Writing Excuses

By Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Description

Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart.

Episode Date
13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu
22:33
Your Hosts: Piper Drake, Aliette de Bodard, and Wesley Chu, with special guest Ken Liu Our hosts for this episode are experts in a great many different things. One thing that they have in common is that they’re all members of the Asian Disapora, and in this episode we’ll learn what kinds of things writers get … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/06/17/13-24-what-writers-get-wrong-with-piper-aliette-and-wesley-with-special-guest-ken-liu/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 17, 2018
13.23: Internal Conflicts
26:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we can tell when it’s not working. Notes: the MICE quotient is Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. Mary’s … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/06/10/13-23-internal-conflicts/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.23: Internal Conflicts</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 10, 2018
13.22: Character Arcs
16:09
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard When Mary says we could do fifteen different episodes on character arcs, she’s being conservative. Notwithstanding, we set out to talk meaningfully about character arcs in one episode rather than in fifteen (or fifty.) We look at the shapes of these arcs, how they progress in our narratives, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/06/03/13-22-character-arcs/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.22: Character Arcs</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 03, 2018
13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation
20:07
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard Our listeners submitted some great questions! How do you fairly and even-handedly write a deeply compelling character you deeply dislike? What’s the best way to discuss a character’s underlying motivations without expressly stating them in narrative or dialog? How well should characters understand their own motivations? How do … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/05/27/13-21-qa-on-character-depth-and-motivation/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 27, 2018
13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman
19:41
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with special guest Emma Newman Emma Newman, author, audio book narrator, and podcaster, joined us on the Baltic sea for WXR 2017, where, six days after a brilliant presentation on overcoming fear, she recorded a session with us on the same topic. The class was just that good. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/05/20/13-20-fear-and-writing-with-emma-newman/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 20, 2018
13.19: Backstories
19:32
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Character backstories: these are the tales that describe how the characters in your story became who they are by the time they arrive in the book. How much backstory needs to be written before you start in on the manuscript? How much needs to be in the manuscript … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/05/13/13-19-backstories/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.19: Backstories</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 13, 2018
13.18: Naturally Revealing Character Motivation
19:00
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What motivates us? What really motivates us? Why? (Note: our motivations are probably not in service of some overarching plot.) How can we use this information to believably motivate characters? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 06, 2018
13.17: What Writers Get Wrong, with Jamahl Crouch
16:17
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Jamahl Crouch Jamahl Crouch (Illusmm1 on Instagram) joined us at the GenCon Indy Writers Symposium to talk about what writers get wrong about street art. Jamahl is many things, and one of those is “street artist.” We discuss the differences between graffiti and street art, where things like commissioned … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/04/29/13-17-what-writers-get-wrong-with-jamahl-crouch/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.17: What Writers Get Wrong, with Jamahl Crouch</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 29, 2018
13.16: Avoiding Flat Characters
16:42
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard For our purposes, the term “flat character” refers to a character who lacks the depth required to maintain reader interest. In this episode we discuss how to avoid putting flat characters front-and-center in our writing, and how we go about fixing manuscripts that have flat character problems.
Apr 22, 2018
13.15: What Writers Get Wrong, with Mike Stop Continues
19:04
Recorded live at WXR 2017. Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with special guest Mike Stop Continues Mike has multiple areas of expertise, but for this episode he’s talking to us specifically about the things that writers get wrong about being a gay man. Credits: This episode was recorded live by Bert Grimm, and … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/04/15/13-15-what-writers-get-wrong-with-mike-stop-continues/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.15: What Writers Get Wrong, with Mike Stop Continues</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 15, 2018
13.14: Character Nuance
17:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Let’s talk about characters who have conflict built right into them; characters whose attributes and attitudes might seem to contradict one another; characters who like, y’know… actual people. (And let’s talk about how to write them.)
Apr 08, 2018
13.13: Character Voice
23:38
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Character voice, the flow, order, and feel of words that is unique to a particular character, is extremely useful in defining characters for the reader. In this episode we discuss our tools for shaping character voices, and the ways in which we make sure each one unique. Liner Notes: … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/04/01/13-13-character-voice/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.13: Character Voice</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 01, 2018
13.12: Q&A on Heroes, Villains, and Main Characters
17:13
Your Cast: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, Howard You had questions about heroes, villains, and main characters. We have answers! Here are the questions: How do you make planned power increases not seem like an ass-pull¹? What do you do when your villain is more interesting/engaging than your hero? How do you know when a character is … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/03/25/13-12-qa-on-heroes-villains-and-main-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.12: Q&A on Heroes, Villains, and Main Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 25, 2018
13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris
17:13
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Charlaine Harris Charlaine Harris joined us in front of a live audience at the GenCon Writers Symposium to talk with us about secondary characters—why they’re so important, why they can be difficult to write well, and how she brings her secondary characters to life without … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/03/18/13-11-writing-secondary-characters-with-charlaine-harris/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 18, 2018
13.10: Handling a Large Cast
23:12
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice What are our favorite techniques for managing large casts of characters, and how do our processes differ from when we’re writing small casts? What does “large” and “small” mean for us? Liner Notes: No, Howard was not in the room. Yes, despite his absence, he was wearing both trousers and … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/03/11/13-10-handling-a-large-cast/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.10: Handling a Large Cast</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 11, 2018
13.9: Quick Characterization
18:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard How do you go about defining a character for your readers when you don’t have many words to devote to the project? What are the tricks for quickly establishing someone’s individuality within your story? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Mar 04, 2018
13.8: Making Characters Distinctive
21:20
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard What do we do to make our characters distinctive? Often we categorize the distinctions as flaws or quirks, and in this discussion we use those as our starting points. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Feb 25, 2018
13.7: What Writers Get Wrong, with Lou Perry
14:56
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Lou Perry joined us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about law and courtrooms, and what writers get wrong when setting their stories amid legal procedures.
