Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 19: Emotion in Fiction with John Brown

John Brown joins us again, and tells us that fiction “is all about guiding an emotional response in a reader.” We begin with a discussion of depression, which John (like many of us) had to deal with. He tells us about the paths for emotional response, and how a beginning writer can end up in the depths of depression just by looking at the work of successful writers.

But working through that, especially with cognitive therapy, can provide the writer with fantastic tools for informing his or her writing. And those tools are really why you’re here. Listen closely!

Writing Prompt: Give us villainous heroes, romance, and something that evokes terror.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 18: How To Not Repeat Yourself

John Brown rejoins us for this discussion of  repetition. How do we, as writers, avoid repeating ourselves? We’re not just talking about the literal re-use of words and phrases here. We’re interested in avoiding the re-use of themes, character arcs, and plotlines.  Forget the problems Howard might have coming up with a new joke… he (and all of us) need to reach further than that to keep things fresh.

This week’s Writing Excuses is Brought to you by Servant of a Dark God by John Brown.

Writing Prompt:  The princess is trying to eat a pie, but someone is trying to stop her. Oh, and the fate of the world depends on the outcome.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 17: Characters & Worldbuilding Q&A with Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary is back! We still had a Mary Robinette Kowal episode from WorldCon 67, and now you have it too! We take questions from the audience, and then answer them. Here are the questions:

  • What do you do if your characters revolt and start to take over the story?
  • When you became a writer what most surprised you with its difficulty?
  • How do you build the history for the worlds your books are set in?

Three huge questions, TWELVE answers. Enjoy!

Oh… and your writing prompt: write about The Predestined Monkey.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 16: The Anti-Mary Sue Episode

John Brown, debut author of Servant of a Dark God, joins us for this discussion of  the avoidance of self-insertion. In polite company we call this the “Mary Sue,” because it’s difficult to say “self-insertion” in polite company, much less with a straight face.

In broader terms, what we’re covering is voice, and how to make our characters sound like themselves rather than us.

This week’s Writing Excuses is Brought to you by Servant of a Dark God by John Brown.


Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 15: Writing Process Q&A, with Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal joins us again, live at WorldCon 67 in Montreal! This time we fell back on that tried-and-true “Questions from the Audience” format, so the topic is pretty much what the audience asks for on the fly.

If the questions were all over the map, our answers require a new school of cartography. It all kind of fits under “process,” though, so for categorization purposes, we’re calling it that. Also, we failed to discover the Northwest Passage. Maybe we’ll find it next week, when Mary joins us for a third episode for more questions from the WorldCon 67 crowd.

In completely unrelated news, something cool happened to us at Dragon*Con on Saturday. We’ll talk about it in an upcoming ‘cast.


3.14: The Four Principles of Puppetry, with Mary Robinette Kowal

Aside from being a delightful author and a Campbell award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal is a professional puppeteer. She joined us at WorldCon 67 in Montreal, and totally schooled us in front of a live audience.


If you want to learn something new about writing, and I mean something really NEW you need to listen to Mary talk about puppetry. You can’t see the perpetual looks of astonishment and epiphany us jaded professionals wore during this recording, but I assure you they were there. We learned so much from Mary we decided to record two more episodes with her. Not because we felt like you, our listeners, necessarily deserved it. We wanted these recordings for ourselves.

Mary required us to share. It was part of the deal.