Literature

Writing Excuses

Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

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Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells discuss writing techniques in a fast-paced, 15-minute format.

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13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character

17:27 | Jan 7th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard 2018 is our Year of Character, and we kick it off with a quick exploration of the differences between heroes, protagonists, and main characters. Beginning with addressing the question “wait, aren’t they all ...Show More

12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga

18:51 | Dec 17th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, Dan, with guest host Beth Meacham Dirk Elzinga, an associate professor of linguistics, joined us live at LTUE to talk about constructed languages, and how we, as writers, might go about constructing them for our work. Liner ...Show More

12.43: Serialized Storytelling

22:24 | Oct 22nd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We’re talking about the extreme long-form serial story here, and how to keep things interesting without forcing the main characters into an absurdly high number of character-developing moments. Brandon lead...Show More

14.15: Technology

19:12 | Apr 14th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab We’ve spent a lot of time talking about magic systems in our worldbuilding. It’s time to talk about  science and technology in that same way. This has been a staple (perhaps the defining staple) of science...Show More

14.14: When To Tell

16:42 | Apr 7th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard “Show, don’t tell,” they tell us. Except sometimes showing is not always the best thing to do. Or even the right thing to do. Sometimes we should be telling. In this episode we’ll tell you about te...Show More

WX 14.13: Obstacles vs. Complications

16:11 | Mar 31st

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard What’s the difference between an obstacle and a complication? Margaret Dunlap takes the lead on this episode for us, giving us the tools we need to create ‘impediments to main character progre...Show More

14.12: Writing The Other — Latinx Representation

20:21 | Mar 24th

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Tempest Bradford, Dongwon Song, and Julia Rios Julia Rios joins us to talk about writing characters who come from one of the many Latin-American cultures or subcultures. “Latinx” is a catch-all term for people with Latin-Americ...Show More

14.11: Magic Without Rules

20:18 | Mar 17th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard When we say “without rules” we’re talking about stories whose magic is not held under logical scrutiny for the reader. There are lots of reasons why you might do this, and in this episode we’l...Show More

14.10: Magic Systems

18:28 | Mar 10th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s design magic systems! We talk about how we do it, and how the principles of magic system design apply to the science fiction systems we create, and vice-versa. NOTE: In this episode we’re talking abo...Show More

14.9: Showing Off

23:40 | Mar 3rd

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Let’s infodump without infodumping. Let’s deliver lots of exposition without sounding expository. Let’s talk with the maid and the butler without having maid-and-butler dialog. Credits: This episod...Show More

14.8: Worldbuilding Q&A #1

25:19 | Feb 24th

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and DongWon We invited attendees at WXR 2018 to ask us some general worldbuilding questions. Here’s what they asked: * What cultural stuff do you need to know during the writing process? * How do you treat ov...Show More

14.7: How Weird is Too Weird?

15:55 | Feb 17th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard How weird, how far outside the realm of what the reader feels to be familiar, is too weird? Where is the line beyond which the fantasy is too fantastic, the unreal too unrealistic, or the alie...Show More

14.6: Fantasy and Science Fiction Races

16:37 | Feb 10th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s talk about race, sort-of. Let’s talk about creating races—species of people, really—which is a critically important activity in much of our worldbuilding. In this episode we discuss a few of the pitf...Show More

14.5: Viewpoint as Worldbuilding

17:31 | Feb 3rd

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard When you’re defining your world for the reader, some voice in the text must speak those definitions. This episode is about how we use character voices—their dialog and their narrative view points—t...Show More

WX14.03: Writing the Other—Bisexual Characters

18:35 | Jan 27th

Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, Dongwon, and TJ This is the first of our Writing The Other episodes, in which we set out to help writers portray people who are unlike them. In this episode we’re joined by T.J. Berry. She walks us through the language and t...Show More

14.03: World of Hats

17:55 | Jan 20th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Margaret Dunlap joins us during season 14 to talk about worldbuilding. In this, her first episode with us, we talk about worlds in which a monolithic culture (like, say, ‘everyone wears hats’)...Show More

14.02: Geography and Biomes

18:47 | Jan 13th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Mahtab Narsimhan joins us this year for a dozen episodes on worldbuilding, and this week we’re talking about geography and biomes. These pieces of our settings can be central to the stories we tell, but th...Show More

14.01: Worldbuilding Begins! Up Front, or On the Fly?

21:11 | Jan 6th

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Season 14 is all about worldbuilding¹, and we’re kicking it off with a discussion of when you do that bit of work. Do you handle worldbuilding before you write the story, as you write the story, or...Show More

13.52: Working Dad is a Spaceman

20:55 | Dec 30th, 2018

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn. Last week’s episode may have sounded like the last one for 2018, but that’s an artifact of December having five Sundays rather than four. Fifth Sundays are our “wildcards,” and ...Show More

13.51: Wrap-up on the Year of Character

25:26 | Dec 25th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard We decided to wrap up this year on character by letting Brandon ask us some deep questions. “We decided” might be the wrong phrase, because nobody except Brandon knew what the questions were, so it might ...Show More

13.50: What Writers Get Wrong, with Zoraida Córdova

20:23 | Dec 16th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Zoraida Córdova Zoraida Córdova, an award-winning author of urban fantasy, was born in Ecuador and grew up in Queens. She joins us to talk about what writers get wrong (and what...Show More

13.49: How to Finish

19:24 | Dec 9th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice Last week we talked about character death. This week we talk about other, less fatal ways in which a character story can be finished, and how we, as writers, can tell when we’re done with a chara...Show More

13.48: Character Death and Plot Armor

20:15 | Dec 2nd, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The characters we create are not all destined for long lives. Sure, some are, but a great many of them are on paths that will end in an abrupt fatality of one kind or another, and in this episode w...Show More

13.47: Q&A on Fixing Characters

18:43 | Nov 25th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard You had questions about fixing character problems. We had had answers! Here are the questions: * How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? * How can you tell if ...Show More

13.46: The Unsexy Side of Space, with Bart Smith and Ben Hewett

27:24 | Nov 18th, 2018

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 Hewet...Show More

NaNoWriMo 2018 Bonus Episode, with Mercedes Lackey

16:43 | Nov 15th, 2018

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 bl...Show More

13.45: Next Level Narration

21:40 | Nov 11th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice Narration is that stuff which tells your story, but isn’t dialog. It’s the voice of your narrator, and it might be multiple voices depending on how you’re handling point of view. In this episode ...Show More

NaNoWriMo 2018 Mini-Episode 2

02:35 | Nov 7th, 2018

Your Mini-Episode Hosts: Amal El-Mohtar and Maurice Broaddus, with Special Asides from Mary Robinette Kowal We’re a week in to NaNoWriMo. If you’re scared of it, Amal is here to tell you that it’s okay to feel that way, Maurice is here with the encou...Show More

13.44: Alien Characters

18:34 | Nov 4th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard As writers of speculative fiction we are frequently tasked with writing a species or race of alien people. In this episode we talk about some of the tricks we use to create non-human characters in ...Show More

NaNoWriMo 2018 Mini-Episode 1

05:18 | Oct 31st, 2018

Your Mini-Episode Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Back in 2017 we recorded a bonus episode for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and then forgot to air it. Here, then, in the spirit of never throwing anything away, is a spot of...Show More

13.43: Characters Who Are Smarter Than You Are

25:34 | Oct 28th, 2018

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Amal Many of us write characters who know more than we know, and/or who think faster than we do. Writing those characters is tricky. In this episode we talk about our own tricks, and the tricks we’ve seen ...Show More

13.42: Writing Excuses Talks to an Astronaut, with Special Guest Kjell Lindgren

18:25 | Oct 21st, 2018

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...Show More

13.41: Fixing Character Problems, Part II

22:36 | Oct 14th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice This is the second of our pair of episodes in which we talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, ...Show More

13.40: Fixing Character Problems, Part I

16:06 | Oct 7th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This is the first of two episodes in which we’ll talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work. Credits: this episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and maste...Show More

13.39: What Writers Get Wrong, With Wendy Tolliver

17:47 | Sep 30th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Wendy Tolliver Wendy skis, and snowboards, and  writes YA novels. She is also the parent of three, one of whom suffers from mental illness. She joined us to talk about how writers can do ...Show More

13.38: How to Find and Use Alpha Readers

20:17 | Sep 23rd, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard 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 a...Show More

13.37: What Writers Get Wrong, with J.Y. Yang

20:06 | Sep 16th, 2018

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard with special guest J.Y. Yang J.Y. Yang is a Hugo-nominated short story writer from Singapore who identifies as non-binary. They joined us to talk about this non-binary identification, and how writers can do ...Show More

13.36: Confronting the Default

18:17 | Sep 9th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice If you live in the northern hemisphere, inland, perhaps above the 40th parallel, you are probably quite sure that there are four distinct seasons. There are, however, many, many people for whom “seasons” a...Show More

13.35: Cliché vs. Archetype

20:29 | Sep 2nd, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Tropes, archetypes, and even cliches are tools in our toolboxes. There’s no avoiding them, but there are definitely ways to use them incorrectly. In this episode we’ll talk about how we shake off our fear of...Show More

13.34: Q&A on Character Arcs

19:17 | Aug 26th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard You had questions. We came up with answers. The questions are below: * How do you fulfill promises about character arcs without being cliché? How do you subvert character tropes without betraying the rea...Show More

13.b1: Bonus Episode — Elephants and Death, with Lawrence Schoen

18:10 | Aug 22nd, 2018

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Lawrence Schoen Lawrence Schoen, clinical psychologist, cognitive hypnotist, small press publisher, Klingon language expert, and novelist, joined us at GenCon Indy for a bonus episode about elephants and...Show More

13.33: Reading Outside the Box

20:41 | Aug 19th, 2018

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with Kristie Claxton Kristie Claxton joined us at WXR 2017 to talk about reading outside of the spaces where we’re comfortable and familiar. Specifically, we focused on how to learn about people who are not...Show More

13.32: How To Handle Weighty Topics

30:00 | Aug 12th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice How can we, as writers, best handle weighty matters? This is our year on character, so we’ll approach this with a focus on character creation, depiction, and dialog? This topic is, in and of itself, weight...Show More