Feb 18, 2018
13.6: External Conflicts for Characters
20:33
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice An external conflict is a story driver that originates outside the protagonist. In this episode a large part of what we’ll focus on is person-vs-environment as opposed to person-vs-person. PvE rather than PvP, if you will. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson, both of whom understand … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/02/11/13-6-external-conflicts-for-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.6: External Conflicts for Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Feb 11, 2018
13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle
18:20
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What’s the difference between villains and antagonists? How is an obstacle character different from those other two? How are they alike? And most importantly, how can we use this information to write effective opposition to our heroes, protagonists, and main characters? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/02/04/13-5-villain-antagonist-obstacle/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Feb 04, 2018
13.4: Protagonists Who Aren’t Sympathetic
20:05
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard This week we’re joined by Valynne Maetani, who’ll be one of our hosts all year. We’re discussing protagonists who, per writer intent, do not engender audience sympathy. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Jan 28, 2018
13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard
22:15
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard This year’s third-week episodes will all follow a common theme: “what writers get wrong.” Each of these episodes will feature an expert guest who will help us understand what writers get wrong about something in which they have expertise. Aliette de Bodard will be co-hosting several of these week-three episodes, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/01/21/13-3-what-writers-get-wrong-with-aliette-de-bodard/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 21, 2018
13.2: Writing Active Characters
19:22
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice This week we welcome Amal El-Mohtar and Maurice Broaddus to the Writing Excuses cast for a discussion of active characters. We cover characters who move stories forward, who make decisions that influence plot-critical events, and whose actions draw the reader into the book. Liner Notes: you’ll be hearing … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/01/14/13-2-writing-active-characters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.2: Writing Active Characters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 14, 2018
13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character
17:27
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard 2018 is our Year of Character, and we kick it off with a quick exploration of the differences between heroes, protagonists, and main characters. Beginning with addressing the question “wait, aren’t they all the same person?” Because that’s the elephant in the room. Or maybe it’s three elephants. Or … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2018/01/07/13-1-hero-protagonist-main-character/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 07, 2018
12.53: Writing Excuses True Confessions
29:27
It’s the end of 2017, so let’s talk about the things that we’ve tried to make work, and failed at. Not things that we tried before arriving at career-level measures of success—things that we’ve folded, spindled, and/or mutilated since then. There were a lot of them! This episode runs close to thirty minutes long…
Dec 31, 2017
12.52: Cross-Genres as Gateways
17:46
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Howard, and Dan What are the books which have drawn us from the bookshelf genres where you’re the most comfortable into bookshelves you haven’t read from? What can we learn about our own writing by reading these gateway books? How can we set about writing them ourselves? Credits: this episode was recorded in … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/12/24/12-52-cross-genres-as-gateways/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.52: Cross-Genres as Gateways</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 24, 2017
12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga
18:51
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, Dan, with guest host Beth Meacham Dirk Elzinga, an associate professor of linguistics, joined us live at LTUE to talk about constructed languages, and how we, as writers, might go about constructing them for our work. Liner Notes: The big stack of notes from Dirk required its own page. Below are links to specific tools … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/12/17/12-51-constructed-languages-with-dirk-elzinga/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 17, 2017
12.50: Form and Function
22:58
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How does the shape of your physical medium change the art you’re making? What are the tools that affect our storytelling, and what are those effects? Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Dec 10, 2017
12.49: Non-linear Narratives
17:39
We begin the final month of our year on structure with a discussion of non-linear structures. These include flashbacks, POVs that are out of chronological order,  and a host of other storytelling techniques. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Dec 03, 2017
12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan
24:59
Brian McClellan joined us to field questions about writing novels and series. Here are the questions: How do you write an ending that is open for sequels, but isn’t a cliffhanger? Is it a good idea to take a large novel, and release it instead as serial novellas? Can you debut with a series, or … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/11/26/12-48-qa-on-novels-and-series-with-brian-mcclellan/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 26, 2017
12.47: Screenwriting and the Writers Room, with JD Payne
19:16
Screenwriter JD Payne joined us before a live audience at LTUE to talk about writing for the screen, specifically regarding doing this work with others in a room full of writers.
