Tag Archives: Prose

Writing Excuses 7.4: Brevity

Brevity! Use fewer words!

After the obligatory “we-are-going-to-cut-this-short-after-the-intro” joke, we talk about how we can be appropriately brief, even in the context of writing epic fantasy. Mary offers us some rules of thumb for story brevity in the short fiction she writes, and Howard talks about how he accomplishes the extreme brevity of language required by his comic. Dan points out that the shorter you work, the more important your individual words become.

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Give us a group of people on a long trip in space, with a problem, which they solve. Do it in 150 words.

Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, narrated by the author

Writing Excuses 6.11: Making Your Descriptions Do More Than One Thing

Let’s talk about some ways in which your descriptions can do more than just describe. You’re not just trying to tell us what the room is like. You’re also setting the mood, telling us about the POV character, and establishing some of our progress through the story.

Howard (who rarely works in prose) offers some unexpected insight by talking about the way panels are composed in his comic. Mary offers even better insight by pulling the same principles through the domain of puppetry. Dan tells us how some of this is done by filmmakers. But yes, we finally do come back around to prose and how to accomplish these things with words.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Shades of Milk and Honey, written and narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Prompt: Go someplace, use all five of your senses, and for thirty minutes write about the place you’re in. Not the people though. Just the place.

And Because It Needs To Be Google-able: “Mary Robinette Koala” — it might be more than just a pronunciation guide.

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Writing Excuses 4.1: Types of Humor

Welcome to Writing Excuses Season 4, featuring new, shorter episode titles! Also, if you don’t count the bonus episodes or the Parsec Award Acceptance Speech, this is our 100th Episode!

Brandon kicks this off by asking “What does Howard do that’s funny?” and then by categorizing the sorts of things he finds Howard doing. Obviously this puts no pressure whatsoever on Howard to be funny during the podcast. Which is good, because he really wasn’t, cold medicine notwithstanding. Again, we manage talk about humor without being funny.

We manage to cover character-based humor, physical humor, and non-sequitur, brushing alongside cognitive humor and exaggeration as we go, but hey… we only had 15 minutes to work with. Oh, and we ran over by 4 minutes and fifty-seven seconds.

Writing Prompt: Write something funny using non-sequiturs and cold medicine.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible. Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.

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

Audible® Free Trial Details
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 Season 3 Episode 11: Trimming

Let’s talk “trimming.” Why do it? Well… because your manuscript is longer than it needs to be. Yes, we’re talking to you. AND you. And you, too. None of you are exempt! (Well… maybe YOU are, but you can’t be allowed to believe it.)

So… what do you trim? We’ve covered “Killing Your Darlings” way back in Season One Episode Three, so while those are certainly on the list of things to cut, we’re going to focus on tightening your prose and reducing word-count without changing the story. So that’s what we cover in a brisk, 15-minute ‘cast whose synopsis is at least fifty words longer than it needs to be. Maybe fifty-two.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 31: The Most Important Thing Brandon Learned In The Last Year

Here’s the second part of our three-part “what we learned this year” series. This time around Brandon tells us the most important thing he learned this year. Summed up? Gimmicks cannot compensate for bad writing.

So… what’s a gimmick? We begin with hooks and pitches, but gimmicks can include things like photo-realistic cover art, internet grass-roots campaigns, and factoids like “the author is only 17 years old.” Story elements like cool magic systems, uniquely alien aliens, and diamond-hard science can all be gimmicks. They’re good to have, certainly, and they can work to sell the book, but real staying power (read: earning out your advance, and getting royalty checks for years to come) comes from good writing, page after page.

Brandon confesses to some gimmick use himself, but fortunately we (and many of his readers) believe that his writing is strong enough that we don’t begrudge him the gimmick one bit.

This week’s episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you again by the opportunity you have to sponsor Writing Excuses.

Writing Prompt:  An author comes up with a wacky, crazy gimmick for a book… and then it happens to the author in real life.

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Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 27: Reading Critically

As a writer you obviously know how to read. But being a writer changes how you read, and what you read, and even why you read. Do you read more, or less as a writer? How do you read so that your reading doesn’t interfere with writing? How do you channel your reading into bettering your writing? And what’s the difference between a critical reader and a book critic?

Writing Prompt: Write a story about a critic, but a critic who criticizes something abnormal like Cement Mixers.

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