13.31: Learning to Listen as a Writer

20:46 | Aug 5th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard “Write what you know” gets misapplied a lot. In this episode we’ll talk about how to know things by listening well. In particular, we’re looking at writing interesting characters by listening to real people....Show More

13.30: Project in Depth, THE CALCULATING STARS, with Kjell Lindgren

31:22 | Jul 29th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, and Dan, with Kjell Lindgren Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t yet read The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel, by Mary Robinette Kowal, you may wish to rectify that prior to listening. In this episode we go into great d...Show More

13.29: Iconic Heroes

18:33 | Jul 22nd, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard The term “iconic hero” allows us to differentiate between different kinds of heroes who appear in series. Nancy Drew and Conan the Barbarian are iconic, but Leia Organa and Aragorn are epic. In this episo...Show More

13.28: What Writers Get Wrong, with Wildstyle

17:06 | Jul 15th, 2018

At GenCon Indy 2017 we were joined by Wildstyle (@MrWildstyle on Twitter), who wears many hats, and many of the hats he wears are donned in service of producing hip-hop. One of the most interesting revelations (especially for Howard, whose background...Show More

13.27: Characters as Foils

18:52 | Jul 8th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice A foil is a character who serves as a contrast to another character. The foil might be a sidekick, an antagonist, a romantic interest, or really any other character who gets enough focus for the contrast t...Show More

13.26: Character Relationships

21:23 | Jul 1st, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Our characters become far more interesting when they begin interacting with each other. These interactions—these relationships—are often how our stories get told. In this episode we explore ways in which we ...Show More

13.25: Our Journey With Character

18:25 | Jun 24th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard Brandon wanted to ask us how our perspectives on character have changed since the very beginning of our writing. It’s a difficult question to answer, and a very soulful sort of thing to answer in front of...Show More

13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu

22:33 | Jun 17th, 2018

Your Hosts: Piper Drake, Aliette de Bodard, and Wesley Chu, with special guest Ken Liu Our hosts for this episode are experts in a great many different things. One thing that they have in common is that they’re all members of the Asian Disapora, and ...Show More

13.23: Internal Conflicts

26:44 | Jun 10th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we ...Show More

13.22: Character Arcs

16:09 | Jun 3rd, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard When Mary says we could do fifteen different episodes on character arcs, she’s being conservative. Notwithstanding, we set out to talk meaningfully about character arcs in one episode rather than in fifteen ...Show More

13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation

20:07 | May 27th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard Our listeners submitted some great questions! * How do you fairly and even-handedly write a deeply compelling character you deeply dislike? * What’s the best way to discuss a character’s underlying motiv...Show More

13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman

19:41 | May 20th, 2018

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with special guest Emma Newman Emma Newman, author, audio book narrator, and podcaster, joined us on the Baltic sea for WXR 2017, where, six days after a brilliant presentation on overcoming fear, she recor...Show More

13.19: Backstories

19:32 | May 13th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Character backstories: these are the tales that describe how the characters in your story became who they are by the time they arrive in the book. How much backstory needs to be written before you start in...Show More

13.18: Naturally Revealing Character Motivation

19:00 | May 6th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What motivates us? What really motivates us? Why? (Note: our motivations are probably not in service of some overarching plot.) How can we use this information to believably motivate characters? Credits: Thi...Show More

13.17: What Writers Get Wrong, with Jamahl Crouch

16:17 | Apr 29th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Jamahl Crouch Jamahl Crouch (Illusmm1 on Instagram)joined us at the GenCon Indy Writers Symposium to talk about what writers get wrong about street art. Jamahl is many things, and one of those is “stre...Show More

13.16: Avoiding Flat Characters

16:42 | Apr 22nd, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard For our purposes, the term “flat character” refers to a character who lacks the depth required to maintain reader interest. In this episode we discuss how to avoid putting flat characters front-and-center...Show More

13.15: What Writers Get Wrong, with Mike Stop Continues

19:04 | Apr 15th, 2018

Recorded live at WXR 2017. Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with special guest Mike Stop Continues Mike has multiple areas of expertise, but for this episode he’s talking to us specifically about the things that writers get wrong about bei...Show More

13.14: Character Nuance

17:44 | Apr 8th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Let’s talk about characters who have conflict built right into them; characters whose attributes and attitudes might seem to contradict one another; characters who like, y’know… actual people. (And let’s t...Show More

13.13: Character Voice

23:38 | Apr 1st, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Character voice, the flow, order, and feel of words that is unique to a particular character, is extremely useful in defining characters for the reader. In this episode we discuss our tools for shaping chara...Show More

13.12: Q&A on Heroes, Villains, and Main Characters

17:13 | Mar 25th, 2018

Your Cast: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, Howard You had questions about heroes, villains, and main characters. We have answers! Here are the questions: * How do you make planned power increases not seem like an ass-pull¹? * What do you do when your villain...Show More

13.12: Q&A on Heroes, Villains, and Main Characters

17:13 | Mar 25th, 2018

Your Cast: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, Howard You had questions about heroes, villains, and main characters. We have answers! Here are the questions: * How do you make planned power increases not seem like an ass-pull¹? * What do you do when your villain...Show More

13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris

17:13 | Mar 18th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Charlaine Harris Charlaine Harris joined us in front of a live audience at the GenCon Writers Symposium to talk with us about secondary characters—why they’re so important, why they can b...Show More

13.11: Writing Secondary Characters, with Charlaine Harris

17:13 | Mar 18th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Charlaine Harris Charlaine Harris joined us in front of a live audience at the GenCon Writers Symposium to talk with us about secondary characters—why they’re so important, why they can b...Show More

13.10: Handling a Large Cast

23:12 | Mar 11th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice What are our favorite techniques for managing large casts of characters, and how do our processes differ from when we’re writing small casts? What does “large” and “small” mean for us? Liner Notes: No, How...Show More

13.10: Handling a Large Cast

23:12 | Mar 11th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice What are our favorite techniques for managing large casts of characters, and how do our processes differ from when we’re writing small casts? What does “large” and “small” mean for us? Liner Notes: No, How...Show More

13.9: Quick Characterization

18:15 | Mar 4th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard How do you go about defining a character for your readers when you don’t have many words to devote to the project? What are the tricks for quickly establishing someone’s individuality within your story? Cred...Show More

13.9: Quick Characterization

18:15 | Mar 4th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard How do you go about defining a character for your readers when you don’t have many words to devote to the project? What are the tricks for quickly establishing someone’s individuality within your story? Cred...Show More

13.8: Making Characters Distinctive

21:20 | Feb 25th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard What do we do to make our characters distinctive? Often we categorize the distinctions as flaws or quirks, and in this discussion we use those as our starting points. Credits: This episode was recorded by...Show More

13.8: Making Characters Distinctive

21:20 | Feb 25th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard What do we do to make our characters distinctive? Often we categorize the distinctions as flaws or quirks, and in this discussion we use those as our starting points. Credits: This episode was recorded by...Show More

13.7: What Writers Get Wrong, with Lou Perry

14:56 | Feb 18th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Lou Perry joined us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about law and courtrooms, and what writers get wrong when setting their stories amid legal procedures.  

13.7: What Writers Get Wrong, with Lou Perry

14:56 | Feb 18th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Lou Perry joined us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about law and courtrooms, and what writers get wrong when setting their stories amid legal procedures.  

13.6: External Conflicts for Characters

20:33 | Feb 11th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice An external conflict is a story driver that originates outside the protagonist. In this episode a large part of what we’ll focus on is person-vs-environment as opposed to person-vs-person. PvE rather than ...Show More

13.6: External Conflicts for Characters

20:33 | Feb 11th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice An external conflict is a story driver that originates outside the protagonist. In this episode a large part of what we’ll focus on is person-vs-environment as opposed to person-vs-person. PvE rather than ...Show More

13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle

18:20 | Feb 4th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What’s the difference between villains and antagonists? How is an obstacle character different from those other two? How are they alike? And most importantly, how can we use this information to write effecti...Show More

13.5: Villain, Antagonist, Obstacle

18:20 | Feb 4th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What’s the difference between villains and antagonists? How is an obstacle character different from those other two? How are they alike? And most importantly, how can we use this information to write effecti...Show More

13.4: Protagonists Who Aren’t Sympathetic

20:05 | Jan 28th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard This week we’re joined by Valynne Maetani, who’ll be one of our hosts all year. We’re discussing protagonists who, per writer intent, do not engender audience sympathy. Credits: This episode was recorded ...Show More

13.4: Protagonists Who Aren’t Sympathetic

20:05 | Jan 28th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard This week we’re joined by Valynne Maetani, who’ll be one of our hosts all year. We’re discussing protagonists who, per writer intent, do not engender audience sympathy. Credits: This episode was recorded ...Show More

13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard

22:15 | Jan 21st, 2018

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard 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 somethin...Show More

13.3: What Writers Get Wrong, with Aliette de Bodard

22:15 | Jan 21st, 2018

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard 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 somethin...Show More

13.2: Writing Active Characters

19:22 | Jan 14th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice This week we welcome Amal El-Mohtar and Maurice Broaddus to the Writing Excuses cast for a discussion of active characters. We cover characters who move stories forward, who make decisions that influence p...Show More

13.2: Writing Active Characters

19:22 | Jan 14th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice This week we welcome Amal El-Mohtar and Maurice Broaddus to the Writing Excuses cast for a discussion of active characters. We cover characters who move stories forward, who make decisions that influence p...Show More

13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character

17:27 | Jan 7th, 2018

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard 2018 is our Year of Character, and we kick it off with a quick exploration of the differences between heroes, protagonists, and main characters. Beginning with addressing the question “wait, aren’t they all ...Show More

12.53: Writing Excuses True Confessions

29:27 | Dec 31st, 2017

It’s the end of 2017, so let’s talk about the things that we’ve tried to make work, and failed at. Not things that we tried before arriving at career-level measures of success—things that we’ve folded, spindled, and/or mutilated since then. There wer...Show More

