Season 5

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Writing Prompt

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week

Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Producer Jordo all walk through a room and each of us sees the room differently.

Soulless, by Gail Carriger. Vampires, werewolves and parasols in a steamy, punky, bodice-rippy, alternate-history London.

A physical attribute that in some way influences the character’s religion.

The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain

The main character has a secret. Write from that character’s point of view, but keep the secret from the reader.

Beastly, by Alex Finn

“I have coated my left hand with magical ink.”

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson, which was the #1 bestselling book on Audible the week prior to this recording. Forty-five hours and thirty minutes of Sandersonian fantastical goodness, narrated by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.

Watch Ian McKellen explain how to act. Many of you may have already seen this, but watch it again. Then let it inspire you…

Mr. Monster, by Dan Wells. This is the sequel to Dan’s first book, I Am Not a Serial Killer. While it is less bloody than the first, it is far, far more disturbing.

Two critics who reviewed Dan Wells’ book and who had completely opposite reactions actually read two different books …

Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

Write a story in which you take a cliched, angsty hero in a completely new direction, so that it doesn’t feel cliched.

The Tomb: Repairman Jack #1, by F. Paul Wilson

You need to change your shoes or something awful is going to happen.

Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

Your cast of characters is trapped on an emotionally-responsive roller-coaster that mimics their own emotional arcs. How do they use this knowledge?

The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1, by Jonathan Stroud, narrated by Simon Jones

A person gets surgery in order to imitate He Who Never Sleeps …

The Hallowed Hunt, by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Marguerite Gavin

You have decided to start “Zoo Club,” and you just punched an elephant really hard.

Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk, narrated by Jim Colby. Content warning! This book has naughty words and some very adult concepts in it. Dan recommends it anyway.

The growth on your nose  …is it an alien, is it occult, or are you going to tell a love story?

The Good Guy, by Dean Koontz, narrated by Richard Ferrone

Draw the floor plan of the house or building you’re in. Knock out a wall and write an action scene involving that.

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, narrated by Alan Cumming

It’s 1912 and Nikola Tesla is the President of the United States …

Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld, narrated by Alan Cumming

Go forward in time and get next week’s writing prompt.

Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

Take an idiomatic expression and make it literal (not a pun). For instance, “the crack of dawn” as an actual crack in the sky through which dawn’s light shines.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs

You are walking down a back alley and you meet Jason from DragonMount. He’s getting all uppity about how good his submission was. What do you do to him?

Dune, by Frank Herbert, narrated by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton and Simon Vance

Start with hard science-fiction, move to werewolf romance.

Dragon’s Ring by Dave Freer, available now in paperback from Baen Books. Ask for it by name at the bookstore.

Pick a typical promise that a child might make and use that as the promise you’re making to your readers.

The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, narrated by Adam Grupper

Brandon decided to read the first two paragraphs of Empire of the East to us because it’s all dialog and seemed to fit.

Empire of the East, by Fred Saberhagen, narrated by Raymond Todd

Pick a major event in history that you love and make it come out differently.

Crown of Slaves and Torch of Freedom, both by Eric Flint and David Weber. These books fit in Weber’s Honor Harrington universe, but don’t require you to have read all the Honor Harrington books.

Come up with an eight-word tagline for your novel or short story. It needs to be pithy, punchy, memorable and easily comprehensible.

The Runelords, by David Farland, narrated by Ray Porter. The first four books in the series are now available in audio format.

Make up a holiday that isn’t based on anything you’ve seen.

METAtropolis: Cascadia, by Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Elizabeth Bear, Ken Scholes, Karl Schroeder and Tobias Buckell, narrated by Rene Auberjonois, Kate Mulgrew, Wil Wheaton, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Jay Lake.

Envision a world in which writers are subject to the whims of their readers via a pleasure-pain induction system … in real-time.

Island Realm: Crystal Doors, Book 1, by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta

A group of aliens come to a writing conference to learn to write stories that humans will want to read.

Hidden Empire: The Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 1, by Kevin J. Anderson, narrated by George Guidall

Take a Lovecraftian beastie and shove him into The Shire.

Night Pleasures: The Dark Hunters, Book 1, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie

Somebody wrote a novel about an alien invasion. One year later the aliens invade exactly per the details in the novel.

Born of Night: A League Novel, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, narrated by Kelly Fish

Write something. Oh, it may seem trite, it may seem like a joke we played on our guest, but it sprang from the mind of Tracy Hickman himself so, you know, get on it.

The Golden Queen: Book 1, by David Farland, narrated by Peter Ganim

Take the climax of your story and ask yourself what you’ve left out of earlier scenes that might be preventing it from being the best moment of the story. You’ve certainly left something out. Go put it in.

Dragons of the Dwarven Depths: The Lost Chronicles Volume 1, by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss, narrated by Sandra Burr

Write an action sequence that you can appropriately title “Flaming Slapfight.”

Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia, narrated by Oliver Wyman

Create a character, and then create a complementary character who both meets a need and provides an unwelcome challenge.

I Don’t Want To Kill You, by Dan Wells, narrated by Kirby Heyborne. It’s true, this book has some great romance in it. Also murder.

Give us an Urban Fantasy in which the point of origin for your crossover is big box store retail spaces which somehow breach the boundary between our world and the magical one.

The Dresden Files Book One: Storm Front, by Jim Butcher, narrated by James Marsters

Any time you’ve caught cold you’re actually being possessed. Gesundheit.

The Dragon Factory: The Joe Ledger Novels, Book 2 by Jonathan Mayberry, narrated by Ray Porter

Someone is a were-animal. Pick an animal that hasn’t been done. Were-banana-slug, perhaps?

Freakonomics, by Steven D. Leavitt and Stephen J. Dubner, narrated by Stephen J. Dubner

Take what we’ve done in this ’cast and try to come up with a plot and an ending. Alternatively, take the list of competition films from the most recent Sundance Film Festival and pick six that are somehow part of a Fey plot.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour, by Carrie Vaughn, narrated by Marguerite Gavin

Describe a food that is familiar to you from the point of view of a character who has never encountered it, nor anything like it.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Inheritance Trilogy, Book 1, by N. K. Jemison, narrated by Casaundra Freeman

Start with a highly magical, pseudo-medieval fantasy setting. Now … how do you deal with baldness?

Eyes Like Stars, by Lisa Mantchev, narrated by Cynthia Bishop

Write a dialog between someone ordering at a drive-through and someone taking the order, but the person taking the order is being held up at gunpoint.

Fuzzy Nation, John Scalzi’s reboot of H.Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy, narrated by Wil Wheaton.

Tom ended up singing his response to our writing prompt. What can you do with the words “wizard” and “bakery?”

Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs

Write a piece of flash fiction that can be printed on a business card. Hat tip to Eric James Stone, whose business cards are awesome.

“Election services offered online via an Amazon link.”

Here’s the Amazon link for the paperback release of John Brown’s first novel, Servant of a Dark God,

Imagine a future in which political elections are now voted by botnet. Give us a story in which this is actually the best of all possible democracies.

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