58 episodes

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

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

    • Books
    • 4.7, 899 Ratings

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

    15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

    15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

    Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale

    Shannon and Dean Hale join us to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write about¹ children. We cover dialog tools, point-of-view elements, stakes, and character ‘quirks’ that can help signal to the reader that a character is a child.

    Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson



    ¹ “About,” not “for.” Shannon and Dean join us again to discuss writing FOR children next week!

    • 18 min
    15.20: Mental Wellness and Writing

    15.20: Mental Wellness and Writing

    Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

    In this episode we’ll be talking about the things we do to stay creative, productive, healthy, and happy. For the purposes of this discussion, “mental wellness” is not about coping with mental illness, it’s about self-care.

    Liner Notes: Here’s the gridded lifestyle tracker for the homework, lifted directly from Victoria’s Twitter feed.



    Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

    • 23 min
    15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition

    15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition

    Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

    “As you know, Bob…” is the trope-tastic line we use to refer to expository dialog which has no function beyond exposition.

    We get lots of listener questions about how to use dialog for exposition without making it feel like we’re using dialog for exposition. And as Bob already knows, this episode is about answering those questions.

    Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

    • 17 min
    15.18: Finding a Community, with Shauna Hoffman

    15.18: Finding a Community, with Shauna Hoffman

    Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, and Lari¹, with special guest Shauna Hoffman

    Many Writing Excuses listeners (especially WXR alumni) already know Shauna Hoffman. She joins us to talk about how to deal with the fact that we, as authors, often feel isolated.

    The listener question that sparked this episode: “How do you keep the pressure off when you feel alone?”

    How indeed? If this feels timely, well, some of that is coincidence. And some, of course, is not².

    Credits: This episode was recorded remotely³, using a variety of VOIP tools, and was mastered by Alex Jackson. 



    ¹ Larissa Helena is joining us as a guest host. She has worked as a literary agent, a translator, and a rights manager, and we look forward to hearing more from her this season.

    ² Yes, the irony of this being the first of our recorded-during-sparkling-isolation episodes is something we’re leaning into.

    ³ This is the first airing of a Writing Excuses episode in which the participants not physically present in the same room. We suspect it won’t be the last, and that we’ll get better at it. 

     

    • 19 min
    15.17: Asexual Representation

    15.17: Asexual Representation

    Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, Mary Robinette, and Howard

    Generally speaking, asexuality is a sexual orientation or identity typified by the absence of a desire to have sex. It’s *way* more complicated than that, however, and in this episode Tempest helps us unpack it so that asexual characters can be written more effectively.

    Liner Notes: Want to dig deeper? Over at Writing The Other there’s  a master class on writing asexual characters taught by Lauren Jankowski.

    Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

    • 17 min
    15.16: Balancing Plot and Character

    15.16: Balancing Plot and Character

    Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

    We’re often asked how to balance character arcs with the intricacies of the plots we create. In this episode we talk about the various ways in which we do this.

    Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
899 Ratings

899 Ratings

NancyInBlue ,

The best podcast on the craft of writing

I’ve been listening for years, and have yet to stray! This is a must listen if you’re a sci-fi or fantasy author.

OneEyeAskew ,

Great writing info, but hosts could rotate differently

I really enjoy this podcast, but I am increasingly frustrated with one host in particular, and it lessens my enjoyment considerably. It has been so gratifying to see the show moving towards a more and more inclusive model as the seasons progress — touching on issues of representation that are increasingly relevant in today’s world.

However, I have found that, repeatedly, Howard’s contributions feel very disconnected from the rest of the dialogue. I don’t want to disparage him in particular or as a person, but he seems to speak from within a very privileged bubble and without any awareness of it. It’s difficult to listen to a conversation about gender, race, or sexuality, only to abruptly have a (white, male) person jump in to brag about something they’ve written as they seemingly struggle to relate the concepts to their own life. The self-congratulation and disconnect can be jarring, and often bring down the quality of the discourse on the whole.

That said, many of the contributions from other guest and regular hosts are very valuable. In particular, Mary Robinette always seems to have a relevant contribution (and great taste for recommendations!) As hosts do already rotate, I think the format would benefit from having some people take the back seat for certain topics.

Fierce as a Wolverine ,

Great writing tips

There are a lot of great writing tips, particularly in series 11 on elemental genre. At a structural level, that series is incredibly helpful for anyone trying to sort out what they are trying to acccomplish with their work. Five stars for that series and for the earlier content, too.

Over the past year or so, though, Howard's endless anecdotes, which are really just cocky stories about how amazing his ideas always are, have overshadowed actual structural writing advice. If you don't read his books, you don't know what he's talking about, you don't care, and you can't actually take his point. It's tediouss and I find myself turning off the podcast halfway throug if he gets going.

Plenty of people seem to complain about Mary's take on fairly and accurately representing disadvantaged groups, but she's speaking to issues that are relevant within the publishing world. Write better characters, gain a wider audience, get a better publishing deal, sell more books. This is actually advice that will make you into a better writer. And she's capable of abstracting her individual experiences into tips on how to tackle writing problems that other author's might face. Five stars to her for bringing attention to how to be a better writer and a better human.

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