Category Archives: Theory and Technique

Writing Excuses Episode 28: Writing for Webcomics with Phil and Kaja Foglio

This is the first of five episodes recorded on location at WorldCon 66 in the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Brandon, Dan, and Howard are joined by Phil and Kaja Foglio, and we discuss writing for webcomics… no, wait… writing for “sequential picture-assisted storytelling.”

Phil and Kaja are the creators of Girl Genius, the web’s foremost hunk’ o’ steampunk — and we here at Writing Excuses are big fans. During our short time together they help us understand the nuances of creating Girl Genius pages, writing to the outline of the story, and crafting their dialog. The Foglios (and Howard) have a little bit of advice for folks looking to start their own webcomic, too.

(Mmmmm…. Grizzly Bear Soup!)

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Writing Excuses Episode 27: World-Building Religion

The Writing Excuses team sits down to talk about religion as a world-building device: your characters probably believe in something, so what is it? How does it affect their lives? How does it change their thoughts and motivations (and swear words)? And when you’re developing a fake religion, how do you avoid religious bias and keep from offending people? Is it best to develop something completely new, or make a few changes to a real Earth religion?

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Develop a religion where people worship something that no one would ever worship in our world. And it can’t be silly.

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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