Writing Excuses

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

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Description

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

Episode Date
16.38: Deep Dive into Character
19:12
Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal Our fourth M.I.C.E. Quotient episode explores the “Character” element, and how these angsty, navel-gazing voyages of self-examination can serve either as complete stories or as elements in other stories. Also, we talk about how to do this in ways that don't result in readers complaining about "navel-gazing" or "angsty." Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Sep 19, 2021
16.37: Deep Dive Into “Inquiry”
22:01
Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal Our third M.I.C.E. Quotient episode asks about the "Inquiry" element, and the ways in which we can use this element to structure our stories—whether we're writing murder mysteries, thrillers, or anything else in which the turning of pages asks and eventually answers questions. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Sep 12, 2021
16.36: Deep Dive into “Milieu”
20:25
Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal The M.I.C.E. Quotient is an organizational tool which categorizes story elements as Milieu, Inquiry, Character, or Event. In this second  episode we cover "Milieu," and how stories can be driven by a sense of place. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Sep 05, 2021
16.35: What is the M.I.C.E. Quotient?
22:11
Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal The next eight episodes are a deep dive into the M.I.C.E. Quotient, so we'll begin with a definition. M.I.C.E. is an organizational tool which categorizes story elements as Milieu, Inquiry, Character, or Event. It helps authors know which elements are in play, and how to work with these elements effectively. Obviously there's a lot more to M.I.C.E. than that, and in this episode we'll lay it out in a way that makes the subsequent seven M.I.C.E.-related episodes much easier to navigate. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Aug 29, 2021
16.34: Novels Are Layer Cakes
20:21
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Novels deliver a lot of information, and it's helpful to consider that delivery in terms of layers. Novels are layer cakes, and we're not talking about a three-layer birthday cake. We're talking about a dobosh torte, or a mille crepe cake. And if we've made you hungry for stratified pastry, that's okay, because we made ourselves hungry, too. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Aug 22, 2021
16.33: Tell, Don’t Show
18:36
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Few pieces of writing advice get repeated as much as that old saw "show, don't tell." We're here to show tell you that it's not only not universally applicable, much of the time it's wrong¹. Tell, don't show, especially in the early pages of the book when so very, very much information needs to be delivered² quickly. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson ¹ Fun fact: this advice comes to us from silent film, when it made great artistic sense to put things on screen rather than on title cards. ² If you need new terminology, Dan uses "demonstration vs. description." 
Aug 15, 2021
16.32: First Page Fundamentals—THE KILLING FLOOR, by Lee Childs
21:10
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler In this episode we explore the first page of The Killing Floor, by Lee Childs, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of The Killing Floor, for reference. I was arrested in Eno's diner. At twelve o'clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch. I was wet and tired after a long walk in heavy rain. All the way from the highway to the edge of town. The diner was small, but bright and clean. Brand-new, built to resemble a converted railroad car. Narrow, with a long lunch counter on one side and a kitchen bumped out back. Booths lining the opposite wall. A doorway where the center booth would be. I was in a booth, at a window, reading somebody’s abandoned newspaper about the campaign for a president I didn’t vote for last time and wasn’t going to vote for this time. Outside, the rain had stopped but the glass was still pebbled with bright drops. I saw the police cruisers pull into the gravel lot. They were moving fast and crunched to a stop. Light bars flashing and popping. Red and blue light in the raindrops on my window. Doors burst open, policemen jumped out. Two from each car, weapons ready. Two revolvers, two shotguns. This was heavy stuff. One revolver and one shotgun ran to the back. One of each rushed the door.
Aug 08, 2021
16.31: First Page Fundamentals—MOBY DICK
20:47
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler In this episode we explore the first page of Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of Moby Dick, for reference. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time tozz get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.    