Nov 19, 2017
12.46: Reinventing Yourself
21:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We discuss the idea of “reinventing yourself,” which can mean anything from “trying something new” to “completely re-branding yourself as a writer,” and how it’s a difficult thing to do without figuring out what it actually is that you’re currently doing. We talk about how we’ve done it, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/11/12/12-46-reinventing-yourself/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.46: Reinventing Yourself</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 12, 2017
12.45: Structuring a Series
23:09
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Before you can decide on a structure for your series, you may find it helpful to decide what kind of series you’re actually building. We talk about a few of the available options, and how each of them affects the structure. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/11/05/12-45-structuring-a-series/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.45: Structuring a Series</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 05, 2017
12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer
18:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re going to share some of our experiences with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in an effort to encourage you to participate in ways that will advance you toward your goals. Note: After a week, this is the only photo we’ve found of Wounded Howard. Dan took it, and Howard was clearly putting on … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/29/12-44-nanowrimo-2017-primer/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 29, 2017
12.43: Serialized Storytelling
22:24
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We’re talking about the extreme long-form serial story here, and how to keep things interesting without forcing the main characters into an absurdly high number of character-developing moments. Brandon leads by aiming the question at Howard, since Schlock Mercenary has been running now for seventeen years (it was only 16 … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/22/12-43-serialized-storytelling/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.43: Serialized Storytelling</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 22, 2017
12.42: Adapting Your Stories for Game Play, with Alan Bahr
14:27
Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Alan Bahr of Ragnarok Publications, joined us at  LTUE 2017 to talk about adapting a licensed property for a game, and preserving the feel of the work while doing so. Credits: this episode was recorded live at LTUE 2017 by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex JacksonRecorded
Oct 15, 2017
12.41: Raising the Stakes
20:15
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley When we talk about “raising the stakes,” we mean making the outcomes of the events in a story increasingly important to the reader. In this episode we talk about the tools we use to raise the stakes in ways that are more sophisticated than just queuing up larger and … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/08/12-41-raising-the-stakes/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.41: Raising the Stakes</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 08, 2017
12.40: Structuring a Novel
18:53
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What makes something a novel, rather than just a serialized collection of stuff that happens? How do we use structure to turn collections of stuff into something more cohesive? What tools do we use to outline, map, and/or plan our novel writing? Reference Note: “Scene and sequel” comes … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/10/01/12-40-structuring-a-novel/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.40: Structuring a Novel</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 01, 2017
12.39: Q&A on Short(er) Fiction
20:01
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners sent us  some questions about writing shorter fiction. Here are the questions: How do you market short stories today? Has ebook self-publishing made novellas more viable? How do you structure a short story? How short is too short? Is publishing sections of a novel a viable way … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/24/12-39-qa-on-shorter-fiction/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.39: Q&A on Short(er) Fiction</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 24, 2017
12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo
17:13
Your Hosts: Dan and Howard Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo joined Dan and Howard to discuss what it is that editors “really want.” Question To Help You Decide Whether Or Not To Send Your Editor Bad News: “Will this news get better if I wait?” Credits: this episode was recorded at GenCon Indy 2016, and mastered by … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/17/12-38-what-do-editors-really-want-with-toni-weisskopf-and-cat-rambo/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 17, 2017
12.37: Subplots
20:32
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a plot a subplot? Must subplots and main plots be linked by something more binding than the actual binding of the book? In this episode we answer these questions, and ask and answer plenty more. Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/10/12-37-subplots/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.37: Subplots</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 10, 2017
12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece
19:50
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Larger than a short story, smaller than a novel… there’s quite a bit of space between those two thresholds, and in this episode we discuss the ways in which we go about filling that space with a well-structured story. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/09/03/12-36-structuring-a-mid-length-piece/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 03, 2017
12.35: Short Fiction Markets, with Spencer Ellsworth and guest host Beth Meacham
16:32
Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Spencer Ellsworth and Beth Meacham joined us before a live audience at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of short fiction markets, which ones we love, and why. Credits: this episode was recorded live at LTUE 2017 Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/27/12-35-short-fiction-markets-with-spencer-ellsworth-and-guest-host-beth-meacham/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.35: Short Fiction Markets, with Spencer Ellsworth and guest host Beth Meacham</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 27, 2017
12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan
20:08
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Brian McClellan joins us for a discussion on fulfilling the promises we make to our readers—specifically the genre-specific promises made by the simple fact of where the book is shelved. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/20/12-34-fulfilling-the-readers-fantasy-with-brian-mcclellan/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 20, 2017
12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful
20:35
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’ve talked about some of the structural guidelines for short stories. In this episode we’ll discuss how to write in the short form while still putting down enough words to convey the story powerfully. Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/13/12-33-how-to-be-brief-yet-powerful/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 13, 2017
12.32: Structuring a Short Piece
22:03
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We begin our exploration of short story structure with a re-cap of the MACE quotient (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, Event). Then we apply that tool to how we structure the pieces we write—specifically the short ones. Liner Notes: Here’s “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal And here’s a handy MICE quotient chart! Credits: … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/08/06/12-32-structuring-a-short-piece/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.32: Structuring a Short Piece</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 06, 2017
12.31: What Makes a Good Monster, with Courtney Alameda
17:48
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest host Susan Chang Courtney Alameda joined us at LTUE 2017 to talk monsters, and what makes the best ones so good. We discuss some of our favorites, and how the criteria we apply to them can be applied in the creation of monsters of our own. Credits: this … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/07/30/12-31-what-makes-a-good-monster-with-courtney-alameda/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.31: What Makes a Good Monster, with Courtney Alameda</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 30, 2017
12.30: Tools for Writers
20:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We are often asked what software we use to get our work done. In this episode we answer that question in a bit of detail. Liner Notes: Here’s a linked list of the tools referenced during this episode. Aeon Timeline Asana Time Management Dropbox Excel OpenOffice Scrivener Wikidpad Word … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/07/23/12-30-tools-for-writers/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.30: Tools for Writers</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 23, 2017
12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney
20:49
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Steve Diamond, and special guest Joe McKinney We invited Steve Diamond, who has been a guest before, and who has some law enforcement background, to help us grill Joe McKinney, who has tons of that background, and who also happens to be a best-selling author. This Week’s Liner Notes are … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/07/16/12-29-oh-crap-the-cops-are-here-with-joe-mckinney/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 16, 2017
12.28: Trimming and Expanding
19:46
Revision: it's when you make a too-short piece longer, or a too-long piece shorter.
