Writing Excuses Conference and Retreat 2019

2019 will be our seventh Writing Excuses Retreat:

Join us for a cruise in the Caribbean, September 13-22 2019!

Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship

Registration is now open with early bird pricing! Prices go up Jan 31st, so book soon!

The full details are available on the registration page, but here’s a quick overview:

What is this thing?

If you’ve never done one of our cruises before, they’re a kind of magical mix of class time, writing time, and screwing-around-in-a-cool-place time. We don’t know how it works, but it does, and you’ll love it. We did the math, and doing this on a cruise ship is really the least expensive way for us to give you a full week workshop. Plus, you get writing views like this.

A margarita in a restaurant, looking out at the ocean
This is from the writing date in Cozumel. We are definitely going back here.

We will board in Galveston, TX, and spend a week at sea, stopping for excursions in Cozumel, Georgetown, and Falmouth. The event actually begins two days before we board, in a Houston hotel, where we’ll register and get to know each other, and have a few classes.

We’ll have one or two classes a day, taught by our amazing guest instructors, as well as live Writing Excuses episodes with the hosts of the show. Brandon Sanderson will teach a class in Houston, and we’ll be joined by Piper Drake, Kathy Chung, K Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and more to be announced later. And of course, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard.

You said excursions?

For each stop, we’ll pick three “official” Writing Excuses shore excursions and announce them this Spring. You can sign up with us for one of those and know that you’ll be with our same group of awesome writers and instructors. If you want to do an excursion that’s not one of our official picks, you can arrange it directly with the cruise.

How does the pricing work?

Prices are Double Occupancy, which means you’ll share your room with another person. If you bring your own roommate, awesome! If not, we’ll put you with another writer from our group. Spouses and significant others who want to come with you but are not writers will get a discounted rate. Children get a hugely discounted rate. Imaginary friends are FREE.

As before, we will have a number of scholarships available. The application process will be announced in January.

I have a registration question. Should I leave a comment here?

The best way to contact us for WXR 2019 purposes is to use the “Contact Writing Excuses” link at the bottom of the Registration page. Scroll all the way down to “Contact the Organizer”. We’d have linked it directly here, but it’s an embedded thingy. You can also email questions to writingexcusesevents@gmail.com.

I’ve already been on your cruise thingie. Why should I come again?

First off, I’m suspicious of your claim. Folks who HAVE been before are eager to come back, in large part because the single biggest benefit of WXR are the connections you make with the other attendees. But since you asked:

    • Family Punch Card: Anyone with a family ticket will get a punch card that will allow them to attend 3 classes with their writers. These classes are normally for writers only, but we’ve found that having a common language can help both writers and family members, and this is a good way to build that language.
    • Two nights at the hotel: We have added an extra day on the front end, which lets us do stuff like have a class with Brandon at the hotel, have the option to tour NASA with Mary Robinette, and other secret awesome stuff that I can’t tell you about yet, cause all the details aren’t worked out. Mwah ha ha!
    • Costume Karaoke: The theme for the costume party this year is Costume Karaoke. As always, this is a very loose theme. Maybe your costume is from a musical! Maybe it’s Karaoke related! Maybe it just comes with an excellent theme song! Whatever the case, we have the Karaoke bar on board reserved for our use after dinner on Costume night, and we’ll be curating a list of the kinds of songs YOU want to sing. In costume. (Neither signing or dressing up is required, but if that’s your jam, bring it on!)
    • Other Exciting Announcements to come: We’ve got some new stuff in the works, and it’s going to be quite excellent. We’ll announce as soon as we can.

I’m an introvert who doesn’t do well in big groups of people. Will I survive an event like this?

One Of Us! One Of Us! Honestly, most of our attendees are introverts too, including all of the hosts and most of the guest instructors. Some of us are better at faking it than others, but we know where you’re coming from, and we feel your pain. We’ll make sure to have lots of quiet little hidey-holes all over the ship where you can go when it all gets too much. It’s not called a “retreat” for nothing.

You keep saying it, but will I really have time to actually write while on this cruise?

You will definitely have time, but it’s up to you how to use it. We give prizes every year for the Most Words Written, and last year the winner had more than 40,000. We also have a proud history of board game nights, dancing, karaoke, and impromptu martial arts demonstrations. Whatever you want to do with your free time, you can probably do it at this event.

What level of writing expertise should I have attained prior to attending?

Level of expertise” is far less important than your desire to improve. The workshop is structured to be accessible and useful for new writers with a passion for learning, and to be challenging and rewarding for seasoned professionals looking for refinement, or additional perspectives. Different classes will be designed for different levels of experience.

Come join us!

13.49: How to Finish

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice

Last week we talked about character death. This week we talk about other, less fatal ways in which a character story can be finished, and how we, as writers, can tell when we’re done with a character arc.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

You’re about to cut into a cake… and it speaks.
(Note: the phrase “the cake is alive” might qualify as “low-hanging fruit.”)

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone
(note: Between the time we recorded and the time this episode aired the publication date was pushed back. The novel is, however, available for pre-order.)

13.48: Character Death and Plot Armor

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

The characters we create are not all destined for long lives. Sure, some are, but a great many of them are on paths that will end in an abrupt fatality of one kind or another, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we choose which characters to put on those paths, and how those paths might be shaped.

We also talk about characters who walk perilous paths and emerge unscathed (sometimes thanks less to their pluck and wit, and more due to plot armor.)

Liner Notes:“The Worshipful Society of Glovers” can be found here at Uncanny Magazine .

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

An SF/F conceit in which death is looks exactly like death to the people to whom it’s not happening, but is actually a transformation for the person experiencing it.

Random Access Memorabilia, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, with colors by Travis Walton
(available to read free online beginning here)

WXR 2019 Cyber Monday/Tuesday Sale!

Today only! Get $100 off your ticket to WXR 19 with the code CyberMonday. (Yes, it’s Tuesday.) This code is good until 11:59pm Central on Tues, Nov 27, because that’s how we roll.

Looking for a holiday gift for your writer? Or yourself? How about a writing workshop and retreat wrapped inside a Caribbean vacation?

The 2019 Writing Excuses Conference and Retreat is now open! WXR19 will be from Fri, Sep 13 to Sun, Sep 22. We’ll leave out of Galveston, TX on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, and we’ll travel to Cozumel, Georgetown, and Falmouth before returning home. Come join us!

 

13.47: Q&A on Fixing Characters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

You had questions about fixing character problems. We had had answers! Here are the questions:

  • How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar?
  • How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem?
  • How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive?
  • How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys?
  • How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character?
  • How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting?
  • How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Cheeto McFlair: Who are they, and why are they asking questions of the Writing Excuses team?

Myths and Monsters, narrated by Nicholas Day (currently available on Netflix)

13.46: The Unsexy Side of Space, with Bart Smith and Ben Hewett

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett

When we talk about space travel we’re usually talking about rocket scientists and astronauts. In this episode we spoke with our guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett, about the “unsexy” (read: possibly boring but don’t be deceived) side of the space program—budgeting, logistics, and procurement. RFI and RFP, with toilets, hammers, and business cards; that’s this episode.

(For those unfamiliar with the above TLAs [three letter acronyms], RFI and RFP stand for Request for Information and Request for Proposal.)

 

Play

Write a story in which a budget analyst and a procurement intern save the day

The Martian, by Andy Weir, about which we have gushed repeatedly