Writing Excuses 5.16: Critiquing Dan’s First Novel

Late last season we took a look at Brandon’s first novel and did some line-editing and critiquing. It was so much fun we decided that Dan needed to take a turn in the dunking booth.

He totally gets wet.

In the course of dunking Dan we cover beginnings, descriptions, character development, pacing, and viewpoint as we tear into the first couple of pages of this novel. Brandon and Howard argue a bit over stylistic approaches, and of course Dan doesn’t get a say in things because he drowned. (Note: Dan does get a say in things, but mostly because he is not defending his old work at all.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

Writing Prompt: Take an idiomatic expression and make it literal (not as a pun.) For instance, “the crack of dawn” as an actual crack in the sky through which dawn’s light shines.

Word That Is Not A Word But Totally Should Be: Discontiguity: [dis-kon-ti-gyoo-i-tee] – noun. A break in a series of things in continuous connection. A severance of contact.

Word That Isn’t In The Book, But Brandon Totally Put It There: Scrumptiously.

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18 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 5.16: Critiquing Dan’s First Novel”

  1. I like these ones where you talk about your first novels- they help us first-time novelists know what to avoid. Good job, though, Dan. And happy birthday, Brandon!

  2. Yes I agree, this is a good way to teach new writers the things not to do. I would like to see more podcasts like this in the future. Especially when we learn new make up words to color our dialog.

  3. “Discontiguity” may not be in the standard short-form dictionary, but it is on the Internet in some science articles . . .

  4. Critiquing Dan’s First Novel made for an entertaining and educational show. But is this the very first novel Dan attempted to write or the first one he finished? If I could change anything about Writing Excuses, I would make it 30 minutes long because I’m not really in a hurry, and you guys are that smart. :)

  5. Great episode! I found the advice on how to bring tension into a calm-before-the-storm moment particularly helpful. Comes up so often in fantasy, as was discussed.

    Brandon’s “breaking dawn” joke at the end = cheap shot! ;P

  6. Katya? I think the title is “Dan’s Honors Thesis” although I suppose it might have a more specific title, too. Perhaps The Follies of Fendis?

  7. Hello Writing Excuses guys, are you ever going to do a podcast about how to write a good steamy love scene that gets the blood pumping without it being too explicit? A lot of fantasy books, mostly written by women have love scene that go into too much detail. I want love scenes that are full passion, not a narrative of an XXX rated movie. Can you help?

  8. Oletta: Less is more. Your best friend is the reader’s imagination…Well that’s my feeling anyway.

  9. Many thanks to Dan for allowing us to hear this – you (and Brandon) are braver than I am, or perhaps easier to strong-arm. Brandon is right, this is more advanced than his own early book example. I could see chopping up some of those pretty descriptive bits and dropping them here and there in a manuscript, where they would work fine; just not all at once in a big lump. (And I, too, suffer from long sentences and have to break them up.)

    These critiques are particularly helpful – probably in the same way I learn more about writing from critiquing other people than I do from hearing critiques of my own work. I’d love to see you do something similar with story structure – show us what didn’t work and how to fix it.

    And again, good choice of Book-of-the-Week (I am on a personal mission to convert every reader to the worship of Pratchett). The Tiffany books aren’t my absolute all-time favorite Pratchett books – those being either Nightwatch or Going Postal or possibly Maskerade – but they’re pretty up there. And Stephen Briggs is one of the best readers I’ve heard, for those listening to the audio book.

  10. Dawn is the main character of the book I’m writing, to answer your question.

    Actually… she just wants her name to be Dawn… so does that count?

  11. Oreads … not dryads.

    L remained at attention in spite of the aches in his joints and the pain of old wounds.


    Swallowed in the midst of a massive hall raised from the living stone

    We need to know story details before the line rewrite starts. :)

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