719 episodes

Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler discuss writing techniques in a fast-paced format. A weekly podcast about the craft and business of writing.

Writing Excuses Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

    • Fiction
    • 4.8 • 85 Ratings

Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler discuss writing techniques in a fast-paced format. A weekly podcast about the craft and business of writing.

    19.20: How to Make Worlds Feel Big Without Overwhelming the Reader (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding: Focusing on Scale)

    19.20: How to Make Worlds Feel Big Without Overwhelming the Reader (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding: Focusing on Scale)

    How do you use language and scale to focus your writing? Today, we think about scale and movement across vast spaces. What do characters’ movements tell us about empires and also—force? We talk about Martine’s incredible work establishing an empire across time, not (just) space. We read aloud some of Martine’s writing, and try to understand exactly how they work, and what they’re doing to build the novel’s world. 

    A refresher on why Worldbuilding is essential and some working definitions of how we want to talk about it. After the break, we discuss why we chose this book and highlight what it does well. As always in our close reading series, we distill each text’s elements into approachable steps for you to take in your own writing. 

    Thing of the Week: 
    Softboiled eggs in an instant pot: 1.5 cups of fridge-cold water. Add 2-6 eggs onto the little trey. Pressure cook for low on one minute, and then release the pressure after 90 seconds. Remove the eggs (use tongs!), and put them in a bowl of fridge-cold water for one minute. Now, try them! If thye’re too runny, then for your next bath, increase your wait time for pressure release by 5 seconds. If they’re too firm, reduce the wait time by five seconds. That one variable: how long you wait before releasing pressure, is the only one you need to worry about. (Does this resonate with our study of worldbuilding? Maybe? DM us on Instagram and tell us what the metaphor or analogy is for you! @writing_excuses ) 

    Homework:
    Take one of your works in progress, and write three paragraphs, each describing a different kind of scale: 
    1. A scale of time
    2. A scale of place/ space
    3. Emotional scale (fear, joy, ambition, sadness)

    Here’s a link to buy your copy of “A Memory Called Empire” if you haven’t already:
    https://bookshop.org/lists/close-readings-season-19

    Sign up for our newsletter: 
    https://writingexcuses.com
    Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. It was produced by Emma Reynolds, recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.
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    • 27 min
    19.19: A Close Reading on Worldbuilding: An Overview and why A Memory Called Empire

    19.19: A Close Reading on Worldbuilding: An Overview and why A Memory Called Empire

    Why is worldbuilding is essential in your writing? Today, we answer this question and dive into some working definitions of how we want to talk about it. After the break, we discuss why we chose this book Arkady Martine’s “A Memory Called Empire” and highlight what it does well. We dive into the elements that help make Martine’s worldbuilding so accessible and effective. 

    Thing of the Week: 
    “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman (think about what it teaches you about POV!)

    Homework: 
    Pick your favorite fictional worlds and for each write down three defining attributes that establish culture, legal systems, and physical spaces.

    Here’s a link to buy your copy of “A Memory Called Empire” if you haven’t already:
    https://bookshop.org/lists/close-readings-season-19


    Sign up for our newsletter: 
    https://writingexcuses.com
    Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. It was produced by Emma Reynolds, recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.
    Join Our Writing Community! 
    Patreon
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    YouTube
    Facebook
    Twitter



    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out rosettastone.com/today to get 50% off Rosetta Stone's lifetime membership! Use our code TODAY for a limited time.


    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/writing-excuses2130/exclusive-content

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    • 28 min
    19.18: How to Build Fictional Economies

    19.18: How to Build Fictional Economies

    Sometimes we know the action and themes of your story, but you don’t know how to build an economy that supports those. Well today, we explain just how to do that! What are some questions you can ask yourself about the worth of certain goods and services in the world you’re building? What would a post-scarcity world look like and ask of your characters and how would it shape their wants? We loved recording this episode, it brought up so many interesting questions for us, and we hope it does the same for you! 

    Thing of the Week: 
    Bury Your Gays by Chuck Tingle

    Homework: 
    Come up with three catch phrases that someone who grew up in your economy would know. For example the difference between “There ain't no such thing as a free lunch” vs. “See it, fix it.”

    A Reminder! 
    That starting next week (May 12th!), we'll be focusing on Worldbuilding and reading A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. If you’re going to buy this book, we have this bookshop link available for you to do so! (If not, go support your local library!) https://bookshop.org/lists/close-readings-season-19

    Sign up for our newsletter: 
    https://writingexcuses.com
    Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Max Gladstone, Amal El-Mohtar, Mary Robinette Kowal, and DongWon Song. It was produced by Emma Reynolds, recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.
    Join Our Writing Community! 
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    YouTube
    Facebook
    Twitter



    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out rosettastone.com/today to get 50% off Rosetta Stone's lifetime membership! Use our code TODAY for a limited time.


    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/writing-excuses2130/exclusive-content

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    • 26 min
    19.17: Novellas- the Goldilocks of Publishing

    19.17: Novellas- the Goldilocks of Publishing

    How do you find the right size for your story? And speaking of size, what do novellas do differently than both short stories and novels? What even is the difference between a novel and a novella? How many characters do they usually have? How many subplots? How do you know if your story should take the form of a novella or a novel? We dive into all these questions (and…you guessed it… more!) in our conversation. 