12.53: Writing Excuses True Confessions

29:27 | Dec 31st, 2017

It’s the end of 2017, so let’s talk about the things that we’ve tried to make work, and failed at. Not things that we tried before arriving at career-level measures of success—things that we’ve folded, spindled, and/or mutilated since then. There wer...Show More

12.52: Cross-Genres as Gateways

17:46 | Dec 24th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Howard, and Dan What are the books which have drawn us from the bookshelf genres where you’re the most comfortable into bookshelves you haven’t read from? What can we learn about our own writing by reading these gateway bo...Show More

12.52: Cross-Genres as Gateways

17:46 | Dec 24th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Howard, and Dan What are the books which have drawn us from the bookshelf genres where you’re the most comfortable into bookshelves you haven’t read from? What can we learn about our own writing by reading these gateway bo...Show More

12.51: Constructed Languages, with Dirk Elzinga

18:51 | Dec 17th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, Dan, with guest host Beth Meacham Dirk Elzinga, an associate professor of linguistics, joined us live at LTUE to talk about constructed languages, and how we, as writers, might go about constructing them for our work. Liner ...Show More

12.50: Form and Function

22:58 | Dec 10th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How does the shape of your physical medium change the art you’re making? What are the tools that affect our storytelling, and what are those effects? Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by An...Show More

12.50: Form and Function

22:58 | Dec 10th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How does the shape of your physical medium change the art you’re making? What are the tools that affect our storytelling, and what are those effects? Credits: This episode was recorded in Chicago by An...Show More

12.49: Non-linear Narratives

17:39 | Dec 3rd, 2017

We begin the final month of our year on structure with a discussion of non-linear structures. These include flashbacks, POVs that are out of chronological order,  and a host of other storytelling techniques. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosm...Show More

12.49: Non-linear Narratives

17:39 | Dec 3rd, 2017

We begin the final month of our year on structure with a discussion of non-linear structures. These include flashbacks, POVs that are out of chronological order,  and a host of other storytelling techniques.  

12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan

24:59 | Nov 26th, 2017

Brian McClellan joined us to field questions about writing novels and series. Here are the questions: * How do you write an ending that is open for sequels, but isn’t a cliffhanger? * Is it a good idea to take a large novel, and release it instead a...Show More

12.48: Q&A on Novels and Series, with Brian McClellan

24:59 | Nov 26th, 2017

Brian McClellan joined us to field questions about writing novels and series. Here are the questions: * How do you write an ending that is open for sequels, but isn’t a cliffhanger? * Is it a good idea to take a large novel, and release it instead a...Show More

12.47: Screenwriting and the Writers Room, with JD Payne

19:16 | Nov 19th, 2017

Screenwriter JD Payne joined us before a live audience at LTUE to talk about writing for the screen, specifically regarding doing this work with others in a room full of writers.

12.47: Screenwriting and the Writers Room, with JD Payne

19:16 | Nov 19th, 2017

Screenwriter JD Payne joined us before a live audience at LTUE to talk about writing for the screen, specifically regarding doing this work with others in a room full of writers.

12.46: Reinventing Yourself

21:18 | Nov 12th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We discuss the idea of “reinventing yourself,” which can mean anything from “trying something new” to “completely re-branding yourself as a writer,” and how it’s a difficult thing to do without figurin...Show More

12.46: Reinventing Yourself

21:18 | Nov 12th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We discuss the idea of “reinventing yourself,” which can mean anything from “trying something new” to “completely re-branding yourself as a writer,” and how it’s a difficult thing to do without figurin...Show More

12.45: Structuring a Series

23:09 | Nov 5th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Before you can decide on a structure for your series, you may find it helpful to decide what kind of series you’re actually building. We talk about a few of the available options, and how each of them affect...Show More

12.45: Structuring a Series

23:09 | Nov 5th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Before you can decide on a structure for your series, you may find it helpful to decide what kind of series you’re actually building. We talk about a few of the available options, and how each of them affect...Show More

12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer

18:40 | Oct 29th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re going to share some of our experiences with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in an effort to encourage you to participate in ways that will advance you toward your goals. Note: After a week, th...Show More

12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer

18:40 | Oct 29th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re going to share some of our experiences with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in an effort to encourage you to participate in ways that will advance you toward your goals. Note: After a week, th...Show More

12.43: Serialized Storytelling

22:24 | Oct 22nd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We’re talking about the extreme long-form serial story here, and how to keep things interesting without forcing the main characters into an absurdly high number of character-developing moments. Brandon lead...Show More

12.42: Adapting Your Stories for Game Play, with Alan Bahr

14:27 | Oct 15th, 2017

Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Alan Bahr of Ragnarok Publications, joined us at  LTUE 2017 to talk about adapting a licensed property for a game, and preserving the feel of the work while doing so. Credits: this episo...Show More

12.42: Adapting Your Stories for Game Play, with Alan Bahr

14:27 | Oct 15th, 2017

Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Alan Bahr of Ragnarok Publications, joined us at  LTUE 2017 to talk about adapting a licensed property for a game, and preserving the feel of the work while doing so. Credits: this episo...Show More

12.41: Raising the Stakes

20:15 | Oct 8th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley When we talk about “raising the stakes,” we mean making the outcomes of the events in a story increasingly important to the reader. In this episode we talk about the tools we use to raise the stakes in...Show More

12.41: Raising the Stakes

20:15 | Oct 8th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley When we talk about “raising the stakes,” we mean making the outcomes of the events in a story increasingly important to the reader. In this episode we talk about the tools we use to raise the stakes in...Show More

12.40: Structuring a Novel

18:53 | Oct 1st, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What makes something a novel, rather than just a serialized collection of stuff that happens? How do we use structure to turn collections of stuff into something more cohesive? What tools do we use to outlin...Show More

12.40: Structuring a Novel

18:53 | Oct 1st, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What makes something a novel, rather than just a serialized collection of stuff that happens? How do we use structure to turn collections of stuff into something more cohesive? What tools do we use to outlin...Show More

12.39: Q&A on Short(er) Fiction

20:01 | Sep 24th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners sent us  some questions about writing shorter fiction. Here are the questions: * How do you market short stories today? * Has ebook self-publishing made novellas more viable? * How do you str...Show More

12.39: Q&A on Short(er) Fiction

20:01 | Sep 24th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners sent us  some questions about writing shorter fiction. Here are the questions: * How do you market short stories today? * Has ebook self-publishing made novellas more viable? * How do you str...Show More

12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo

17:13 | Sep 17th, 2017

Your Hosts: Dan and Howard Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo joined Dan and Howard to discuss what it is that editors “really want.” Question To Help You Decide Whether Or Not To Send Your Editor Bad News: “Will this news get better if I wait?” Credits: t...Show More

12.38: What Do Editors Really Want, with Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo

17:13 | Sep 17th, 2017

Your Hosts: Dan and Howard Toni Weisskopf and Cat Rambo joined Dan and Howard to discuss what it is that editors “really want.” Question To Help You Decide Whether Or Not To Send Your Editor Bad News: “Will this news get better if I wait?” Credits: t...Show More

12.37: Subplots

20:32 | Sep 10th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a plot a subplot? Must subplots and main plots be linked by something more binding than the actual binding of the book? In this episode we answer these questions, and ask and answer plenty m...Show More

12.37: Subplots

20:32 | Sep 10th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a plot a subplot? Must subplots and main plots be linked by something more binding than the actual binding of the book? In this episode we answer these questions, and ask and answer plenty m...Show More

12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece

19:50 | Sep 3rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Larger than a short story, smaller than a novel… there’s quite a bit of space between those two thresholds, and in this episode we discuss the ways in which we go about filling that space with a well-structu...Show More

12.36: Structuring a Mid-Length Piece

19:50 | Sep 3rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Larger than a short story, smaller than a novel… there’s quite a bit of space between those two thresholds, and in this episode we discuss the ways in which we go about filling that space with a well-structu...Show More

12.35: Short Fiction Markets, with Spencer Ellsworth and guest host Beth Meacham

16:32 | Aug 27th, 2017

Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Spencer Ellsworth and Beth Meacham joined us before a live audience at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of short fiction markets, which ones we love, and why. Credits: this episode was recorde...Show More

12.35: Short Fiction Markets, with Spencer Ellsworth and guest host Beth Meacham

16:32 | Aug 27th, 2017

Your Hosts: Mary, Dan, and Howard, with guest host Beth Meacham Spencer Ellsworth and Beth Meacham joined us before a live audience at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of short fiction markets, which ones we love, and why. Credits: this episode was recorde...Show More

12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan

20:08 | Aug 20th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Brian McClellan joins us for a discussion on fulfilling the promises we make to our readers—specifically the genre-specific promises made by the simple fact of where the book is shelved. Credits: this episo...Show More

12.34: Fulfilling the Reader’s Fantasy, with Brian McClellan

20:08 | Aug 20th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Brian McClellan joins us for a discussion on fulfilling the promises we make to our readers—specifically the genre-specific promises made by the simple fact of where the book is shelved. Credits: this episo...Show More

12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful

20:35 | Aug 13th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’ve talked about some of the structural guidelines for short stories. In this episode we’ll discuss how to write in the short form while still putting down enough words to convey the story powerfully...Show More

12.33: How to be Brief, Yet Powerful

20:35 | Aug 13th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’ve talked about some of the structural guidelines for short stories. In this episode we’ll discuss how to write in the short form while still putting down enough words to convey the story powerfully...Show More

12.32: Structuring a Short Piece

22:03 | Aug 6th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We begin our exploration of short story structure with a re-cap of the MACE quotient (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, Event). Then we apply that tool to how we structure the pieces we write—specifically the s...Show More

12.32: Structuring a Short Piece

22:03 | Aug 6th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We begin our exploration of short story structure with a re-cap of the MACE quotient (Milieu, Ask/Answer, Character, Event). Then we apply that tool to how we structure the pieces we write—specifically the s...Show More

12.31: What Makes a Good Monster, with Courtney Alameda

17:48 | Jul 30th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest host Susan Chang Courtney Alameda joined us at LTUE 2017 to talk monsters, and what makes the best ones so good. We discuss some of our favorites, and how the criteria we apply to them can be applied in t...Show More

