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.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (11.9MB)
Let’s get back to world-building, and dig into a tough one: government. In this case we’re talking about government as part of the backdrop, rather than political intrigue as part of the plot. Are you going to create a monarchy, a democracy, or perhaps some crazy, experimental sort of rigidly constitutional representative republic? City-states? Confederations? Empires? What’s it going to be, and (more importantly) why?
Oh, and how do you do it right?
Writing Prompt: Create a government by starting with “Colon Cleansers,” and then taking two steps back to create something unique.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (11.0MB)
Our producer Jordan Sanderson joins us for this week’s installment, in which we likely make all kinds of enemies among the authorial community by exposing the many things they’re doing wrong with their websites.
The fact that you, fair listener, are here reading content on our website shows that you have fine taste in these things, and trust us to lead you right. And we will! We’ll do you proper on blogging, domain names, hosting, connecting with fans and editors, and taking care regarding your rants.
Writing Prompt: Write a story about the worst website ever.
Liner Notes: It should be pointed out that John Ringo‘s website has come a long way since Howard last looked at it. Good work, John! We also mentioned websites from George R.R. Martin, David Farland, John Scalzi, and of course Brandon Sanderson. Brandon also mentioned holaservers.com. Congratulations, Earl!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (11.2MB)
The Writing Excuses crew returns to world-building, this time to discuss the creation of non-human races. Why do genre-fiction writers use aliens and monsters, short folk, tusked folk, or any other variation on “people” who aren’t human? Can new writers successfully recycle the classic Tolkien races and use dwarves, elves, orcs, goblins, and trolls? If not, how can new races best be created?
How can races be made “three-dimensional?” What are the common pitfalls? How much religion, culture, and physiology do you have time to create? Why are the rabidly violent fans of the Klingon race going to come after Howard with a cheap, plastic bat’leth? (Answer: Because they have no honor.)
Writing Prompt: Create a believable Alien and write something from his/her perspective.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (11.6MB)
When do you know when you’re ready to begin? What does that question even mean? Apparently Brandon gets asked it a lot, though, so he posed it for the group. How do you know when that story in your head is ready for you to start writing it? Or maybe, how do you know you’re ready to start writing that story that’s up in your head? Or perhaps, when do you know when in that story in your head you should begin writing it, assuming you’re ready?
Confused yet? If you’re ready to begin listening, we’re ready to begin making more sense.
Writing Prompt: Write an ending, and start your book with it.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (10.8MB)
All three of your Writing Excuses hosts include a measure of violence in their written work. So Brandon, Dan, and Howard decide to clear the air a little bit.
Why do we write about violence? What does it bring to a work of fiction, and what challenges does it pose? Is there a morally appropriate way to write about violence? How does it impact the theme of your work? Is there a difference between writing about violence and writing comedic mayhem?
Writing Prompt: Have some fun in the worst possible way. Write a scene that has an extremely violent sequence that glorifies the violence and then write a scene dealing with the consequences.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (11.5MB)
For the first time in eleven episodes, we have a “normal” one. No special guests, no special locations, and no new format tricks. This episode grows out of Howard’s ignorance – remember back in Episode 10 when Howard called “can of worms” on “theme?” Well, we open the can for this entire episode.
What is theme? Is it something the author must consciously include? Is it something the reader must successfully identify? How can writing to a particular theme help your work? How can it hurt? How can writers avoid thematic pitfalls? We discuss examples from other writers, and from our own work (especially Brandon’s.)
This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by Dave Farland’s Novel-Writing Workshop.
Writing Prompt: Write a short story that has no theme. No deeper meaning. Nothin’.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (11.1MB)
Dave Wolverton joins us for a third and final episode, and the Writing Excuses team pumps him for information before letting him escape. We find out why he uses two names (David Farland and Dave Wolverton), how to name characters, and why writers don’t jump between genres much. Dave discusses the state of the genre-fiction publishing business, and prognosticates a bit on its future. As a special treat, Dave explains how he broke into the industry, so be the first to listen to that bit and get a leg up on everybody else with this proven (and slightly bloody) strategy.
Writing Prompt: Juan and Gregorio Watanabe are in medieval England–and they belong there. Explain why.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (10.0MB)