All posts by Howard Tayler

Writing Excuses 10.49: What Do I Do With This Thing Now?

We’re at the end of our Season Ten Master Class, and if you’ve been diligent about the homework, you may very well have a finished manuscript in your hands. What do you do with it?

Daniel José Older joins us for a bit of reminiscence. We talk about some of our first submissions, and what we did right, wrong, and weirdly. We cover our criteria for selecting publishers to whom we’d like to send our stuff, and we include the shiny intangibles in that list.

 

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in an abandoned missile silo by Alex Jackson.

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Research the market for that thing you’ve written. Find things that are similar to what you wrote, and read up on who published them. Find out who the editors were. Then make a list of places where you’d like to submit your work.

Half-Resurrection Blues: Bone Street Rumba, Book 1, written and narrated by Daniel José Older.

Writing Excuses 10.48: Project in Depth, The Devil’s Only Friend

Spoiler Alert! We’ll be discussing the latest John Cleaver book from Dan Wells with author, podcaster, and unrepentant bacon-lover Dan Wells! If you haven’t read it, and you want to be surprised by it, stop listening and grab a copy now!

If you have read it, we apologize on Dan’s behalf for any emotional scarring you may have experienced. Now… give the episode a listen, and learn how Dan managed to do that to you.

 

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in an orbital communications array by Alex Jackson.

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We are on a ship. Set a story that doesn’t really fit on a ship onto a ship.

The Devil’s Only Friend, by Dan Wells, narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Writing Excuses 10.47: Q&A on Revision

And now for your questions about revision. Or rather, questions from the WXR attendees, who were aboard the Independence of the Seas with us (the answers to these questions are secreted away in the audio file…):

  • During revision, when do you think it’s acceptable to throw the whole thing out?
  • How do you fit the whole structure in your head?
  • What do you find you most often need to add?
  • What do you do when your revisions have made things worse?
  • How do you avoid over-writing during the revision process?
  • When revising, how many passes do you make, and what order are they in?
  • Do you take the sounds of words into account when writing and revising?

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a concrete bunker somewhere in the midwest by Alex Jackson.

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Read your piece aloud. The whole thing. Yes, THE WHOLE THING. Take notes while you do so.

Blindsight, by Peter Watts, narrated by T. Ryder Smith

Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?

The microphones again find us aboard the Independence of the Seas*, to talk about how terribly ugly this manuscript is, and what we can do to make it pretty. In this episode we drill down on line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph revisions. This stage of the revision process is where our prose gets wordsmithed. This episode runs long, touching on:

  • Punching up the pacing
  • Turning things upside down
  • Parallelisms
  • Adverbial compression,
  • The pyramid of abstraction
  • Free and direct thought
  • Replacing negative-information descriptions
  • extreme editing exercises like “one sentence per concept.”

Obviously if you want more than just the bullet points you’ll need to have a listen…

*NOTE: Registration is now open for the 2016 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat!

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered ashore in a volcanic caldera by Alex Jackson.

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Here’s a tough one: Make an editing pass in which you cut 10% of the words on each page.

Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood

Dan and Howard are joined by Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood for an anything-goes Q&A at the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium. We had reached the end of our two-hour block, but the audience hungered for the chance to ask their questions of these guests, so the Symposium gave us an extra half hour in the room. The audience had already been in this room for 120 minutes, but they wanted more more more, so we ran a bit long.

  • Can you advise us about Writing the Other especially regarding avoiding cultural appropriation? (yes, this question deserves an entire symposium all by itself. We answered as best we could.)
  • If you were trying to break in right now, what would you do, and how would you do it?
  • How do you best handle slithering out of making a commitment to help someone with their writing, and how do you deliver bad news to those writers if you end up committing to help anyway.
  • How soon do you telegraph a plot twist?
  • How do you, as a non-writer, be a good resource to the writers in your life?
  • Do you know your title at the beginning of the writing process, or does it come to you later?
  • How do you know when you need another revision pass, vs. when you need to simply rewrite the whole thing again?

*NOTE: Back in July we attempted to record an episode on cultural appropriation with several guests hailing from marginalized and commonly misappropriated cultures, races, and backgrounds. The discussion was wonderful, but the recording itself was unusable due to an equipment failure. We wanted to share it with you, but even our brilliant mastering engineer Alex couldn’t make it listenable. We promise to address this topic in the future, and we’ve purchased all new recording gear to ensure that we capture the discussion correctly.

This episode was recorded and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take a piece of real world astronomical phenomenon, something recently discovered if possible, and make it part of your story.

The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga, by Kameron Hurley, narrated by Liza Ross

Writing Excuses 10.44: How Do I Fix What is Broken?

November is “Revision” month here in the Writing Excuses Season 10 Master Class, so while many of you may be tempted by NaNoWriMo, there’s a different kind of work to be done… Delia Sherman joins us again, this time for a frank talk about the tools and techniques we use during our revisions.

 

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a cloud fortress above Lake Michigan by Alex Jackson.

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Print your manuscript, and with six colors of highlighter, mark it up. Assign one color to each of the five senses, and assign a sixth color to movement.

Off To Be The Wizard, by Scott Meyer, narrated by Luke Daniels

Writing Excuses 10.43: Q&A on Endings, with Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman joined us aboard the Independence of the Seas for our question-and-answer installment on endings. The questions came from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop, which was, lest anyone forget, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  The questions:

  • Why do more short stories than novels end on tragic notes?
  • How do you keep an ending from being predictable or boring?
  • How do you write a stand-alone ending with sequel potential?
  • What are the best ways to avoid infodump endings?
  • Are there differences between writing the first novel in a series and other novels in the series?
  • How do you know which questions to leave unanswered?
  • What sort of attention do you give to your last lines?

This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a soundproofed bullet-train by Alex Jackson.

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You finished your book? TAKE A BREAK! This week’s homework is for you to relax a bit, and do whatever it is you do with a spot of time off. Revision begins soon, and you may need a palate-cleanser.

The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman, narrated by Robin Miles

Writing Excuses 10.42: How In The World Do I Tie All This Together?

Nalo Hopkinson joins us again, at sea, for our second Master Class installment on endings. We cover some of the reasons why an ending might not be working, and then talk about the sorts of diagnoses that will help you solve the problem. You’ll likely need to dig deep in your toolbox. Our episodes covering the MICE quotient, promises made to the readers, and the Hollywood formula may be worth reviewing in this process.

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Consider the last paragraph of your work in progress. Compare it to your first paragraph. Identify possible resonances that you can mirror between the two.

Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer