Writing Excuses 9.11: Microcasting

Microcasting! It’s what we call our Q&A episodes, because they’re like multiple mini-casts. Eric James Stone joins us to help out. Here are the questions we field:

  • Should a pantser rewrite their book once they know the whole story?
  • What do you find most useful from an editor?
  • Story creation is cool, but can Writing Excuses talk more about sentence-level work?
  • What advice do you have for pitching to agents and editors?
  • What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
  • How do you encourage a writer-friend who is down on their work?

Give episode 9.11 a listen for our answers.


Something magical is preventing your friend from pursuing their dreams, but you don’t know what it is…

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, by Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon, narrated by Ray Porter

9 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 9.11: Microcasting”

  1. As a pantser/Discovery writer, I have had to toss out several drafts and start from scratch repeatedly. I fell into the trap of constant rewriting and it wasn’t until I finished an entire draft that I started to make real progress with the story. For the first several drafts, I would find myself bored around the 100 page mark and feel the need to go back and rewrite the beginning. It took some courage and some advice from this podcast to convince me to finish a draft entirely.

    Once I did that, I was able to identify the weaknesses in my story and have seen significant progress in the quality of characters and plot. I say all this to encourage any discovery writers out there that there is hope for us. I have finished three drafts so far and I am planning on editing a draft for the first time ever.

  2. “This not something I excel at. I create workable prose, workmanlike prose…but Pat creates beautiful prose.” – Sanderson

    My brother and I were discussing the strengths and weaknesses of different authors and we had this same observation. It helps explain why a Rothfuss book takes so much longer. He seems to spend much longer crafting each sentence he writes and rewrites. The poetry–sorry, I meant music– of his writing is what I love most about it. If he were to attempt a Sandersonian level of production I think his books would lose what makes them great.

    So, which would you rather have from an author? Incredible worlds and stories generated with unbelievable frequency, or only a couple books per decade but each with beautifully crafted language? I’m happy our generation gets to have both.

  3. I got somewhat excited at the advice for a writer who has lost their motivation seeing as I am one. I read the book mentioned an realized I don’t have a life that will let me focus on something as big as a novel like I need. Sadly I don’t think there is a fix besides waiting but I am not so sure since reading that book. Something will always get in the way because life is hard. In time I’ve just convinced myself that I don’t have enough talent to make it work for me and the people in my life. Sometimes left gets in the way and life wins. Being an author is what I want most out of life, but it isn’t the only thing. Sacrificing b-z to try (and maybe fail anyways) and get a looks like a poor bet.

  4. Sometimes, too, writers simply want emotional support because writing is lonely, so though they know it doesn’t suck, they want to know if it’s good enough. Writers sometimes want the connection, but really, you are alone in your vision of the story until it’s written.

    The other extreme end of it, is the writer that says they write, but write absolutely nothing, declare they are going to quit, get a bunch of support and then go into a cycle of writing say a paragraph, quitting, and looking for support again. In which case, sorry to be mean, but ditch ’em. Not worth the time, effort and emotional expense. You can see the symptoms of this when they start mining you for advice every few sentences, using all of your ideas badly, and when you say no to talking about their story, take months between writing anything between paragraphs, they manage to steer it back to their story anyway and don’t really listen to anything else you have to say about your own story.

    If you think something is good an aren’t a writer, sometimes they know there is a deeper flaw they can’t fix in the story and will quit… sometimes they don’t even know what it is.

    I kinda have questions about the numbers side of publishing… from the publisher’s standpoint… ’cause I’ve forgotten them all and it probably stands to be updated.

  5. I’d like to suggest you record an episode (or 5) on the current state of self publishing. I think the last time you mentioned it was a throwaway question on a previous microcasting and you all gave 1 line answers. I can’t believe you haven’t yet as it’s such a pertinent topic.

    Get someone on who knows what they’re talking about like Hugh Howey, JA Konrath, Barry Eisler, David Gaugran etc. Or even Russell Blake, Brenna Aubrey, HM Ward.

  6. my worst writing advice was two fold. The stupidest was “said is the most perfect word in the English language. Use it as many times as possible.” So I made a romance set in a mythical world called Said, between two people both named Said. I also gave them their own accent where said was their question marker.
    The other is actually “ass in chair, hands on keyboard.” because it doesn’t matter what you write but how you write it. Working on something sixty hours a week, pouring myself into it and then being told it was crap kind of convinced me that saying is simply wrong. I think the actual saying should be, “first be good at something, then do that thing.”

  7. Ah yes, Writing Excuses Episode 9/11 – Never Forget the Drunk Mariachi Band
    *insert image of Dan shedding a sparkly tear here*

    Anywho, I noticed that the responses to the “bad writing/career advice” question were all career based (or, at least, not really writing based). Perhaps this question could be revisited in the future with a “bad writing advice” slant in the future? Or is there no bad writing advice, just bad times to apply it?

  8. The passed out mariachi band had more contributions to this podcast than Eric James Stone did.

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