Category Archives: Demonstration

16.32: First Page Fundamentals—THE KILLING FLOOR, by Lee Childs

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

In this episode we explore the first page of The Killing Floor, by Lee Childs, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of The Killing Floor, for reference.

I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch. I was wet and tired after a long walk in heavy rain. All the way from the highway to the edge of town.

The diner was small, but bright and clean. Brand-new, built to resemble a converted railroad car. Narrow, with a long lunch counter on one side and a kitchen bumped out back. Booths lining the opposite wall. A doorway where the center booth would be.

I was in a booth, at a window, reading somebody’s abandoned newspaper about the campaign for a president I didn’t vote for last time and wasn’t going to vote for this time. Outside, the rain had stopped but the glass was still pebbled with bright drops. I saw the police cruisers pull into the gravel lot. They were moving fast and crunched to a stop. Light bars flashing and popping. Red and blue light in the raindrops on my window. Doors burst open, policemen jumped out. Two from each car, weapons ready. Two revolvers, two shotguns. This was heavy stuff. One revolver and one shotgun ran to the back. One of each rushed the door.

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Ghost Station, by Dan Wells

Write an introduction that focuses on the character’s view of the world

16.31: First Page Fundamentals—MOBY DICK

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

In this episode we explore the first page of Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of Moby Dick, for reference.

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time tozz get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

 

 

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Homework: Write an introduction that is purely internal to the character’s mental state.

16.30: First Page Fundamentals—THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

In this episode we explore the first page of The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House, for reference.

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

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Write an introduction to your book that is purely description. No action. No dialogue.

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

16.4: Networking

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Erin, Brandon, and Howard

Networking is an invaluable part of any business, and the business of writing is no exception. In this episode we’ll talk about how to do it effectively, genuinely, and in ways that benefit the entire community.

Credits: This episode was recorded my Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Come up with five non-transactional things you can do to help other people in your network.

The City We Became, by N.K. Jemesin

15.31: The Agent in the Room

Your Hosts: Dan, DongWon, Piper, and Howard

You had questions for agents, Dongwon has answers!

  • How do you go about becoming an agent?
  • How do an agent and author work together?
  • At what point do agent and author talk about the “sticky stuff?”

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Make a list of the questions, especially the hard ones, you want to ask prospective agents.

11.32: The Element of Humor

“Talking about humor is the least funny thing you can do.” —Howard Tayler

You have been warned! and with that out of the way…

What is the driving force that gets readers to turn pages in a book that is primarily a work of humor? More importantly, how do we as writers get that driver into our books? We cover this, and provide some starting points for writers seeking to improve their humor writing, along with a bunch of neat techniques, and (as apparent from the liner notes) a long example for deconstruction.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

Liner Notes: here are the lyrics we cited from “Love is Strange” (Galavant). We’ve added superscript numbers from the Rule of Three exercise.

¹Love is strange,
And sometimes kind of gross¹
It’s embarrassingly gassy²
And it leaves its dirty underwear
In piles around the place³

²Love is rude, it has a sort of smell¹
And it thinks that you don’t notice²
And it blurts out things
That make you want to smack its stupid face³

³And it’s awkward and confusing¹
It annoys you half to death²
Then it grins that dopey grin
And you can’t catch your breath³

The full song is available here, for $1.29 (link provided out of courtesy to the original artists whose work we deconstructed for educational purposes.)

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Get a funny book, and highlight or underline appearances of the rule of three, and comic drops.

Death by Cliché, by Robert J. Defendi

 

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

Writing Excuses 10.23: Can You Tell Me How To Show?

Per the syllabus for the Season 10 Master Class, June is for painting a scene, and in this episode we’re going to talk about that paint.

We have all heard the “show, don’t tell” rule. In this episode we’ll discuss showing—how to do it well, how to do it consistently, and how to use it to accomplish things that telling just can’t get across.

Liner Notes: We make several references to Episode 3.14, in which Mary (in her first guest-hosting on the show) told us about the four rules of puppetry, as they apply to her writing. That was almost six years ago, so it’s probably been a while since you listened to it.

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Sit in a room and describe the room. Do this for half an hour. Five or ten minutes in you’ll be ready to express hatred for the person assigning the exercise. Keep going for the full 30 minutes.

Now describe the same room in the specific style of a genre—epic fantasy, film noir, police procedural—using only 250 words.

Finally, describe this room from the POV of one of the characters in your current project.

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, by Shallee McArthur, narrated by Cassandra Morris