Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses

United States

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

Episodes

12.13: Beautiful Prose, Purple Prose  

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.

12.12: Words as Words, with Linda Addison  

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.

12.11: Diction  

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 we need to be, and what we want to evoke in the reader. Sometimes the wrong word is the right one, and the right word is the wrong one.  

12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style  

Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard talk about authorial voice, and how to stop being afraid of examining how you "sound" when you write.

12.9: Q&A on Viewpoint  

Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard answer listener questions on viewpoint.

12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due  

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 from those failures, and continue to push our own limits. We also talk about how we go about pushing those limits, and what we do in order to most effectively explore new techniques.   Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens  

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, who heard the AC turn back on, and mastered by Alex Jackson, who was happy to not need to digitally filter the AC out of the mix.

12.6: Variations on Third Person  

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.

12.5: Literary Fiction  

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 close attention to the finer points of the prose. After framing our discussion, we dive into the nuts and bolts of writing in the Literary Fiction genre. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints  

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.

12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler  

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 part. Risk Assessment is a romance wrapped up in an adventure, and is very different from most of the rest of Schlock Mercenary. Have a listen, and Sandra will tell you about it. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person  

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 these tools. This week is also your introduction to our Chicago cast. You've already heard from Brandon and Mary; the new voices belong to Mary Anne Mohanraj and Wesley Chu.

12.1: Variations on First Person  

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 more on that in a few days, but we've already begun updating our "About" page. This week your hosts are Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. We spend a few minutes on the administrative stuff  above before jumping into January's structural topic, the first person voice, with a discussion of the variations in how that POV is presented. We cover some of the different first person POV styles, what sorts of stories they're often best-suited for, and how we go about writing them well. Spoiler Alert: Episode 12.3 will feature Sandra Tayler, and is a Project In Depth on her story, "Risk Assessment," which was illustrated by Natalie Barahona and Howard Tayler. It appears in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12, available direct from Hypernode Media, or through Amazon.  

11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray  

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 my ensemble characters equal emotional weight if I only tell the story from a single POV? How do you introduce your ensemble without infodumping? If an ensemble is about falling in love with a group of friends, how does killing a character work? How do you give every character a role in the climax without making it seem like the plot was cut to fit the team? Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas  

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 by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood  

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 eye toward helping you make that sort of activity effective.

11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas  

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 by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch  

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 to be had here, and plenty of (pun intended) food for thought. Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by the generous support of the GenCon Indy Writer’s Symposium, and the Writing Excuses patrons at Patreon.

11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song  

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 you handle an issue story in short fiction? How do you make sure to research the issue enough without paralyzing yourself with the fear that you cannot do it justice? How do you convincingly write a position with which you disagree without convincing your readers that you agree with it? How do you write about a deeply personal issue without making it sound like a personal sob story? Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

11.47: Issue as a Subgenre, with Steven Barnes  

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 Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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