Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood

Dan and Howard are joined by Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood for an anything-goes Q&A at the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium. We had reached the end of our two-hour block, but the audience hungered for the chance to ask their questions of these guests, so the Symposium gave us an extra half hour in the room. The audience had already been in this room for 120 minutes, but they wanted more more more, so we ran a bit long.

  • Can you advise us about Writing the Other especially regarding avoiding cultural appropriation? (yes, this question deserves an entire symposium all by itself. We answered as best we could.)
  • If you were trying to break in right now, what would you do, and how would you do it?
  • How do you best handle slithering out of making a commitment to help someone with their writing, and how do you deliver bad news to those writers if you end up committing to help anyway.
  • How soon do you telegraph a plot twist?
  • How do you, as a non-writer, be a good resource to the writers in your life?
  • Do you know your title at the beginning of the writing process, or does it come to you later?
  • How do you know when you need another revision pass, vs. when you need to simply rewrite the whole thing again?

*NOTE: Back in July we attempted to record an episode on cultural appropriation with several guests hailing from marginalized and commonly misappropriated cultures, races, and backgrounds. The discussion was wonderful, but the recording itself was unusable due to an equipment failure. We wanted to share it with you, but even our brilliant mastering engineer Alex couldn’t make it listenable. We promise to address this topic in the future, and we’ve purchased all new recording gear to ensure that we capture the discussion correctly.

This episode was recorded and mastered by Alex Jackson


Take a piece of real world astronomical phenomenon, something recently discovered if possible, and make it part of your story.

The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga, by Kameron Hurley, narrated by Liza Ross

7 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood”

  1. Kameron Hurley is my favourite author right now. She’s straight-up amazing, and I’m glad to hear her on your show!

  2. I found the writing prompt amusing, because just two, three weeks ago I learned a new item in physics that way better describes a trait of a non-physical character a lot better than I ever had been able to. Black Body Radiation and Black Body. Best thing is? It makes a wickedly cheap/short metaphor/analogy in-world while admitting it isn’t a perfect description, because Black Body is hypothetical or ideal, to my understanding, not a hard fact like temperature of a body or its toxicity to humans/animals/whatever. Great prompt, though I might be biased, lol.

  3. Thank-you to Howard for suggesting the extended format. With 3 guest authors, the extra time made the podcast very comfortable to listen to. Nothing felt rushed.

  4. Thank you, Alex Jackson for the excellent audio work! We can hear the audience questions and are not blasted by the group cheers. There’s a bit of background fuzz on the hosts’ speech, but that might not be entirely avoidable.

  5. I’d combine this with the previous comment if I could…Sorry

    Having just finished reading Kameron’s excellent essay “We have always fought,” I’ve come up with a writing exercise that might be worth trying. Write a story. When you’re done, go back and, every time you reach a new character (even if they’re a basic part of the scenery, flip a coin to determine their sex. (Or you can go for broke and roll a d6 or a d20 to select from a list of genders, though that’s probably going to be a world with an absurdly disproportionate number of people who identify as something other than male or female.) Read it over again (or have someone else do so if they’re available) and see how well it holds together. Aside from physical descriptions (maybe your macho general with a beard down to his knees rolls as a woman), I’m betting it’ll hold together pretty well. (Well, unless you’re writing a plot that focuses on homophobia or something, since about half the couples, statistically speaking, will roll as same-sex pairs, which makes a culture of homophobia inconsistent.)

  6. Regarding declining to read/critique things, I also usually try to steer people toward a good resource. I’ll recommend they check out Critters.org, Writing Excuses, SCBWI, SFWA’s website, etc. I might not be able to critique, but leading a new writer to solid resources is probably more useful, long-term, than any single critique could be anyway.

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