Aug 01, 2021
16.30: First Page Fundamentals—THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
21:55
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler In this episode we explore the first page of The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House, for reference. No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
Jul 25, 2021
16.29: Building Trust
17:02
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler How do we build trust with our readers? What does that even mean? In this episode we discuss ways in which we let our readers know what they can expect from the book they're holding, and how we set about getting the to trust us do deliver on those expectations. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jul 18, 2021
16.28: Common First-Page Mistakes
18:14
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Let's have a frank, and possibly painful discussion about the ways in which the first page can go wrong. It may seem like hackneyed writing advice, but rules like "don't start with the main character waking up" are rules for a reason.  In this episode we'll talk about those reasons, and why it's so unlikely for books which break them to succeed with readers. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jul 11, 2021
16.27: Nobody Wants to Read a Book
18:35
Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Our controversial episode title comes to us via John Schwarzwelder, and it points up nicely the importance of today's topic, which is first lines, first pages, and how we set about convincing people (who may or may not want to read a book) to read OUR book. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jul 04, 2021
16.26: Working With Teams
21:55
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Our series of game writing episodes draws to a close with a discussion about working with teams. This last skill set, these ways in which you learn to excel at collaborative projects, is often far more important than any of your other skills. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jun 27, 2021
16.25: Breaking Into Game Writing
27:59
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler So, after all this talk about designing games and writing for games, it's time to address the big question: how does one go about getting a game-design/game-writing job? It's a competitive field, and there are no easy answers, but we do have some hard answers for you. And some homework... Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jun 20, 2021
16.24: Worldbuilding for Games
21:10
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Worldbuilding is one of our favorite topics, and it's a domain in which game design and novel writing share a lot of territory. In this episode we talk about how much we love it, and how much we enjoy letting other people love it enough to do the heavy lifting for us. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jun 13, 2021
BONUS EPISODE! 2021 WXR Early-Bird Announcement
20:39
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dongwon, and Dan What's this bonus episode thing? Well, for starters IT'S URGENT, because as of this writing you have just ten more days to get the promised pricing for WXR at sea in 2021. What ELSE is it? Well, this bonus episode describes the difference between workshops, retreats, and master classes. If you've attended WXR in the past, this episode will highlight what's different this time around.  
Jun 10, 2021
16.23: Rules and Mechanics
20:49
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Let's talk about how players interact with the mechanics of the game, and what kinds of requirements those might put on the writers. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jun 06, 2021
16.22: Scenes and Set Pieces
25:11
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Let's have a discussion about scenes and set pieces, and let's lead with this: prose writers often create longer pieces using scenes as building blocks, and in this thing writing for game design is very, very similar. Scenes and set pieces are some of the most critical components in game design, and each of them must deliver several different things to the players in order to work well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 30, 2021
16.21: Player Characters
18:47
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler So, you're the hero of your own story, and the hero gets choices, and in many ways directs the story. In our discussion of interactive fiction and writing for games, the subject of "player characters" is essential. From the array of options given at character creation/selection, to the paths available for character development and the final chapters of that characters story, "player character" touches everything. Credits: this episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 23, 2021
16.20: Branching Narratives
19:50
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler How do you give players meaningful choices while still keeping the story within a reasonable set of boundaries? In this episode James and Cassandra lead us in a discussion of branching narratives, and the ways in which we as writers can create them. Credits: this episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: Dan mentioned this collection of "Choose your own adventure" plot maps. Howard illustrated the concept of "narrative bumper pool" in Tracy Hickman's X-TREME DUNGEON MASTERY Narrative Bumper Pool from X-TREME DUNGEON MASTERY, used with permission
May 16, 2021
16.19: Intro to Roleplaying Games
27:16
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler For the next eight episodes we'll be talking about roleplaying games, and how that medium relates to writers, writing, career opportunities, and more. We're led by James L. Sutter and Cassandra Khaw on this particular quest. In this episode we lay some groundwork, define a few terms, and hopefully get you excited about looking at games in new and useful ways. Credits: this episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 09, 2021
16.18: Poetry and the Fantastic
24:56
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard For the last seven episodes we've explored language, meaning, and their overlap with that thing we mean when we use language to say "poetry." In this episode we step back to some origins, including, at a meta-level, the origins of this podcast as a writer-focused exploration of genre fiction—the speculative, the horrific, the science-y, and the fantastic. Because there is an overlap between language and meaning, and there are myriad overlaps among the genres we love, and as we step back we see poetry striding these spaces, its path in part defining and in part defying the various borders. Poetry, scouting the fraught borders between the kingdoms of Meaning and Language. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson. 
May 02, 2021
16.17: The Time To Rhyme
24:20
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard Rhyming is powerful. It can signal a form, or telegraph whimsy. It can be predictable, surprising, and sometimes both. It may also be seen as childish. When, then, is it time to rhyme? Will rhyming "internally" fit? As opposed to a line-ending bit. For answers, just listen. But rhymes will be missin' Especially where they'd deliver a predictably naughty word at the end of, say, a limerick, because in this context, that would definitely be seen as childish. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson. 
Apr 25, 2021
16.16: Poetic Structure: Part II
27:55
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard How does a poem happen? Absent an external structure, what makes a thing a poem? The key word in that question may be "external," because ultimately the poem on the page will be the implicit definition of its own structure—even if it borrows a "non-poetic" structure from another form. Structure is as structure does. "Unstructured" is just a way to say "I am unfamiliar with this structure," or maybe "I don't believe that this structure is fit for poetry." And that might be a thing you are currently saying.  After all, "blog post describing a podcast episode" is definitely a structure. Does the embracing of that structure make this thing into a poem? If this thing is a poem, how did that happen? Liner Notes: "Girl Hours" by Sofia Samatar (via Stone Telling magazine), "The Hill We Climb," by Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman (YouTube from the Biden/Harris Inauguration) Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson. 
