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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Jordan and Brandon are both out of town on family business, and neither Dan nor Howard have access to the audio files. So… amuse yourselves by guessing what we will be talking about once the episode is actually posted. (I lay 5:2 odds on your guesses being more interesting topics than what we actually did. Maybe we’ll use some of what you come up with.)
“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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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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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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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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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.
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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!
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