By Writing Excuses | May 11, 2014 - 6:06 pm - Posted in Career, Season 9

This topic breaks down into two parts:

First: sometimes you create something, and when you hand to your fans, it becomes their thing. How do we as creators deal with this when it happens, and how do we prepare ourselves, and our works, for this eventuality? And how does this impact our desire to foster a sense of community with our fans?

We talk about our experiences with this, which have been surprising, eye-opening, confusing, and a whole bunch of other things, including exceedingly rewarding.

Second: what’s the difference between liking something someone has created, and liking that person as a creator? Is it possible to not like a creator, while still enjoying the things they’ve made? Where do we draw the lines?

(Aside: when Mary called “can of worms” on “how to express an opinion,” she didn’t know that our recording of that can of worms would air before the recording of us opening of the can. It’s Episode 9.14, right here!)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs

Writing Prompt: One of your creations has gained a life of its own, and it's something beyond the merely metaphorical "life of its own" that we talked about in this podcast. How did that happen? What happens next?

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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.

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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 12, 2011 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Plot

If you have to ask yourself “what’s my motivation?” when you’re sitting down to write, this isn’t the podcast for you. We’re talking about character motivation in this cast.

Mary breaks it down into different aspects: what the character wants, and how that is expressed on the page. From there the analysis proceeds. We talk about how to do it, how others have done it, and what some of the pitfalls are.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, with Connie Willis reading the introduction. These two books have been nominated for the 2011 Best Novel Hugo.

Writing Prompt: Come up with a character motivation, and then an action that character must take which runs counter to that motivation.

That Distant Hum Ten Minutes In: Somebody decided to run the vacuum upstairs. It was a busy weekend at Chez Sanderson.

Liner Notes: Mary Robinette Kowal schooled us all back in Season Three with this discussion of puppetry.

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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 | September 12, 2010 - 3:38 pm - Posted in Characters, Humor, Narrator

Special guest Bree Despain of the Dark Divine trilogy joins us for a ‘cast on character quirks.

A character quirk, avoiding the tautological definition, is something that makes your character memorable. We talk about good quirks, bad quirks, and how to tell the difference. We also laugh a lot because it was late and we were punchy.

We also discuss ways in which stereotype-breaking quirks can be employed without delivering humor, and reasons why we might do this.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Regarding That “No Spoilers” Shouting-Match: If you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender (animated) in its entirety yet, it’s possible Bree gave something away in the last two minutes of the ‘cast.

Writing Prompt: A physical attribute that in some way influences the character’s religion

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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.