Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses

United States

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

Episodes

12.30: Tools for Writers  

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 WordPerfect Write or Die Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered via great mastery by Alex Jackson

12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney  

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 extensive. Follow the link for a Google Doc, or click here for our local mirror of Lyn Worthen's notes. Credits: Mastered by Alex Jackson  

12.28: Trimming and Expanding  

Revision: it's when you make a too-short piece longer, or a too-long piece shorter.

12.27: Choosing a Length  

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.

12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing  

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 do you to to diagnose and fix a structural problem with a discovery-written draft? What do you do to 'get into' an outline that you're struggling with. Are each of your projects similar in terms of procedure? What are some major indicators that a piece needs more structural work? Soundbite moment: DAN: "I had to learn the difference between a story, and a bunch of stuff that happens." Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered via great mastery by Alex Jackson  

12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker  

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 themselves.   Credits: Mastered by Alex Jackson

12.24: Creating Great Outlines  

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

12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries  

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. Liner Notes: This episode pairs very nicely with episode 11.50, "Hand-Selling Your Book," with Michael R. Underwood. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered deep beneath a rugby pitch by Alex Jackson

12.22: Hybrid Outlining and Discovery Writing  

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.)  

12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel  

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 XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery.   

12.20: Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft  

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.

12.19: Structure on the Fly  

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 the mental toolbox can be applied during the discovery writing process.

12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson  

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 ways men and women in western societies communicate. We then explore the way some of the individual voices we're familiar with have been influenced through gender role, cultural socialization, and even neuroatypicality. Our goal in this discussion is to learn to write dialog which serves our stories and our characters, and  to do so in a way that both leverages and defies the existing stereotypes. Liner Notes: Here is the "My Favorite Murder" Buzzfeed article Susan referenced Gmail Plugin: Just Not Sorry

12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing  

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 I read. How can I find or develop my own voice? How much does diction play into genre fiction? Is it okay to write in a natural speaking voice? During which part of the writing process do you pay attention to style? By Way Of Correction: "Unaccompanied Sonata," by Orson Scott Card, is the story about anxiety of influence. "Tunesmith," by Lloyd Biggle Jr., is about music, and even has the name "Bach" in it, but it's not the story Howard described.    

12.16: Writing Crime Fiction with Brian Keene  

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

12.15: Pacing With Chapters  

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 "probably not."

12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure  

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 Audioman Thompson, and mastered aboard a fleeing generation-ship by Alex Jackson  

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.  

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