Writing Excuses 9.36: Writing Instruction

David Farland joins us, along with a live audience at FantasyCon 2014, for a discussion on writing instruction. Dave runs My Story Doctor, and firmly believes that almost anyone can learn to write fiction at a professional, conventionally publishable level.  In this episode we cover some of the methods and exercises used to train new writers, and how writers can use these on their own.



Writing sprint! Write for 15 minutes. Don’t stop to edit or wordsmith. Just force yourself to keep the fingers moving and the words flowing.

13 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 9.36: Writing Instruction”

  1. This is interesting because I spent a good deal of time yesterday reading the content on Dave’s site.
    I saw that he taught courses and I was unsure if it was something I wanted to do. Now I’m pretty sure I want to do it.

  2. This wasn’t so much a podcast as a fifteen minute infomercial for David Farland. There were a lot of generalities about tool boxes, but not single actual tool. There was a lot of talk about “I have exercises for this and this” or “I talk about that in my book” but not one real exercise (other than the fifteen minute writing sprint that Howard suggested). I expect more from your shows. This was a wasted fifteen minutes that taught me absolutely nothing except that David Farland teaches courses if I want so spend four hundred dollars apiece on them.

  3. Brandon says here that he’s never taught writing via breaking down the elements of story/shared narrative we all have. I just wanted to say that having watched two and a quarter years of Brandon’s BYU classes online:

    Brandon, I really “get” the way you’re currently teaching and I actually have a harder time in classes/seminars that break writing down to the smallest possible parts. Those classes are still valuable, but the way you describe things is super awesome and totally makes sense to me. :)

    (Okay, it’s highly likely that Brandon won’t see this. But maybe someone can pass the message along?)

    On what Alex said, I think maybe he missed the point of the episode. It seems to me that this episode is more about tools for published authors who would like to start teaching writing than about tools for the unpublished writer to write.

  4. I loved this episode, but the sound quality was not so great. I have to agree with Peggy on her assessment on the purpose of this episode. Anyway, I’m glad you had an episode, instead of taking off for Labor Day. :)

  5. A podcast about writing talking about how to teach writing? Not metaphoric, but pretty meta, huh?

    And for those of you who prefer reading, here’s the transcript


    Also available over in the archives.

    Apologies for a lengthy Key Points section — I thought they pointed at a lot of different ideas and tools, although the details in many cases depend on reading the books, attending workshops, or otherwise developing your own approach and practice.

  6. That writing prompt is literally impossible for me. I think I have backspace disorder. I’ve already erased two words whenever I remember I shouldn’t erase at all :C

    One day I’ll be able to do it.

  7. @Mr. Wind? Try it with an old-fashioned typewriter — we didn’t have erase. Or maybe a pen? Makes it obvious when you stop and scribble over the old stuff…

  8. The writing courses sound like they would be really great, but I just can’t afford to spend $$ like that right now.

  9. I agree completely with Alex. This episode was almost as useless as the writing assistants one. There was absolutely nothing that you can take away from it, other than you should take David’s course. I don’t expect David to give away all of his secrets but a few ideas would have been nice.

    I was really looking forward to this episode because I run a small writing class and was looking for some other ideas. Pretty disappointing, unfortunately.

  10. What a great writing prompt! It was nice to just sit and bash our some words on my keyboard. Very therapeutic but I am now worried about the sorry state of my subconscious.

    I am enjoying this series very much, thank you all.

  11. This was a bit of an infomercial, but I found the exercise really useful as a way of forcing words out. I have real difficulty in getting started and setting what I feel in an appropriate scene, I have tried this on a couple of occasions now and both times it felt natural. Which can’t be bad, although it did show up my poor typing speed and technique!

    This is my last effort;

    To say that the city had been sacked was an understatement, sacked cities survive, what happened to my home was more than it merely being sacked. Before the fires around the stone walls had extinguished, water was pumped from the river and the wells to soak the stones, each one breaking into pieces as the hot stones contracted on cooling. Logs from a local forest were then dragged onto of what remained and the fires started again, before the embers were once again brushed and dragged off, and water once more pumped. Five times the process was repeated, the only thing that stopped the burning was that an entire forest had been burned and stones could at best be described as dust. I watched from a distant hill, sat there by my father and mother while they returned to defend our home, there were twenty of us all now orphans, horror seared into our eyes by the heat of the fire and stench of burning. We didn’t know the enemy before but we certainly knew them now, . They came from the north on their horses, as white as the snow, shinning in armour like the surface of the river in midday sun, larger still than even our draft horses which pulled our ploughs and dragged logs. No-one could stand against them, certainly not our city!

    Critique welcome!

  12. For those of you having trouble with the prompt, go check out writeordie.com. It’s an amusing web app that punishes you when you don’t write.

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