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Writing Excuses

Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart.

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17.20: Basics of Ensemble Characterization

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Zoraida Cordova, Kaela Rivera, and Howard TaylerWhat's the difference between an ensemble story, and a story the has a lot of characters in it? Zoraida Cordova joins us for this episode, kicking off an eight-episode mini-master-class about ensembles. In this episode we discuss what makes ensembles work, and how we distinguish the "pro-protagonist" from the "co-protagonist" as we create character arcs.Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.

15mins

15 May 2022

Rank #1

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17.19: Working in a Collaborative Environment

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Megan LloydMegan Lloyd returns to the podcast to talk us through the process of creating something in a collaborative environment, whether it's a pair of authors working together, or a dozen people working to write, storyboard, and animate a television series.Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

17mins

8 May 2022

Rank #2

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17.18: How to be Funny, with Jody Lynn Nye

Your Hosts: Dan Wells and Brandon Sanderson, with special guest Jody Lynn NyeSo, you've decided you want something to be funny. How do you go about making that happen? Jody Lynn Nye joined Dan and Brandon at LTUE, and pitched this topic to them. And yes, it's much more than just "delivery, delivery, delivery."Liner Notes: "It's always more funny when Howard's not here." —Brandon Sanderson at LTUE 2022 (posted here for posterity)Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

17mins

1 May 2022

Rank #3

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17.17: Writing in the Public Domain

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Gama MartinezDid you know that there are some famous intellectual properties which have entered the public domain, and which you can therefore use to create your own stories? It's true! Gama Martinez (whose God of Neverland novel features Peter Pan) joined Dan and Brandon at LTUE to talk about how cool this is, and (more importantly) what kinds of things authors need to do in order to make sure they're only using the public domain bits of the properties in question.Liner Notes: Need a list of things that entered the public domain in 2022? Here you go!Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

13mins

24 Apr 2022

Rank #4

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17.16: Miscellaneous Structures

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard TaylerThus far we've attempted to organize our discussion of sub-, micro-, and other alternative structures  with specific categories, but this domain is a lot larger than that. This final episode with our guest host Peng Shepherd has been titled "Miscellaneous Structures" because, y'know, sometimes the last bucket in your row of carefully, taxonomically-labeled buckets needs to be "miscellaneous."Liner Notes: Howard mentions "LTUE" during the episode. Hey, guess what! The next few episodes following this one were (will have been?) recorded at LTUE!Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

18mins

17 Apr 2022

Rank #5

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17.15: Storytelling in the Footnotes

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard TaylerYou probably already know what footnotes are¹, but have you ever seen a story told through the footnotes²?  It's similar to the story-within-a-story structure, but there's more to it than that. In this episode our guest host Peng Shepherd explores footnote storytelling³ with us.Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson———¹ This is an example of a footnote.² This is not an example of footnote storytelling.³ With the addition of a third footnote, maaaybe there's a beginning, middle, and end, and therefore a story?

21mins

10 Apr 2022

Rank #6

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17.14: Structuring for Disordered or Order-less Reading Order

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard TaylerGuest host Peng Shepherd leads our discussion of "order-less reading order" (after we get past the business of "having too much fun with the episode title"). But what do we even mean by "order-less" or "disordered?" At one level, we mean you can just pick up the story anywhere and start reading. Kind of like TV series prior to the advent of the fully serial series. But kind of unlike it, because how does this work within just one book?Liner Notes: For good examples of non-order-dependent stories, consider schlockmercenary.com, The Lady Astronaut universe, DISCWORLD, Seventy Maxims (annotated),Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

21mins

3 Apr 2022

Rank #7

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17.13: Structuring Around a Thing

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard TaylerOur exploration of sub- and micro-structures continues with guest host Peng Shepherd. This week we're talking about how a story can be structured around a "thing." The simplest explanatory example would be structuring around a map, which is where we start the episode... kind of like how The Lord of the Rings starts in The Shire.This episode does not end with even one of us climbing a volcano.Liner Notes:  Tower of Babel, by Josiah Bancroft The Storyteller's Tarot SpreadCredits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

19mins

27 Mar 2022

Rank #8

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17.12: Structuring a Story Within a Story

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard TaylerOne common structure—both macro and micro—is the "story within a story," or "framing story" structure, and yet somehow we've never really explored it on Writing Excuses. Guest host Peng Shepherd is here to help us set things right.Liner Notes: Here are some examples of story-within-a-story structure... Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons Neverending Story, by Michael Ende One Thousand and One Nights Sun the Moon and the Stars, by Stephen Brust Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. HarrowCredits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

20mins

20 Mar 2022

Rank #9

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17.11: Structuring with Multiple Timelines

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard TaylerGuest host Peng Shepherd continues to lead our exploration of sub- and micro-structures by taking us into the scaffolding of in media res, flashbacks, and other tools for structuring a story by telling it out of chronological order. We also cover how to do this without breaking the flow of the story.Liner Notes: The "trousers of time" book Howard referenced was Jingo, by Terry Pratchett.Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

19mins

13 Mar 2022

Rank #10