Jul 09, 2017
12.27: Choosing a Length
21:49
We discuss the ways in which we decide upon the length of the stories we write, and at which point(s) in the creative process we make that decision.
Jul 02, 2017
12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing
20:29
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners had questions about outlining and discovery writing. Here are a few of the very best: Do you outline scenes? How? How do you know when to STOP outlining something? How much do you have to know about your character and/or world before you start writing? What … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/06/25/12-26-qa-on-outlining-and-discovery-writing/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 25, 2017
12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker
18:50
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Callie Stoker Callie Stoker joined Howard and Dan at the World Horror convention to answer our questions about hiring an editor, which is part of the process by which self-published authors build the team of people who will make the manuscript far better than they can make it by … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/06/18/12-25-hiring-an-editor-with-callie-stoker/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 18, 2017
12.24: Creating Great Outlines
20:46
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How might you go about creating great outlines? There are many processes, and we cover several of them.   Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jun 11, 2017
12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries
21:29
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about selling your stuff. In this episode we discuss query letters, pitches, and proposals—the tools that you use to present your material to people who can pay you for it, and who will partner with you in the task of selling it to the general public. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/06/04/12-23-proposals-pitches-and-queries/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 04, 2017
12.22: Hybrid Outlining and Discovery Writing
18:57
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard What can discovery writers learn from outlining? What can outliners learn from discovery writing? Is there a balance between the two that can serve as a happy, productive place for writers? (summary of answers: lots, lots, and yes-but-not-all-writers.)
May 28, 2017
12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel
20:26
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guests Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel Bill and Carrie both have extensive experience writing for games, and they joined us at GenCon Indy to talk about writing for an interactive story, like a tabletop RPG, or a video game. Narrative Bumper Pool: This term comes to us from Tracy Hickman’s … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/05/21/12-21-narrative-bumper-pool-with-bill-fawcett-and-carrie-patel/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 21, 2017
12.20: Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft
21:23
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’re speaking again, at least in part, to discovery writers. In this case, we’re talking about how to take a non-outlined work and apply a structure to it in revisions. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
May 14, 2017
12.19: Structure on the Fly
19:30
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode is for you discovery writers, especially those of you for whom our current season of structure seems to be locking you down, or pointing up methods which you just don’t like to use. We talk about how these methods, these structural principles, these mechanical advantages in … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/05/07/12-19-structure-on-the-fly/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.19: Structure on the Fly</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 07, 2017
12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson
19:02
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest-host Susan Chang, and special guest J.R. Johannsen J.R. Johannson joined Howard, Mary, Dan, and guest-host Susan Chang at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of gendered dialect. We lead with a quick introduction to the Genderlect theory, by Deborah Tannen, which uses a very broad brush to describe key differences between the … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/30/12-18-gendered-dialect-with-j-r-johansson/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 30, 2017
12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing
23:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We fielded some questions on style, diction, and paragraphing: Is it okay to have pretty prose in a straightforward adventure story? How do author voice and character voice differ? How do you prevent paragraphs from rambling? I feel like my writing is derivative of the writers whose work … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/23/12-17-qa-on-style-diction-and-paragraphing/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 23, 2017
12.16: Writing Crime Fiction with Brian Keene
19:57
Brian Keene joined Dan and Howard at the World Horror Convention to talk about writing crime fiction, including how he goes about getting readers to feel the things he wants them to feel to drive the story forward. Liner Notes: The Horror Show with Brian Keene
Apr 16, 2017
12.15: Pacing With Chapters
21:24
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a chapter? WHY is a chapter? How do we chapter, and do we always chapter the same way? Should our chapters be this many parts of speech? This episode will answer these questions and more, except for that last question, to which the answer is … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/09/12-15-pacing-with-chapters/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.15: Pacing With Chapters</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 09, 2017
12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure
20:26
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about the structural tools we use to control pacing. These include sentence length and punctuation.   Also, white-space.   Liner note: Here is the Feb 12, 2017 Schlock Mercenary strip mentioned around the 18-minute mark. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/04/03/12-14-controlling-pacing-with-structure/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 03, 2017
12.13: Beautiful Prose, Purple Prose
22:34
The rising, golden sun crested the snowcapped eastern mountains, its first morning rays pouring like molten lemon through the window to glisten and gleam from the chrome grille of the studio microphone.