12.31: What Makes a Good Monster, with Courtney Alameda

17:48 | Jul 30th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest host Susan Chang Courtney Alameda joined us at LTUE 2017 to talk monsters, and what makes the best ones so good. We discuss some of our favorites, and how the criteria we apply to them can be applied in t...Show More

12.30: Tools for Writers

20:44 | Jul 23rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We are often asked what software we use to get our work done. In this episode we answer that question in a bit of detail. Liner Notes: Here’s a linked list of the tools referenced during this episode. * Ae...Show More

12.30: Tools for Writers

20:44 | Jul 23rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We are often asked what software we use to get our work done. In this episode we answer that question in a bit of detail. Liner Notes: Here’s a linked list of the tools referenced during this episode. * Ae...Show More

12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney

20:49 | Jul 16th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Steve Diamond, and special guest Joe McKinney We invited Steve Diamond, who has been a guest before, and who has some law enforcement background, to help us grill Joe McKinney, who has tons of that background, and who...Show More

12.29: “Oh Crap, the Cops are Here!” with Joe McKinney

20:49 | Jul 16th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Steve Diamond, and special guest Joe McKinney We invited Steve Diamond, who has been a guest before, and who has some law enforcement background, to help us grill Joe McKinney, who has tons of that background, and who...Show More

12.28: Trimming and Expanding

19:46 | Jul 9th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley Revision: it’s when you make a too-short piece longer, or a too-long piece shorter. (It’s also a great many other things, suggesting that this description is a too-short piece in need of revision.) Cre...Show More

12.28: Trimming and Expanding

19:46 | Jul 9th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley Revision: it’s when you make a too-short piece longer, or a too-long piece shorter. (It’s also a great many other things, suggesting that this description is a too-short piece in need of revision.) Cre...Show More

12.27: Choosing a Length

21:49 | Jul 2nd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We discuss the ways in which we decide upon the length of the stories we write, and at which point(s) in the creative process we make that decision. Liner Notes: This is the story-length formula that Mary sh...Show More

12.27: Choosing a Length

21:49 | Jul 2nd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We discuss the ways in which we decide upon the length of the stories we write, and at which point(s) in the creative process we make that decision. Liner Notes: This is the story-length formula that Mary sh...Show More

12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing

20:29 | Jun 25th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners had questions about outlining and discovery writing. Here are a few of the very best: * Do you outline scenes? How? * How do you know when to STOP outlining something? * How much do you have ...Show More

12.26: Q&A on Outlining and Discovery Writing

20:29 | Jun 25th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard Our listeners had questions about outlining and discovery writing. Here are a few of the very best: * Do you outline scenes? How? * How do you know when to STOP outlining something? * How much do you have ...Show More

12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker

18:50 | Jun 18th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Callie Stoker Callie Stoker joined Howard and Dan at the World Horror convention to answer our questions about hiring an editor, which is part of the process by which self-published authors build the tea...Show More

12.25: Hiring an Editor, with Callie Stoker

18:50 | Jun 18th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Callie Stoker Callie Stoker joined Howard and Dan at the World Horror convention to answer our questions about hiring an editor, which is part of the process by which self-published authors build the tea...Show More

12.24: Creating Great Outlines

20:46 | Jun 11th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How might you go about creating great outlines? There are many processes, and we cover several of them.   Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson

12.24: Creating Great Outlines

20:46 | Jun 11th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley How might you go about creating great outlines? There are many processes, and we cover several of them.   Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson

12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries

21:29 | Jun 4th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about selling your stuff. In this episode we discuss query letters, pitches, and proposals—the tools that you use to present your material to people who can pay you for it, and who will partner wi...Show More

12.23: Proposals, Pitches, and Queries

21:29 | Jun 4th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about selling your stuff. In this episode we discuss query letters, pitches, and proposals—the tools that you use to present your material to people who can pay you for it, and who will partner wi...Show More

12.22: Hybrid Outlining and Discovery Writing

18:57 | May 28th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard What can discovery writers learn from outlining? What can outliners learn from discovery writing? Is there a balance between the two that can serve as a happy, productive place for writers? (summary of answ...Show More

12.22: Hybrid Outlining and Discovery Writing

18:57 | May 28th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard What can discovery writers learn from outlining? What can outliners learn from discovery writing? Is there a balance between the two that can serve as a happy, productive place for writers? (summary of answ...Show More

12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel

20:26 | May 21st, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guests Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel Bill and Carrie both have extensive experience writing for games, and they joined us at GenCon Indy to talk about writing for an interactive story, like a tabletop RPG, or ...Show More

12.21: Narrative Bumper Pool, with Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel

20:26 | May 21st, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guests Bill Fawcett and Carrie Patel Bill and Carrie both have extensive experience writing for games, and they joined us at GenCon Indy to talk about writing for an interactive story, like a tabletop RPG, or ...Show More

12.20: Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft

21:23 | May 14th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’re speaking again, at least in part, to discovery writers. In this case, we’re talking about how to take a non-outlined work and apply a structure to it in revisions. Credits: This episode was recor...Show More

12.20: Retrofitting Structure into a First Draft

21:23 | May 14th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley We’re speaking again, at least in part, to discovery writers. In this case, we’re talking about how to take a non-outlined work and apply a structure to it in revisions. Credits: This episode was recor...Show More

12.19: Structure on the Fly

19:30 | May 7th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode is for you discovery writers, especially those of you for whom our current season of structure seems to be locking you down, or pointing up methods which you just don’t like to use. We talk abou...Show More

12.19: Structure on the Fly

19:30 | May 7th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode is for you discovery writers, especially those of you for whom our current season of structure seems to be locking you down, or pointing up methods which you just don’t like to use. We talk abou...Show More

12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson

19:02 | Apr 30th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest-host Susan Chang, and special guest J.R. Johannsen J.R. Johannson joined Howard, Mary, Dan, and guest-host Susan Chang at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of gendered dialect. We lead with a quick introduction ...Show More

12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson

19:02 | Apr 30th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest-host Susan Chang, and special guest J.R. Johannsen J.R. Johannson joined Howard, Mary, Dan, and guest-host Susan Chang at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of gendered dialect. We lead with a quick introduction ...Show More

12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing

23:11 | Apr 23rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We fielded some questions on style, diction, and paragraphing: * Is it okay to have pretty prose in a straightforward adventure story? * How do author voice and character voice differ? * How do you prevent...Show More

12.17: Q&A on Style, Diction, and Paragraphing

23:11 | Apr 23rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard We fielded some questions on style, diction, and paragraphing: * Is it okay to have pretty prose in a straightforward adventure story? * How do author voice and character voice differ? * How do you prevent...Show More

12.16: Writing Crime Fiction with Brian Keene

19:57 | Apr 16th, 2017

Brian Keene joined Dan and Howard at the World Horror Convention to talk about writing crime fiction, including how he goes about getting readers to feel the things he wants them to feel to drive the story forward. Liner Notes: The Horror Show with B...Show More

12.16: Writing Crime Fiction with Brian Keene

19:57 | Apr 16th, 2017

Brian Keene joined Dan and Howard at the World Horror Convention to talk about writing crime fiction, including how he goes about getting readers to feel the things he wants them to feel to drive the story forward. Liner Notes: The Horror Show with B...Show More

12.15: Pacing With Chapters

21:24 | Apr 9th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a chapter? WHY is a chapter? How do we chapter, and do we always chapter the same way? Should our chapters be this many parts of speech? This episode will answer these questions and more, ex...Show More

12.15: Pacing With Chapters

21:24 | Apr 9th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley What makes a chapter? WHY is a chapter? How do we chapter, and do we always chapter the same way? Should our chapters be this many parts of speech? This episode will answer these questions and more, ex...Show More

12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure

20:26 | Apr 3rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about the structural tools we use to control pacing. These include sentence length and punctuation.   Also, white-space.   Liner note: Here is the Feb 12, 2017 Schlock Mercenary strip mentioned ar...Show More

12.14: Controlling Pacing with Structure

20:26 | Apr 3rd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Let’s talk about the structural tools we use to control pacing. These include sentence length and punctuation.   Also, white-space.   Liner note: Here is the Feb 12, 2017 Schlock Mercenary strip mentioned ar...Show More

12.13: Beautiful Prose, Purple Prose

22:34 | Mar 26th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard The rising, golden sun crested the snowcapped eastern mountains, its first morning rays pouring like molten lemon through the window to glisten and gleam from the chrome grille of the studio microphone. The...Show More

12.13: Beautiful Prose, Purple Prose

22:34 | Mar 26th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard The rising, golden sun crested the snowcapped eastern mountains, its first morning rays pouring like molten lemon through the window to glisten and gleam from the chrome grille of the studio microphone. The...Show More

12.12: Words as Words, with Linda Addison

21:07 | Mar 19th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Special Guest Linda Addison Linda Addison joined us at the World Horror Convention in 2016 for a discussion of the shapes and sounds of words as seen from the perspective of the poet, and how this approach can inform ...Show More

12.12: Words as Words, with Linda Addison

21:07 | Mar 19th, 2017

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with Special Guest Linda Addison Linda Addison joined us at the World Horror Convention in 2016 for a discussion of the shapes and sounds of words as seen from the perspective of the poet, and how this approach can inform ...Show More

12.11: Diction

19:58 | Mar 12th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley Let’s talk about word choice. And when we say “let’s” we mean “we’re going to talk to you about it. You don’t actually get to talk back.” So maybe “let’s” wasn’t the best of the possible openers. Our d...Show More

12.11: Diction

19:58 | Mar 12th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley Let’s talk about word choice. And when we say “let’s” we mean “we’re going to talk to you about it. You don’t actually get to talk back.” So maybe “let’s” wasn’t the best of the possible openers. Our d...Show More

12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style

19:13 | Mar 5th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re not talking about character voice here. We’re talking about your voice as a writer, your authorial style, and the aesthetics you employ, and how this is an expression unique to you. And with that defin...Show More

12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style

19:13 | Mar 5th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re not talking about character voice here. We’re talking about your voice as a writer, your authorial style, and the aesthetics you employ, and how this is an expression unique to you. And with that defin...Show More

