Peter Orullian joins us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 for a Q&A. The questions include:
- As a writer, how do you handle reviewing other people’s books?
- How do you compartmentalize your writing to prevent that obsession from displacing everything else?
- How do you create frightening, unique creatures?
- What are the basics about networking at a convention?
- Is there a yield for the average story idea?
- What rules do you follow and what rules do you break when writing epic fantasy?
- What can you do in critique groups to teach craft if you’re avoiding prescriptive critique?
- How strongly do you believe that the audience won’t remember what you’ve told them, but will remember how you said it?
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 22:23 — 15.4MB)
Write about a support group for writers.
Spellcaster by Claudia Gray, narrated by Khristine Hvam.
David Farland joins us, along with a live audience at FantasyCon 2014, for a discussion on writing instruction. Dave runs My Story Doctor, and firmly believes that almost anyone can learn to write fiction at a professional, conventionally publishable level. In this episode we cover some of the methods and exercises used to train new writers, and how writers can use these on their own.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:30 — 11.3MB)
Writing sprint! Write for 15 minutes. Don’t stop to edit or wordsmith. Just force yourself to keep the fingers moving and the words flowing.
Peter Orullian joined us in front of a live audience at Westercon to talk with us about dealing with editors. We usually talk about craft, but this is a business discussion, and it’s about one of the most delicate and important relationships in the business. He begins by telling the short version of the story, and how he managed one of the worst-case scenarios: asking your publisher for a different editor.
We then move into some take-aways, and some additional experiences we’ve had that will hopefully help our listeners manage this sort of thing in the future.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:55 — 12.3MB)
Write a sword-fighting scene, a la Princess Bride, in which the witticisms are part of a magic system, and are part of the fight itself.
Unfettered: Tales by Masters of Fantasy, Written by: Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Jordan, Jacqueline Carey, R.A. Salvatore, Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, Shawn Speakman (editor)
Narrated by: Peter Ganim, Marc Vietor, Bronson Pinchot, Jay Snyder
Microcasting! It’s a Q&A, with each question serving as its own little micro-podcast. This week’s questions:
- Should you include your prologue as one of the three chapters you send in a submission packet?
- How do you get out of the spot where your protagonist has no motivation?
- What’s the best way to prove to a spouse that your writing is more than a hobby?
- How do you get back into a project after taking a break from it?
- Where do you start research for historical fiction?
- Let’s say you sold your first book. How do you tackle book 2 in a series?
- How do you go about writing an overarching setting, like Brandon’s “Cosmere?”
- What part about being a writer do you most enjoy, besides the actual writing?
Those are the questions. You’ll have to listen for the answers. Fortunately they’re not hidden or anything. We just come right out and say them.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:30 — 13.4MB)
Look around, identify an everyday object, and then create a post-apocalyptic setting in which that object is currency.
The Fall of the Kings, by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, narrated by Ellen Kushner, Nick Sullivan, Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, Katherine Kellgren, Robert Fass, Richard Ferrone, and Tim Jerome
This topic breaks down into two parts:
First: sometimes you create something, and when you hand to your fans, it becomes their thing. How do we as creators deal with this when it happens, and how do we prepare ourselves, and our works, for this eventuality? And how does this impact our desire to foster a sense of community with our fans?
We talk about our experiences with this, which have been surprising, eye-opening, confusing, and a whole bunch of other things, including exceedingly rewarding.
Second: what’s the difference between liking something someone has created, and liking that person as a creator? Is it possible to not like a creator, while still enjoying the things they’ve made? Where do we draw the lines?
(Aside: when Mary called “can of worms” on “how to express an opinion,” she didn’t know that our recording of that can of worms would air before the recording of us opening of the can. It’s Episode 9.14, right here!)
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:36 — 12.8MB)
One of your creations has gained a life of its own, and it’s something beyond the merely metaphorical “life of its own” that we talked about in this podcast. How did that happen? What happens next?
Microcasting! A Q&A by any other name. Here are the questions we fielded:
- Can I have a rule-based magic system and a mystical system in the same universe?
- What are your pre-writing methods? (Can of worms — it’s going to get its own episode)
- What’s the first thing you do once the first draft is done?
- When approaching real-world issues, how do you avoid being preachy?
- What’s the best advice you can offer to someone who’s just starting to write?
- Does it help you to experiment with weird narrative styles?
- What are your least favorite tropes?
- Should you fully edit your first few “practice” books?
- How do you know if you’re writing too quickly?
- How do you tell the difference between a weakness in your craft, and a story that requires stylistic rule-breaking?
In other news, Writing Excuses Season 8 has been nominated for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Related Work. We’re thrilled to appear on the ballot, and are excited to be in such good company there.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:40 — 12.8MB)
Paranormal fantasy: We’ve had enough of vampire and werewolf romances. Give us a protagonist who falls in love with a shoggoth.
If you wanted to register for the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat and didn’t get in, I’m hoping that you might be interested in the Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat.
It’s held at the same location, Mary Robinette Kowal’s parents’ house.
Mary will be joined by NY Times Best-selling author David Anthony Durham; Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl, the authors behind the book Writing the Other; and K. Tempest Bradford, author and activist.
On Writing Excuses, some of the most common questions come in as variations of “How do you write someone who isn’t like you.” Many authors struggle to write beyond what they know and write the other. While we tackle this on the podcast, fifteen minutes is not enough time to delve into this tricky and nuanced skill. The Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat is designed with lessons and conversations, paired with a retreat, to give participants an opportunity to work on making their characters and worldbuilding deeper and more thoughtful. And David, Cynthia, Nisi, and Tempest really are that smart.
I hope the same urge that makes you listen to Writing Excuses will allow you to consider attending this retreat.
“What are the parts of the job that nobody told you about?”
Or, you know, WARNED you about…
It’s a question somebody sent to us, and we all had different answers, so Brandon put together a list, and we made a whole episode out of it! We talk about reviews, physical pain, dietary excitement, deadline-driven interruptions, and not having leisure reading time.
But this isn’t just us whining. We also talk about our solutions to these problems. You know, in between the whining.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:18 — 12.6MB)
Your main character is a writer, and they want to write but cannot because of some completely bizarre professional requirement that we did not talk about in this episode.