Mar 26, 2017
12.12: Words as Words, with Linda Addison
21:07
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Special Guest Linda Addison Linda Addison joined us at the World Horror Convention in 2016 for a discussion of the shapes and sounds of words as seen from the perspective of the poet, and how this approach can inform our prose.
Mar 19, 2017
12.11: Diction
19:58
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley Let’s talk about word choice. And when we say “let’s” we mean “we’re going to talk to you about it. You don’t actually get to talk back.” So maybe “let’s” wasn’t the best of the possible openers. Our discussion covers what we want to say, how specific … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/03/12/12-11-diction/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.11: Diction</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Mar 12, 2017
12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style
19:13
Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard talk about authorial voice, and how to stop being afraid of examining how you "sound" when you write.
Mar 05, 2017
12.9: Q&A on Viewpoint
25:02
Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard answer listener questions on viewpoint.
Feb 26, 2017
12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due
14:26
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Tananrive Due, whose short-fiction expertise is exemplified in her collection, Ghost Summer, joined us on the Oasis of the Seas to talk about how to use short stories to explore aspects of the craft. We discuss the importance of allowing ourselves to fail, and how we can learn … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/02/19/12-8-short-stories-as-exploration-with-tananarive-due/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Feb 19, 2017
12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens
20:27
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley The third-person POV lens can be used for simultaneously describing the world to the reader and describing the character. In this episode we’ll talk about where we deploy these tools, where the pitfalls are, and how to do it well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/02/12/12-7-description-through-the-third-person-lens/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Feb 12, 2017
12.6: Variations on Third Person
19:13
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode focuses on the third person POV, and some variations on them, like omniscient and limited, and some sub-variants like cinematic and head-hopping. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Feb 05, 2017
12.5: Literary Fiction
20:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about the genre of Literary Fiction. Our first hurdle is the word “literary” whose use in this context can imply that all other genres are somehow not literature. In that vein, then, we’re talking about mainstream, or “non-genre” fiction which is crafted with … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/29/12-5-literary-fiction/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.5: Literary Fiction</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 29, 2017
12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints
19:11
Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler Piper J. Drake joins the cast for our week-four episodes, of which this is the first. This week we’ll be drilling down into hybrid viewpoints—blending 1st and 3rd person, framing stories, stories-within-stories, and unreliable narration—and how to best serve our work with these techniques.
Jan 22, 2017
12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler
23:44
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler This Project in Depth episode contains spoilers for “Risk Assessment,” which is included in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12. The story was written by Sandra Tayler, and illustrated by Natalie Barahona. Howard handled the writing and illustrating for the framing story, but this episode isn’t about that … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/15/12-3-project-in-depth-risk-assessment-by-sandra-tayler/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 15, 2017
12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person
21:27
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about character voice, and how to get it right in First Person. This POV is a strong tool for developing memorable characters. We cover sentence structure, linguistic tweaks, accents, and much more, as well as some exercises you can try out to develop … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/08/12-2-how-to-nail-character-voice-in-first-person/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 08, 2017
12.1: Variations on First Person
23:49
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re beginning a new season, and during 2017 we will be focusing our topics on structure. We are also going to shake things by expanding our cast a bit. You’ll be hearing some new voices soon! They belong to: Wesley Chu Piper J. Drake Mary Anne Mohanraj We’ll post … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2017/01/01/12-1-variations-on-first-person/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">12.1: Variations on First Person</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jan 01, 2017
11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray
24:54
Claudia Gray joined us aboard Oasis of the Seas to answer our attendees questions about the Elemental Ensemble. Here are the questions: Can you fit an ensemble into a short story? What the minimum size for an ensemble? Is there a perfect length? Can you put a traitor into an ensemble story? How do I give … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/24/11-52-elemental-ensemble-qa-with-claudia-gray/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 24, 2016
11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas
17:02
Lynne M. Thomas joins us to continue our discussion of the Elemental Ensemble, which is one of our favorite elemental tools. It’s not just for heists. It adds interest, emotion, and lots of plot possibilities to everything from sense of wonder to the hard-hitting issue. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/18/11-51-ensemble-as-a-sub-genre-with-lynne-m-thomas/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 18, 2016
11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood
24:06
Michael R. Underwood has talked to us about hand-selling books before, but that was about pitching to agents and editors. This time around he’s talking about placing your product in the hand of your customer, the reader. With Michael’s help, we cover some specific sales techniques, guidelines for convention displays, and strategies for bookstore appearances, with an … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/11/11-50-hand-selling-your-book-to-potential-readers-with-michael-r-underwood/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 11, 2016
11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas
24:17
Michael Damien Thomas, co-publisher and co-editor-in-chief of Uncanny Magazine, joined us for a discussion of the elemental genre that contains most of the stories we refer to as “heists.” It’s all about a well-rounded cast in which the group relationship is what’s pulling us forward. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/12/04/11-49-elemental-ensemble-with-michael-damien-thomas/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Dec 04, 2016
11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch
17:56
Elizabeth Bear  and Scott Lynch joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy to talk about fantasy food, and how we engage our readers’ appetites with our fiction. We talk economics, logistics, sensory engagement, and we goof off quite a bit in the process. We might have been hungry at the time. There is good fun … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/11/29/11-bonus-04-fantasy-food-with-elizabeth-bear-and-scott-lynch/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 29, 2016
