Writing Excuses 7.18: Discovering your Voice

James Artimus Owen joined us in front of the live audience at LTUE in February where he was the Guest of Honor. He wanted to talk with us about “voice,” and specifically how to find yours. We talk about the paradox — voice is critical, but new authors who focus how to develop theirs often end up flubbing it.

Each of us gives examples from our own work, and the result is (hopefully) encouraging. You can find your own voice, and if you focus on learning the tools of good writing that discovery is going to come quite naturally. The magic lies in recognizing it.

But we have more to offer than just platitudes. There are plenty of tips and tricks contained herein, so have a nice, long listen or two.

The Cookie That Can Only Be Baked In My Brain: A meme originally baked in the brain of the inimitable R. Stevens. Here, then, is the chocolate chip of credit where it is due.


Find a writing buddy, swap stories halfway through, and then compare notes.

Here, There Be Dragons, by James A. Owen, narrated by Stephen Langton

Writing Excuses 7.17: Guns and Fiction

Larry Correia joins Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard in front of a live audience at LTUE on Utah Valley University campus. Larry knows guns inside and out, and talks to us about the mistakes that writers make when putting firearms into their stories.

Most of this is simple stuff, or at least it’s simple to fix, but that doesn’t change the fact that we get it wrong all the time. Have a listen, follow Larry’s advice, and get your guns right.


Give us a character who, after reading one Larry Correia novel, goes out and procures a grenade launcher.

Spellbound: Book II of the Grimnoir Chronicles, by Larry Corriea, narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Writing Excuses 7.16: Continuing with Mary’s Outline

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more… only without a big speech before the charge.

We’re still tearing into Mary’s first novel outline in this second part of a VERY SPECIAL two-part session of Writing Excuses. Mary reads from her outline, then Brandon, Dan, and Howard look for high-level problems like inactive protagonists, missing character arcs, or other structural issues.

As promised, this episode runs long. Hopefully you’re not in that much of a hurry, because clearly we weren’t smart enough to plow through all this material inside of 20 minutes.

Liner Notes: That link up there is the same as this one right here.


Give us a monkey, a bronze pot, a baby, and pizza in completely different situations than what we heard in Mary’s outline.

Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay, narrated by Simon Vance

Writing Excuses 7.15: Editing Mary’s Outline

Mary Robinette Kowal graciously loaned us an outline she was working on in 2003. For this podcast, Mary reads from her outline, Brandon interrupts her, and we dissect. This is a brutal process. Know, fair listener, that we love Mary a lot.


In completely unrelated news, Writing Excuses Season Six has been nominated for a Hugo Award for “Best Related Work.” You may feel free to extend congratulations and good wishes in the comments below.

Liner Notes: Want to follow along in Mary’s outline? Here it is!


Take an existing folk tale and re-tell it using the Dora the Explorer formula for quests.

Glamour in Glass, by Mary Robinette Kowal, releases this week! We’ve put links to it over here on our brand new Book of the Week page!

Writing Excuses 7.14: Writing Excuses

Today’s episode of Writing Excuses is about writing excuses — all those handy tricks that the great authors use to prevent themselves from finishing any book before its time  (let alone its deadline.)

Get out the vacuum, grab some Q-tips and a bottle of alcohol, and make today the day that you fill your life with the sense of wonder that will permeate  your book forty years from now.

“Here, kitty kitty…”


Write a series of 16 numerals. This is probably Jordo’s credit card number, or at least one of them (in one of the many universes where he is still allowed to use credit cards.) Go shopping! Oh, you’ll need the expiration date! It’s April 1st, 2012.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Dummies,  by Rob Wilson and Rhena Branch, narrated by Simon Slater