12.5: Literary Fiction

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

This week we talk about the genre of Literary Fiction. Our first hurdle is the word “literary” whose use in this context can imply that all other genres are somehow not literature. In that vein, then, we’re talking about mainstream, or “non-genre” fiction which is crafted with close attention to the finer points of the prose. After framing our discussion, we dive into the nuts and bolts of writing in the Literary Fiction genre.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

You drive your spouse to the airport and watch them fly away on a trip. Then you go straight home, and find them there in the house, sitting at the computer…

Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie (print and ebook available here)

12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler

Piper J. Drake joins the cast for our week-four episodes, of which this is the first. This week we’ll be drilling down into hybrid viewpoints—blending 1st and 3rd person, framing stories, stories-within-stories, and unreliable narration—and how to best serve our work with these techniques.

Play

Put a framing story around something you’ve already written.

Absolute Trust, by Piper J. Drake

The 2017 WX Retreat Scholarships

The fifth annual Out of Excuses Retreat will be in Europe! And we couldn’t be more excited. Some people were worried about our ability to provide scholarships this year, because flying people to Europe is so much more expensive than flying them to Florida, but we have learned to never underestimate the power of our amazing listeners. Our alumni from previous retreats have donated enough to finance two scholarships, even at the elevated price, and the rest of you have contributed enough through our Patreon to finance two more. So yes: just like last year, we are now able to offer four scholarships to this year’s retreat: two Out of Excuses scholarships for writers who can’t afford the cruise on their own, and two Carl Brandon Society scholarships for writers of color.

Information and Entry Rules

Each scholarship offers full tuition, $1000 of travel expenses, a bed in a double occupancy room on the ship, and hotel expenses in Germany for one night both pre- and post-cruise. Because the food on the cruise is free, this covers essentially all your expenses for the week, though depending on the flights you arrange, you might need to cover some of the travel yourself. You may apply to either scholarship, but only to one of them (even if you qualify for both).

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so please read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly; incomplete applications will be disqualified.

To apply, please prepare the following scholarship package as a Word document, and send it to writingexcusesscholarship@gmail.com with the subject line: “Scholarship Application: [name of scholarship].” Please copy and paste the cover sheet to the main body of the email, and also include it as the first page in the package.

1) This cover sheet, filled out completely:

Name: [name]

Email: [email]

Phone Number: [number]

Scholarship: [“Carl Brandon Society” or “Out of Excuses”]

I confirm that my scholarship is complete, including: a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.

Personal Essay word count (between 450-700 words): [insert word count here]

Letter of Recommendation 1: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 2: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 3: [Name of recommender]

Writing Sample total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 10,000 total words): [insert word count here]

2) A single attachment, saved as [Name of Scholarship Your Name]

We will accept the following three file formats.

* .DOC

* .DOCX

* .RTF

Examples:

Out of Excuses Scholarship Jane Doe.doc

Carl Brandon Scholarship Jane Doe.doc

The attachment should contain all of the following, in the following order:

1. The Cover Sheet, again, as described above. Yes, we want it twice.

2. A Personal Essay: A 450-700 word personal essay explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will also be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit.”

3. Letters of Recommendation: Three brief letters of recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives: friends, bosses, people from your writing group, anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are. Please note that we would like all three letters to be included in the scholarship package, and not to be emailed individually; we’ve had too many letters go astray, and we want to give you the chance to personally make sure every aspect of your scholarship package is complete before submitting it. If you have a concern with this, please contact Kenna Blaylock at assistant@thedanwells.com.

4. Writing Samples: A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 10,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.

Again: make sure to send everything in one email or your application will be disqualified!

Please review it several times, or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will reject applications on technicalities, just like an editor or publisher would. We would much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

The application period for both scholarships opens on January 16, 2017, at 9am EST, and closes at midnight EST, March 12. We will contact the winners in April, and announce them officially the morning of April 17. That gives the winners just over three months of notice before the retreat.

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, email Kenna Blaylock at writingxcuses@gmail.com.

FAQ:

Q: What do The Letters of Recommendation need?
A: Think of this like a college entry application letter. Have your friend answer “Why are you the best candidate for the scholarship?” The one writing the letter can point out what they think might be relevant to the decision that the committee would otherwise not know. The letters help us round out the picture for each candidate.

Q: Are the scholarships open to anyone?
A: Provided you meet the basic qualifications, yes. We welcome writers from any country anywhere in the world, though remember that a) the classes will be taught in English, and b) the scholarships only cover $1000 of travel.

Q: Okay, so remind me of the basic qualifications again.
A: The Out of Excuses scholarships are for writers in financial need: if you can’t afford the scholarship on your own, you qualify. The Carl Brandon Society scholarships are for writers of color: if you’re a person of color who writes, you qualify.

Q: What about kids? Can I win the scholarship as a teenager?
A: Teens are welcome on the cruise and in the classes, but will need to be accompanied by an adult. If you have questions, please contact Kenna Blaylock at writingxcuses@gmail.com

Q: How can I contribute to next year’s scholarship fund?
A: The easiest way is through our Patreon. We have a pledge level specifically designed for scholarship donations.

12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler

This Project in Depth episode contains spoilers for “Risk Assessment,” which is included in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12The story was written by Sandra Tayler, and illustrated by Natalie Barahona. Howard handled the writing and illustrating for the framing story, but this episode isn’t about that part.

Risk Assessment is a romance wrapped up in an adventure, and is very different from most of the rest of Schlock Mercenary. Have a listen, and Sandra will tell you about it.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Write a “meet cute,” that scene in which our romantic leads meet, and we get to have crushes with, or perhaps on them.

In the Cube, by David Alexander Smith (out of print, but available used)

Writing the Other: a Discount Code for Listeners

Our friends at Writing the Other continue to host a wide range of classes addressing the manifold facets, angles, and approaches to getting our not-the-same-as-us characters written correctly.

On February 26th, Beyond the Basic Bi: Writing Bisexual Characters will be taught by BiNet’s Faith Cheltenham from 3pm to 5pm Eastern Time. Writing Excuses listeners may use the promotional code “noexcuses” for a 25% discount, bringing the price from $110 to $82.50 (assuming Howard did this math correctly.)

Scholarship opportunities are also available.

Please follow the link above for details about the class, the instructor, the scholarships, and the technical requirements for online attendance. If you want to be notified about upcoming Writing The Other classes, be sure to subscribe to their mailing list.

12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley

This week we talk about character voice, and how to get it right in First Person. This POV is a strong tool for developing memorable characters. We cover sentence structure, linguistic tweaks, accents, and much more, as well as some exercises you can try out to develop these tools.

This week is also your introduction to our Chicago cast. You’ve already heard from Brandon and Mary; the new voices belong to Mary Anne Mohanraj and Wesley Chu.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Write a page or two of first-person POV in which the character is trying to complete a task. Now write that same task-completion scene from the POV of someone else who is attempting the task.

Perennial, by Mary Anne Mohanraj