11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song
22:20
DongWon Song, literary agent with HMLA, joins us for a Q&A on the elemental genre of “Issue.” Here are the questions, which were submitted by the attendees at WXR ’16: Can only certain people tackle certain issues in certain stories? Science Fiction often explores issues by changing the context. Why does this work? How would … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/11/27/11-48-elemental-issue-qa-with-dongwon-song/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 27, 2016
11.47: Issue as a Subgenre, with Steven Barnes
24:21
Steven Barnes joins us to tackle Elemental Issue, round two, in which we look at how to address it as a sub-element. He describes the thesis/antithesis approach, and we move then to logical frameworks, and how to avoid making our stories dogmatic.   Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/11/20/11-47-issue-as-a-subgenre-with-steven-barnes/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.47: Issue as a Subgenre, with Steven Barnes</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 20, 2016
11.46: Colonialism, with Steven Barnes, Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and Shveta Thakrar
27:02
Our listeners have been asking for an in-depth, “crunchy” episode on colonialism, and related issues like cultural appropriation, for a couple of years now. Our voices, however, are not the ones our listeners should be hearing on the subject. Finding the right voices has not been easy, but it has been worth it. This episode runs … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/11/13/11-46-colonialism-with-steven-barnes-tempest-bradford-dongwon-song-and-shveta-thakrar/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.46: Colonialism, with Steven Barnes, Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and Shveta Thakrar</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 13, 2016
11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch
24:30
For November, our elemental genre is “Issue,” and we were joined by actor, writer, and comedian Desiree Burch. The Elemental Issue is similar to the Elemental Idea, but the type of idea being explored is a point of social conflict, like racism, teen pregnancy, or corporate greed. Authors writing Elemental Issue stories raise questions for the readers. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/11/06/11-45-elemental-issue-with-desiree-burch/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 06, 2016
11.Bonus-03: Some Books Have Maps in the Front, with Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James Sutter
19:45
Three days late for the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2016, here’s a bonus episode about maps. Because nothing says “keep writing” like “hey, let’s draw a map now!” Dan and Howard were joined by Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James L. Sutter, who wanted to talk about maps. As Napoleon Bonaparte is rumored to have said prior … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/11/03/11-bonus-03-some-books-have-maps-in-the-front-with-maurice-broaddus-mur-lafferty-and-james-sutter/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.Bonus-03: Some Books Have Maps in the Front, with Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James Sutter</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Nov 03, 2016
11.Bonus-02: Horrifying the Children, with Darren Shan
23:32
Happy Halloween! Darren Shan talks horror with us in this bonus episode, made possible by our Patreon supporters.
Nov 01, 2016
11.44: Project in Depth, GHOST TALKERS, by Mary Robinette Kowal
33:14
Spoiler Alert!  If you haven’t yet read Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, this episode will spoil great swathes of book for you. Also, you probably won’t get as much out of it. This week’s episode is a Project in Depth discussion focusing on Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. We begin with the difference … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/10/30/11-44-project-in-depth-ghost-talkers-by-mary-robinette-kowal/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.44: Project in Depth, GHOST TALKERS, by Mary Robinette Kowal</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 30, 2016
11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due
19:27
Our third Elemental Drama episode is a Q&A, featuring Tananarive Due. The questions are from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat: Rather than having a protagonist change themselves, can elemental drama have the protagonist change others? What happens when a character refuses to learn, refuses to overcome their flaw(s)? What are the … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/10/23/11-43-elemental-drama-qa-with-tananarive-due/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 23, 2016
11.42: Elemental Drama as a Sub-Genre
21:16
Focusing on elemental drama can be tricky. Remember, elemental drama is basically “character change.” A great many stories use character change in some way—it’s almost ubiquitous. In this episode we’ll pick at the ubiquity, and look at the many different ways in which character change can be featured, and what sort of tools we have at our disposal to make this happen … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/10/16/11-42-elemental-drama-as-a-sub-genre/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.42: Elemental Drama as a Sub-Genre</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 16, 2016
11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, with Robin Hobb
20:29
Robin Hobb joined us at GenCon Indy for a discussion of characterization and differentiation. And by “discussion,” what we really mean is “we ask Robin all the questions.” We learn about Robin’s process for creating characters, wrapping stories around them, and making these characters distinctly different from each other. Credits: This episode was recorded by … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/10/12/11-bonus-01-characterization-and-differentiation-with-robin-hobb/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, with Robin Hobb</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 13, 2016
11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe
20:02
Navah Wolfe, an editor at Saga Press, joined us to talk about the manuscripts she would really like to see. Ordinarily we don’t encourage people to write to the market, but Navah asked specifically for the opportunity to tell our listeners what she’s looking for. As it happens, tracking Navah’s wish list as you write is … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/10/09/11-41-the-editors-wish-list-with-navah-wolfe/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 09, 2016
11.40: Elemental Drama
16:22
The word “drama” gets thrown around a lot. What do we mean when we use “drama” as an elemental genre? For us, Elemental Drama focuses on one character’s transformation, and how that transformation affects everyone around them. This is a narrow definition of the word, but it’s a very useful way to look at books where the … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/10/02/11-40-elemental-drama/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.40: Elemental Drama</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Oct 02, 2016
11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout
19:45
Greg van Eekhout joined us at Phoenix Comic Con for a live-audience Q&A session about Elemental Relationship writing. Here are the questions: What is your favorite way to establish relationships? How do you recover when a relationship starts to feel forced? How do you show a “best friend” relationship? How do you decide the pacing … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/09/25/11-39-elemental-relationship-qa-with-greg-van-eekhout/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 25, 2016
11.38: The Elemental Relationship as a Sub-Genre
19:45
