14.17: It’s Like “Car Talk” meets “Welcome To Nightvale”

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon

This episode is about comp titles (comparative titles), which are those things you use to describe your project in terms of other works. We discuss the ones we’ve used (both successfully and unsuccessfully), and the criteria we use to come up with good ones.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Come up with six comp titles—three for existing projects, and three for projects you may want to write. May, in fact, need to write…

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine

14.16: Your Setting is a Telegraph

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

Your setting can quickly tell the reader what kind of a story they’re reading, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we make that happen. Think of it as the “establishing shot” principle from film making, expanded to cover whatever worldbuilding details we choose to reveal first.

Liner Notes: Here are the Schlock Mercenary Book 19 prologues Howard described, complete with the footnotes which make fun of prologues.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write an opening. You can start from scratch, or re-open something you’re already working on. Write a half page, and with three concrete details establish the tone. Now rewrite, keeping the dialog the same, and use different details to telegraph a different tone.

Terminal Alliance, by Jim Hines

2019 Scholarship Winners

We are delighted to report that the 2019 scholarship winners have been selected!

This is a long process that we take great care with; the applicants send us a huge submission packet, complete with writing samples, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay, and each one of those is reviewed in detail by two different juries. If anyone on the jury comes across a name they know in real life, we randomize it and anonymize it and send it off to someone else to be reviewed by them instead, to keep things as fair and above-board as we possibly can.

All of the applicants were wonderful, and we loved a lot of the samples they sent us, but after a careful review and some painful decisions we’ve selected four worthy recipients:

The 2019 Out of Excuses Scholarships:

Caitlin Jacobs
Petronella Wagner

The 2019 Carl Brandon Scholarships:

Nandi Taylor
Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Huge congratulations to them, and a massive thank you to all of the other applicants. You are all amazing, and we wish you the absolute best of luck in your writing careers.

14.15: Technology

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about magic systems in our worldbuilding. It’s time to talk about  science and technology in that same way. This has been a staple (perhaps the defining staple) of science fiction since before “science fiction” was a word.

At risk of opening the “where do you get your ideas” can of worms, this episode covers a little bit of where we get our ideas, and where you might get—and subsequently develop—some more of yours.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Go read Wired (or some other science and technology periodical, whether online or in print)

Feed, by M.T. Anderson

14.14: When To Tell

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

“Show, don’t tell,” they tell us. Except sometimes showing is not always the best thing to do. Or even the right thing to do. Sometimes we should be telling. In this episode we’ll tell you about telling. (We’d show you about telling, but we still don’t have a video feed.)

Credits: This episode was recorded by Rob Kimbro, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Pick an important scene from your work. Cut it. Now have a character transition us across where that scene used to be.

The Hobbit: The Two Hour Fan Editby Fiona van Dahl (and MGM/New Line Cinema/Wingnut Films)