All posts by Howard Tayler

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

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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

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

Fetch the Bolt Cutters, by Fiona Apple

15.22 Writing For Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

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

Shannon and Dean Hale join us again, this time to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write for¹ children. Children have their own unique sets of expectations for the books they read (as do their parents), and in this episode we talk about how to meet (or subvert) those.

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


¹ “For,” not “about.” Shannon and Dean discussed writing ABOUT children last week.

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Have a child tell you a story

Best Friends, by Shannon & Dean Hale

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