Writing Excuses 8.29: Out of Excuses Retreat Q&A #1

We recorded this episode in front of our live audience at the first-ever Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat. Here are the questions (you’ll have to listen for the answers):

  • To Dan: How did you go about selling your first trilogy in Germany before selling it in the US
  • To Howard: did you consider doing a separate storyline on Sunday strips? Why or why not?
  • Have you transitioned between outlining and discovery writing?
  • To Brandon: Why is John Scalzi your evil nemesis?
  • To Dan and Howard (and Mary): When you had full-time work, what did you do to “reset” when you came home from work, especially since your job used the same parts of your brain that writing does?

A Humble Suggestion for the Name of John Scalzi’s Next Band: Neil Gaiman’s Eagle Balls


Someone is doing a puppetry move so extreme they end up hospitalized.

The Human Division, by John Scalzi, narrated by William Dufris. (We were told that Wil Wheaton would be narrating this, but according to Audible the narrator is William Dufris.)

13 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 8.29: Out of Excuses Retreat Q&A #1”

  1. Hey great episode! I always enjoy the Q & A episodes. I actually just went back recently and re-listened to all the Q & A episodes from every season. And I was still excited when I saw today that there was another one. Keep up the good work everybody and thanks for taking the time to do Writing Excuses.

  2. I kind of wish you would can of worms the reset your brain question. Maybe do a half and half show with best ways to reset your brain after your corporate day job sucks you dry and the other half on how to shut off your editing mind so you can write and write and not switch gears from editing to writing in the midst of a muse appearance.

  3. “To Brandon: Why is John Scalzi your evil nemesis?”

    Look, no one respects John more than I do. I never even licked his head at ConFusion, even when that was still a Thing.

    But how many people can have the man as their evil nemesis? He’s only human, to the best of my knowledge, and he has to be working nights just to keep on top of his job as the Lord Master of the Evil SWFA Cabal (and I’m not ignoring all of the help that he gets from you and Jim and everyone else), and yet he still finds time to be Brandon’s evil nemesis?

    It’s all going to come to an awful end someday. I just hope I don’t have to see it.

  4. Does Brandon need a new nemesis now that he knows John Scalzi is a good person (or maybe because it’s time for next book of Brandon’s saga?) I heard Neil Gaiman is talking good thing about librarians.

  5. After listening to this ‘cast, including the part about Scalzi being Brandon’s nemesis, I wondered how Brandon would react to the fact that I took a break from reading Brandon’s Well of Ascension in order to read Scalzi’s Redshirts. And I felt a little bad about it. (It had to do with how things worked out with me being able to borrow each from the library)

  6. This is by far one of the best writing podcasts out there. Love it. Each panel member brings something really unique and helpful to the table.

    I really like the description of discovery writing and outlining being two ends of a spectrum. The nature of the project, the demands of the story, and the writer’s general preference really seem to place us anywhere on the spectrum. And sometimes we’re sliding around it.

    I find it freeing and helpful to move around the spectrum, since sometimes we (I, haha) get in our heads that we have to write a certain way because it worked for someone famous. No, what’s most effective should be the answer, even if that means constantly moving around the spectrum.

    Great episode. Can’t wait for the next one!!

  7. See Mary & Her Boys rock EXTREME PUPPETEERING while on eagle balls!

    Only at WritingExcuse.com!

    And bring the medic box -but be sure to first raid your friends’ medicine chests and hidey-holes for stashes for the best drugs. Extreme with eagle balls and puppeteering – if you needn’t use the drugs first, you will by the time you’ve figured out what’s going on. Seriously folks. Wheeee!

  8. I particularly was grateful for the bit on Outlining/Pantsing. I know you guys have talked about this before (at least in one full episode, and I think it’s been a minor topic several times), but as a newer writer, I’ve found myself struggling with this a lot, and I’ve seen other new writers do likewise.

    It seems that there’s a perception that discovery writing is superior to outlining: have you guys encountered the same? For the newer writers I’ve encountered, there is a strong current of “mysticism,” the belief that the best books come unplanned, when the planets align, the muses are appeased, and divine illumination cascades down on wings of socially awkward angels.

  9. As I recall from his forward in Gardens of the Moon, Erikson published in Europe first because North American publishers were too short sighted. He’d never published a book before, and was giving them book 1 of a 10 book epic fantasy of massive proportions. Would anyone have published Eye of the World if Robert Jordan had never published anything before and had said “it’s going to be at least 10 books long, and this is the shortest of them”? The North American publishers asked for something less ambitious. He talked to European publishers and they drooled on his manuscript. Thus, published in Europe first.

    So how do you go about publishing there first? Be good enough to scare the North American publishers away. Or just contact European publishers first and come up with a reason as to why North American publishers are not an option.

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