Writing Excuses 6.9: Microcasting 2 Electric Boogaloo

Microcasting again! The questions we fielded from the Twitterverse include:

  • How do you hold the whole story in your head when it’s a thousand pages long?
  • What steps do you use when creating a character?
  • As an outliner, when do you start putting in the details?
  • How do you patch plot holes?
  • How do you come up with names?
  • Is there one writing skill you’d like to get better at?
  • Writing groups: what do you look for?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Hard Magic, by Larry Correia, narrated by Bronson Pinchot

As Promised, Here is a Link: The Everchanging Book of Names


Speaking of the Twitterverse: The Writing Excuses team is BrandSanderson, MaryRobinette, HowardTayler, JohnCleaver (Dan), and MonkeySloth (Producer Jordo).

Writing Prompt: Someone has to save the world from an intercontinental ballistic hairball, but their keyboard layout has been changed.

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22 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 6.9: Microcasting 2 Electric Boogaloo”

  1. Wouldn’t having no hair be an advantage in dealing with droppings from on high? Skin is much easier to clean than hair.

  2. I have to squee a little that you guys plugged the Everchanging Book of Names. I have loved that tool for YEARS.

    Wonderful stuff, and as always I find a little ray of hope in the strangest places. Mary is a procrastinator? Awesome! Look what she’s done in spite of it! There’s hope for us procrastinators yet!

    Also… I have been trying to hold my story in my head. Not the actual text, but the shape and scope of it. Now I know that won’t work. So I’m starting to write down the bits and pieces I have for the scene in what is starting to resemble an outline… it’s very wierd to be doing this now, when it used to be I just picked a direction, or started from a ‘Oooh, cool!’ idea. Then again, I’ve never written a full novel, so. New tasks, new tricks.

    Lastly… the flying cats and the bald jokes are kind of… well… is it just me, or does Howard’s current bio pic look like he just got hit with something from on high?

    Actually, it looks to me like a colour pic was changed to grayscale and it did odd things with the shading and contours. But, now that we mention the flying cats….

  3. I feel so much better knowing that I’m not the only one with those writing weaknesses. Thanks for sharing that with us!

    BTW, that writing prompt is an intercontinental ballistic hairball. You’re very evil people for throwing that at us. But then again, we already knew that about Howard since only evil masterminds use dvorak.

  4. Knowing I have weaknesses and learning that I can conquer them is an important step, but hearing good writers that I admire jump up and address their own weaknesses is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. It’s just the kind of reminder I need to keep myself going.

    I usually don’t have problems with figuring out names, but I’ll have to try out the Everchanging Book of Names. It sounds like too good a tool to pass up.

  5. I JUST REALIZED that Mary is the only one of you jokers that isn’t wearing glasses in the bio pics. She really is out to provide lots of contrast!

    Great podcast, I enjoy these micro ‘casts and the rapid fire way they answer things. Some, like the “How do you patch plot holes” or “what writing skill would you like to improve upon” I hope you’ll devote a full length ‘cast to at some point.

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  7. I too sat down to tackle the writing prompt, but couldn’t figure out the keyboard.

    Ah, procrastination. It’s the only thing I ever get done on schedule.

  8. How can those of us not in the Twitterverse get our questions heard?

    If we were to, hypothetically, breakdown and enter the Twitterverse, do we just…um…Tweet a question at the profiles in the show notes?

    Feeling very un-hip by having to leave this comment,

  9. Ah, well, this batch of questions was specifically requested by Brandon a while back. I don’t think you can ask a question at random and get it added to a list.

    That said, unless they say otherwise, it can’t hurt to just ask.

    Just keep in mind that they are busy and more likely to respond to people they’re already following. Easier for them to see it, see.

    So if you’re inclined, go for it. They won’t bite. well, they haven’t bitten me yet.

  10. I also don’t use Twitter, so I am also posting my question here.

    I want to use a pen name, because my day job is in academia, and I publish under my own name there. So how do I choose a psuedonym? What’s the etiquette? Can I choose one that’s a different gender than me, or a different ethnic background? What makes for a good one or a bad one?

    I bumped into Brandon in a bookstore several months ago, and talked with him briefly about this, and he said it might make a good podcast. So here’s my little reminder. :)

  11. @ Jace

    Thanks. However, being mostly unfamiliar with how Twitter works, your answer went completely over my head, much like a flying cat.

    What is the listermail email address for, if not something like this?

  12. I have been having audio quality issues at Writing Excuses for some time. I’m not sure what’s causing it, but on my device (Samsung Intercept) running any software (Google Listen, Music Player, Doggcatcher) it woffles back and forth between right and left channels in a very distracting way.

    This does not happen with any other podcast.

    I think your engineer needs to check out his practices against what other podcasts are doing because this is rather distracting.

    I wonder if anyone else is having problems?

  13. You know, I was just thinking last week that it had been a long time since there’d been a pants joke, though this was more a pants joke reference instead of an actual joke. Does that count? (And yes, Kim, Howard’s Evil Genius status is again confirmed by his use of Dvorak.)

    Thanks again – it is so helpful to hear about the process of writing, the problems even the pros have to deal with. And it’s also nice to hear something that’s not only incredibly useful, but makes me laugh.

  14. Wait, there’s a Dvorak keyboard for iPad? Why have I been using qwerty on it all this time?

  15. Great advice. I’m still not certain if I’m an outliner or a discovery writer, but I agree with Brandon: it’s easier for me to hammer through the first draft and put details in later. Of course, the way you write also says something about the focus of the book. I just finished The Name of the Wind, and was impressed by the winding, “life story” feel it had, with lengthy but powerful descriptions and amazing use of language. The style was very different from a fantasy like Mistborn, which had thriller-like plotting and a distinct “problem-solving” feel in the midst of the character development. Both were incredible books, but the second style seems to come more naturally to me than the first. Even in my musical career, I’ve always been more of a composer than a lyricist.

    Thanks for the Everchanging Book of Names, too. I’ve been defaulting to behindthename.com for too long now.


    “It’s coming for us, General Rover! What do we do?”
    “You have to hack into its guidance system, Agent Rex! Use the computer we liberated from Kitty Galore!”
    “I . . . I can’t, sir!”
    “Why not, man? What’s wrong?”
    “It’s in Meowrak! I don’t know Meowrak!”
    “Well, you have just over eight and a half minutes to learn it, or we’re all dead.”
    “I know Meowrak, sir.”
    “Private Spot?”
    “I can do it, sir. Let me try.”
    “Rex? What do you think?”
    “The way I see it, General, we have nothing to lose. Have at it, young beagle. Make your breed proud.”

  17. The Everchanging Book of Names seems to be Windows-only. Does anyone have suggestions for a program of similar quality that can run on a Mac OS?

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