Ellen Kushner joins us for the last episode of Season 10. Per the title, folks, it’s time to be done.
What does “done” mean? How do you go about declaring a project “finished” when you know there are still things wrong with it? How do you clear your head, your work space, and your life for the next thing you need to do?
Out of Excuses: Per Brandon’s plug in the episode, registration is open for the 2016 Out of Excuses WritingWorkshop and Retreat!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:50 — 15.0MB)
Try something new. Brainstorm something new, something different from what you’ve written before.
Daniel José Older joins us for a Q&A on showing your work around. Here are the questions, which were submitted by attendees at the Out of Excuses workshop:
- What’s the best way to meet editors and agents at conventions?
- How do you write a good query letter?
- What do you mention as credentials in your query letter?
- You didn’t cover self publishing at all this month. Self publishing is legit, right?
- Can you submit the same work to more than one agent or editor at a time?
- Can you re-submit a revised work to an agent who previously rejected the piece?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 22:50 — 15.7MB)
Write a query letter for a book that you love, but did not write. Then write a query letter for your own work.
Mystic, by Jason Denzel, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal
Marco Palmieri and Michael Underwood took the stage with Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy 2015 to discuss hand-selling manuscripts. Marco Palmieri is a senior editor at Tor, and Michael Underwood is an author, and is also the North American Sales and Marketing manager for Angry Robot Books.
We begin with a list of the things to avoid doing, including the classic mistakes like chasing editors into restrooms, but we quickly move on to where you get started, and what your task list is going to look like. We cover resources like Literary Marketplace, Locus, and Publishers Lunch, and the not-so-secret-anymore #MSWL hash-tag.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:48 — 11.6MB)
Your character has to go undercover at a writing conference, and steal a super-secret manuscript from an editor
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.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:19 — 14.0MB)
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.
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.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:01 — 14.5MB)
We are on a ship. Set a story that doesn’t really fit on a ship onto a ship.
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.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:51 — 13.7MB)
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
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
- 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.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 23:27 — 16.1MB)
Here’s a tough one: Make an editing pass in which you cut 10% of the words on each page.
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
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 27:06 — 18.6MB)
Take a piece of real world astronomical phenomenon, something recently discovered if possible, and make it part of your story.