722 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
    • 4.7 • 1.2K 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.

    19.23: Tying It All Together (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding)

    19.23: Tying It All Together (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding)

    Today, the gang talks about their final thoughts on Martine’s “A Memory Called Empire.” We conclude with some lessons we’ve learned through analyzing her work, and we share our favorite bits! 
    Thing of the Week: Pasión de las Pasiones
    Homework: Find a piece of world building that you love and come up with another way to use it in your work in progress. 

    Close Reading Series: Texts & Timeline
    Next up is Character! Starting July 7, we’ll be diving into three short stories by C.L. Clark. These are all available for free through Uncanny Magazine. 

    Character: “You Perfect, Broken Thing,” “The Cook,” and “Your Eyes, My Beacon: Being an Account of Several Misadventures and How I Found My Way Home” by CL Clark (starting July 7) 

    And a sneak peak on the rest of the year… 

    Tension: Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (starting September 1) 
    Structure: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (starting October 13) 

    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! 
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    • 22 min
    19.22: Technology and Identity (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding)

    19.22: Technology and Identity (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding)

    The imago technology lies at the heart of this novel thematically and narratively. How does this technology create a world, delineate Mahit's culture from Teixcalaan, and ask enormous questions about identity and empire?

    Thing of the Week: “Rotten” (Documentary Series available on Netflix)

    Homework: Come up with three technological or magical approaches that would raise questions about what it means to be you, to be an individual. Take one of these, and then write a scene wherein two characters argue about it.

    For those of you just joining us, here's what our close reading series has covered, and what lays ahead!
    Close Reading Series: Texts & Timeline
    Voice: This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar (March 17) 
    Worldbuilding: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (May 12) 
    Character: “You Perfect, Broken Thing,” “The Cook,” and “Your Eyes, My Beacon: Being an Account of Several Misadventures and How I Found My Way Home” by CL Clark (July 7) 
    Tension: Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (September 1) 
    Structure: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (October 13)

    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! 
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    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.


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    • 26 min
    19.21: Language as a Tool (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding)

    19.21: Language as a Tool (A Close Reading on Worldbuilding)

    What cultural and worldbuilding information is embedded within the smallest of word choices? Today, we dive into three specific sections from throughout Martine’s “A Memory Called Empire”:  the word for empire, assimilation and naming, and learning the word for bomb. We unpack how Martine uses language to establish important principles of how the world works. 

    Thing of the Week: 
    The Gilded Age - Created and Written by Julian Fellowes  Julian Fellows (on HBO Max) 

    Homework:
    Write a scene that describes a fictional piece of literature— whether that's a poem, a song, or a story— that means something to the people in the story you’re telling.

    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
    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.


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    • 27 min
    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.
    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

    • 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
    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
    19.18: 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! 
    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

    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1.2K Ratings

1.2K Ratings

Fantasy Fan Forever ,

A trove of craft wisdom

I enjoy this podcast a great deal and appreciate how they break complex topics into bite-size, actionable recommendations. A good listen for writers but book-lovers of all stripes.

Cohali ,

Holy Ads Batman!

I first listened to this podcast a couple years ago as I released my first two books. After time away, I came back and….what happened? There’s about 4-5 ads at the beginning of each episode, and another 3-4 at the end. So if you’re listening in the car, it’s a solid block of 8-9 ads in a row! Oh, and don’t worry, there’s another block of ads in the middle (sometimes twice) as well as an in-episode ad for someone’s book. I’d like to see a ‘content-to-ad’ ratio…willing to bet it’s less than 50%

SigEp-MI Eta-Fall2007 ,

Good Content A Excessive Amount of Ads

I like the content that they provide. The team has a lot of good nuggets of information. But the first 3+ minutes are ads and another mass batch of ads midway. The podcast has a worse ratio of content to add than cable.

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