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

    • Arts
    • 4.7 • 1K Ratings

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

    16.18: Poetry and the Fantastic

    16.18: Poetry and the Fantastic

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



    For the last seven episodes we've explored language, meaning, and their overlap with that thing we mean when we use language to say "poetry."



    In this episode we step back to some origins, including, at a meta-level, the origins of this podcast as a writer-focused exploration of genre fiction—the speculative, the horrific, the science-y, and the fantastic.



    Because there is an overlap between language and meaning, and there are myriad overlaps among the genres we love, and as we step back we see poetry striding these spaces, its path in part defining and in part defying the various borders.



    Poetry, scouting the fraught borders between the kingdoms of Meaning and Language.



    Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

    • 24 min
    16.17: The Time To Rhyme

    16.17: The Time To Rhyme

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



    Rhyming is powerful. It can signal a form, or telegraph whimsy. It can be predictable, surprising, and sometimes both.



    It may also be seen as childish.



    When, then, is it time to rhyme?



    Will rhyming "internally" fit?

    As opposed to a line-ending bit.

    For answers, just listen.

    But rhymes will be missin'

    Especially where they'd deliver a predictably naughty word at the end of, say, a limerick, because in this context, that would definitely be seen as childish.



    Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

    • 24 min
    16.16: Poetic Structure: Part II

    16.16: Poetic Structure: Part II

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





    How does a poem happen?



    Absent an external structure, what makes a thing a poem?



    The key word in that question may be "external," because ultimately the poem on the page will be the implicit definition of its own structure—even if it borrows a "non-poetic" structure from another form.



    Structure is as structure does. "Unstructured" is just a way to say "I am unfamiliar with this structure," or maybe "I don't believe that this structure is fit for poetry."



    And that might be a thing you are currently saying.  After all, "blog post describing a podcast episode" is definitely a structure.



    Does the embracing of that structure make this thing into a poem?



    If this thing is a poem, how did that happen?



    Liner Notes:



    * "Girl Hours" by Sofia Samatar (via Stone Telling magazine),

    * "The Hill We Climb," by Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman (YouTube from the Biden/Harris Inauguration)



    Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

    • 27 min
    16.15: Poetic Structure, Part I

    16.15: Poetic Structure, Part I

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



    Rigorous structure in poetic form

    is commonly pointed at when we declare

    Poems have meters and rhymes, as the norm.



    Yet words without patterns can roar like a storm

    So why pay attention, why study with care

    Rigorous structure in poetic form?



    Just set it aside, surrender the gorm

    (means "alertness", a quite-handy rhyme I put there)

    Poems have meters and rhymes as the norm.



    Let some of it go, perhaps. Let it transform

    beyond all the rhyming. Deny, if you dare:

    Rigorous structure in poetic form



    Okay, you can maybe keep some of it warm

    Those toasty iambics by which you might swear:

    Poems have meters and rhymes as the norm.



    This episode text I wrote: does it inform?

    Will all be confused when this couplet doth air?

    "Rigorous structure in poetic form:

    Poems have meters and rhymes as the norm."



    Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson. The villanelle above was the first—and hopefully last—ever composed by Howard Tayler. Yes, the Writing Excuses tagline is a haiku. No, Howard did not know that when he wrote it in 2008.

    • 18 min
    16.14: Poetic Language

    16.14: Poetic Language

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



    We might begin with description.



    Or we might begin by deconstructing the act of describing.



    Wait. No, not there.



    Let's jump in AFTER the deconstruction.



    Let's leap beyond a statement of topic, let's hurdle clear of mundane declarations of the audio file's length, and together plunge headlong into metaphor, the icy water perhaps calling to mind Archimedes, as we describe our episode (or any other thing) not in terms of its intrinsic attributes, but by taking account of what it has displaced into the spaces it doesn't occupy.



    How long does the displacement remain? How might one apply paint to the emptiness after the thing has left?



    What color is silence that follows the end of the episode?



    (An end which follows twenty minutes and thirty-three seconds in which the four of us discuss the kinds of words we imagine when we say "poetic language.")



    Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson

    • 20 min
    16.13: Day Brain vs. Night Brain

    16.13: Day Brain vs. Night Brain

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



    Patterns in the way we're speaking may betray which 'brain' we're using; often bound by what's familiar, sometimes loosed for free-er choosing.



    Writing like the day-brain's thinking

    Singing while the night-brain's winking

    All the cadence going funky

    (golden-mantled howler monkey)



    Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson. XKCD #1412, by Randall Munroe, was referenced during this episode. As was the Greater Cleveland Film Commission.

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1K Ratings

1K Ratings

edbrooks93 ,

My favorite writing podcast

I started listening to this cast in 2016 and it is still my go to. At the time, I had abandoned writing fantasy because it wasn’t “important” or “literary” enough. This podcast—these writers—helped me pursue my first love again.

If you’re new and don’t write genre, there’s plenty here for you, too. The episodes are short and helpful, and the cast will become your friends.

MikeyM28 ,

Why do they talk like that?

No human voice actually sounds that stilted. Why are they all over-enunciating everything? Is it a rich people thing? You can just talk in your regular voice on a podcast

Docedward ,

Used to be great...now is the Mary show

I used to get so much value and information for writing out of this podcast. It used to be a wonderful conversation and dialogue. And I really liked it when Mary joined and I hoped for a more balanced and diverse panel. But now... there are for guests as Mary teaches. Just gotta be honest. The spark is still there. Have some internal crucial conversations and it will be even better!

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