Category Archives: Theory and Technique

Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 25: The Seven Deadly Sins of Slush Stories

Nancy Fulda fills in for Dan for this week’s episode (he was sick, she was in town, huzzah!) but she’s more than just “filling in.” She’s FEATURED. Nancy is the assistant editor for Jim Baen’s Universe, and as such is probably the one who rejected your story. Nancy is also the editor-in-chief and founder of  Anthology Builder, where you can create collections of short stories you want to read, and have them printed and bound for you. She tells us the sorts of things that will get you rejected, maybe after a page, maybe after a paragraph, and perhaps even before the very first line has been read.

This week’s episode is brought to you by Schlock Mercenary: The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance. Pre-orders are open now!

Disclosure: Nancy is, in fact, Howard’s sister-in-law. That might be why her stuff is getting so dang much relevant linkage in this entry.

Writing Prompt: Write about a passionate egg.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 24: Writing Habits and Q&A with Tracy Hickman

Tracy Hickman joins us again at “Life, The Universe, and Everything,” and in this episode we let Brandon ask him random questions while Dan and Howard chime in with comments that hopefully don’t detract from the discussion.

During the interview Tracy mentions his latest project, XDM: Extreme Dungeon Mastery, but he doesn’t mention the very latest news about it. That news is that Tracy and Curtis Hickman (the authors) have contracted with Howard Tayler to illustrate and publish it. So that bit about Tracy doing it in his basement? It’s no longer accurate.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by I Am Not A Serial Killer by our very own Dan Wells. The book is only available in the UK, but you can get now from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk which has free shipping to anywhere in the world.

Writing Prompt: Give us Winnie the Pooh’s big death scene. On a destroyer in the South Pacific.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 23: Avoiding the Cliché with Tracy Hickman

We took Writing Excuses on the road last month for “Life, The Universe, and Everything,” the symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy at Brigham Young University. The Guests of Honor were Tracy and Laura Hickman, and poor Tracy agreed to join us for a podcast or two, recorded in front of a live audience.

After the initial introductions we dig into clichés, starting with characters – specifically, how to avoid these kinds of problems in our characters. What’s the difference between a cliché and an archetype? Tracy saves us time and again with great answers that beg a dozen or more podcasts. It’s a good thing Tracy and Laura have their own podcast.

This episode has “clipping” problems. We need to buy some good audio gear for Jordan so he can fix problems like this. Or maybe some audio gear that will let him prevent problems like this.  But don’t discuss that in the comments. Discuss clichés, please.

Writing Prompt: Howard gets attacked by monkeys.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 22: Marketing 201, Branding for Authors

“Branding,”  not “Brandon,” just so we’re clear. Brand-ING.

We open with the definition of “branding,” talking about what it is, and (just as importantly) what it is not. With that out of the way we forge ahead and talk about author brands, brand messaging, and why any of this really matters. We throw down a few examples, and use them to help the listener arrive at a decent author-branding strategy.

Writing Prompt: Pick your favorite author and in 50 words or less write down what you think their brand is, then compare it on the forums with what others write.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 21: Fight Scenes

 Rob Wells joins the Writing Excuses crew for a second ‘cast, this time dealing with fight scenes. We talk about good blocking versus a bad blow-by-blow, and cover a few of the factors that may dictate the right style of description for that wicked-cool fight you’ve pictured in your head.

This episode is fast-paced and, well… punchy. No, really, it is. Seriously, that seemed like the right word there, pun notwithstanding.

Writing Prompt: Write a fight between two people who have never been in a fight before.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 20: Marketing 101 for Creators

Howard takes the moderatorial lead on this episode in which he, Brandon, and Dan are joined by Rob Wells for a discussion of marketing.

What is marketing? What’s the difference between marketing and PR?  What’s the difference between a marketing manager and a publicist? How can knowing this help a creator position his or her work? We’ll answer these questions and more…

Writing Prompt: Come up with 25 words that distill everything you want to say about your next work.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 19: Do Creative Writing Classes Help

Brandon and Dan met during a creative writing class at Brigham Young University, and Brandon went on to get a Master’s Degree in the field. Howard has no formal training in the field. This begs the question… do creative writing classes help? Are they worth the time?

Short answer: Yes, but maybe not in the way you were expecting.

We discuss not only the formal education aspects of creative writing, but also the value of informal education — attending conventions and sitting in on panel discussions about the craft.  If you are looking to become a professional writer and are pondering your education options, this podcast is a must-hear. A must-listen-carefully, even.

Writing Prompt: Fore! In this case, a golf metaphor. But not a pun. Please.

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