Season 15 Archives

15.01: Evolution of a Career

Your Hosts: Dan, Dongwon, Mary Robinette, and Howard Season 15 is going to be a bit broader than the previous seasons have, at least in the abstract. We’re going to focus on your questions. In this episode we tackle the topic that dominates our collection of these questions: CAREER. Liner Notes: It hasn’t actually been … Continue reading 15.01: Evolution of a Career

Whose career do you wish you could have? Research them, examine how they’ve done it, and then ask if that’s still what you want.

Follies, by Stephen Sondheim

15.02: Writing Between the Lines

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joins us this year, and in this episode she helps us cover that deep concept of “theme,” and how we as authors can state our themes without coming straight out and stating them—writing our themes “between the lines.” Credits: This episode … Continue reading 15.02: Writing Between the Lines

Take something you’ve completed, but which is still in draft form. Write down three possible themes. Then compare this against what your alpha/beta readers tell you what they think your themes are.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab

15.03: Self Publishing

Your Hosts: Howard, with special guests Victorine Lieske, Tamie Dearen, Bridget E. Baker, and Nandi Taylor Howard leads this discussion with four guests who are doing well with self publishing. They share some numbers with us, and talk about their strategies for reaching their audience, and making the most of their market. Liner Notes: Given, … Continue reading 15.03: Self Publishing

Start thinking about business: teach yourself which of the things you spend money on are tax deductible.

15.04: Revision, with Patrick Rothfuss

Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, and Mary Robinette, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss We begin our discussion of revision by addressing a question we hear a lot: How do you know what needs to be changed? We talk about our various techniques for getting distance from our work, incorporating feedback, and breaking the process down into … Continue reading 15.04: Revision, with Patrick Rothfuss

Identify your chapter and scene purposes, and apply the 10% solution during a revision pass.

The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells

15.05: Setting Goals for Your Career

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard What kind of career goal-setting do you do? We had a discussion in this vein with Dongwon a few weeks ago, but neither Brandon nor Victoria participated then, so it’s worth revisiting. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Draw up your 1-, 5-, and 10-year lists of goals.

Ghost Station, by Dan Wells

15.06: Prose and Cons, with Patrick Rothfuss

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Howard, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss How do you write beautiful prose? How do you set about telling a story with words that sing (and dance, and tell jokes) instead of just conveying information in word-sized chunks? In this episode we talk about how we do it, and how writers … Continue reading 15.06: Prose and Cons, with Patrick Rothfuss

Go find some poetry, and then read it. Be sure to read it out loud, too.

15.07: Creating Chapters

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard How do you create chapters? What are the rules for carving your manuscript into numbered chunks? Is chaptering part of your outline, is it something you discover while you write, or is it something else entirely? In this episode we talk about how we do it, and how we … Continue reading 15.07: Creating Chapters

Takes something you’ve written, and put the chapter breaks in new places.

Docile, by K.M. Sparza (releases in March 2020)

15.08: Q&A on a Ship

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Dongwon, and Howard At WXR 19 we recorded live, and took audience questions aboard the ship. Here they are! (You’ll have to listen to the episode for the answers.) What have you learned in the past year that has improved your craft? When you’re having trouble, how do you know … Continue reading 15.08: Q&A on a Ship

Write three different first lines for your project.

Jade War, by Fonda Lee

15.09: Choose Your Own Adventurous Publishing Path

Your Hosts: Dan, Dongwon, Piper, and Howard “Should I go self-pub? Should I go traditional? Can I do both? How do I decide where my book fits?” In this episode we’ll cover these, and many more questions as best we’re able. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: … Continue reading 15.09: Choose Your Own Adventurous Publishing Path

Write the “choose your own adventurous publishing path” flow chart with decision points, and write a fun little fiction about your future career possibilities.

15.10: Evaluating Ideas

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard We’ve talked in the past about how ideas are cheap, and that it’s execution upon those ideas which is what really matters. In this episode we’ll talk about how we evaluate things over there on the side of the equation where things are cheap and plentiful. Because while … Continue reading 15.10: Evaluating Ideas

Keep a dream journal for a week. Put a notepad next to your bed, and write down everything you remember about your dreams as quickly as you can the moment you wake up. At the end of the week, peruse the journal for ideas.

TypecastRPG, a streamed role-playing game with Dan Wells, Charlie Holmberg, Brian McClellan, Mari Murdock, Ethan Sproat, and Howard Tayler

15.11: Digital is Different, with Cory Doctorow

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Piper, Howard, and special guest Cory Doctorow “How do you break in?” is one of those questions we always get asked in some form or another, and it’s also one for which those of us who “broke in” more than a couple of years ago are increasingly unqualified to answer. The … Continue reading 15.11: Digital is Different, with Cory Doctorow

Think about a pen name for yourself. Practice the signature.

