Category Archives: Q&A

Writing Excuses 8.23: Microcasting

Microcasting! It’s what we’ve taken to calling a Q&A. Eric Patten joins us for this one. Here are the questions:

  • What’s your first step in the rewriting process?
  • How do you write Artificial Intelligences as characters?
  • Tactful promotion: how do you get nominated for a Hugo or Nebula?
  • How do you decide whether or not to take an offer from a publisher?
  • Do you use a writing notebook? How, and for what?
  • What methods do you use to test the “coolness” and/or viability of a story idea?
  • What genre or style do you read that is outside of the one(s) in which you write?
Play

Two words: “Flying Caldecott.”

Red Storm Rising, by Tom Clancy, narrated by Michael Prichard

Writing Excuses 8.17: Microcasting

You love ’em, we love ’em, and there’s never a shortage of questions so here’s another another fast-paced Q&A. Here are the questions that we field in this episode:

  • How do you prepare to write?
  • How do you write stories that are important without being heavy-handed?
  • Magical realism vs. Fantasy — what’s the difference?
  • Do you have recommendations or techniques for serving as a beta reader? (Here’s the promised liner-note bit from Mary.)
  • Is it possible to do a serial with short stories and novellas all in the same setting?
  • Why do publishers say they want crossed-genre books, but they’re not publishing crossed-genre books?
  • Picture books and books for beginning readers: can you ‘cast on this for us? (Answer: not until we’ve got an expert guest in that field. If you want that info, go to SCBWI.org)
  • Can you do a ‘cast on reading aloud? (Answer: yes. This is not that ‘cast.)
  • What is the primary thing you’ve learned from reading Literary Fiction that has informed your Genre Fiction writing?
Play

“Kittenpunk.”

Writing Excuses 8.1: Microcasting

We’re back for 2013 and Season 8, so let’s start it off by answering all your questions! That’s right, it’s time for a fast-paced, lightning round of microcasting! It’s like eight very, very short podcasts in one.

  • Why do some authors only ever come out with one or two books?
  • What’s your process for writing fast under artificial deadlines (NaNoWriMo)?
  • How do you avoid getting bogged down in explanation?
  • What happened to your Hero of a Thousand Faces episode? (Whoops! See below.)
  • Are there concerns or pitfalls regarding the use of metaphors and similes in genre fiction?
  • What are some pitfalls to writing short stories?
  • How do you write sex scenes? (Note: This particular question resulted in an entire episode back in Season 7. Shanna Germain to the rescue!)
  • Have any of you included original poems in your work?

Whoops! We lock-stepped this episode to the release of A Memory of Light, but we ALSO locked it to air after our Hero of a Thousand Faces discussion. Crass commercialism trumps continuity! You’ll get the hero’s journey next week.

Incidentally: If you’re eligible to nominate things for the 2013 Hugo Awards, here’s a list of the things we’ve done which are eligible.

Play

What does SFPA stand for?

A Memory of Light: Wheel of Time, Book 14, by  Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.

Writing Excuses 7.52: Microcasting

We’re drawing to the close of Season 7, so here’s some microcasting (that’s what we call a fast-paced Q&A) where we field your questions. Here are your questions:

  • What are your embarrassing early projects?
  • How do you tell if your idea is too big for the story you’re working on?
  • How do you avoid discouragement?
  • How do you handle multiple magic systems in one book?
Play

Two different characters, two different magic systems…

Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor, narrated by Anne Flosnik

Writing Excuses 7.30: Micocasting…Again!

Microcasting! Again!! Now with exclamation points!!! You’ll have to have a listen for our answers, but here are the questions:

  • How do you deal with bad reviews?
  • How do you apply Brandon’s magic system rules to science fiction?
  • Dan, will you do the marshmallow voice for us again?
  • How do you keep tension high without exhausting the reader?
  • You’ve made your manuscript as good as you know how to. Now you need to make it even better, based on feedback. What do you do?
  • Any tips on creating suspension of disbelief?
  • How do you deal with annoying fans?

“Oddly, no. Sometimes you guys are dull.” 5:22, Mary Robinette Kowal.

Mary’s Shmoozing 101 Link: Right here.

Play

The story of the writer and her VERY ENTHUSIASTIC alien fan who is impossible to escape.

Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, narrated by Jenny Sterlin

Writing Excuses 7.26: Q&A at UVU part 2

Recorded live at Utah Valley University, here’s another Q&A episode from the LTUE Symposium!

The questions:

  • What was Brandon’s plan with Mistborn and the themes regarding establishment?
  • Why does Kelsier shrug so much? (This leads into a fun discussion of “tells.”)
  • How do you know when to stop a chapter? What about expanding it?
  • How do you make your prose more transparent?
  • How do you decide who and what to cut?
  • What do you do to filter out the extraneous ideas that come while you’re writing?
  • What can collaborators do in order to create a single “voice” for the book?
  • What’s the best way to tackle a long back-story?
Want answers? You’ll just have to listen…
Play

From Earl K. Hill, our cameraman: tell a whole story from the view of the sidekick.

Partials, by Dan Wells, narrated by Julia Whelan

Writing Excuses 7.22: Microcasting

A microcast is our word for an asynchronous Q&A episode: you ask us tons of questions online, either through twitter or facebook or our listenermail account (on the sidebar), and we want to answer as many of them as we can. Not every answer can fill an entire episode, though, so we take the smaller ones and cover a bunch of them at once in a microcast. This week we take a brief, pithy look at the following:

  • Prologues and epilogues
  • Using drawings to get across settings
  • Simple tricks for naming things
  • Would you self publish if you had a do over?
  • How do you keep a powerful character interesting?
  • Foreshadowing
  • Trimming
  • Flashbacks
Play

Write a flashback, in a prologue, with a mirror scene. Yes.

Writing Excuses 7.19: Q&A at UVU

James Dashner joins us for a Q&A at Utah Valley University during Life, The Universe, and Everything.

The first question starts out amazingly rough, but the 12-year-old asking it manages to stick the landing. The questions include:

  • Why is the ARC of James’ first book so different from the later books?
  • How do you handle paragraph- and sentence-level edits?
  • How do you plot your stories?
  • How do you craft endings that are both satisfying, and leave the reader wanting more?
  • What do you do when your compelling villain threatens to take over the whole book?

That Panel Howard Talked About: It’s actually at the end of Massively Parallel, and you can look at it right here.

Play

You get kidnapped and put in an asylum for the criminally sane.

Everneath, by Brody Ashton, narrated by Amy Rubinate