15.35: Tools for Writing and Worldbuilding, with Erin Roberts

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Lari, and special guest Erin Roberts

We’ve received a number of questions about the ‘tools of the trade’ for organizing our work, especially with regard to worldbuilding. In this episode we talk about what we use, including some old-school analog tools like sticky notes and ballpoint pens.

Credits: this episode was recorded remotely, and mastered by Alex Jackson



Using whichever tool you would like, examine your favorite worldbuilding elements, and determine what your influences are for them.

The Midnight Bargain, by C.L. Polk (currently available for pre-order)

15.34: Writing Deliberate Discomfort

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Lari, and Erin

How do you proceed when the story you want to write includes elements that make you personally uncomfortable?  In this episode we step out of our own comfort zones to examine this challenge, and to offer some strategies to you.

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


Write a short story from the POV of a character with whom you disagree.

The Lamentation of Their Women,” by Kai Ashante Wilson

15.33: The Long, Dark Second Act of the Soul

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

Many Writing Excuses listeners have asked us how we muscle through writing second acts, those big, chonky “middles” of our stories. In this episode we attempt to provide answers.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. The title of this episode is a nod to the second Dirk Gently novel from Douglas Adams.


Take a favorite book, movie, or whatever: attempt to identify where the second act begins and ends. Then make a list of what you love about the second act. Now take that list, and map it onto your OWN second act, in order to build a second act that you love.

Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett

15.32: Short Story Markets

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, and Lari, with special guest Erin Roberts

Erin Roberts joins us for a discussion of short story markets—a topic which is very susceptible to “churn” because of the way short story markets come and go. We cover how to research and evaluate the various markets based on what you need from publication, and what you might reasonably expect from them.

Credits: This episode was recorded remotely during the Great Isolation, and mastered by Alex Jackson.


Pick a couple of contemporary short fiction writers. Track their publication history, and get a feel for how their writing career has developed.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2019, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

15.31: The Agent in the Room

Your Hosts: Dan, DongWon, Piper, and Howard

You had questions for agents, Dongwon has answers!

  • How do you go about becoming an agent?
  • How do an agent and author work together?
  • At what point do agent and author talk about the “sticky stuff?”

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


Make a list of the questions, especially the hard ones, you want to ask prospective agents.