Tag Archives: Humor

Writing Excuses 6.1: Can Creativity be Taught?

One of our most popular guests ever, Mary Robinette Kowal, finally joins Brandon, Dan, and Howard as a full-time cast-member. And now that she’s with us, we’re going to go back and revisit the very first topic we attempted to record (in a lost episode you can only hear in the bonus material on the 1st Season CD), which is whether or not creativity can be taught.

Mary says aspects of it can be taught. Howard’s inner Zen master says nothing can be taught, but anything can be learned. And from there we dive all the way in.

And you know what? Mary totally rescues the discussion, bringing perspectives that we were missing in that first session back in 2008. Especially right at the end, where she gives us some awesome creativity exercises.

Welcome to the team, Mary Robinette Kowal. We’ve needed you for three years.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1 by George R.R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice

Writing Prompt: Take one of the creativity exercises and run with it. Alternatively, use this mash-up: “The Silence of the Mexican Herbie Part 2: The Two Towers.”

Pearl of Wisdom Not To Be Taken The Wrong Way: “Stealing from children is an awesome tool.”

Liner Note Link: Here is the narration and context exercise Mary mentioned.

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Writing Excuses 5.39: Filking and Writing Music with Tom Smith

Filk.

It sounds like a bad word.

Okay, what it actually sounds like, provided you’ve fallen in among actual filkers, is AWESOME. It’s music named after a typo, and sung around subjects near and dear to genre fans.

Tom Smith, filker extraordinaire and musician magnifique, joins Brandon and Howard at Penguicon to talk about writing music, and to talk about the Filk genre in particular.

Our only episode with actual music in it, this is the last episode of Season 5, and Tom Smith sends us home with a brilliant little song he made up using requests from those in attendance. Tom, we expect an eventual epic song-cycle centering around “The Wizard of Wheat.”

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs.

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

Additional References for Filk: The FuMP, Filk resources on the Internet, and (per Tom’s suggestion) a YouTube search for Filk.

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Writing Excuses 5.37: Parody and Satire with Jim Hines

Jim Hines joins Brandon and Howard at Penguicon for a discussion of parody, satire, and why things are funny.

We start by defining parody and satire, and then Jim tells us why he wrote his he-calls-them-satirical Goblin novels, and why aspects of gamer culture so badly need to be satirized. Howard provides his formula for delivering the satire in Schlock Mercenary, and then we begin bandying about the terms “absurdification,” “commodification,” and “DisneyficationTM.”

And believe it or not, we manage to discuss humor in a way that is actually funny, at least some of the time.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Eyes Like Stars, by Lisa Mantchev, narrated by Cynthia Bishop

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

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Writing Excuses 5.26: Scared for the Characters

Sherrilyn Kenyon, a multiple New York Times bestselling author of all kinds of novels, helps us tackle the tricky work of making the reader fear for the characters in the book.

The first step? Make the reader sympathize with the characters. Then make the reader love them. And then? Then you put them through the wringer while your readers bite their nails bloody in horror.

Here in the blurb we make it sound easy and formulaic. Listen to the ‘cast for pointers on the difficult bits.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Night Pleasures: The Dark Hunters, Book 1, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie

Writing Prompt: Take a Lovecraftian beastie and shove him into The Shire.

Legal Note: The Lovecraftian beastie may lie in the public domain, but The Shire most certainly does not. Additional points for making your Shire and your Hobbits C&D-proof with clever name changes and a shave of their feet.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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Writing Excuses 5.23: Life Day!

Mary Robinette Kowal and Dave Wolverton again join Dan and Howard, and this time we’re talking about holidays in fantasy and science-fiction. This ‘cast was recorded at Superstars Writing Seminars, and  Moses Siregar III of Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing captured us on video as we recorded.

What sorts of things result in holidays? Historically we see them at the solstices and the equinoxes, planting and harvest, and commemorations of important events. We talk about all of these, and how to work them into your own writing without sounding like you’re just filing the serial numbers off of Christmas, Halloween, and Mardi Gras.

So of course we also talk about how to do this wrong.

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

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

Exclamation Howard Thought He’d Never Use: Bone Puppet Day!

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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Writing Excuses 5.19: Fulfilling Promises to Your Readers

Last week we wormcanned “fulfilling promises to the reader,” so this week we’ll tackle the discussion using actual examples. We start with a deconstruction of The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse, which Howard wrote and illustrated in 2008 and 2009. We then spoil the story of the game Borderlands, talking about the woefully-unfulfilled promise made to the player. We also spoil Legion for you, but that film kind of ruined itself. A lot. At any rate, in both of these latter cases we talk about the promises being broken.

Then we talk about how we, as writers, know when we’re making promises to the reader, and what those promises are.

Dan talks about how, in the first draft of I Am Not a Serial Killer, the main character won out in the wrong way, and how he had to go back and fix the ending. He also talks about the biggest complaint anybody has with that book, and how that stems from the plot twist that, to some readers, breaks a promise inherent in the book’s genre. And that leads us into a discussion of Million Dollar Baby and of the first outline of Mistborn, which could have had a very, very disappointing ending.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, narrated by Adam Grupper

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

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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Writing Excuses 5.4: Creating Suspense

This episode of Writing Excuses features our special guest, Smokey-Smoke Sanderson who spent the first half of September on tour abusing his voice.

Suspense! What is it? What isn’t it? What is the relationship between suspense and mystery, and for that matter horror, humor, and adventure? This ‘cast is chock full of pithy quotes, useful advice, and anecdotal examples.

Oh, and a bomb. THERE IS A BOMB HIDDEN UNDER THE TABLE.

DUN DUN DUN DUUNNNN!

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 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, read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.

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

That Episode on Pacing We Promised to Link To: Right here, and it features James Dashner!

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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WE 5.2: Character Quirks

Special guest Bree Despain of the Dark Divine trilogy joins us for a ‘cast on character quirks.

A character quirk, avoiding the tautological definition, is something that makes your character memorable. We talk about good quirks, bad quirks, and how to tell the difference. We also laugh a lot because it was late and we were punchy.

We also discuss ways in which stereotype-breaking quirks can be employed without delivering humor, and reasons why we might do this.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Regarding That “No Spoilers” Shouting-Match: If you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender (animated) in its entirety yet, it’s possible Bree gave something away in the last two minutes of the ‘cast.

Writing Prompt: A physical attribute that in some way influences the character’s religion

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

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