Apr 18, 2021
16.15: Poetic Structure, Part I
18:14
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard Rigorous structure in poetic form is commonly pointed at when we declare Poems have meters and rhymes, as the norm. Yet words without patterns can roar like a storm So why pay attention, why study with care Rigorous structure in poetic form? Just set it aside, surrender the gorm (means "alertness", a quite-handy rhyme I put there) Poems have meters and rhymes as the norm. Let some of it go, perhaps. Let it transform beyond all the rhyming. Deny, if you dare: Rigorous structure in poetic form Okay, you can maybe keep some of it warm Those toasty iambics by which you might swear: Poems have meters and rhymes as the norm. This episode text I wrote: does it inform? Will all be confused when this couplet doth air? "Rigorous structure in poetic form: Poems have meters and rhymes as the norm." Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson. The villanelle above was the first—and hopefully last—ever composed by Howard Tayler. Yes, the Writing Excuses tagline is a haiku. No, Howard did not know that when he wrote it in 2008.
Apr 11, 2021
16.14: Poetic Language
20:34
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard We might begin with description. Or we might begin by deconstructing the act of describing. Wait. No, not there. Let's jump in AFTER the deconstruction. Let's leap beyond a statement of topic, let's hurdle clear of mundane declarations of the audio file's length, and together plunge headlong into metaphor, the icy water perhaps calling to mind Archimedes, as we describe our episode (or any other thing) not in terms of its intrinsic attributes, but by taking account of what it has displaced into the spaces it doesn't occupy. How long does the displacement remain? How might one apply paint to the emptiness after the thing has left? What color is silence that follows the end of the episode? (An end which follows twenty minutes and thirty-three seconds in which the four of us discuss the kinds of words we imagine when we say "poetic language.") Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Apr 04, 2021
16.13: Day Brain vs. Night Brain
19:30
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard Patterns in the way we're speaking may betray which 'brain' we're using; often bound by what's familiar, sometimes loosed for free-er choosing. Writing like the day-brain's thinking Singing while the night-brain's winking All the cadence going funky (golden-mantled howler monkey) Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson. XKCD #1412, by Randall Munroe, was referenced during this episode. As was the Greater Cleveland Film Commission.
Mar 28, 2021
16.12 : Singing Versus Speaking
19:16
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard Can you hear your writing sing, being intoned instead of read? With the dialogs as tunes whose tags say "sung" instead of "said?" When the rhythm of your prose echoes the rhythm of a song you'll see perhaps you've been a poet all along. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson. Les Miserables was written by Victor Hugo, set to music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and ruined here by Howard Tayler.
Mar 21, 2021
16.11: What is Poetry?
19:15
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard This is how we begin our master class on poetry, with Amal El-Mohtar: With not one question, but two. What is poetry? What is prose? Yes, both questions are a trap. Or maybe two traps. But definitely a beginning. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Mar 14, 2021
16.10: Paying it Forward, with Kevin J. Anderson
28:09
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard, with special guest Kevin J. Anderson Kevin J. Anderson joins us to talk about how others have helped us in our careers, and how we might continue that tradition and help others. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Mar 07, 2021
16.9: Crossing The Revenue Streams
21:57
Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, and Howard How many different ways can our writing earn money for us? What additional work, besides "just" writing, do we need to do in order to get that money? In this episode we discuss finding and managing multiple revenue streams, whether that means writing for new audiences, or monetizing existing writing in new ways. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Feb 28, 2021
16.8: Smart Promotion
24:23
Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, and Howard Let's talk about how promote yourself and your work, and how to do it well. The tools we use for this continue to evolve, and in this discussion we'll cover things that have worked, things that have stopped working, things we use now, and strategies we apply to not sink beneath the churning disruptions endemic to promoting books (or, really, anything else.) Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: Here is your invitation link for the  TypeCastRPG Discord.
