We’re often taught that the best critique group feedback is reactions to the writing, rather than advice for fixing it. But prescriptive feedback—critiques that include suggestions for you how to might rewrite something—is an important part of the process.
In this episode we discuss how we curate our critique groups and filter their feedback to improve our writing, and our experiences with these groups.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
The Random Critique Exercise:
1) You and a writer friend each prepare a critique of a different thing.
2) File the serial numbers off (character names, locations, etc) and swap critiques.
3) Treat this critique from your friend as if it was for your manuscript. Discover what wrong advice looks like, and how often a broken watch might actually be correct.
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett
When we talk about space travel we’re usually talking about rocket scientists and astronauts. In this episode we spoke with our guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett, about the “unsexy” (read: possibly boring but don’t be deceived) side of the space program—budgeting, logistics, and procurement. RFI and RFP, with toilets, hammers, and business cards; that’s this episode.
(For those unfamiliar with the above TLAs [three letter acronyms], RFI and RFP stand for Request for Information and Request for Proposal.)
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special space-guest Kjell Lindgren
Kjell Lindgren, flight surgeon, Expedition 44/45, joined us for an episode that perhaps should have been called “we ask the space-man all of the things.” We asked him stuff that we wanted to know more about, and came away richer for the experience.
If there’s just one technical term worth bringing home from this episode, it’s “expeditionary behavior.” It’s the sort of thing that can make us all richer for the experience.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and mastered by Alex Jackson at Writing Excuses Mission Control in Chicago.
BONUS: NASA invited us back to be on THEIR show, Houston We Have a Podcast, and that episode went live about three days before this did. More Kjell Lindgren!
We begin by making a useful distinction between alpha and beta reader: the alpha reader is an industry professional, while the beta reader is a stand-in for the eventual audience of readers. We then set about discussing how to find alpha readers, and how to employ them in order to make your work better.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
In this episode we go into great depth on Mary’s novel with the expert technical help of NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who was one of Mary’s consulting readers. Like most of our project-in-depth episodes this one runs long. Longer still because we were at JSC in Houston, which was incredibly cool for all of us, so nobody was watching the clock.
Liner Notes: The reference to “Type 2” fun comes from an as-yet-unpublished episode. Type 1 fun is fun in the moment. Type 2 fun is fun to talk about later. Maybe much, much later.
Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson
This year’s third-week episodes will all follow a common theme: “what writers get wrong.” Each of these episodes will feature an expert guest who will help us understand what writers get wrong about something in which they have expertise.
Aliette de Bodard will be co-hosting several of these week-three episodes, but this week her role is “subject matter expert.” She has several fields of expertise, and among the hats she expertly wears which writers often fail to correctly describe is a hat labeled “motherhood” (note: not an actual hat.)
Credits: This episode was recorded at WXR 2017 in the Baltic Sea by Bert Grimm, and mastered on dry land by Alex Jackson