    A note on the structure of Season 19: in between our close reading series (six episodes where we dive into an element of craft through a close reading of a specific text), we’ll be doing two wild card episodes! These episodes are random topics that our hosts have been wanting to tell you about, we just didn’t know where they fit. So we MADE a place for them to fit! 

    Thing of the Week: 
    Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall (a collaborative, storytelling-based RPG)

    Homework:
    Take a short story that you either love or have written and write a list of things that could be added to expand it to novella length. Now do the same for a novel, but make it a list of things that might need to be cut.

    A Reminder! 
    That starting May 12th, we'll be focusing on Worldbuilding and reading A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. If you’re going to buy this book, we have this bookshop link available for you to do so! (If not, go support your local library!) https://bookshop.org/lists/close-readings-season-19

    Sign up for our newsletter: 
    https://writingexcuses.com
    Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Max Gladstone, Amal El-Mohtar, Mary Robinette Kowal, and DongWon Song. It was produced by Emma Reynolds, recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.
    Join Our Writing Community! 
    Patreon
    Instagram
    YouTube
    Facebook
    Twitter


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out rosettastone.com/today to get 50% off Rosetta Stone's lifetime membership! Use our code TODAY for a limited time.


    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/writing-excuses2130/exclusive-content

    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    Privacy & Opt-Out: https://redcircle.com/privacy

    • 28 min
    19.16: An Interview with Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar

    19.16: An Interview with Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar

    Today we get to talk to the inimitable Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar. Amal and Max are on the podcast to tell us about how they wrote a book together (hint: they didn’t write it together in the form of one voice.) They talk to us about the practice of writing letters, collaboration, and the revelation of friendship. They talk about the complexity, harmony, and cadence of two-author projects. We also talk about that voice in your head that criticizes your writing, and how to work with it and harness your authentic desire to tell a certain story.  

    Thing of the Week: 
    From Amal- Hollow Night 
    From Max- Talking Man by Terry Bisson 

    Homework:
    From Max and Amal: Take a passage of something you’ve written and rewrite it in three different ways: as if it were being sung, as if it were being shouted, and as if it were being whispered. 

    A Reminder! 
    That starting May 12th, we'll be focusing on Worldbuilding and reading A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. If you’re going to buy this book, we have this bookshop link available for you to do so! (If not, go support your local library!) https://bookshop.org/lists/close-readings-season-19

    Sign up for our newsletter: 
    https://writingexcuses.com
    Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Max Gladstone, Amal El-Mohtar, Mary Robinette Kowal, and DongWon Song. It was produced by Emma Reynolds, recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.
    Join Our Writing Community! 
    Patreon
    Instagram
    YouTube
    Facebook
    Twitter



    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out rosettastone.com/today to get 50% off Rosetta Stone's lifetime membership! Use our code TODAY for a limited time.


    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/writing-excuses2130/exclusive-content

    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    Privacy & Opt-Out: https://redcircle.com/privacy

    • 47 min
    19.15: A Close Reading on Voice: Tying It All Together

    19.15: A Close Reading on Voice: Tying It All Together

    As we conclude our first deep dive of our close reading series, we want to explore how the evolution of voice helped carry readers throughout "This Is How You Lose The Time War." We also talk about the relationship between character arcs and language, learning and voice. Stay tuned for next week’s episode, where we interview Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar on what it was like to write “Time War” together! 

    Thing of the Week: 
    Princess Weekes

    Homework:
    Write a short outline of your work noting where the voice changes and evolves to reflect the character growth and change rather than focusing on the plot beats

    A Reminder
    That starting May 12th, we'll be focusing on Worldbuilding and reading A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. If you’re going to buy this book, we have this bookshop link available for you to do so! (If not, go support your local library!) https://bookshop.org/lists/close-readings-season-19
    Sign up for our newsletter: 
    https://writingexcuses.com
    Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. It was produced by Emma Reynolds, recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.
    Join Our Writing Community! 
    Patreon
    Instagram
    YouTube
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Threads


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out rosettastone.com/today to get 50% off Rosetta Stone's lifetime membership! Use our code TODAY for a limited time.


    Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/writing-excuses2130/exclusive-content

    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    Privacy & Opt-Out: https://redcircle.com/privacy

    • 25 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
85 Ratings

85 Ratings

generousgardener ,

Brilliant

This is my favourite writing podcast: there are so many episodes; they cover so many topics and ideas; they always have interesting guest writers; they all write different types of fiction so there is always variety and range in their discussions. This is the perfect podcast for every type of writer.

InkleDoodle ,

Not what it was…

Was a huge fan and avid listener of this once excellent and informative podcast. Absolute gold in the first 10-11 seasons but once Brandon’s involvement seems to wane it becomes less informative and a lot less useful as a teaching tool. Later seasons are more politically charged and sadly no longer as useful a tool for an aspiring writer. More recently I have found myself turning off mid episode and they are only 15 minutes long! Hopefully there will be a return to form because this was a fantastically useful and very well put together podcast previously.

Anne On E-mouse ,

Second binge listen-through

I’ve listened to all the episodes twice. Not only are they informative, but I find so much inspiration as the presenters talk. Their collective experience is awesome, and the guest panelists always add to the mix. One day I want to get on one of the cruises!!

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