15.26: Taking the Chance, with David Weber

Your Hosts: Brandon, Howard, and Dan with special guest David Weber

David Weber joined us at NASFIC to talk about the importance of risking failure on any path (especially a writer’s path) to success–whether you’re risking rejection in the submission process, or the possibility that the book you write won’t be the amazing thing you’ve been imagining.

If you’re currently feeling the need to be out of excuses, this episode might be exactly what you’re looking for.

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


Go home and roll up a character.

The Gordian Protocol, by David Weber and Jacob Holo

The Writing Excuses Retreat Goes Virtual!

For a number of reasons (most prominently “we don’t want to run you through two airports and then lock you on a cruise ship in the middle of a global pandemic”), we have canceled our cruise and are taking it online! This is really good news for a lot of you, because it is way easier to get to and waaaay cheaper. The details are as follows:

WXR goes virtual (aka WXR – NOT on a boat!)

Though we can’t promise round-the-clock snacks, fruity beverages, and frozen yogurt on the pool deck, we ARE going to bring you all the rest of the stuff you love best about WXR in virtual form: writing dates, Q&As, and LOTS of learning. 
To do this, we’re partnering up with the Surrey International Writers’ Conference for SiWC at Home, which runs October 23-25, with master classes on the 21st and 22nd and extra WXR pre-conference events in the days leading up to the conference. Many of you are already familiar with SiWC, and know that it’s Mary Robinette’s favorite conference (including ones she organizes). And if you’ve been to WXR before, you know Kathy Chung, the SiWC conference coordinator. Everything going virtual this year gave us an awesome opportunity to join forces. 
Here’s what that means to you: WXR will offer pre-conference Writing Excuses social events, writing dates and Q&As before SiWC. At SiWC, some WXR faculty will be offering master classes on the Wednesday and Thursday. Then Friday to Sunday, it’s full-on conference time: multiple workshops a day, social opportunities, keynotes, and social events, including with WXR faculty. 
How do you attend? Register for SiWC. Your registration includes the full Friday-Sunday conference plus all the WXR social stuff, writing dates and more, and you can add on master classes when you register. SiWC registration opens this coming Wednesday, June 24, at noon Pacific time. In a typical year, SiWC sells out in hours, so don’t leave it too long to register. www.siwc.ca/registration
We’ll have more info on the WXR events as we get them all in place, but most of the SiWC programming is up on their site – www.siwc.ca – with more to come as we get details in the coming days of the master classes and workshops WXR will be adding.
What will it cost? SiWC is offering a sliding scale for registration (except master classes) this year to help people whose finances have been affected by Covid to be able to attend. Note that SiWC is not-for-profit, so please pay what you comfortably can. Full-priced registration for the conference, which includes 40+ workshops (10 you can attend in real time, and some that will be recorded and available to attendees for a couple of weeks following the conference), keynotes, and all the WXR and SiWC social events, is $279CDN (currently about $205USD). Master classes are $79CDN for conference attendees (about $58USD) except for one super-sized, 6-hour class with Mary Robinette that’s $119CDN (about $88USD). 

15.25: Using the MICE Quotient for Conflict

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

The MICE quotient is a tool for categorizing story elements—Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event—and we’ve talked about it quite a bit in the past. When a listener asked how we might use the MICE quotient to create, inform, manage, and otherwise help us “do” conflict in our stories, we were excited to start recording, and a bit bewildered that we’d somehow not already done this episode.

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


Free write a character doing something. Identify the MICE elements. Pick one, and build additional conflict around it.

Escaping Exodus, by Nicky Drayden

15.24: Keeping it Fresh, with Jim Butcher

Your Hosts: Brandon, Howard, and Dan, with special guest Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher joined us at NASFIC for a discussion about how we can keep long-running serials engaging after numerous books.

Credits: this episode was recorded before a live audience by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Something we didn’t know was intelligent has been intelligent all along.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher

15.23: Serialization

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Lari, and Dan, with special guest Jenn Court

Let’s talk about serials. Jenn Court, whose work includes lots of  writing for TV (IMDB link), joins us for the discussion. What are the elements that get us, as readers or viewers, to come back for episode after episode, and how do we, as writers, identify those elements and set about synthesizing them?

Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson


Think about your next protagonist. Make a chart that covers their positive and negative attributes.

Fetch the Bolt Cutters, by Fiona Apple