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Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses

Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart.

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16.42: M.I.C.E. Quotient, After the Fact

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal Our eighth and final M.I.C.E. Quotient discussion will explore using M.I.C.E. as a diagnostic tool. So... your manuscript is done, but something isn't working. How do you figure out where the problem is? If the ending isn't satisfying, M.I.C.E. can tell you whether the ending itself is actually at fault, and in this episode we'll show you how. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-10-18
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16.41: Middles and Conflicts with M.I.C.E. Structure

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal With the M.I.C.E. elements (Milieu, Inquiry, Character, and Event) explained, and the concept of nesting, or braiding the M.I.C.E. threads, we're ready to dive into that most difficult part of the story: the middle. Enough of us dread (or at least struggle with) middle-of-story writing that the promise of a structural tool to make it easier is kind of glorious. Our seventh  installment in M.I.C.E. Quotient discussions talks about how to use M.I.C.E. elements to inform try-fail cycles, ask/answer sequences, and conflicts in general. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-10-11
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16.40: Nesting Threads in the M.I.C.E. Quotient

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal Now that we've drilled down into each of the M.I.C.E. elements (Milieu, Inquiry, Character, and Event) it's time to explore nesting them. This sixth installment in our M.I.C.E. Quotient series focuses on the "FILO" (first-in, last-out) or "nested parentheses" method for symmetrically creating a story using M.I.C.E. elements. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-10-04
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16.39: Deep Dive into “Event”

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal Our fifth M.I.C.E. Quotient episode focuses on the ?Event? element, and explores how to use disruption of the status quo as the driving element for story. From plumbing problems to alien invasions, event stories are often structured by telling how difficult it is to return to normal, whether you're getting the aliens off the planet, or the water back into the pipes. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-09-27
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16.38: Deep Dive into “Character”

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal Our fourth M.I.C.E. Quotient episode explores the ?Character? element, and how these angsty, navel-gazing voyages of self-examination can serve either as complete stories or as elements in other stories. Also, we talk about how to do this in ways that don't result in readers complaining about "navel-gazing" or "angsty." Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-09-20
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16.37: Deep Dive Into “Inquiry”

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal Our third M.I.C.E. Quotient episode asks about the "Inquiry" element, and the ways in which we can use this element to structure our stories?whether we're writing murder mysteries, thrillers, or anything else in which the turning of pages asks and eventually answers questions. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-09-13
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16.36: Deep Dive into “Milieu”

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal The M.I.C.E. Quotient is an organizational tool which categorizes story elements as Milieu, Inquiry, Character, or Event. In this second  episode we cover "Milieu," and how stories can be driven by a sense of place. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-09-06
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16.35: What is the M.I.C.E. Quotient?

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, C.L. Polk, Charlotte Forfieh, and Mary Robinette Kowal The next eight episodes are a deep dive into the M.I.C.E. Quotient, so we'll begin with a definition. M.I.C.E. is an organizational tool which categorizes story elements as Milieu, Inquiry, Character, or Event. It helps authors know which elements are in play, and how to work with these elements effectively. Obviously there's a lot more to M.I.C.E. than that, and in this episode we'll lay it out in a way that makes the subsequent seven M.I.C.E.-related episodes much easier to navigate. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-08-30
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16.34: Novels Are Layer Cakes

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Novels deliver a lot of information, and it's helpful to consider that delivery in terms of layers. Novels are layer cakes, and we're not talking about a three-layer birthday cake. We're talking about a dobosh torte, or a mille crepe cake. And if we've made you hungry for stratified pastry, that's okay, because we made ourselves hungry, too. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-08-23
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16.33: Tell, Don’t Show

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Few pieces of writing advice get repeated as much as that old saw "show, don't tell." We're here to show tell you that it's not only not universally applicable, much of the time it's wrong¹. Tell, don't show, especially in the early pages of the book when so very, very much information needs to be delivered² quickly. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson ¹ Fun fact: this advice comes to us from silent film, when it made great artistic sense to put things on screen rather than on title cards. ² If you need new terminology, Dan uses "demonstration vs. description." 
2021-08-16
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16.32: First Page Fundamentals?THE KILLING FLOOR, by Lee Childs

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler In this episode we explore the first page of The Killing Floor, by Lee Childs, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of The Killing Floor, for reference. I was arrested in Eno's diner. At twelve o'clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch. I was wet and tired after a long walk in heavy rain. All the way from the highway to the edge of town. The diner was small, but bright and clean. Brand-new, built to resemble a converted railroad car. Narrow, with a long lunch counter on one side and a kitchen bumped out back. Booths lining the opposite wall. A doorway where the center booth would be. I was in a booth, at a window, reading somebody?s abandoned newspaper about the campaign for a president I didn?t vote for last time and wasn?t going to vote for this time. Outside, the rain had stopped but the glass was still pebbled with bright drops. I saw the police cruisers pull into the gravel lot. They were moving fast and crunched to a stop. Light bars flashing and popping. Red and blue light in the raindrops on my window. Doors burst open, policemen jumped out. Two from each car, weapons ready. Two revolvers, two shotguns. This was heavy stuff. One revolver and one shotgun ran to the back. One of each rushed the door.
2021-08-09
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16.31: First Page Fundamentals?MOBY DICK