We find the elemental relationship in all kinds of stories that are not fundamentally about relationships. The intimate interaction between characters is part of how we define the characters, how we understand who they are as they go on to do the stuff that the story is about. In this episode we’ll talk about how … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/09/18/11-38-the-elemental-relationship-as-a-sub-genre/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.38: The Elemental Relationship as a Sub-Genre</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 18, 2016
11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez
17:29
Live from Phoenix Comic Con, Gama Martinez joins us for a discussion of casting your book. This is the process by which you create a cast of characters for your story ahead of creating the story itself, allowing you to stay ahead of your default decisions for who will step into the scene next. Credits: … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/09/11/11-37-casting-your-book-with-gama-martinez/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 11, 2016
11.36: The Elemental Relationship
17:12
In elemental relationship stories the primary page-turning driver is the relationship between two or three characters ¹. In this episode we discuss ways in which we can write character relationships—parent/child, buddy-cop, romance, and more—to be compelling. Credits: this episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson ¹We’re differentiating “Relationship” from “Ensemble” because … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/09/04/11-36-the-elemental-relationship/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.36: The Elemental Relationship</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Sep 04, 2016
11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab
22:03
For our third Elemental Humor episode Victoria Schwab joins us as we field questions taken from our audience at Phoenix Comic-Con. Here are the questions: How do you add humor to a serious story without breaking the tension? How do I move beyond the “Dad jokes” and into properly funny writing? When is humor necessary … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/08/28/11-35-elemental-humor-qa-with-victoria-schwab/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 28, 2016
11.34: Humor as a Sub-Genre
22:12
Humor is present as an element, at least to some degree, in a substantial amount of the media we consume. In this episode we discuss some stylistic tools for applying humor  to our work, and how these tools can best be employed. WX Trivia: Episode 11.34 represents a pair of firsts for us here at Writing … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/08/21/11-34-humor-as-a-sub-genre/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.34: Humor as a Sub-Genre</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 21, 2016
11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab
21:07
Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joined us in Phoenix to talk about crossover fiction—in this context the term means books that target a given demographic but which have a much broader appeal, or books which straddle the line between age demographics. We discuss some good crossover examples, and how some of the … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/08/14/11-33-crossover-fiction-with-victoria-schwab/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 14, 2016
11.32: The Element of Humor
23:22
“Talking about humor is the least funny thing you can do.” —Howard Tayler You have been warned! and with that out of the way… What is the driving force that gets readers to turn pages in a book that is primarily a work of humor? More importantly, how do we as writers get that driver … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/08/07/11-32-the-element-of-humor/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.32: The Element of Humor</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Aug 07, 2016
11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips
16:46
Trina Marie Phillips joined us at Phoenix Comic Con to talk about her work as a futurist. Futurism, for those unfamiliar with our use of the term here, is related to science fiction, but it remains rooted in existing technology and trends, then seeks to be predictive in useful ways. Liner Notes: Trina mentioned some online resources … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/07/31/11-31-futurism-with-trina-marie-phillips/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 31, 2016
11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A
20:29
We fielded the following questions about the “Thriller” elemental genre from listeners on Facebook and Twitter: How do I build tension consistently through my story? How do you maintain tension during dialog? When do you not use a cliffhanger? Do you ever picture your scenes as if they were in a movie? How much elemental … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/07/24/11-30-elemental-thriller-qa/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 24, 2016
11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre
20:03
Thrillers are, by their very nature, page-turners. In this episode we look at the thriller element as part of a story whose principal driver is one of the other elemental genres. We consider some examples of blended-with-thrill stories, and then drill down a bit and look at how we can incorporate this in our own work. Credits: … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/07/17/11-29-elemental-thriller-as-a-subgenre/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 17, 2016
11.28: Impostor Syndrome, with Alyssa Wong
26:27
Alyssa Wong, Campbell Award nominee and Nebula Award winner, joins us to talk about impostor syndrome. This is the frame of mind that many successful writers suffer from, in which they worry that they’re not really good enough at writing to be enjoying their success. Worse, this mindset can prevent us from continuing to create. … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/07/10/11-28-impostor-syndrome-with-alyssa-wong/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.28: Impostor Syndrome, with Alyssa Wong</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 10, 2016
11.27: The Elemental Thriller
16:32
Let’s get this out of the way up front: in the syntax of elemental genres, the phrase “the element of thriller” is clunky. But we’ll say it anyway. We discuss the difference between the drivers in thrillers, horror stories, and mysteries, and use the elemental genre tools to assist in the differentiation. We also cover … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/07/03/11-27-the-elemental-thriller/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.27: The Elemental Thriller</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jul 03, 2016
11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A
19:19
In this episode we field some questions about elemental mystery. Here they are! How do you balance between two mysteries in the same story? What types of mysteries can fit well as sub-plots? What do you do when beta readers figure out the mystery really early? In the MICE quotient, are mysteries all “Idea” stories? … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/06/26/11-26-elemental-mystery-qa/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 26, 2016
11.25: Elemental Mystery is Everywhere
17:25
Per our Elemental Genre theme, this week we further explore elemental mystery. Elemental mystery can be found in any work in which our curiosity is what keeps us turning pages. The type of satisfaction we feel at the reveal may also reveal the elemental genre in which the element of mystery has been embedded. Credits: This episode was … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/06/19/11-25-elemental-mystery-is-everywhere/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.25: Elemental Mystery is Everywhere</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 19, 2016
11.24: Stakes!
