Tag Archives: GenCon Indy

NaNoWriMo 2018 Bonus Episode, with Mercedes Lackey

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Mercedes Lackey

NaNoWriMo 2018 is half-way over today. Are you stuck? Do you need to get unstuck? Mercedes Lackey joined us at GenCon Indy back in 2017 to talk about writer’s block, and how it’s very likely a symptom of something else. In this episode we discuss the interpretation of those symptoms, and how we go about solving the root problems.

Play

Write a lovers’ quarrel where the fight they’re having is happening because they think they need to have a fight.

11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, with Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb joined us at GenCon Indy for a discussion of characterization and differentiation. And by “discussion,” what we really mean is “we ask Robin all the questions.” We learn about Robin’s process for creating characters, wrapping stories around them, and making these characters distinctly different from each other.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joel Burnham, and mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by the generous support of the GenCon Indy Writer’s Symposium, and the Writing Excuses patrons at Patreon.

Play

Pull some of your favorite books down, examine the dialog itself, without tags, and determine what tricks the writer has used to differentiate the character voices.

Hex, by Thomas Olde Huevelt

11.05: Writing and World Building for Role Playing Games

Michelle Lyons-McFarland, Monica Valentinelli, and Shanna Germain joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy for an episode which is a thinly-veiled indulgence for Howard to glean advice from three people who know far more about the craft of RPG design than he does.

Our discussion centers around how world building for role playing games, and especially the manner in which the world is presented, differs from world building for novels. We don’t talk about rule sets or physics simulations. We’re after the things that players want and need to read in order to immerse themselves in the setting, and get “in fiction.”

Pro-Tip: There are two major things, listeners, that you can get from this podcast: first, soak up the incredibly valuable writing-for-RPGs information provided by our guests. Second, listen to how Howard abases himself when he has the opportunity to sit down with experts who have information he desperately needs.

Liner Notes: Howard habitually mispronounces the word “ablative.” The accent should be on the first syllable: [ab-luh-tiv]

Addendum: As of this posting The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game is not yet available for purchase. Details about the project can be found here.

Play

Write about a non-player, non-heroic character (say, the NPC who cleans the alley behind the tavern) in your setting. What do they want? What do they fear? What do they love? How might their story play out independently from the story told by the players?

Perdido Street Station, By China Mieville, narrated by John Lee

Writing Excuses 10.41: Your Character’s Moral Pendulum

Brad Beaulieu and Jaym Gates join us from the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium to talk about good versus evil, and how your character might swing between the two. And it’s all about that swing. Moral grey areas are more interesting if we move through them. We talk about how we swing the pendulum, what difficulties we encounter, and what sorts of things we want to have happen to our reader when it moves.

Play

Try it at home! Gradually move the moral pendulum for one of your “goodest” characters, and do so without knowing where that will lead. Discovery-write your way down the slippery slope…

The Merchant Adventurer, written and narrated by Patrick E. McLean

Writing Excuses 10.37: Being a Good Panelist and a Great Moderator, with Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin

This month’s wildcard episode comes to you from the 2015 GenCon Indy Writers’ Symposium, where Dan and Howard had the opportunity to interview Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin. Susan is one of the finest moderators the symposium has ever seen, and Marc directs the event, building the schedule around good panelists and great moderators. Their advice is insightful, fresh, and spot-on. If you ever find yourself scheduled to speak on, or moderate, a panel, this episode is a great listen for beginning your preparation.

Play

You’ve been invited to BobCon, and when you arrive at BobCon you realize WHY it’s called BobCon. How do you escape?

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab, narrated by Steven Crossley

Writing Excuses 8.46: Editing with Aeryn Rudel

Aeryn Rudel, publications manager (it’s like the editor-in-chief) of Privateer Press‘s Skull Island X imprint, joins us to talk about editing. Obligatory disclaimer — Aeryn is Howard’s boss when Howard writes things like “Extraordinary Zoology.”

Aeryn begins by explaining to us what it is that he’s looking for in works, in the authors with whom he works, and how writers might prepare themselves for this kind of work, but his real job here on the ‘cast is to talk to us about the role of the editor. Much of that role deals with continuity of to the setting and the tone of the piece, but there’s plenty more.

Play

Hell’s copyeditor.

The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One by Joe Abercrombie, narrated by Steven Pacey

Writing Excuses 8.35: Digging Yourself Out of Holes with Jeph Jacques

At the time this podcast airs, Jeph Jacques’ Permanence project on Kickstarter has just nine days left. Jeph joined us at GenCon Indy to talk discovery writing with Brandon, Mary, and Howard, and yes, we totally agreed to plug his rock-and-roll side-gig in exchange.

Jeph Jacques is best known for Questionable Content, and by way of disclosure, Brandon has been a QC fan for years. He’s a discovery writer, and he has written himself into more than one corner. We ask him how far ahead he works, how he develops an idea, and especially how he fixes things if his discovery writing has taken him someplace he needs to get back out of.

His first step is to admit that he is, in fact, stuck in a corner. One of his tricks is a tool any of you can use in any project, Oblique Strategies, in which a random phrase (drawn from a deck of cards, or generated for you on the web) challenges you to rethink the spot that your story is in.

Obviously there’s more to it than that, but this? This is not where you’ll find the transcript. Transcripts end up here.

Play

Go back to whatever you wrote most recently and come up with a different solution for the scene, changing the emotional beat of the scene.

The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, narrated by Peter Kenny

Writing Excuses 7.43: Tie-in Fantasy Fiction with James L Sutter

James L Sutter  joins us before a live audience at GenCon Indy for a discussion of tie-in fiction. James is a writer and editor, and is one of the co-creators of the Pathfinder system. He is the author of Pathfinder Tales: Death’s Heretic and is the editor in charge of all of Paizo’s Pathfinder fiction.

James leads by telling us that if you want to write for Pathfinder, the first thing you need to do is write something for somebody else. As the editor of that division at Paizo, he’s the gatekeeper, and that’s the first hurdle you need to clear. He also talks to us about what he’s looking for in an author.

We talk at length about the Pathfinder line, its genesis, and James’s mission with Paizo regarding the tie-in fiction. He tells us about the things that turn him off in a submitted manuscript, and what sorts of work he does with his writers to help make the tie-in fiction actually, you know, tie in.

Play

Write a story in which all the characters are simultaneously the good guy AND the bad guy.

Railsea, by China Mieville, narrated by Jonathan Crowley