Feb 21, 2021
16.7: To Series, or Not to Series
19:28
Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, Howard Let's look a the business considerations of whether that thing you're writing is a standalone story, or part of a series. The factors are complex, and a single factor (like, say distribution channel) isn't likely to make the decision clear cut. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Feb 14, 2021
16.6: Building Your Brand
18:27
Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, and Howard Branding, in marketing terms for writers, is the process of establishing a recognizable identity—a brand— for you and your works in the marketplace of readers, and people who buy things for readers. In this episode we talk about what our brands need to be doing for us, and how we go about getting them to do that. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Feb 07, 2021
16.5: Pros and Contracts
32:16
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Brandon, and Erin Here's our deep dive into the subject of contracts in the publishing business. We can only go so deep during a fifteen-minute episode, so we ran about twice as long as usual. We discuss some of the things you should look for, things you should watch out for, and resources that can help you out. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jan 31, 2021
16.4: Networking
25:44
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Erin, Brandon, and Howard Networking is an invaluable part of any business, and the business of writing is no exception. In this episode we'll talk about how to do it effectively, genuinely, and in ways that benefit the entire community. Credits: This episode was recorded my Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jan 24, 2021
16.3: Publishing Pitfalls
20:03
Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Howard, and Brandon Erin Roberts joins us for our third installment in Brandon's business-of-writing series. In this episode we're covering pitfalls and common problems—including some predatory practices—for you to be on the lookout for while you develop your career as a writer. Credits: This episode was recorded my Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: "Accountabilibuddy," which is written here so Howard can remember it.
Jan 17, 2021
16.02: Publishers Are Not Your Friends
19:17
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Howard, and Brandon It sounds like a mean thing to say, but it's not a wrong thing to say. A publisher is a corporation, and a corporation doesn't have friends. It has contractual relationships. We can make friends with people who work for publishers, but those are not the same thing. Liner Notes: here is an archived copy of Dave Brady's essay about "company loyalty" Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Jan 10, 2021
16.01: Your Career is Your Business
21:58
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Howard, and Brandon Welcome to 2021, and Season 16 of Writing Excuses. This year we're dividing the year into "master classes" or "intensive courses." We're kicking it off with Brandon's episodes, which are all about the business of writing, and the first of those is this one! So... your career is your business. In this episode we'll talk about how that mindset—this is a business—informs our other activities, and how valuable it can be to get our heads in the right place early on. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Jan 03, 2021
15.52: Economy of Phrase, Being the Concentrated Concatenation of Complex Thoughts in Just a Very Few Words Which Must Fit In A Very Very Small Box, With Patrick Rothfuss
23:01
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss Did we have too much fun applying ironic humor to the title of this episode? Possibly! Patrick Rothfuss joins us to talk about economy of phrase, and the ways in which big ideas can be expressed with a few of the exactly-right words. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Dec 27, 2020
15.51: Feedback—When to Listen, and When to Ignore, with special guest Mahtab Narsimhan
21:15
Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, Mahtab, and Brandon We're often taught that the best critique group feedback is reactions to the writing, rather than  advice for fixing it. But prescriptive feedback—critiques that include suggestions for you how to might rewrite something—is an important part of the process. In this episode we discuss how we curate our critique groups and filter their feedback to improve our writing, and our experiences with these groups. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Dec 20, 2020
15.50: Juggling Ensembles
18:45
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard Our listeners have asked about how we handle managing a large cast of characters. This is something we've all struggled with, and sometimes we've failed at it pretty spectacularly. In this episode we talk about how we turned our failures into learning, and what we do today to keep our ensembles in line and our stories on track. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Dec 13, 2020
15.49: Maintaining Passion for a Story, with special guest Mahtab Narsimhan
17:40
Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, Mahtab, and Brandon This episode comes from a question we're often asked: "how do you stay excited about a story you're working on?" We talk about how we maintain our passion for the stories we're working on, and how that's not the same as being super excited to write every time we sit down at the keyboard Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Dec 06, 2020
15.48: Deliberate Discomfort, Part Two
22:33
Your Hosts: Dan, Mahtab, Howard, and Brandon We've talked about deliberately making our readers uncomfortable. In this episode we discuss writing things that make us uncomfortable. Maybe it's writing strong language, or sex scenes. Perhaps it's a personal narrative that is painful to relive. Whatever it might be, as writers we need to prepare ourselves to embrace that pain, soak up that discomfort, and put the words on the page. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: "No, I'm Fine." by Howard Tayler Video Link for this episode, and two other episodes
Nov 29, 2020
15.47: Worldbuilding Science Fiction, with Cory Doctorow
21:58
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Piper, and Howard, with Cory Doctorow Worldbuilding is something you do to some degree in everything you write. Cory Doctorow  writes (among many other things) near-future SF, and he joins us for a discussion of extrapolative worldbuilding. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Nov 22, 2020
15.46: Crafting Chinese-American Characters
17:39
Your Hosts: Dan, Piper, and Tempest, with special guest Yang Yang Wang Yang Yang Wang, an author, actor, and director (among many other things) joins us for a discussion of language, food, and a whole raft of other cultural elements critical to crafting Chinese-American characters. Credits: this episode was recorded by Ross Smith and mastered by Alex Jackson
Nov 15, 2020
15.45: Worldbuilding Fantasy, with Patrick Rothfuss
31:25
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, and Howard, with Patrick Rothfuss Pat joins us for a discussion of worldbuilding, in which we field a couple of challenging questions from readers. Here are the questions! How do you create timeless urban fantasy? How do you create a compelling secondary world fantasy without leaning on a complex magic system? We ran a bit long with this one, but we have no regrets. Because compelling. And maybe timeless. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Nov 08, 2020
15.44: Rebooting a Career
23:28
Your Hosts: Dan, DongWon, Mary Robinette, and Howard What do you do when some of the key foundations of your authorial (or otherwise creative) livelihood are kicked away? How do you go about repairing, rebuilding, or rebooting your career? Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Nov 01, 2020
15.43: Audiobook Narration, with Bruce D Richardson
19:24
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Mary Robinette, and Howard, with special guest Bruce D Richardson Bruce D Richardson, who is often credited as BDR, or BD Richardson, is a voice-over actor and audiobook narrator. He joins us for a discussion of reading out loud for an audience, including some mic techniques and best practices for recording. Liner Notes: https://www.accenthelp.com/ "I never said she stole my money."
