptation Isaac mentioned.

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 4, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Fantasy, Horror, Plot

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.

By Writing Excuses | March 28, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Fantasy, Genre, Sci-fi, Setting, Structure, World Building

“Dude, that’s totally epic.”

“Epic fail! Epic fail!”

These phrases have only passing relation to epic storytelling, and to epic fantasy. Brandon and Howard write epics, and we’re going to talk about how we do it. And Dan’s going to help, because even if his launching-this-week I Am Not a Serial Killer novel is not an epic, Dan knows his stuff.

(Also, epic win for Dan! His book launches this week!)

We talk about some of our favorite epic fantasy and epic science fiction series, and then discuss elements like scope, plotlines, and characters. We also address some of the common pitfalls new writers fall into when trying to write their first epic.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Uplift Trilogy: Brightness Reef, Infinity’s Shore, and Heaven’s Reach by David Brin

Writing Prompt: Google “Epic Win” (or just visit “Epic Win FTW“), take one of the images on the site, and then craft an epic story around that image.

Joke Not Told By Howard In The Podcast: If a new writer attempts to create an epic and falls flat on his or her face in the attempt, it is, in fact, Epic Fail.

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 | January 3, 2010 - 7:02 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

For starters, let’s clear the air. Yes, the first episode of the new year is also the last episode of Writing Excuses Season 3. And yes, we’ll be getting Season 2 and Season 3 on CDs pretty soon here.

Collaboration! This is one of our all-time most requested topics, and we’re covering it now because we still haven’t done much actual collaborating but we want to talk about it anyway. Why? Because we each have some collaborations planned (including one for all three of us, but shhh… it’s still a secret) and it will be fun to talk about this again in a year or so and argue about all the things we got wrong this time around.

But you should still listen to what we say here in our collaborative infancy. That way you can lord it up over us when we flip-flop after having attempted to work together.

You should also pay attention when we tell you beginning writers why you should not be collaborating. And then we’ll give you some procedural tips for when you decide to collaborate anyway.

Writing Prompt: Write a story (all by yourself) about a collaboration which goes horribly, horribly wrong.

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.

By Writing Excuses | December 6, 2009 - 8:28 pm - Posted in World Building

Is there a disconnect? Brandon specifically introduces the episode as “World-building political correctness,” but the title here says “World-Building Gender Roles.” And then Brandon goes on to blame Howard for picking the title. There is, in fact, a disconnect. Oh the mirth! Howard was imagining a slightly wider scope for the ‘cast, but Brandon focused the crew on just one aspect.

And that’s probably best. After all, this is only fifteen minutes long (okay, 17 minutes and 10 seconds) and as has been said before, we’re not that smart.

How does a 21st-century author go about world-building fantasy universe gender roles while writing for a 21st-century audience? How does the problem change if the setting is the far-flung future? And of more immediate interest, is it possible for three men to discuss this without a) putting their feet in their mouths while b) simultaneously stepping on landmines?

Have a listen. We’re going to wait waaay over here and hope the internet can’t find us.

By Writing Excuses | September 13, 2009 - 4:54 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest

John Brown, debut author of Servant of a Dark God, joins us for this discussion of  the avoidance of self-insertion. In polite company we call this the “Mary Sue,” because it’s difficult to say “self-insertion” in polite company, much less with a straight face.

In broader terms, what we’re covering is voice, and how to make our characters sound like themselves rather than us.

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