18:44
We talk a lot about “raising the stakes” in our writing. When we say “stakes,” we’re referring to the things that keep our characters involved in the conflict, rather than just walking away and doing something else. We dig into what this really means, and how everyone in the story must be driven by things … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/06/12/11-24-stakes/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.24: Stakes!</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 12, 2016
11.23: The Element of Mystery
19:11
Mystery may well be the most common element in use, at least in some form or another, across the many bookshelf genres comprising “fiction.” We discuss the driving force of elemental mystery, how to evoke those feelings in the reader, and the importance of being able to write mystery effectively. Liner Notes: we mentioned Episode … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/06/05/11-23-the-element-of-mystery/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.23: The Element of Mystery</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Jun 05, 2016
11.22: Examining Unconscious Biases, with Shannon Hale
20:31
Shannon Hale joins us at LTUE for a live-audience session in which we explore gender biases, and extrapolate from there to our many other unconscious biases. Our unconscious biases are not just the things that we consider to be “just the way things are,” or “common sense.” They’re the things we don’t even see, much … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/05/29/11-22-examining-unconscious-biases-with-shannon-hale/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.22: Examining Unconscious Biases, with Shannon Hale</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 29, 2016
11.21: Q&A on Elemental Horror, with Steve Diamond
20:43
Steve Diamond joins us for our third and final Elemental Horror episode as we field your questions about this particular building block. Here are the questions we selected from your submissions: If I want to make peanut butter terrifying without being silly, how do I do that? What is your personal line between horror and “gore-nography?” … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/05/22/11-21-qa-on-elemental-horror-with-steve-diamond/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.21: Q&A on Elemental Horror, with Steve Diamond</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 22, 2016
11.20: Horror as a Subgenre
22:04
Steve Diamond joins us again to talk horror, this time about using elemental horror as part of our stories’ elemental ensemble. We discuss how the sense of dread can be a page-turning motivation, and how it can complement the other “keep on reading” motivations we set out to invoke. Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/05/15/11-20-horror-as-a-subgenre/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.20: Horror as a Subgenre</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 15, 2016
11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney
19:03
How do we go about describing the clothing our characters are wearing? How do we use that to add depth to our story? What are the common mistakes that writers make when they start dressing their characters? Rebecca McKinney joined us on stage at LTUE to address all this. Liner Notes: We mentioned some resources for … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/05/08/11-19-fashion-for-writers-with-rebecca-mckinney/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
May 08, 2016
11.18: Elemental Horror
21:41
Steve Diamond joins us to kick off our month on the elemental genre of horror. We explore the emotional components that readers seek from horror, and then drill down into the ways that we can create those reactions in our readers. Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
May 01, 2016
11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A
22:33
You may still have questions about how to apply elemental adventure in your work. Hopefully your questions are similar to the ones we collected below, because these are the ones we answered: What do readers like more: protagonists going through lots of different incidents and locations, or through a few that are similar to each other? … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/04/24/11-17-elemental-adventure-qa/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 24, 2016
11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre
22:59
Let’s be adventurous. Let’s move beyond simply being cooks, and strive to become chefs. In this episode we explore using the element of adventure as an ingredient in something that has far more than adventure going on in it. Why do we like adventure? What draws the reader forward? Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/04/17/11-16-adventure-as-a-subgenre/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 17, 2016
11.15: The Environment, with L.E. Modessit, Jr.
17:21
L.E. Modesitt, Jr. joined us at LTUE for a world building discussion centered around the way the environment informs the story. We talk about lead in Roman plumbing, water lilies in Las Vegas sewers, and coal power in the British Empire, and how these examples can help us more effectively use the environments in our … <a href="https://writingexcuses.com/2016/04/10/11-15-the-environment-with-l-e-modessit-jr/" class="more-link">Continue reading <span class="screen-reader-text">11.15: The Environment, with L.E. Modessit, Jr.</span> <span class="meta-nav">→</span></a>
Apr 10, 2016
11.14: The Element of Adventure
20:38
Our exploration of elemental genres continues with the sense of "I want to do that."
Apr 03, 2016