Category Archives: Theory and Technique

Writing Excuses Episode 26: Horror

What is horror? Why is it scary? HOW is it scary? Forced by their grandfather’s will to spend an entire night in his spooky mansion, our podcasters gather to discuss the nuts and bolts of what horror is (and isn’t) and how it works behind the scenes. Here’s a hint: as with pretty much everything else in writing, the secret comes down to compelling conflicts with engaging characters. Be warned: Howard is going to say something scary, so don’t listen to this podcast alone and/or in the dark.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by something close to Dan’s heart.

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A descent into madness written from the first person point of view. You are going to descend into madness, your writing will become gibberish or something horrible will happen, and then Brandon will scream.

Writing Excuses Episode 25: Viewpoint and Tense Part 2

We are pleased to present the second half of “Viewpoint and Tense,”  which, as we all know, is Tense. Part 1 was Viewpoint. It’s not two podcasts that both talk about tense and viewpoint, it’s two totally different podcasts that share a title for some reason. Why didn’t we just do two separate podcasts, one on tense and one on viewpoint, instead of trying to connect them like this? Because, as we tell you every week, we’re not that smart.

This week’s Writing Excuses Book of the Week: Warbreaker, by some hack.

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Writing Excuses Episode 24: Research

How much research do you do? Howard’s answer: “Just enough to get by.” In this podcast we talk about why we research, how we research, and when we feel like we’ve researched enough. We also discuss hiding a lack of knowledge, and finding ways to get by without doing truly exhaustive research. Listen closely and you’ll learn why you’ll never be able to know enough, why the epic fantasy horse is a lot like a motorcycle, and whether or not one of us really needs therapy.

This week’s Writing Excuses Book of the Week: Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson

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Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson

Writing Excuses Episode 23: Viewpoint

You’ve heard about viewpoint, but do you really know what it means? Discover along with Howard the magic world of person, tense, and omniscience, and how you can use them to tell your story. It’s a short journey, as quests go, but we’ll all learn a valuable lesson about writing–and about ourselves.*

*Heartfelt lessons about ourselves not guaranteed. Contents non-refundable.

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Writing Excuses Episode 22: Doing The Unpopular

As a writer it’s sometimes difficult to decide between doing things the readers want, and things that are right for the story. But as Dan says, writers can get away with doing things to readers that readers would never do to themselves.

Beware! This podcast contains spoilers for The Lord of the Rings, Return of the Jedi, and Serenity (the statute of limitations should have passed on all of these) as well as for the current week of Schlock Mercenary.

This Week’s Episode is brought to you by one of our favorite causes, “Buy Dan Bacon.” Mmmm, bacon.

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Writing Excuses Episode 21: Humor

Enough of this highbrow literary crap–make with the funny! Or, if you’re Howard, do both. In this this episode we talk about why to write humor, how to write humor, how to recognize humor in others, how to steal from learn from what they do, and, in the end, what makes things funny in the first place.

This week, Writing Excuses is sponsored by The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn Mass Market Paperback by Brandon Sanderson, which is good but really not all that funny.

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Writing Excuses Episode 18: Q&A at Conduit

While at CONduit, we recorded three episodes of Writing Excuses in front of an audience, and this is the first of those. In this episode we have Dan Willis join us as we take questions from the crowd. The four of us discuss voicing characters, naming things, writing Act II, and how you set about finishing your book.

Oh, and for all of you who have complained that fifteen minutes is not long enough… we ran clear out to 17:30 on this one. Enjoy!

Liner notes:

You can find Dan Willis’ website here: http://www.dansrealm.com/Dans_Realm/Home/Home.html

Orson Scott Card’s Essays on naming:

http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/2003-03-05-1.shtml and http://www.hatrack.com/writingclass/lessons/2003-03-05-2.shtml

And this week, Writing Excuses is sponsored by The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn Mass Market Paperback by Brandon Sanderson.

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Writing Excuses Episode 17: This Sucks and I’m a Horrible Writer

The Writing Excuses crew tackles writer’s block again, this time approaching the “This Sucks And I’m A Horrible Writer” mindset. Dan relates his Neil Gaiman anecdote, Brandon explains why he’d written so many books before getting published, and Howard throws down the gauntlet on neverending Chapter One revisions. If you’re stuck because you think your current book sucks, this is the podcast for you.

This week from our sponsor Tor, check out Escapement by Jay Lake.

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