Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses

United States

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

Episodes

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.  

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.

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