Tag Archives: Dialog

Writing Excuses 5.10: John Brown and the Creative Process

The now cancer-free John Brown joins us again, this time for a discussion of the creative process. John has presented a seminar on this subject in the past, the focus of which is to teach people to unlock their creativity. At the core of this is the problem-solving we all engage in at some point. You have a problem, so you sit down and try to solve it. BAM. Creativity.

With John’s help we set out to de-mystify creativity, showing how everybody has to be creative on a regular basis, and how this skill set can be broadened through certain types of behavior, and immersion in particular domains. We explore strategies for developing what feels like a good idea, tactics for getting un-stuck when we’re bogged down, and finally figuring out when we’re done.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold, read by Marguerite Gavin

Writing Prompt: A person gets surgery so in order to imitate He Who Never Sleeps…

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Writing Excuses 5.7: Avoiding Melodrama

Melodrama. What is it? What do people mean when they say something is too melodramatic?

Usually they do NOT mean “it’s too much like a classical melodrama,” but it helps if we start with that definition: a melodrama is a story in which each character only expresses one emotion, and/or only has one trait. When we refer to melodrama, we’re usually complaining about over-acting.

So… how do we avoid it? How do we create characters in conflict without overdoing the conflict or the characterization. In many ways it comes back to something we say over and over (and over and over) again: make your characters into real people.

But we’re not going to leave it at that. We’re not just going to repeat what we’ve been telling you for three years now. No, we’ve got good tools you can use for writing powerful, emotional moments without your readers whining about melodrama.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Tomb: Repairman Jack #1, by F. Paul Wilson

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

Dramatic Reading: Stick around after the ‘cast for Howard’s reading of Mike O’s response to our “magical ink” writing prompt.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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Writing Excuses 4.31: Line Editing Dialog

We return to White Sand (original version), Brandon’s first book, written while he was a teenager. Again, you’ll need to suspend your disbelief as we assume that the story edits and other major content passes are complete, and what’s on the page now only needs refinement.

In this episode we’re drilling down on the dialog, which includes not only what the characters are saying, but also the said-bookisms (most of which are going to need to go.) We prune, we trim, and do all kinds of little things to make the conversations flow better, serve the plot better, and better engage the reader.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde. Note that there are three dramatizations available. Our first link is to the one with James Marsters.

Writing Prompt: From Producer Jordo: The Importance of Being Earnest Goes To Jail. Or Camp. Whatever. Think “Oscar Wilde/Earnest mashup.”

White Sand Excuses: The decades-long spin-off podcast in which over the course of 10 years we line edit this book down to around 200,000 words.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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Writing Excuses 4.27: Major Overhauls to Broken Stories

What do you do when, halfway through the book you’re writing, you realize it needs to be completely rebuilt? More importantly, how do you figure this out in the first place? This podcast came about as a result of a question from a listener, but the question was specific to “what if you find out it’s too derivative?” As it turns out, that’s just one of the many problems you can discover midway through a novel.

We spend the first half of the cast discussing how each of us identify the showstopping problems that require us to overhaul our works.

We then talk about the process of fixing things that might, at first glance, appear to be completely unfixable. Sometimes we shift pieces of paper around, sometimes we push blocks of text around in our word processors, and sometimes we have to do something really significant, like adding an entirely new character or point-of-view.

One of the best features of this particular ‘cast is the bit in the second half where Howard and Dan grill Brandon about his process for Towers of Midnight. Wheel of Time fans won’t find any spoilers, but they’ll certainly gain some insight.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett, which Howard loves because of the “stand-up-and-cheer” moments of heroism throughout the book.

Writing Prompt: Take something you’ve already written, grab a throwaway concept in that story, and rewrite that scene or chapter so the throwaway bit is now the major focus.

Moment of Extreme Hubris: “I give lessons.” Listen for it.

That Episode on Stealing for Fun and Profit: Right here.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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Writing Excuses 4.26: Avoiding Stilted Dialog

“As you know, we’ll be discussing stilted dialog” said Howard. “We should do something different for the introduction.”

“Let’s speak our dialog tags” said Brandon cleverly.

“We mustn’t forget to include adverbs” said Dan pensively.

That’s not exactly how it went down, but that’s a nicely stilted object lesson, right? And let me state for posterity that writing it was painful.

What is “stilted dialog?” Who is wearing stilts, and why? More importantly, how can we avoid writing dialog that staggers about on leg extensions?

We offer a few tricks, including heavily re-writing (after first racing to get as much dialog on the page as possible), using turns of phrase that are in-character for the person saying it, and turning exposition into arguments.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, which is currently being read by the Internet reading group One book, One Twitter.

Writing Prompt: This is a two-parterStart by writing the very worst infodumping maid & butler dialog you can (using an actual maid and an actual butler.) Now rewrite it with the maid & butler arguing viciously. Include all the same information, but make the dialog believable and entertaining.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

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Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

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Writing Excuses 4.22: Q&A with L.E. Modesitt, Jr

Recorded live at CONduit with the inestimably valuable help of our friends at Dungeon Crawlers Radio, here’s an episode full of the randomness that is “questions from the audience.” These include:

  • What do people get wrong when they write military science-fiction?
  • How do you develop action sequences?
  • What makes a good foil character?
  • How do you schedule your time as a writer?
  • How do you write good, true-to-character dialog for each of your characters?

Our podcasters for this episode were Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, L.E. Modessit Jr., and Robison Wells.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Haze by L.E. Modessit, Jr.

Writing Prompt: Why does she NOT sound like the guy she’s interested in?

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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