Rank #1: Writing Excuses 10.35: Breaking In, With Charlie N. Holmberg
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, and Howard never actually bothered breaking in. This episode is brought to you by David Farland’s writing workshops at mystorydoctor.com, whose URL completely escaped Howard during the episode. Here are two coupon codes: * August50 gets $50 off any course regularly priced $399 * August100 gets $100 off any course regularly priced $749
Rank #2: 12.40: Structuring a Novel
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 outline, map, and/or plan our novel writing? Reference Note: “Scene and sequel” comes to us from Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, first published in 1965 (52 years ago.) Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Rank #3: Writing Excuses 10.49: What Do I Do With This Thing Now?
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 some of our first submissions, and what we did right, wrong, and weirdly. We cover our criteria for selecting publishers to whom we’d like to send our stuff, and we include the shiny intangibles in that list. This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in an abandoned missile silo by Alex Jackson.
Rank #4: Writing Excuses 10.25: What Makes a Scene?
What defines a scene? How do we, as writers, structure things using scenes? When does a scene begin, when does it end, and when has it gone on too long? We each do this a little differently, and obviously the definitions and processes will vary widely across mediums. In this episode we talk about how we do this, and we make reference to Scene/Sequel format, the MICE quotient, and pacing.
Rank #5: Writing Excuses 10.42: How In The World Do I Tie All This Together?
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 need to dig deep in your toolbox. Our episodes covering the MICE quotient, promises made to the readers, and the Hollywood formula may be worth reviewing in this process.
Rank #6: Writing Excuses 10.31: How Do I Control the Reader’s Sense of Progress?
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 bit, and discuss how we communicate progress to the readers. We talk a bit about the concept of “promises made to the reader,” which we covered in more detail during episode 10.14. You may want to refer back to that at some point.
Rank #7: Writing Excuses 10.41: Your Character’s Moral Pendulum
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 them. We talk about how we swing the pendulum, what difficulties we encounter, and what sorts of things we want to have happen to our reader when it moves.
Rank #8: Writing Excuses 10.20: How Do I Write a Story, Not an Encyclopedia?
You’ve done piles of world building. How do you convey this world to reader without infodumping? We talk about the different skill levels involved, and then the techniques that you’ll be using as you get better and better at what is probably the most critical skill unique to genre fiction writers.
Rank #9: Writing Excuses 10.26: Q&A on Scenes and Description
We close June’s Master Class episodes in the usual manner, with a Q&A from our listeners and followers on Twitter. * How do you “Show, don’t tell” a character’s thoughts? * How do you describe a character’s appearance when they’re in their own POV? * What’s the difference between scene and setting? * How does your writing environment affect the scene you’re writing? * Can an evocative fantasy setting be described effectively in a short story?
Rank #10: 13.1: Hero, Protagonist, Main Character
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 the same person?” Because that’s the elephant in the room. Or maybe it’s three elephants. Or two. Sometimes there’s no elephant, and if you look carefully you can see an elephant-shaped hole, which is probably more like a negative number of elephants. Liner Notes: We referenced The Hollywood Formula, which was introduced to us by Lou Anders in Episode 6.18. We also keep saying “protag” as a verb, which to us means “doing proactive protagonist things.” Howard may have made up this word, but its true provenance has been lost to the mists of anxiety of influence. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. For audio quality purposes the studio contained zero elephants.
Rank #11: Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre
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 adjective, and defining a new term: Elemental Genre. During 2016 we are going to explore what we write, why we write, and how we write in much the same way as previous seasons have, but our guidepost this year will be this concept of Elemental Genres. In January we’ll stay high-level and firm up the framework. Starting in February we’ll drill down on each of the Elemental Genres, and explore the writing process. Here’s what the year will look like, month-by-month: January: Introduction February: Wonder March: Idea April: Adventure May: Horror June: Mystery July: Thriller August: Humor September: Relationship October: Drama November: Issue December: Ensemble We’re really excited about this year’s format, and we’re confident that by examining our writing in this way we’ll learn (and perhaps even teach!) some new things. Note: 2016 is a leap year, but this episode was recorded in 2015. When we said “it’s not a leap year” we were confused.
Rank #12: Writing Excuses 10.48: Project in Depth, The Devil’s Only Friend
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 read it, we apologize on Dan’s behalf for any emotional scarring you may have experienced. Now… give the episode a listen, and learn how Dan managed to do that to you. This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in an orbital communications array by Alex Jackson.
Rank #13: 12.24: Creating Great Outlines
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
Rank #14: Writing Excuses 10.44: How Do I Fix What is Broken?
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 and techniques we use during our revisions. This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a cloud fortress above Lake Michigan by Alex Jackson.
Rank #15: 12.15: Pacing With Chapters
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, except for that last question, to which the answer is “probably not.” Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Rank #16: 12.45: Structuring a Series
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 affects the structure. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
Rank #17: 13.14: Character Nuance
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 talk about how to write them.)
Rank #18: 12.6: Variations on Third Person
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 of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Rank #19: 12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style
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 definition out of the way, our discussion focuses around how we go about identifying, developing, and embracing our personal styles. (And, of course, when this is something to actually worry about it.) Liner Notes: here is Corinne Duyvis’ FAQ and commentary about the Twitter hashtag #ownvoices, and the movement it describes. Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered in a secret laboratory by Alex Jackson
Rank #20: 11.39: Elemental Relationship Q&A, with Greg van Eekhout
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 feel forced? * How do you show a “best friend” relationship? * How do you decide the pacing of the romance? * Do you try to make the nature of character relationships clear, or do you leave it to subtext? * How do you go about writing transsexual relationships? * What are your favorite relationships to write? * How do I write the beginning of a relationship between characters the reader has not yet really met? * How do you transform love into hate, and vice-versa? * When writing a love triangle, how do you avoid telegraphing the final resolution? * Do you have recommendations for books that focus on familial friend relationships rather than romance? Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic-Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson