Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 9: Conventions You Should Be Attending

As genre-fiction writers we attend a lot of conventions. As aspiring genre-fiction writers you probably want to be attending conventions. But which ones should you spend time and money on, and what should you plan to do while you’re there?

We start by categorizing conventions – literary conventions, anime conventions, media conventions, conferences and trade-shows. Comic-Con, which just wrapped up today, is a media con. WorldCon is a literary con.  Clarion is a conference. BEA and E3 are expos.

As authors and aspiring authors we want to focus on the conventions where we can rub shoulders with editors and agents. So have a listen and find out where you should be, and why…

We’ll cover what you should be doing at conventions in next week’s ‘cast. And here’s hoping we’ll see you at WorldCon!

This episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by Dungeon Crawlers Radio, those nice guys who interviewed Howard at ConDuit, and then bailed Writing Excuses out when our recording equipment didn’t make it to the show.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 8: What Star Trek Did Right

As we did with The Dark Knight and Watchmen (the comic, not the movie), once again we turn our searing critical insight on a major work of successful storytelling talk about what they did right. If you loved the new Star Trek movie, or even just kind of liked it, we’ll tell you what the writers did to achieve that; if you hated it, we’ll show you some things you can learn from it anyway. If you haven’t seen it, well, I think it goes without saying that this is a spoilerific spoiler episode full of spoilers. Listen at your own risk.

This episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by Stacy Whitman, a fantastic freelance editor beloved by all three Writing Excuses hosts. She does fantastic work on all manner of fantastic writing (including Howard’s recent project with Tracy Hickman, XDM: Extreme Dungeon Mastery. If you’re looking for a good editor, she’s fantastic.

Writing Prompt: Spock-a-doodle doo!


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 7: Genre Blending

You’ve seen it done… “Zombie Apocalypse in Space.” “Perry Mason in the Armed Forces.”  It’s genre blending, where the author takes themes prevalent in two different genres and combines them to create something new.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. We call down a few examples of both, and offer you listeners the sage advice you need to blend genres successfully. Summary: like the vegan barbecue chef, one of the secrets to your success lies in letting no-one know what that hamburger is made of. No, that metaphor is not in the podcast. I just thought of it now.

We finish with a discussion of the genres we’ve blended in our own work, and Brandon tells us about the science fiction story he’s decided to work on.

This episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery. Pre-orders close this Wednesday!

Writing Prompt: Combine “Horror” and “Western” and don’t make it look like either one.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 6: Dramatic Breaks

What are dramatic breaks? We open this episode with Howard very genuinely playing Doctor Watson to Brandon’s Holmes, which is amusing because as it turns out, Howard uses dramatic breaks every day. Simply put they are the points in the narrative, typically at the end of a chapter, where we cut to another scene. Sometimes we are shifting perspective, sometimes we are advancing the clock, and sometimes we’re merely pausing to take a breath.

What are we looking for in a dramatic break? How do we identify the right place to cut away from one group of characters and focus on others? How do we avoid doing it the same way every time?

And so we discuss those stopping points and the starting points that follow them. We cover the flow of time and the flow of story. We talk about delivering satisfying installments. We even hang from a cliff or two.


This episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery by Tracy & Curtis Hickman, illustrated by Howard Tayler. Autograph editions are now on pre-order!

Writing Prompt: Write a story in which Howard hates elephants and dramatically breaks one.


Season 3 Episode 6 Delayed by Holiday Weekend

Last week we recorded four episodes, but apparently they haven’t been dropped into the hopper for posting yet. I blame the long weekend and good barbecue. As soon as the file has been processed by Producer Jordo I’ll start writing it up and get ol’ 3.6 on the air for your edification.

Sorry for the delay! We here at Writing Excuses hope your Independence Day was enjoyable and your weekend long enough.