12.9: Q&A on Viewpoint

25:02 | Feb 26th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard You had questions about viewpoint. Here they are! * Do you have tips and tricks for making 3rd-person omniscient compelling? * How do you make 3rd-person limited compelling? * Is it normal to need several ...Show More

12.9: Q&A on Viewpoint

25:02 | Feb 26th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard You had questions about viewpoint. Here they are! * Do you have tips and tricks for making 3rd-person omniscient compelling? * How do you make 3rd-person limited compelling? * Is it normal to need several ...Show More

12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due

14:26 | Feb 19th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Tananrive Due, whose short-fiction expertise is exemplified in her collection, Ghost Summer, joined us on the Oasis of the Seas to talk about how to use short stories to explore aspects of the craft. We disc...Show More

12.8 Short Stories as Exploration, with Tananarive Due

14:26 | Feb 19th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Tananrive Due, whose short-fiction expertise is exemplified in her collection, Ghost Summer, joined us on the Oasis of the Seas to talk about how to use short stories to explore aspects of the craft. We disc...Show More

12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens

20:27 | Feb 12th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley The third-person POV lens can be used for simultaneously describing the world to the reader and describing the character. In this episode we’ll talk about where we deploy these tools, where the pitfall...Show More

12.7: Description Through the Third Person Lens

20:27 | Feb 12th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley The third-person POV lens can be used for simultaneously describing the world to the reader and describing the character. In this episode we’ll talk about where we deploy these tools, where the pitfall...Show More

12.6: Variations on Third Person

19:13 | Feb 5th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode focuses on the third person POV, and some variations on them, like omniscient and limited, and some sub-variants like cinematic and head-hopping. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis ...Show More

12.6: Variations on Third Person

19:13 | Feb 5th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This episode focuses on the third person POV, and some variations on them, like omniscient and limited, and some sub-variants like cinematic and head-hopping. Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis ...Show More

12.5: Literary Fiction

20:18 | Jan 29th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about the genre of Literary Fiction. Our first hurdle is the word “literary” whose use in this context can imply that all other genres are somehow not literature. In that vein, then, ...Show More

12.5: Literary Fiction

20:18 | Jan 29th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about the genre of Literary Fiction. Our first hurdle is the word “literary” whose use in this context can imply that all other genres are somehow not literature. In that vein, then, ...Show More

12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints

19:11 | Jan 22nd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler Piper J. Drake joins the cast for our week-four episodes, of which this is the first. This week we’ll be drilling down into hybrid viewpoints—blending 1st and 3rd person, framing stories...Show More

12.4: Hybrid Viewpoints

19:11 | Jan 22nd, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Piper, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler Piper J. Drake joins the cast for our week-four episodes, of which this is the first. This week we’ll be drilling down into hybrid viewpoints—blending 1st and 3rd person, framing stories...Show More

12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler

23:44 | Jan 15th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler This Project in Depth episode contains spoilers for “Risk Assessment,” which is included in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12. The story was written by Sandra Tayler, and il...Show More

12.3: Project in Depth, “Risk Assessment,” by Sandra Tayler

23:44 | Jan 15th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with Sandra Tayler This Project in Depth episode contains spoilers for “Risk Assessment,” which is included in Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12. The story was written by Sandra Tayler, and il...Show More

12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person

21:27 | Jan 8th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about character voice, and how to get it right in First Person. This POV is a strong tool for developing memorable characters. We cover sentence structure, linguistic tweaks, accents,...Show More

12.2: How to Nail Character Voice in First Person

21:27 | Jan 8th, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Mary Anne, and Wesley This week we talk about character voice, and how to get it right in First Person. This POV is a strong tool for developing memorable characters. We cover sentence structure, linguistic tweaks, accents,...Show More

12.1: Variations on First Person

23:49 | Jan 1st, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re beginning a new season, and during 2017 we will be focusing our topics on structure. We are also going to shake things by expanding our cast a bit. You’ll be hearing some new voices soon! They belong t...Show More

12.1: Variations on First Person

23:49 | Jan 1st, 2017

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard We’re beginning a new season, and during 2017 we will be focusing our topics on structure. We are also going to shake things by expanding our cast a bit. You’ll be hearing some new voices soon! They belong t...Show More

11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray

24:54 | Dec 24th, 2016

Claudia Gray joined us aboard Oasis of the Seas to answer our attendees questions about the Elemental Ensemble. Here are the questions: * Can you fit an ensemble into a short story? * What the minimum size for an ensemble? Is there a perfect length?...Show More

11.52: Elemental Ensemble Q&A, With Claudia Gray

24:54 | Dec 24th, 2016

Claudia Gray joined us aboard Oasis of the Seas to answer our attendees questions about the Elemental Ensemble. Here are the questions: * Can you fit an ensemble into a short story? * What the minimum size for an ensemble? Is there a perfect length?...Show More

11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas

17:02 | Dec 18th, 2016

Lynne M. Thomas joins us to continue our discussion of the Elemental Ensemble, which is one of our favorite elemental tools. It’s not just for heists. It adds interest, emotion, and lots of plot possibilities to everything from sense of wonder to the...Show More

11.51: Ensemble as a Sub-Genre, with Lynne M. Thomas

17:02 | Dec 18th, 2016

Lynne M. Thomas joins us to continue our discussion of the Elemental Ensemble, which is one of our favorite elemental tools. It’s not just for heists. It adds interest, emotion, and lots of plot possibilities to everything from sense of wonder to the...Show More

11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood

24:06 | Dec 11th, 2016

Michael R. Underwood has talked to us about hand-selling books before, but that was about pitching to agents and editors. This time around he’s talking about placing your product in the hand of your customer, the reader. With Michael’s help, we cover...Show More

11.50: Hand-Selling Your Book to Potential Readers, with Michael R. Underwood

24:06 | Dec 11th, 2016

Michael R. Underwood has talked to us about hand-selling books before, but that was about pitching to agents and editors. This time around he’s talking about placing your product in the hand of your customer, the reader. With Michael’s help, we cover...Show More

11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas

24:17 | Dec 4th, 2016

Michael Damien Thomas, co-publisher and co-editor-in-chief of Uncanny Magazine, joined us for a discussion of the elemental genre that contains most of the stories we refer to as “heists.” It’s all about a well-rounded cast in which the group relatio...Show More

11.49: Elemental Ensemble, with Michael Damien Thomas

24:17 | Dec 4th, 2016

Michael Damien Thomas, co-publisher and co-editor-in-chief of Uncanny Magazine, joined us for a discussion of the elemental genre that contains most of the stories we refer to as “heists.” It’s all about a well-rounded cast in which the group relatio...Show More

11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch

17:56 | Nov 29th, 2016

Elizabeth Bear  and Scott Lynch joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy to talk about fantasy food, and how we engage our readers’ appetites with our fiction. We talk economics, logistics, sensory engagement, and we goof off quite a bit in the process. ...Show More

11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch

17:56 | Nov 29th, 2016

Elizabeth Bear  and Scott Lynch joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy to talk about fantasy food, and how we engage our readers’ appetites with our fiction. We talk economics, logistics, sensory engagement, and we goof off quite a bit in the process. ...Show More

11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song

22:20 | Nov 27th, 2016

DongWon Song, literary agent with HMLA, joins us for a Q&A on the elemental genre of “Issue.” Here are the questions, which were submitted by the attendees at WXR ’16: * Can only certain people tackle certain issues in certain stories? * Science Fic...Show More

11.48: Elemental Issue Q&A, with DongWon Song

22:20 | Nov 27th, 2016

DongWon Song, literary agent with HMLA, joins us for a Q&A on the elemental genre of “Issue.” Here are the questions, which were submitted by the attendees at WXR ’16: * Can only certain people tackle certain issues in certain stories? * Science Fic...Show More

11.47: Issue as a Subgenre, with Steven Barnes

24:21 | Nov 20th, 2016

Steven Barnes joins us to tackle Elemental Issue, round two, in which we look at how to address it as a sub-element. He describes the thesis/antithesis approach, and we move then to logical frameworks, and how to avoid making our stories dogmatic.   ...Show More

11.47: Issue as a Subgenre, with Steven Barnes

24:21 | Nov 20th, 2016

Steven Barnes joins us to tackle Elemental Issue, round two, in which we look at how to address it as a sub-element. He describes the thesis/antithesis approach, and we move then to logical frameworks, and how to avoid making our stories dogmatic.   ...Show More

11.46: Colonialism, with Steven Barnes, Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and Shveta Thakrar

27:02 | Nov 13th, 2016

Our listeners have been asking for an in-depth, “crunchy” episode on colonialism, and related issues like cultural appropriation, for a couple of years now. Our voices, however, are not the ones our listeners should be hearing on the subject. Finding...Show More

11.46: Colonialism, with Steven Barnes, Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and Shveta Thakrar

27:02 | Nov 13th, 2016

Our listeners have been asking for an in-depth, “crunchy” episode on colonialism, and related issues like cultural appropriation, for a couple of years now. Our voices, however, are not the ones our listeners should be hearing on the subject. Finding...Show More

11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch

24:30 | Nov 6th, 2016

For November, our elemental genre is “Issue,” and we were joined by actor, writer, and comedian Desiree Burch. The Elemental Issue is similar to the Elemental Idea, but the type of idea being explored is a point of social conflict, like racism, teen ...Show More

11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch

24:30 | Nov 6th, 2016

For November, our elemental genre is “Issue,” and we were joined by actor, writer, and comedian Desiree Burch. The Elemental Issue is similar to the Elemental Idea, but the type of idea being explored is a point of social conflict, like racism, teen ...Show More

11.Bonus-03: Some Books Have Maps in the Front, with Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James Sutter

19:45 | Nov 3rd, 2016

Three days late for the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2016, here’s a bonus episode about maps. Because nothing says “keep writing” like “hey, let’s draw a map now!” Dan and Howard were joined by Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James L. Sutter, who wante...Show More

11.Bonus-03: Some Books Have Maps in the Front, with Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James Sutter