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler In this episode we explore the first page of Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of Moby Dick, for reference. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago?never mind how long precisely?having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people?s hats off?then, I account it high time tozz get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.    
2021-08-02
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16.30: First Page Fundamentals?THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler In this episode we explore the first page of The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson, with the goal of learning how to build  good first pages for own own work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: here is the 1st paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House, for reference. No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
2021-07-26
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16.29: Building Trust

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler How do we build trust with our readers? What does that even mean? In this episode we discuss ways in which we let our readers know what they can expect from the book they're holding, and how we set about getting the to trust us do deliver on those expectations. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-07-19
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16.28: Common First-Page Mistakes

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Let's have a frank, and possibly painful discussion about the ways in which the first page can go wrong. It may seem like hackneyed writing advice, but rules like "don't start with the main character waking up" are rules for a reason.  In this episode we'll talk about those reasons, and why it's so unlikely for books which break them to succeed with readers. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-07-12
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16.27: Nobody Wants to Read a Book

Your Hosts: DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler Our controversial episode title comes to us via John Schwarzwelder, and it points up nicely the importance of today's topic, which is first lines, first pages, and how we set about convincing people (who may or may not want to read a book) to read OUR book. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-07-05
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16.26: Working With Teams

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Our series of game writing episodes draws to a close with a discussion about working with teams. This last skill set, these ways in which you learn to excel at collaborative projects, is often far more important than any of your other skills. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-06-28
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16.25: Breaking Into Game Writing

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler So, after all this talk about designing games and writing for games, it's time to address the big question: how does one go about getting a game-design/game-writing job? It's a competitive field, and there are no easy answers, but we do have some hard answers for you. And some homework... Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-06-21
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16.24: Worldbuilding for Games

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Worldbuilding is one of our favorite topics, and it's a domain in which game design and novel writing share a lot of territory. In this episode we talk about how much we love it, and how much we enjoy letting other people love it enough to do the heavy lifting for us. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-06-14
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BONUS EPISODE! 2021 WXR Early-Bird Announcement

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dongwon, and Dan What's this bonus episode thing? Well, for starters IT'S URGENT, because as of this writing you have just ten more days to get the promised pricing for WXR at sea in 2021. What ELSE is it? Well, this bonus episode describes the difference between workshops, retreats, and master classes. If you've attended WXR in the past, this episode will highlight what's different this time around.  
2021-06-10
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16.23: Rules and Mechanics

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Let's talk about how players interact with the mechanics of the game, and what kinds of requirements those might put on the writers. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-06-07
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16.22: Scenes and Set Pieces

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw, Dan Wells, James L. Sutter, and Howard Tayler Let's have a discussion about scenes and set pieces, and let's lead with this: prose writers often create longer pieces using scenes as building blocks, and in this thing writing for game design is very, very similar. Scenes and set pieces are some of the most critical components in game design, and each of them must deliver several different things to the players in order to work well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-05-31
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16.21: Player Characters

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler So, you're the hero of your own story, and the hero gets choices, and in many ways directs the story. In our discussion of interactive fiction and writing for games, the subject of "player characters" is essential. From the array of options given at character creation/selection, to the paths available for character development and the final chapters of that characters story, "player character" touches everything. Credits: this episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-05-24
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16.20: Branching Narratives

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler How do you give players meaningful choices while still keeping the story within a reasonable set of boundaries? In this episode James and Cassandra lead us in a discussion of branching narratives, and the ways in which we as writers can create them. Credits: this episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: Dan mentioned this collection of "Choose your own adventure" plot maps. Howard illustrated the concept of "narrative bumper pool" in Tracy Hickman's X-TREME DUNGEON MASTERY Narrative Bumper Pool from X-TREME DUNGEON MASTERY, used with permission
2021-05-17
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16.19: Intro to Roleplaying Games

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, James L. Sutter, Dan Wells, Cassandra Khaw, and Howard Tayler For the next eight episodes we'll be talking about roleplaying games, and how that medium relates to writers, writing, career opportunities, and more. We're led by James L. Sutter and Cassandra Khaw on this particular quest. In this episode we lay some groundwork, define a few terms, and hopefully get you excited about looking at games in new and useful ways. Credits: this episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-05-10
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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. 
2021-05-03
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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. 
2021-04-26
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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. 
2021-04-18
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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.
2021-04-12
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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
2021-04-05
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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.
2021-03-29
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16.12 : Singing Versus Speaking

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard Can you hear your writing sing, being intoned instead of read? With the dialogs as tunes whose tags say "sung" instead of "said?" When the rhythm of your prose echoes the rhythm of a song you'll see perhaps you've been a poet all along. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson. Les Miserables was written by Victor Hugo, set to music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and ruined here by Howard Tayler.
2021-03-21
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16.11: What is Poetry?

