Writing Excuses 6.12: Revising For Description

It is Howard’s turn in the critique box! Brandon, Dan, and Mary dissect a 21-year-old manuscript from 22-year-old Howard, this time with an eye to making descriptions do more than one thing.

Since the manuscript runs for six pages before colliding with any inconvenient dialog, it’s a perfect fit. It might also be perfect because of how much work it needs.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, narrated by David Colacci

Writing Prompt: Start with Howard’s concept and write your own story. The complete chapter whose pages we dissected can be found here in RTF format.

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24 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 6.12: Revising For Description”

  1. The wind of criticism rushed over Howard’s rapidly thickening skin at several kilometers per second…

  2. leaving behind a horrid rash that would require yet another round of anti-rejection tablets.

  3. Poor Howard.

    I actually thought this chapter wasn’t too bad. I certainly liked the concept and the main character was intriguing, though the plot had some issues.

    I also had some fun doing the prompt for this week (linked here if you’re curious https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TxR6aATMLuXOTqhd7B982cG8zJUMdkndgoN-3On5vzs/edit?hl=en_US) but it made me wonder where Howard intended to take the plot. Does Jones die at the end of that chapter? Because it seemed like he did to me.

  4. (I’m so tempted to continue the above as a round robin story, but it’s Monday morning and my brain won’t work.)

    Thanks to Howard for putting himself up to be shredded. I could almost see him cringing. (Don’t worry, Howard, we all know you write much better than this now – and I’m actually intrigued by the story itself, which is far more important.) It’s always interesting to hear these, so Howard’s pain wasn’t in vain. ^_^

    And if I didn’t know Howard was the most dangerous of you all, with the possible exception of Mary, I’d feel sad about all the Make Fun of Howard. As it is, Howard can say three against one is about even. ^_^

  5. Loved the podcast and Howard’s Fiction. If it came out when I was still in high school I would have latched onto it like there was no tomorrow. Makes the little that I wrote in college (that were not term papers) pale by comparison.

    Also what podcast did you guys go over Brandon’s first novel?


    David Lein

  6. Yeah, where’s the critique of Sanderson’s earliest writings? Hmm, I forget where . . .

  7. PS Congrats on the Hugo, Mary. These podcasts really needed a permanent female writer’s perspective, especially one with such a beautiful reading voice. I enjoy listening to your perspective on things. That said, Brandon is still my favorite . . . HUGGGGGGE Sanderson fan!!! Anyway, thanks for pulling w-excuses to the next level, Mary.

  8. Great podcast—Poor Howard!

    Hey, question for you guys: I just finished reading the sequel to I am Number Four (called The Power Of Six), and saw some character regression in the MC. How do you avoid that?

  9. Hey all,

    I’ve been listening to WE for a while now and I’m finally getting off my ass and adding to the comments, doing the prompts and actually contributing.

    Love the cast, love all your guys’ (and gal’s) work. Saw most of you at Renovation, congrats to Mary! So awesome!

    Thanks to Howard for letting us use his early stuff. I liked a lot of the concepts he had.

    Here’s the link to my new site for this week’s prompt:


  10. Loved the podcast! You mentioned the wind being an irritation, but would that mean the character could feel pain should something attack the ship, or maybe a nervous tic or muscle twitches for parts of the ship that require maintenance? Intruiging possibilities…

  11. I finally got around to reading this manuscript. The fact that all I find wrong with the first two sentences is a missing Oxford comma means I need more of these critique episodes!

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