Writing Excuses 9.22: Microcasting

Microcasting! It’s a Q&A, with each question serving as its own little micro-podcast. This week’s questions:

  • Should you include your prologue as one of the three chapters you send in a submission packet?
  • How do you get out of the spot where your protagonist has no motivation?
  • What’s the best way to prove to a spouse that your writing is more than a hobby?
  • How do you get back into a project after taking a break from it?
  • Where do you start research for historical fiction?
  • Let’s say you sold your first book. How do you tackle book 2 in a series?
  • How do you go about writing an overarching setting, like Brandon’s “Cosmere?”
  • What part about being a writer do you most enjoy, besides the actual writing?

Those are the questions. You’ll have to listen for the answers. Fortunately they’re not hidden or anything. We just come right out and say them.


Look around, identify an everyday object, and then create a post-apocalyptic setting in which that object is currency.

The Fall of the Kings, by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, narrated by Ellen Kushner, Nick Sullivan, Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, Katherine Kellgren, Robert Fass, Richard Ferrone, and Tim Jerome

9 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 9.22: Microcasting”

  1. Always love the Microcasting, but had to double check there was not an err when I read first question. It was also the first questions in 9.17

    Kind of surprised that has not happened more often.

  2. Somehow, I don’t think my post-apocalyptic currency is going to work — but the baseball sitting on my desk was what caught my eye.

  3. What I looked at first were my eye glasses.

    A) nuclear war
    B) radiation damages everyone’s eyesight
    C) construction on new eyewear is limited (can of worms)
    D) trade in existing glasses for money/prestige

    I think that could work. So now I move on to my own follow-up.

    Concerning prologues, what makes a good prologue? I read way, Way too many books where the prologue can basically be chapter one. Except for a little time-setting shift there’s no reason the prologue isn’t the start of the story. I”ll use Brandon examples if that’s permissible. Warbreaker’s prologue with Vasher or Mistborn with Kelsier to me really starts the book, while the Way of Kings Prelude or the Wheel of Time’s prologue jump back hundreds or thousands of years. These later two are more proper prologues in my mind.

    And alternative prologue that I really really like, are the framing devices, such as Romeo and Juliet’s “star cross’d lovers” or the prologue to “Name of the Wind” which is all honesty may be the single tightest page of writing I’ve every encountered. I was sold on the book from that page alone and basked in it’s awesomeness for 200 pages.

  4. Brandon – to be fair, game developers are a lot like authors in many ways…it’s just that they’re groups of people rather than individuals. Both have publishers to deal with and anything that doesn’t meet with the publisher’s desires doesn’t get paid for and ends up set aside. You call them “trunk novels” – how many of those did you say you had, again?

    (Admittedly, since we’re talking about paying a couple of dozen very skilled people rather than just *one* very skilled person, the amount of money publishers need to invest in a game is much greater, which makes the interaction between developer and publisher much messier. But still, it’s largely the same model.)

    And thank you Dan! – whenever I look around at discussions about Brandon’s books on the web, I was really starting to get the feeling that I was the only one who was appreciating Warbreaker and Stormlight on their own terms rather than as a segment of the Cosmere. The only thing I’ve really been able to figure out about the Cosmere story is that Hoid is the same Hoid in every book…and I discovered the books (discovered all 4 of you, actually) through this podcast, and thus probably knew about Hoid from Brandon’s occaisional references to the character before I finished reading Elantris and moved on to Mistborn (and those are probably his two most subtle appearances). (The Cosmere discussion almost irritates me, because it overwhelms discussion about the books to the point where the internet must ponder the possible implications of a given event or person or type of object rather than enjoying the excellent story. Then again, I’m continually distracted by trying to rationalize evolution on Roshar (Stormlight Archive), largely thanks to Shallan.

    As for the writing prompt – I happen to have my bank card and credit card on the desk in front of me. Is this fate trying to tell me something?

  5. “As for the writing prompt – I happen to have my bank card and credit card on the desk in front of me. Is this fate trying to tell me something?”

    Sounds like fate is telling you peek oil has arrived and we will not be able to mint little pieces of plastic in the future.

    As far as the Cosmere goes, i’ll be honest and admit I had an obtuse path to finding Brandon (and discovered the others through Writing Excuses). I kept seeing Mistborn on the shelves going “meh, gang robs the evil emperor’s stash of unobtanium” so guess i have to blame the book jacket. But when he got selected for WOT, i said, “well i want to go read this guy who’s apparently good enough to finish the greatest fantasy series of my generation.” So picked up mistborn, read all three in two days, put them down, and realized i could still be surprised. Then I read that mistborn had not even been out when got the call for WOT, only Elantris was out, so ran out to the used book store, grabbed, it and warbringer. finished both before the week was out. Way of Kings would have to wait as i started the WOT reread about then. But when i got around to it, i was fully convinced this was pure gold. But yet again it was a book i put off because of the jacket (something about a surgeon going to war). But somewhere in that year i discovered all the books were interconnected, and I think my appreciation of them went up about 50%.

    I guess it’s time I admit I’m terrible at judging books before i read them, but I also have a bad time getting books on reference.

    Ok last thing, I have concluded I really enjoy books that give me a puzzle to work on outside of the page. the Cosmere is a prime example, as people are trying to figure out whats going on. Jim Butcher (yay Skin Games), and Patrick Rothfuss also do this too me. So instead of getting a few hours of enjoyment for my money, i get much more. I can enjoy other books, but they don’t rise to the top like those do. (If i was old enough to have been reading WOT as each book was released I’m sure i would have been ecstatic there too, sadly not the case. Strangely enough I know this is going on with Game of Throne, but I don’t want to read them, giving their reputation of sex and violence. That and if GR Martin dies without finishing the series I’d go insane, since he has said nobody would be allowed to finish it afterwards.

  6. I’m more than a little worried about my post-apocalyptic currency. The first thing I saw was my baby…

  7. I was in the train. Saw the sign on the station I arrived at, the sign that says which station it is.

    Yeah, I’m going to have a field day on that one xD

  8. On depression. There is a reason a person suffering from depression. The reason is usually the person feels everything he/she does doesn’t matter. No matter what he/she does, it will never be good enough. That’s where the lack of motivation comes from. If you can show that, there’s a story.

    If you’re serious about your writing, any spouse worth his/her salt will support you.

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