19:45 | Nov 3rd, 2016

Three days late for the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2016, here’s a bonus episode about maps. Because nothing says “keep writing” like “hey, let’s draw a map now!” Dan and Howard were joined by Maurice Broaddus, Mur Lafferty, and James L. Sutter, who wante...Show More

11.Bonus-02: Horrifying the Children, with Darren Shan

23:32 | Nov 1st, 2016

Darren Shan, whose name you might know from Cirque du Freak (or any of fifty other books,) joined Howard, and Dan, and Steve Diamond at the World Horror Convention for a discussion about writing horror for children and young adults. We talk about whi...Show More

11.Bonus-02: Horrifying the Children, with Darren Shan

23:32 | Nov 1st, 2016

Darren Shan, whose name you might know from Cirque du Freak (or any of fifty other books,) joined Howard, and Dan, and Steve Diamond at the World Horror Convention for a discussion about writing horror for children and young adults. We talk about whi...Show More

11.44: Project in Depth, GHOST TALKERS, by Mary Robinette Kowal

33:14 | Oct 30th, 2016

Spoiler Alert!  If you haven’t yet read Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, this episode will spoil great swathes of book for you. Also, you probably won’t get as much out of it. This week’s episode is a Project in Depth discussion focusing on G...Show More

11.44: Project in Depth, GHOST TALKERS, by Mary Robinette Kowal

33:14 | Oct 30th, 2016

Spoiler Alert!  If you haven’t yet read Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, this episode will spoil great swathes of book for you. Also, you probably won’t get as much out of it. This week’s episode is a Project in Depth discussion focusing on G...Show More

11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due

19:27 | Oct 23rd, 2016

Our third Elemental Drama episode is a Q&A, featuring Tananarive Due. The questions are from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat: * Rather than having a protagonist change themselves, can elemental drama have the protagonist ch...Show More

11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due

19:27 | Oct 23rd, 2016

Our third Elemental Drama episode is a Q&A, featuring Tananarive Due. The questions are from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat: * Rather than having a protagonist change themselves, can elemental drama have the protagonist ch...Show More

11.42: Elemental Drama as a Sub-Genre

21:16 | Oct 16th, 2016

Focusing on elemental drama can be tricky. Remember, elemental drama is basically “character change.” A great many stories use character change in some way—it’s almost ubiquitous. In this episode we’ll pick at the ubiquity, and look at the many diffe...Show More

11.42: Elemental Drama as a Sub-Genre

21:16 | Oct 16th, 2016

Focusing on elemental drama can be tricky. Remember, elemental drama is basically “character change.” A great many stories use character change in some way—it’s almost ubiquitous. In this episode we’ll pick at the ubiquity, and look at the many diffe...Show More

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

20:29 | Oct 13th, 2016

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 aroun...Show More

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

20:29 | Oct 13th, 2016

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 aroun...Show More

11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe

20:02 | Oct 9th, 2016

Navah Wolfe, an editor at Saga Press, joined us to talk about the manuscripts she would really like to see. Ordinarily we don’t encourage people to write to the market, but Navah asked specifically for the opportunity to tell our listeners what she’s...Show More

11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe

20:02 | Oct 9th, 2016

Navah Wolfe, an editor at Saga Press, joined us to talk about the manuscripts she would really like to see. Ordinarily we don’t encourage people to write to the market, but Navah asked specifically for the opportunity to tell our listeners what she’s...Show More

11.40: Elemental Drama

16:22 | Oct 2nd, 2016

The word “drama” gets thrown around a lot. What do we mean when we use “drama” as an elemental genre? For us, Elemental Drama focuses on one character’s transformation, and how that transformation affects everyone around them. This is a narrow defini...Show More

11.40: Elemental Drama

16:22 | Oct 2nd, 2016

The word “drama” gets thrown around a lot. What do we mean when we use “drama” as an elemental genre? For us, Elemental Drama focuses on one character’s transformation, and how that transformation affects everyone around them. This is a narrow defini...Show More

11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout

19:45 | Sep 25th, 2016

Greg van Eekhout joined us at Phoenix Comic Con for a live-audience Q&A session about Elemental Relationship writing. Here are the questions: * What is your favorite way to establish relationships? * How do you recover when a relationship starts to ...Show More

11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout

19:45 | Sep 25th, 2016

Greg van Eekhout joined us at Phoenix Comic Con for a live-audience Q&A session about Elemental Relationship writing. Here are the questions: * What is your favorite way to establish relationships? * How do you recover when a relationship starts to ...Show More

11.38: The Elemental Relationship as a Sub-Genre

19:45 | Sep 18th, 2016

We find the elemental relationship in all kinds of stories that are not fundamentally about relationships. The intimate interaction between characters is part of how we define the characters, how we understand who they are as they go on to do the stu...Show More

11.38: The Elemental Relationship as a Sub-Genre

19:45 | Sep 18th, 2016

We find the elemental relationship in all kinds of stories that are not fundamentally about relationships. The intimate interaction between characters is part of how we define the characters, how we understand who they are as they go on to do the stu...Show More

11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez

17:29 | Sep 11th, 2016

Live from Phoenix Comic Con, Gama Martinez joins us for a discussion of casting your book. This is the process by which you create a cast of characters for your story ahead of creating the story itself, allowing you to stay ahead of your default deci...Show More

11.37: Casting Your Book, with Gama Martinez

17:29 | Sep 11th, 2016

Live from Phoenix Comic Con, Gama Martinez joins us for a discussion of casting your book. This is the process by which you create a cast of characters for your story ahead of creating the story itself, allowing you to stay ahead of your default deci...Show More

11.36: The Elemental Relationship

17:12 | Sep 4th, 2016

In elemental relationship stories the primary page-turning driver is the relationship between two or three characters ¹. In this episode we discuss ways in which we can write character relationships—parent/child, buddy-cop, romance, and more—to be co...Show More

11.36: The Elemental Relationship

17:12 | Sep 4th, 2016

In elemental relationship stories the primary page-turning driver is the relationship between two or three characters ¹. In this episode we discuss ways in which we can write character relationships—parent/child, buddy-cop, romance, and more—to be co...Show More

11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab

22:03 | Aug 28th, 2016

For our third Elemental Humor episode Victoria Schwab joins us as we field questions taken from our audience at Phoenix Comic-Con. Here are the questions: * How do you add humor to a serious story without breaking the tension? * How do I move beyond...Show More

11.35: Elemental Humor Q&A with Victoria Schwab

22:03 | Aug 28th, 2016

For our third Elemental Humor episode Victoria Schwab joins us as we field questions taken from our audience at Phoenix Comic-Con. Here are the questions: * How do you add humor to a serious story without breaking the tension? * How do I move beyond...Show More

11.34: Humor as a Sub-Genre

22:12 | Aug 21st, 2016

Humor is present as an element, at least to some degree, in a substantial amount of the media we consume. In this episode we discuss some stylistic tools for applying humor  to our work, and how these tools can best be employed. WX Trivia: Episode 11...Show More

11.34: Humor as a Sub-Genre

22:12 | Aug 21st, 2016

Humor is present as an element, at least to some degree, in a substantial amount of the media we consume. In this episode we discuss some stylistic tools for applying humor  to our work, and how these tools can best be employed. WX Trivia: Episode 11...Show More

11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab

21:07 | Aug 14th, 2016

Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joined us in Phoenix to talk about crossover fiction—in this context the term means books that target a given demographic but which have a much broader appeal, or books which straddle the line between ...Show More

11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab

21:07 | Aug 14th, 2016

Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joined us in Phoenix to talk about crossover fiction—in this context the term means books that target a given demographic but which have a much broader appeal, or books which straddle the line between ...Show More

11.32: The Element of Humor

23:22 | Aug 7th, 2016

“Talking about humor is the least funny thing you can do.” —Howard Tayler You have been warned! and with that out of the way… What is the driving force that gets readers to turn pages in a book that is primarily a work of humor? More importantly, how...Show More

11.32: The Element of Humor

23:22 | Aug 7th, 2016

“Talking about humor is the least funny thing you can do.” —Howard Tayler You have been warned! and with that out of the way… What is the driving force that gets readers to turn pages in a book that is primarily a work of humor? More importantly, how...Show More

11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips

16:46 | Jul 31st, 2016

Trina Marie Phillips joined us at Phoenix Comic Con to talk about her work as a futurist. Futurism, for those unfamiliar with our use of the term here, is related to science fiction, but it remains rooted in existing technology and trends, then seeks...Show More

11.31: Futurism, with Trina Marie Phillips

16:46 | Jul 31st, 2016

Trina Marie Phillips joined us at Phoenix Comic Con to talk about her work as a futurist. Futurism, for those unfamiliar with our use of the term here, is related to science fiction, but it remains rooted in existing technology and trends, then seeks...Show More

11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A

20:29 | Jul 24th, 2016

We fielded the following questions about the “Thriller” elemental genre from listeners on Facebook and Twitter: * How do I build tension consistently through my story? * How do you maintain tension during dialog? * When do you not use a cliffhanger?...Show More

11.30: Elemental Thriller Q&A

20:29 | Jul 24th, 2016

We fielded the following questions about the “Thriller” elemental genre from listeners on Facebook and Twitter: * How do I build tension consistently through my story? * How do you maintain tension during dialog? * When do you not use a cliffhanger?...Show More

11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre

20:03 | Jul 17th, 2016

Thrillers are, by their very nature, page-turners. In this episode we look at the thriller element as part of a story whose principal driver is one of the other elemental genres. We consider some examples of blended-with-thrill stories, and then dril...Show More

11.29: Elemental Thriller as a Subgenre

20:03 | Jul 17th, 2016

Thrillers are, by their very nature, page-turners. In this episode we look at the thriller element as part of a story whose principal driver is one of the other elemental genres. We consider some examples of blended-with-thrill stories, and then dril...Show More

11.28: Impostor Syndrome, with Alyssa Wong

26:27 | Jul 10th, 2016

Alyssa Wong, Campbell Award nominee and Nebula Award winner, joins us to talk about impostor syndrome. This is the frame of mind that many successful writers suffer from, in which they worry that they’re not really good enough at writing to be enjoyi...Show More

