Tag Archives: Schlock Mercenary

Writing Excuses 10.11: Project In Depth: “Parallel Perspectives”

If you haven’t yet read “Parallel Perspectives,” from Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, we have a PDF for you to download and read before you start listening to this episode. It’s a 33mb file in a public DropBox folder.

Parallel Perspectives PDF for Writing Excuses listeners

Got the file? Done reading? Okay, let’s go…

This week is a Project in Depth episode focusing on a 13-page graphic story (“comic book”) found at the end of Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, and our focus this week will be story structure. It’s fun, because the process of structuring a bonus story begins much differently than most projects, and the structure was laid in support of a four-creator collaboration.

The creators? Howard Tayler, Brenda Hickey, Travis Walton, and Keliana Tayler.

(If you’d like your own hard-copy of Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, you can get it from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher.)

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Writing Prompt: Next month we're going to talk Beginnings: decide on the promises you want to make to your readers in your story. Then outline according to those promises.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle,  by Christopher Healy, narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Writing Excuses 9.33: Microcasting

Microcasting!

It’s our Q&A format, in which each answer is like its own, tiny little podcast, only without its own unique URL, intro, writing prompt, or any of the other trappings that would actually make it different from a Q&A session.

Right. So, it’s basically just a Q&A.

Listen to the podcast for the answers… Here are the questions:

  • Are there biases against non-English writers submitting manuscripts in English?
  • What is the most difficult thing Howard experienced when first creating Schlock Mercenary?
  • Are you ever too old to try to get published?
  • What are some pointers for keeping a milieu story focused on the setting?
  • No, you can’t have a sample of our DNA. None of you.
  • If you were to rewrite your early work, what would you change?
  • How do you improve your proofreading and copy editing?
  • How much time do you spend writing each day? Does it matter WHAT you write during that time?
  • Do you add foreshadowing in the editing stage, or are you just that good?
  • How do you improve your craft as a writer?
  • I don’t have time to ask a question, I’m washing my dog.
  • Do you have any writing exercises that you do regularly?
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Writing Prompt: Introduce a random element--dice, coin-tosses, the i ching--and write a story in which you (the writer) commit to letting the random element make the decisions.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Attack the Geek, by Michael R. Underwood, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Excuses 8.10: Brainstorming With Howard Again

In this episode Brandon, Mary, and Dan help Howard brainstorm a story for a comic!

Howard begins with an uplift-related setting, and a couple of characters, and then the group takes off on a delightful demonstration of brainstorming within very specific constraints. The constraints in this case: existing setting and canon, existing characters, and (Howard’s favorite constraint) a limited page-count.

Disappointment of Epic Levels: Howard struggled so much with this story, even after the brainstorming session, that he decided to abandon the Bonus Story option for this book, and instead write a dozen new footnotes for the existing strips. This is no reflection upon the story itself. Brandon, Dan, and Mary did a great job. This story may see life someplace else, but not between the covers of “The Body Politic.”

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Writing Prompt: An uplifted creature wants to get his/her entire species downlifted.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Fragments, by Dan Wells, narrated by Julia Whelan

Writing Excuses 7.34: How to Start the Next One

Let’s talk about how to start the next one — not the next book in a series, necessarily. Your next project might not leverage the worldbuilding or characters you used in your previous project. We discuss the challenges each of us have faced, and how we’ve cleared those hurdles.

If you’re having trouble letting go of your previous project, this ‘cast should help you, if only because you can see it’s something each of us had difficulty with as well. Of course, we also offer you some pointers and some tricks to make this transition easier.

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Writing Prompt: "The Hairy Housewife," because Brandon didn't hear Howard correctly the first time he said "harried."

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant, wraps up with Blackout, and is a very satisfying example of a series that does something different with each book.

Writing Excuses 6.29: Character Foils

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.
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!

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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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Writing Excuses 6.23: Pigeon Holes

Jonathan Maberry joins Howard, Dan, and Mary to discuss pigeonholes — specifically, not ending up in one. Jonathan was enthusiastic to address this subject, which he treats as serious career advice. Ray Bradbury said “A writer writes,” and Jonathan advises us all to consider that though we may be on fire about a particular genre, sub-genre, or even one given story, the market may not offer an open door for that project. Don’t let rejection keep you from writing, and don’t be unwilling to branch out and try writing something else.

We offer examples from our own careers, and Jonathan talks about the many, many different things he has written during the course of his career, which includes martial arts texts, magazine articles, and sarcastic greeting cards.

And of course we talk about how we’ve worked to broaden our own horizons, diversifying our income streams, and what specific tricks and techniques have helped us.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel, by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by William Dufris

Writing Prompt: Jonathan writes one page to a writing prompt every day, pushing himself out of his comfort zone. Today his prompt for you is to write the opening scene of a steampunk version of Alice in Wonderland.

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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