Catfishing on the Catnet, by Naomi Kritzer

15.12: Writing the Other—Being an Ally

Your Hosts: Piper, Tempest, Dongwon, with special guest Erin Roberts What can we do to be allies to members of marginalized groups? Many of us want to find ways to help others have safe, comfortable places within our communities, but worry about coming across the wrong way. In this episode, our hosts talk about how … Continue reading 15.12: Writing the Other—Being an Ally

Find the most recent story that you’ve consumed. Do two of the following: Leave a review, talk about it on social media, tell someone in person, or tell a bookseller or Librarian

Steel Crow Saga, by Paul Krueger

15.13: Using Elections in Stories

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Daniel Friend Daniel Friend, who edits SF/F, has worked in election offices, has run for office, and has participated in campaigns. In this episode we talk about the ways elections can be worked into our stories. Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, … Continue reading 15.13: Using Elections in Stories

Volunteer for a campaign!

LTUE Anthology: Trace the Stars (submissions open for upcoming LTUE anthologies!)

15.14: Agent Query Trenches

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The title of this episode comes to us from listener questions along the lines of “what do you do when you’re ‘in the trenches’ querying agents?” Our answers, predictably, have almost nothing to do with actual trenches. Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by … Continue reading 15.14: Agent Query Trenches

Read some 1-star reviews of your favorite books

Seven Deadly Shadows, by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani, narrated by Traci Kato-Kiriyama

15.15: Dialog

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Listener questions drove this episode, and there are only two of them but they were pretty good drivers.  Here they are: Is it a problem that all my dialog ends up as logic-based debates between characters? What can I do to create more variety in my dialog … Continue reading 15.15: Dialog

Remove all description. Now remove every 3rd line of dialog. Now rebuild the description replace with body language

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, by Natasha Pulley, narrated by Thomas Judd

15.16: Balancing Plot and Character

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard We’re often asked how to balance character arcs with the intricacies of the plots we create. In this episode we talk about the various ways in which we do this. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Create a three-pillar mythos for your character: What do they fear, what do they want, and what are they willing to do to get what they want. Then give them a mantra, or a code by which they live.  Then create a scenario in which the mantra and the pillars collide, and something’s got to give.

Chernobyl, the 2019 HBO miniseries starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson

15.17: Asexual Representation

Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, Mary Robinette, and Howard Generally speaking, asexuality is a sexual orientation or identity typified by the absence of a desire to have sex. It’s *way* more complicated than that, however, and in this episode Tempest helps us unpack it so that asexual characters can be written more effectively. Liner Notes: Want to … Continue reading 15.17: Asexual Representation

Take two characters from your current WIP.  Write a meet-cute, and have both characters be asexual, yet romantic

Let’s Talk About Love, by Claire Kann, and narrated by Adenrele Ojo

15.18: Finding a Community, with Shauna Hoffman

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, and Lari¹, with special guest Shauna Hoffman Many Writing Excuses listeners (especially WXR alumni) already know Shauna Hoffman. She joins us to talk about how to deal with the fact that we, as authors, often feel isolated. The listener question that sparked this episode: “How do you keep the pressure … Continue reading 15.18: Finding a Community, with Shauna Hoffman

Make a list of people you can reach out to this week—people who might inspire you, help you feel like part of a community.

Guy Free Working on Me, by Shauna Hoffman

15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard “As you know, Bob…” is the trope-tastic line we use to refer to expository dialog which has no function beyond exposition. We get lots of listener questions about how to use dialog for exposition without making it feel like we’re using dialog for exposition. And as Bob already … Continue reading 15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition

David Mogo Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Take a favorite piece of media, and make a list of the worldbuilding elements which are absolutely necessary to make the story work. Now re-watch the media, and make notes about when each of these elements is introduced.

15.20: Mental Wellness and Writing

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard In this episode we’ll be talking about the things we do to stay creative, productive, healthy, and happy. For the purposes of this discussion, “mental wellness” is not about coping with mental illness, it’s about self-care. Liner Notes: Here’s the gridded lifestyle tracker for the homework, lifted directly from … Continue reading 15.20: Mental Wellness and Writing

Get some paper and some colored pencils, and create a lifestyle tracker.

Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren

15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale Shannon and Dean Hale join us to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write about¹ children. We cover dialog tools, point-of-view elements, stakes, and character ‘quirks’ that can help signal to the reader that a character is a child. Credits: This episode was recorded … Continue reading 15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Take a story about adults and write a synopsis of how it would go if it were about kids. Like, DIE HARD might become HOME ALONE…

The Princess in Black, by Shannon & Dean Hale