Category Archives: Archive Seasons 7-10

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

Writing Excuses 10.41: Your Character’s Moral Pendulum

Brad Beaulieu and Jaym Gates join us from the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium to talk about good versus evil, and how your character might swing between the two. And it’s all about that swing. Moral grey areas are more interesting if we move through them. We talk about how we swing the pendulum, what difficulties we encounter, and what sorts of things we want to have happen to our reader when it moves.

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Try it at home! Gradually move the moral pendulum for one of your “goodest” characters, and do so without knowing where that will lead. Discovery-write your way down the slippery slope…

The Merchant Adventurer, written and narrated by Patrick E. McLean

Writing Excuses 10.40: What’s the Difference Between Ending and Stopping?

Nalo Hopkinson joins us for this episode, which we recorded before a live audience of Out Of Excuses Workshop & Retreat attendees. October’s master class episodes focus on endings, and in this first installment we talk about what an ending really is. It’s obviously the last part of the book, but the gestalt of “ending” is so much more than just “The End,” and it’s important that we understand all that before committing ourselves to being done writing it.

(Note: You can start writing your ending any time you want. Stopping writing your ending, and being done with it? There’s the rub.)

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

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Take an ending you’ve written (the ending of your Master Class story would be a fine choice for this) and trim it, pushing it earlier in the story. See how early it can appear, and how this changes things.

Sister Mine, by Nalo Hopkinson, narrated by Robin Miles

Writing Excuses 10.39: Q&A on Plot Twists with Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson joined us at Sasquan/WorldCon 73 to take questions about plot twists. Here are the questions that came in from our live audience:

  • Genre Twists: good, bad, or ugly?
  • Can you compare and contrast a good plot twist with a bad one?
  • What is the biggest mistake professional authors make with regarding plot twists?

 

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Try to remove your plot twist as a reveal, and see if the story still works.

Clockwork Angels, by Kevin J. Anderson, narrated by Neil Peart

Writing Excuses 10.38: How Does Context Shape Dialog?

Our second installment for the Master Class’s month of context covers the way dialog between characters may change meaning depending upon the context you create for them. This context may be the setting or genre, and it may also be the “beats” in which you describe what a person is doing while speaking. We talk about how to make this work for you, how to avoid some of the common pitfalls in writing dialog.

Liner Notes: Howard mentioned episode 10.11: Project-in-Depth: “Parallel Perspectives”. If you need to go back and have a listen, now it’s easier!

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This is the Transcript Exercise, and it’s a doozy. Take our A/B scene, which is character dialog with no beats, and add the beats and the context to set the dialog in two different genres. There are further instructions in the download at the link above.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, narrated by Simon Slater

Writing Excuses 10.37: Being a Good Panelist and a Great Moderator, with Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin

This month’s wildcard episode comes to you from the 2015 GenCon Indy Writers’ Symposium, where Dan and Howard had the opportunity to interview Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin. Susan is one of the finest moderators the symposium has ever seen, and Marc directs the event, building the schedule around good panelists and great moderators. Their advice is insightful, fresh, and spot-on. If you ever find yourself scheduled to speak on, or moderate, a panel, this episode is a great listen for beginning your preparation.

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You’ve been invited to BobCon, and when you arrive at BobCon you realize WHY it’s called BobCon. How do you escape?

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab, narrated by Steven Crossley