Tag Archives: World Building

Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 1: World-Building History

Welcome to Season 3 of Writing Excuses! With eighteen hours and fourteen months of podcasting history behind us, it seems appropriate for us to talk about history, and how to write it.

We talk about the iceberg principle — 90% of the history stuff you write never gets seen by the reader, it’s just there to support the 10% that they do see, the “tip of the iceberg” — and why for some writers it’s just not the right ratio. We also discuss Worldbuilder’s Disease — none of the writing you’re doing is prose for the novel — and how to avoid it while still knuckling down and doing the work.

And then (after a shiny commercial break) we knuckle down and talk about writing history, making it interesting, finding conflict, and avoiding oversimplified causality (“monocausationalism.”)

Writing Prompt: Write an encyclopedia article about a war that has 5 distinct causes. Identify and justify each of them.

Play

Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 24: Writing Habits and Q&A with Tracy Hickman

Tracy Hickman joins us again at “Life, The Universe, and Everything,” and in this episode we let Brandon ask him random questions while Dan and Howard chime in with comments that hopefully don’t detract from the discussion.

During the interview Tracy mentions his latest project, XDM: Extreme Dungeon Mastery, but he doesn’t mention the very latest news about it. That news is that Tracy and Curtis Hickman (the authors) have contracted with Howard Tayler to illustrate and publish it. So that bit about Tracy doing it in his basement? It’s no longer accurate.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by I Am Not A Serial Killer by our very own Dan Wells. The book is only available in the UK, but you can get now from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk which has free shipping to anywhere in the world.

Writing Prompt: Give us Winnie the Pooh’s big death scene. On a destroyer in the South Pacific.

Play

Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 18: World Building Governments

Let’s get back to world-building, and dig into a tough one: government. In this case we’re talking about government as part of the backdrop, rather than political intrigue as part of the plot. Are you going to create a monarchy, a democracy, or perhaps some crazy, experimental sort of rigidly constitutional representative republic? City-states? Confederations? Empires? What’s it going to be, and (more importantly) why?

Oh, and how do you do it right?

Writing Prompt:  Create a government by starting with “Colon Cleansers,” and then taking two steps back to create something unique.

Play

Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 16: Non-Human Races

The Writing Excuses crew returns to world-building, this time to discuss the creation of non-human races. Why do genre-fiction writers use aliens and monsters, short folk, tusked folk, or any other variation on “people” who aren’t human? Can new writers successfully recycle the classic Tolkien races and use dwarves, elves, orcs, goblins, and trolls? If not, how can new races best be created?

How can races be made “three-dimensional?” What are the common pitfalls? How much religion, culture, and physiology do you have time to create? Why are the rabidly violent fans of the Klingon race going to come after Howard with a cheap, plastic bat’leth? (Answer: Because they have no honor.)

Writing Prompt: Create a believable Alien and write something from his/her perspective.

Play

Writing Excuses Episode 35: Voice, Tone and Style

Everyone says you can’t teach style–each writer just has to figure it out on his or her own.  Well, we here at Writing Excuses have never met an ultimatum we didn’t immediately challenge, so today we take it head on. Can you teach style? Can you learn tone? What makes each writer’s voice unique?

Play

Take a scene and write it as Dan would write it, then write it as Brandon would write it, and then write it as Howard would write it.

Writing Excuses Episodes 32: Talking Exposition with Patrick Rothfuss

In this, the last of our WorldCon 66 episodes, Brandon, Dan, and Howard interview Name of the Wind author Patrick Rothfuss. We discuss exposition, and how not to bore people as you move them through the learning curve. We start by covering some “don’ts”  – including the essay, the police-artist sketch, and the thesis statement.

And then we work into the “do’s” – show-don’t-tell, focus on character, and don’t write stuff the readers don’t care about.

   This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by Schlock Mercenary: The Teraport Wars  by Howard Tayler

Play