15.17: Asexual Representation

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

Generally speaking, asexuality is a sexual orientation or identity typified by the absence of a desire to have sex. It’s *way* more complicated than that, however, and in this episode Tempest helps us unpack it so that asexual characters can be written more effectively.

Liner Notes: Want to dig deeper? Over at Writing The Other there’s  a master class on writing asexual characters taught by Lauren Jankowski.

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


Take two characters from your current WIP.  Write a meet-cute, and have both characters be asexual, yet romantic

Let’s Talk About Love, by Claire Kann, and narrated by Adenrele Ojo

15.16: Balancing Plot and Character

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

We’re often asked how to balance character arcs with the intricacies of the plots we create. In this episode we talk about the various ways in which we do this.

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


Create a three-pillar mythos for your character: What do they fear, what do they want, and what are they willing to do to get what they want. Then give them a mantra, or a code by which they live.  Then create a scenario in which the mantra and the pillars collide, and something’s got to give.

Chernobyl, the 2019 HBO miniseries starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson

Writing Excuses Scholarship Recipients!

I don’t like to call them winners, because a) you’re ALL winners, and b) they didn’t “win” this, they “earned” this. But (drum roll please) I am delighted to announce that the 2020 Scholarship Recipients have been chosen:

2020 Out of Excuses Scholarships
Isadora Helena Prospero
Salinee Goldenberg

2020 Carl Brandon Scholarships:
Kritika HubkaRao
Lorena Torres Loaiza

Huge congratulations to them! For everyone else: thank you so much for applying! This was a very difficult group to narrow down, because all of the applications were so good. We wish we could bring every one of you on the retreat with us. Keep writing, and keep dreaming big.

Now for the big question: will there actually be a cruise this year? The short answer is that we are proceeding on the assumption that there will be, and we are working hard to make it the best cruise we’ve ever done. BUT: we are also making a Plan B and a Plan C and a thousand other contingency plans, to make sure that we’re covered for whatever happens. We will continue to keep you updated as to the exact form that this retreat will take, but we promise that it will be something.

If you’re thinking about registering for the Writing Excuses Retreat, this is a wonderful time to do it.

15.15: Dialog

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

Listener questions drove this episode, and there are only two of them but they were pretty good drivers.  Here they are:

  • Is it a problem that all my dialog ends up as logic-based debates between characters?
  • What can I do to create more variety in my dialog structure?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Remove all description. Now remove every 3rd line of dialog. Now rebuild the description replace with body language

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, by Natasha Pulley, narrated by Thomas Judd

15.14: Agent Query Trenches

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

The title of this episode comes to us from listener questions along the lines of “what do you do when you’re ‘in the trenches’ querying agents?” Our answers, predictably, have almost nothing to do with actual trenches.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Read some 1-star reviews of your favorite books

Seven Deadly Shadows, by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani, narrated by Traci Kato-Kiriyama