11.28: Impostor Syndrome, with Alyssa Wong

26:27 | Jul 10th, 2016

Alyssa Wong, Campbell Award nominee and Nebula Award winner, joins us to talk about impostor syndrome. This is the frame of mind that many successful writers suffer from, in which they worry that they’re not really good enough at writing to be enjoyi...Show More

11.27: The Elemental Thriller

16:32 | Jul 3rd, 2016

Let’s get this out of the way up front: in the syntax of elemental genres, the phrase “the element of thriller” is clunky. But we’ll say it anyway. We discuss the difference between the drivers in thrillers, horror stories, and mysteries, and use the...Show More

11.27: The Elemental Thriller

16:32 | Jul 3rd, 2016

Let’s get this out of the way up front: in the syntax of elemental genres, the phrase “the element of thriller” is clunky. But we’ll say it anyway. We discuss the difference between the drivers in thrillers, horror stories, and mysteries, and use the...Show More

11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A

19:19 | Jun 26th, 2016

In this episode we field some questions about elemental mystery. Here they are! * How do you balance between two mysteries in the same story? * What types of mysteries can fit well as sub-plots? * What do you do when beta readers figure out the myst...Show More

11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A

19:19 | Jun 26th, 2016

In this episode we field some questions about elemental mystery. Here they are! * How do you balance between two mysteries in the same story? * What types of mysteries can fit well as sub-plots? * What do you do when beta readers figure out the myst...Show More

11.25: Elemental Mystery is Everywhere

17:25 | Jun 19th, 2016

Per our Elemental Genre theme, this week we further explore elemental mystery. Elemental mystery can be found in any work in which our curiosity is what keeps us turning pages. The type of satisfaction we feel at the reveal may also reveal the elemen...Show More

11.25: Elemental Mystery is Everywhere

17:25 | Jun 19th, 2016

Per our Elemental Genre theme, this week we further explore elemental mystery. Elemental mystery can be found in any work in which our curiosity is what keeps us turning pages. The type of satisfaction we feel at the reveal may also reveal the elemen...Show More

11.24: Stakes!

18:44 | Jun 12th, 2016

We talk a lot about “raising the stakes” in our writing. When we say “stakes,” we’re referring to the things that keep our characters involved in the conflict, rather than just walking away and doing something else. We dig into what this really means...Show More

11.24: Stakes!

18:44 | Jun 12th, 2016

We talk a lot about “raising the stakes” in our writing. When we say “stakes,” we’re referring to the things that keep our characters involved in the conflict, rather than just walking away and doing something else. We dig into what this really means...Show More

11.23: The Element of Mystery

19:11 | Jun 5th, 2016

Mystery may well be the most common element in use, at least in some form or another, across the many bookshelf genres comprising “fiction.” We discuss the driving force of elemental mystery, how to evoke those feelings in the reader, and the importa...Show More

11.23: The Element of Mystery

19:11 | Jun 5th, 2016

Mystery may well be the most common element in use, at least in some form or another, across the many bookshelf genres comprising “fiction.” We discuss the driving force of elemental mystery, how to evoke those feelings in the reader, and the importa...Show More

11.22: Examining Unconscious Biases, with Shannon Hale

20:31 | May 29th, 2016

Shannon Hale joins us at LTUE for a live-audience session in which we explore gender biases, and extrapolate from there to our many other unconscious biases. Our unconscious biases are not just the things that we consider to be “just the way things a...Show More

11.22: Examining Unconscious Biases, with Shannon Hale

20:31 | May 29th, 2016

Shannon Hale joins us at LTUE for a live-audience session in which we explore gender biases, and extrapolate from there to our many other unconscious biases. Our unconscious biases are not just the things that we consider to be “just the way things a...Show More

11.21: Q&A on Elemental Horror, with Steve Diamond

20:43 | May 22nd, 2016

Steve Diamond joins us for our third and final Elemental Horror episode as we field your questions about this particular building block. Here are the questions we selected from your submissions: * If I want to make peanut butter terrifying without b...Show More

11.21: Q&A on Elemental Horror, with Steve Diamond

20:43 | May 22nd, 2016

Steve Diamond joins us for our third and final Elemental Horror episode as we field your questions about this particular building block. Here are the questions we selected from your submissions: * If I want to make peanut butter terrifying without b...Show More

11.20: Horror as a Subgenre

22:04 | May 15th, 2016

Steve Diamond joins us again to talk horror, this time about using elemental horror as part of our stories’ elemental ensemble. We discuss how the sense of dread can be a page-turning motivation, and how it can complement the other “keep on reading” ...Show More

11.20: Horror as a Subgenre

22:04 | May 15th, 2016

Steve Diamond joins us again to talk horror, this time about using elemental horror as part of our stories’ elemental ensemble. We discuss how the sense of dread can be a page-turning motivation, and how it can complement the other “keep on reading” ...Show More

11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney

19:03 | May 8th, 2016

How do we go about describing the clothing our characters are wearing? How do we use that to add depth to our story? What are the common mistakes that writers make when they start dressing their characters? Rebecca McKinney joined us on stage at LTUE...Show More

11.19: Fashion for Writers, with Rebecca McKinney

19:03 | May 8th, 2016

How do we go about describing the clothing our characters are wearing? How do we use that to add depth to our story? What are the common mistakes that writers make when they start dressing their characters? Rebecca McKinney joined us on stage at LTUE...Show More

11.18: Elemental Horror

21:41 | May 1st, 2016

Steve Diamond joins us to kick off our month on the elemental genre of horror. We explore the emotional components that readers seek from horror, and then drill down into the ways that we can create those reactions in our readers. Credits: This episo...Show More

11.18: Elemental Horror

21:41 | May 1st, 2016

Steve Diamond joins us to kick off our month on the elemental genre of horror. We explore the emotional components that readers seek from horror, and then drill down into the ways that we can create those reactions in our readers. Credits: This episo...Show More

11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A

22:33 | Apr 24th, 2016

You may still have questions about how to apply elemental adventure in your work. Hopefully your questions are similar to the ones we collected below, because these are the ones we answered: * What do readers like more: protagonists going through lo...Show More

11.17: Elemental Adventure Q&A

22:33 | Apr 24th, 2016

You may still have questions about how to apply elemental adventure in your work. Hopefully your questions are similar to the ones we collected below, because these are the ones we answered: * What do readers like more: protagonists going through lo...Show More

11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre

22:59 | Apr 17th, 2016

Let’s be adventurous. Let’s move beyond simply being cooks, and strive to become chefs. In this episode we explore using the element of adventure as an ingredient in something that has far more than adventure going on in it. Why do we like adventure?...Show More

11.16: Adventure as a Subgenre

22:59 | Apr 17th, 2016

Let’s be adventurous. Let’s move beyond simply being cooks, and strive to become chefs. In this episode we explore using the element of adventure as an ingredient in something that has far more than adventure going on in it. Why do we like adventure?...Show More

11.15: The Environment, with L.E. Modessit, Jr.

17:21 | Apr 10th, 2016

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. joined us at LTUE for a world building discussion centered around the way the environment informs the story. We talk about lead in Roman plumbing, water lilies in Las Vegas sewers, and coal power in the British Empire, and how thes...Show More

11.15: The Environment, with L.E. Modessit, Jr.

17:21 | Apr 10th, 2016

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. joined us at LTUE for a world building discussion centered around the way the environment informs the story. We talk about lead in Roman plumbing, water lilies in Las Vegas sewers, and coal power in the British Empire, and how thes...Show More

11.14: The Element of Adventure

20:38 | Apr 3rd, 2016

We’ll be looking at the element of adventure in April. Our exploration begins with a description and definition of this element, and how it is discreet from other elemental genres. The easiest way to describe it is that the element of adventure evoke...Show More

11.14: The Element of Adventure

20:38 | Apr 3rd, 2016

We’ll be looking at the element of adventure in April. Our exploration begins with a description and definition of this element, and how it is discreet from other elemental genres. The easiest way to describe it is that the element of adventure evoke...Show More

11.13: Elemental Idea Q&A

16:07 | Mar 27th, 2016

Shannon Hale joined us at LTUE 2016 to field questions about the Idea elemental genre. Here are the questions: * How do you keep an elemental idea story from feeling like you’re just waiting for the idea to “unlock.” * How do you tie your character ...Show More

11.13: Elemental Idea Q&A

16:07 | Mar 27th, 2016

Shannon Hale joined us at LTUE 2016 to field questions about the Idea elemental genre. Here are the questions: * How do you keep an elemental idea story from feeling like you’re just waiting for the idea to “unlock.” * How do you tie your character ...Show More

11.12: Idea as Subgenre, With Nancy Fulda

19:35 | Mar 20th, 2016

Nancy Fulda is back for our second episode on the Idea elemental genre. We cover some tools for exploring an idea, and then drill down a bit on how to use that exploration, or even multiple explorations as “seasoning” elements for a larger work. Cred...Show More

11.12: Idea as Subgenre, With Nancy Fulda

19:35 | Mar 20th, 2016

Nancy Fulda is back for our second episode on the Idea elemental genre. We cover some tools for exploring an idea, and then drill down a bit on how to use that exploration, or even multiple explorations as “seasoning” elements for a larger work. Cred...Show More

11.11: Self Publishing in 2016, with Michaelbrent Collings

18:13 | Mar 13th, 2016

Recorded live at LTUE, Michaelbrent Collings guest-starred for a discussion about self publishing. The landscape continues to change, and Collings is fully engaged in it. He begins by stressing the importance of truly understanding the craft of writi...Show More

11.11: Self Publishing in 2016, with Michaelbrent Collings

18:13 | Mar 13th, 2016

Recorded live at LTUE, Michaelbrent Collings guest-starred for a discussion about self publishing. The landscape continues to change, and Collings is fully engaged in it. He begins by stressing the importance of truly understanding the craft of writi...Show More

11.10: Idea, as Genre, with Nancy Fulda

20:27 | Mar 6th, 2016

Nancy Fulda joined us in the dark dungeons of Dragonsteel Entertainment to discuss the elemental genre of “Idea.” It’s tricky, because “Idea” in the elemental genres model isn’t quite the same as “Idea” in the M.I.C.E. quotient. There’s a lot of over...Show More