Oct 25, 2020
15.42: Writing The End
18:18
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard How do you decide what sort of event ends your story? How do you set the scale and the stakes for that event? And once you've made these decisions, how do you set about writing the best possible ending? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Oct 18, 2020
15.41: Researching the FCK out of Things, with Cory Doctorow
19:08
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Piper, and Howard, with special guest Cory Doctorow In journalism, that three-character string in our episode title means "Fact Check." Those three characters are a great way to drop a note to yourself, reminding you to get some answers later. In this episode Cory joins us to discuss when we drop FCK into our works, and how we go about removing it later. Credits: This episode was recorded at sea by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Oct 11, 2020
15.40: Researching for Writing the Other
21:48
Your Hosts: Piper, Dan, and Tempest, with special guests Nisi Shawl and Silvia Moreno-Garcia Writing stories which feature people who are not like you is, in a word, difficult. In another word? Fraught. But good writers do difficult things, and in this episode Nisi Shawl and Silvia Moreno-Garcia join us to discuss how research can make "writing the other" less difficult, and perhaps even less fraught. Credits: This episode was recorded by Ross Smith, and mastered by Alex Jackson.  
Oct 04, 2020
15.39: Translation, with special guest Alex Shvartsman
20:21
Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, and Lari, with guest Alex Shvartsman Translation is fantastically complex. In this episode Lari and Alex help us navigate those complexities, both from the standpoint of the translator, and from the standpoint of the author seeking to have their work translated. Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson
Sep 27, 2020
15.38: Depicting Religions That Are Not Your Own
16:25
Your Hosts: Piper, Dan, and Tempest, with special guest Nisi Shawl Whether you're writing about a real-world religion, or one you've created for your setting, there are numerous factors to be aware of. In this episode we discuss a few good and bad examples of depictions of religions, and the ways in which these examples can inform the way we approach our own projects. Credits: this episode was recorded by Ross Smith, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Sep 20, 2020
15.37: Writing Under Deadlines
19:30
Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard What's it like to write under a deadline which has been set for your project by someone else? What strategies might help you bring the writing in under the deadline?  Can you train yourself to be ready for this? Those are all good questions. Hopefully we won't run out of time to come up with answers... Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Sep 13, 2020
15.36: Collaboration, with Shannon and Dean Hale
15:40
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guests Shannon and Dean Hale We've had several discussions about collaboration, and we've learned that the answer to "how do you collaborate with other authors" is different with each collaboration team we talk to. Shannon and Dean Hale have written fifteen books together, and in this episode they talk to us about how they do it. Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Sep 06, 2020
15.35: Tools for Writing and Worldbuilding, with Erin Roberts
21:33
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Lari, and special guest Erin Roberts We've received a number of questions about the 'tools of the trade' for organizing our work, especially with regard to worldbuilding. In this episode we talk about what we use, including some old-school analog tools like sticky notes and ballpoint pens. Credits: this episode was recorded remotely, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
Aug 30, 2020
15.34: Writing Deliberate Discomfort
15:34
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Lari, and Erin How do you proceed when the story you want to write includes elements that make you personally uncomfortable?  In this episode we step out of our own comfort zones to examine this challenge, and to offer some strategies to you. Credits: This episode was recorded remotely, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Aug 23, 2020