15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Shannon and Dean Hale join us to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write about¹ children. We cover dialog tools, point-of-view elements, stakes, and character ‘quirks’ that can help signal to the reader that a character is a child.

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


¹ “About,” not “for.” Shannon and Dean join us again to discuss writing FOR children next week!

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Take a story about adults and write a synopsis of how it would go if it were about kids. Like, DIE HARD might become HOME ALONE…

The Princess in Black, by Shannon & Dean Hale

15.20: Mental Wellness and Writing

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

In this episode we’ll be talking about the things we do to stay creative, productive, healthy, and happy. For the purposes of this discussion, “mental wellness” is not about coping with mental illness, it’s about self-care.

Liner Notes: Here’s the gridded lifestyle tracker for the homework, lifted directly from Victoria’s Twitter feed.

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

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Get some paper and some colored pencils, and create a lifestyle tracker.

Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren

15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

“As you know, Bob…” is the trope-tastic line we use to refer to expository dialog which has no function beyond exposition.

We get lots of listener questions about how to use dialog for exposition without making it feel like we’re using dialog for exposition. And as Bob already knows, this episode is about answering those questions.

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

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David Mogo Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Take a favorite piece of media, and make a list of the worldbuilding elements which are absolutely necessary to make the story work. Now re-watch the media, and make notes about when each of these elements is introduced.

15.18: Finding a Community, with Shauna Hoffman

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, and Lari¹, with special guest Shauna Hoffman

Many Writing Excuses listeners (especially WXR alumni) already know Shauna Hoffman. She joins us to talk about how to deal with the fact that we, as authors, often feel isolated.

The listener question that sparked this episode: “How do you keep the pressure off when you feel alone?”

How indeed? If this feels timely, well, some of that is coincidence. And some, of course, is not².

Credits: This episode was recorded remotely³, using a variety of VOIP tools, and was mastered by Alex Jackson. 


¹ Larissa Helena is joining us as a guest host. She has worked as a literary agent, a translator, and a rights manager, and we look forward to hearing more from her this season.
² Yes, the irony of this being the first of our recorded-during-sparkling-isolation episodes is something we’re leaning into.
³ This is the first airing of a Writing Excuses episode in which the participants not physically present in the same room. We suspect it won’t be the last, and that we’ll get better at it. 

 

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Make a list of people you can reach out to this week—people who might inspire you, help you feel like part of a community.

Guy Free Working on Me, by Shauna Hoffman

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

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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

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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

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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