Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart.

18.13: Finding the Core Conflict

In our ongoing exploration of tension, the time has come to examine conflict. It can be shaped and delivered in numerous ways, but you have to know the core conflict before you can make anybody feel tense about it. Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song,…

17.32: Everything is About Conflict

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler Everything is about conflict? Really? Well, yes. Maybe not in the action-movie sense, but conflict is everywhere, even among people whose goals, objectives, and methodologies are in alignment. This, of course, means that it exists among your cast of characters,…

16.41: Middles and Conflicts with M.I.C.E. Structure

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal With the M.I.C.E. elements (Milieu, Inquiry, Character, and Event) explained, and the concept of nesting, or braiding the M.I.C.E. threads, we’re ready to dive into that most difficult part of the story: the middle. Enough of us dread (or at least…

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…

14.31: Cultural Setting as Conflict

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab In this episode we talk about how to put characters in conflict with their setting, and how to structure our work so that these conflicts arise organically rather than feeling mandated by plot. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and master…

14.27: Natural Setting as Conflict

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard In this episode we stories with the “Person-vs-Setting” structure. These are stories where nature fills the role of antagonist, and may also be what governs the pacing, and the delivery of key emotional beats. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and…

13.23: Internal Conflicts

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we can tell when it’s not working. Notes: the MICE quotient is Milieu,…

13.6: External Conflicts for Characters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice An external conflict is a story driver that originates outside the protagonist. In this episode a large part of what we’ll focus on is person-vs-environment as opposed to person-vs-person. PvE rather than PvP, if you will. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered…

18.09: Unpacking the Tension

For the next several episodes we’ll be talking about tension. That may seem like a lot of time to spend on just one word, but as we unpack the word ‘tension’ in this episode you’ll see that there is plenty of material to work with.

2022 Scholarship Winners

Winners of the 2022 Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat scholarships have been selected! The application process was conducted in a compressed timeline this year, in which applicants prepared and sent us their submissions digitally, including writing samples, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. Applications were carefully reviewed in a…