Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 16: Non-Human Races

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.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 15: Knowing When To Begin

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.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 14: Writing Habits

We get asked a lot about our writing habits. So your Writing Excuses hosts spend the whole ‘cast discussing their schedules, their work environments, and the things they do to make themselves more productive while keeping themselves creative. Peace and quiet? Clothing? Distractions? Pants? We answer these questions and more. Will any of this work for you? You tell us! The comments are a great place to discuss.

Howard mentioned PeopleWare, by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister. You can buy it here.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 13: Violence

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.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 12: Theme

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’.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 11: Talking Publishing and Writing with Dave Wolverton

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.

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