11.10: Idea, as Genre, with Nancy Fulda

20:27 | Mar 6th, 2016

Nancy Fulda joined us in the dark dungeons of Dragonsteel Entertainment to discuss the elemental genre of “Idea.” It’s tricky, because “Idea” in the elemental genres model isn’t quite the same as “Idea” in the M.I.C.E. quotient. There’s a lot of over...Show More

11.09: Q&A on the Element of Wonder

17:48 | Feb 28th, 2016

Gama Ray Martinez joins us at LTUE to field questions on the Element of Wonder, which were submitted by members of our audience. Here are the questions: * How do you create wonder in non-genre stories, where there are no super-powers, spaceships, or...Show More

11.09: Q&A on the Element of Wonder

17:48 | Feb 28th, 2016

Gama Ray Martinez joins us at LTUE to field questions on the Element of Wonder, which were submitted by members of our audience. Here are the questions: * How do you create wonder in non-genre stories, where there are no super-powers, spaceships, or...Show More

11.08: Wonder as a Subgenre

18:32 | Feb 21st, 2016

If the Element of Wonder is the driving force behind “sense of wonder” science fiction and fantasy, then that same element can be used to give wondrous flavor to stories whose driving force lies among the other elemental genres. We talk about how to ...Show More

11.08: Wonder as a Subgenre

18:32 | Feb 21st, 2016

If the Element of Wonder is the driving force behind “sense of wonder” science fiction and fantasy, then that same element can be used to give wondrous flavor to stories whose driving force lies among the other elemental genres. We talk about how to ...Show More

11.07: The Convention Survival Kit, with Gail Carriger

18:32 | Feb 14th, 2016

Gail Carriger joined us at WorldCon in Spokane, Washington, to talk about her Convention Survival Kit, which is full of things most of us wish we’d known to bring to conventions back when we first started attending them. Pronunciation note: Brandon u...Show More

11.07: The Convention Survival Kit, with Gail Carriger

18:32 | Feb 14th, 2016

Gail Carriger joined us at WorldCon in Spokane, Washington, to talk about her Convention Survival Kit, which is full of things most of us wish we’d known to bring to conventions back when we first started attending them. Pronunciation note: Brandon u...Show More

11.06: The Element of Wonder

18:15 | Feb 7th, 2016

We’ve introduced the concept of Elemental Genre already. It’s time to start digging in to the elements themselves, beginning with the Element of Wonder. We started with this one because “sense of wonder” is a term that gets used to describe what make...Show More

11.05: Writing and World Building for Role Playing Games

17:10 | Jan 31st, 2016

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 tha...Show More

11.04: Newton’s Laws of Writing

19:17 | Jan 24th, 2016

In the interest of experimenting with metaphor, and our ongoing need to keep writing, we played with the idea of mapping Newton’s Laws onto the process of writing. Because obviously a wordcount at rest tends to remain at rest…

11.03: Layering The Elemental Genres

18:41 | Jan 17th, 2016

For our second Elemental Genre episode we discuss using the concept of Elemental Genre to help you manage sub-plots, character arcs, and genre mashups. We’ve each used the tool in these ways, and we provide examples from our own writing, as well as f...Show More

11.2: How To Get The Most Out Of A Conference, with Kathy Chung

19:48 | Jan 10th, 2016

Kathy Chung runs the Surrey International Writing Conference, which is a professional development event, rather than one of the fan-run conventions, which are primarily reader and/or consumer events. She also helped us put together the 2015 Out Of Ex...Show More

Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre

16:52 | Jan 3rd, 2016

The word “genre” has a lot of weight to it. Arguments about whether a particular work is, or is not, part of a given genre are long, and tedious. Season Eleven will not be engaging in those arguments. We’re giving all that a wide miss by adding an ad...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.52: Moving On, with Ellen Kushner

21:50 | Dec 27th, 2015

Ellen Kushner joins us for the last episode of Season 10. Per the title, folks, it’s time to be done. What does “done” mean? How do you go about declaring a project “finished” when you know there are still things wrong with it? How do you clear your ...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.51: Q&A on Showing Your Work, with Daniel José Older

22:50 | Dec 20th, 2015

Daniel José Older joins us for a Q&A on showing your work around. Here are the questions, which were submitted by attendees at the Out of Excuses workshop: * What’s the best way to meet editors and agents at conventions? * How do you write a good qu...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.50: How to Hand-Sell Your Manuscript to Agents and Editors, with Michael Underwood and Marco Palmieri

16:48 | Dec 13th, 2015

Marco Palmieri and Michael Underwood took the stage with Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy 2015 to discuss hand-selling manuscripts. Marco Palmieri is a senior editor at Tor, and Michael Underwood is an author, and is also the North American Sales and Ma...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.49: What Do I Do With This Thing Now?

20:19 | Dec 6th, 2015

We’re at the end of our Season Ten Master Class, and if you’ve been diligent about the homework, you may very well have a finished manuscript in your hands. What do you do with it? Daniel José Older joins us for a bit of reminiscence. We talk about s...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.48: Project in Depth, The Devil’s Only Friend

21:01 | Nov 29th, 2015

Spoiler Alert! We’ll be discussing the latest John Cleaver book from Dan Wells with author, podcaster, and unrepentant bacon-lover Dan Wells! If you haven’t read it, and you want to be surprised by it, stop listening and grab a copy now! If you have ...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.47: Q&A on Revision

19:51 | Nov 22nd, 2015

And now for your questions about revision. Or rather, questions from the WXR attendees, who were aboard the Independence of the Seas with us (the answers to these questions are secreted away in the audio file…): * During revision, when do you think ...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?

23:27 | Nov 15th, 2015

The microphones again find us aboard the Independence of the Seas*, to talk about how terribly ugly this manuscript is, and what we can do to make it pretty. In this episode we drill down on line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph revisions. This stage ...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.45: Q&A at the GenCon Writing Symposium, with Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood

27:06 | Nov 8th, 2015

Dan and Howard are joined by Kameron Hurley, James L. Sutter, and Michael Underwood for an anything-goes Q&A at the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium. We had reached the end of our two-hour block, but the audience hungered for the chance to ask their que...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.44: How Do I Fix What is Broken?

21:31 | Nov 1st, 2015

November is “Revision” month here in the Writing Excuses Season 10 Master Class, so while many of you may be tempted by NaNoWriMo, there’s a different kind of work to be done… Delia Sherman joins us again, this time for a frank talk about the tools a...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.43: Q&A on Endings, with Delia Sherman

22:38 | Oct 25th, 2015

Delia Sherman joined us aboard the Independence of the Seas for our question-and-answer installment on endings. The questions came from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop, which was, lest anyone forget, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.  ...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.42: How In The World Do I Tie All This Together?

21:54 | Oct 18th, 2015

Nalo Hopkinson joins us again, at sea, for our second Master Class installment on endings. We cover some of the reasons why an ending might not be working, and then talk about the sorts of diagnoses that will help you solve the problem. You’ll likely...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.41: Your Character’s Moral Pendulum

16:16 | Oct 11th, 2015

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 th...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.40: What’s the Difference Between Ending and Stopping?

18:38 | Oct 4th, 2015

Nalo Hopkinson joins us for this episode, which we recorded before a live audience of Out Of Excuses Workshop & Retreat attendees. October’s master class episodes focus on endings, and in this first installment we talk about what an ending really is....Show More

Writing Excuses 10.39: Q&A on Plot Twists with Kevin J. Anderson

17:14 | Sep 27th, 2015

Kevin J. Anderson joined us at Sasquan/WorldCon 73 to take questions about plot twists. Here are the questions that came in from our live audience: * Genre Twists: good, bad, or ugly? * Can you compare and contrast a good plot twist with a bad one? ...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.38: How Does Context Shape Dialog?

21:51 | Sep 20th, 2015

Our second installment for the Master Class’s month of context covers the way dialog between characters may change meaning depending upon the context you create for them. This context may be the setting or genre, and it may also be the “beats” in whi...Show More

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

18:21 | Sep 13th, 2015

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 Mar...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.36: How Does Context Shape Plot Twists?

19:46 | Sep 6th, 2015

We’ve talked about plot twists before. This episode covers the way in which the type of plot twist is dependent on, or signaled by, the context of the story. Getting plot twists right may mean surprising the reader, but it’s just as important to have...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.35: Breaking In, With Charlie N. Holmberg

16:15 | Aug 30th, 2015

Charlie N. Holmberg, who was recently signed by Amazon’s 47 North imprint, joined us in front of a live audience it Sasquan (the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention) to talk about breaking in to the industry. Brandon and Dan broke in a decade ago, ...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.34: Q&A on Pacing

19:40 | Aug 23rd, 2015

We wrap up this month’s discussion of pacing with a Q&A. Here are the questions we pulled out of the virtual hat (read: Twitter) for answering during the episode: * What are some early indications of a pacing problem? * How do you chart pacing so th...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.33: Combat, with Marie Brennan

19:01 | Aug 16th, 2015

Marie Brennan joins us again, this time for a discussion about writing combat. She’s studied fencing, combat choreography, and is *this close* to having a black belt in shotokan karate, bringing a valuable perspective to the discussion. Also, she’s w...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.32: How Do I Control the Speed of the Story?

19:07 | Aug 9th, 2015

As we said last week, we’re talking about pacing, and we’ve divided the concept into two parts. Last week we covered “sense of progress.” This week we’re talking about the passage of time. We discuss the tools we use, some of which are very mechanica...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.31: How Do I Control the Reader’s Sense of Progress?

18:57 | Aug 2nd, 2015

This month’s Master Class episodes focus on pacing, and we’re dividing the concept of pacing into two parts: the first is the sense of progress within the story, and the second is the sense of the passage of time. In this episode we tackle that first...Show More

Writing Excuses 10.30: Q&A on Middles, with Marie Brennan

19:45 | Jul 26th, 2015

Marie Brennan joins us again, this time to help us field your questions about middles. Here are the questions we collected from the various social media feeds: * How do you maintain interest without having something explode every other chapter? * In...Show More