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard This is how we begin our master class on poetry, with Amal El-Mohtar: With not one question, but two. What is poetry? What is prose? Yes, both questions are a trap. Or maybe two traps. But definitely a beginning. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-03-14
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16.10: Paying it Forward, with Kevin J. Anderson

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard, with special guest Kevin J. Anderson Kevin J. Anderson joins us to talk about how others have helped us in our careers, and how we might continue that tradition and help others. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
2021-03-08
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16.9: Crossing The Revenue Streams

Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, and Howard How many different ways can our writing earn money for us? What additional work, besides "just" writing, do we need to do in order to get that money? In this episode we discuss finding and managing multiple revenue streams, whether that means writing for new audiences, or monetizing existing writing in new ways. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
2021-03-01
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16.8: Smart Promotion

Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, and Howard Let's talk about how promote yourself and your work, and how to do it well. The tools we use for this continue to evolve, and in this discussion we'll cover things that have worked, things that have stopped working, things we use now, and strategies we apply to not sink beneath the churning disruptions endemic to promoting books (or, really, anything else.) Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: Here is your invitation link for the  TypeCastRPG Discord.
2021-02-22
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16.7: To Series, or Not to Series

Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, Howard Let's look a the business considerations of whether that thing you're writing is a standalone story, or part of a series. The factors are complex, and a single factor (like, say distribution channel) isn't likely to make the decision clear cut. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
2021-02-15
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16.6: Building Your Brand

Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Brandon, and Howard Branding, in marketing terms for writers, is the process of establishing a recognizable identity?a brand? for you and your works in the marketplace of readers, and people who buy things for readers. In this episode we talk about what our brands need to be doing for us, and how we go about getting them to do that. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-02-08
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16.5: Pros and Contracts

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Brandon, and Erin Here's our deep dive into the subject of contracts in the publishing business. We can only go so deep during a fifteen-minute episode, so we ran about twice as long as usual. We discuss some of the things you should look for, things you should watch out for, and resources that can help you out. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-02-01
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16.4: Networking

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Erin, Brandon, and Howard Networking is an invaluable part of any business, and the business of writing is no exception. In this episode we'll talk about how to do it effectively, genuinely, and in ways that benefit the entire community. Credits: This episode was recorded my Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-01-25
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16.3: Publishing Pitfalls

Your Hosts: Dan, Erin, Howard, and Brandon Erin Roberts joins us for our third installment in Brandon's business-of-writing series. In this episode we're covering pitfalls and common problems?including some predatory practices?for you to be on the lookout for while you develop your career as a writer. Credits: This episode was recorded my Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: "Accountabilibuddy," which is written here so Howard can remember it.
2021-01-18
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16.02: Publishers Are Not Your Friends

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Howard, and Brandon It sounds like a mean thing to say, but it's not a wrong thing to say. A publisher is a corporation, and a corporation doesn't have friends. It has contractual relationships. We can make friends with people who work for publishers, but those are not the same thing. Liner Notes: here is an archived copy of Dave Brady's essay about "company loyalty" Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson  
2021-01-11
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16.01: Your Career is Your Business

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary Robinette, Howard, and Brandon Welcome to 2021, and Season 16 of Writing Excuses. This year we're dividing the year into "master classes" or "intensive courses." We're kicking it off with Brandon's episodes, which are all about the business of writing, and the first of those is this one! So... your career is your business. In this episode we'll talk about how that mindset?this is a business?informs our other activities, and how valuable it can be to get our heads in the right place early on. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2021-01-04
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15.52: Economy of Phrase, Being the Concentrated Concatenation of Complex Thoughts in Just a Very Few Words Which Must Fit In A Very Very Small Box, With Patrick Rothfuss

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Patrick Rothfuss Did we have too much fun applying ironic humor to the title of this episode? Possibly! Patrick Rothfuss joins us to talk about economy of phrase, and the ways in which big ideas can be expressed with a few of the exactly-right words. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2020-12-28
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15.51: Feedback?When to Listen, and When to Ignore, with special guest Mahtab Narsimhan

Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, Mahtab, and Brandon We're often taught that the best critique group feedback is reactions to the writing, rather than  advice for fixing it. But prescriptive feedback?critiques that include suggestions for you how to might rewrite something?is an important part of the process. In this episode we discuss how we curate our critique groups and filter their feedback to improve our writing, and our experiences with these groups. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2020-12-21
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15.50: Juggling Ensembles

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard Our listeners have asked about how we handle managing a large cast of characters. This is something we've all struggled with, and sometimes we've failed at it pretty spectacularly. In this episode we talk about how we turned our failures into learning, and what we do today to keep our ensembles in line and our stories on track. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2020-12-14
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15.49: Maintaining Passion for a Story, with special guest Mahtab Narsimhan

Your Hosts: Dan, Howard, Mahtab, and Brandon This episode comes from a question we're often asked: "how do you stay excited about a story you're working on?" We talk about how we maintain our passion for the stories we're working on, and how that's not the same as being super excited to write every time we sit down at the keyboard Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2020-12-07
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15.48: Deliberate Discomfort, Part Two

Your Hosts: Dan, Mahtab, Howard, and Brandon We've talked about deliberately making our readers uncomfortable. In this episode we discuss writing things that make us uncomfortable. Maybe it's writing strong language, or sex scenes. Perhaps it's a personal narrative that is painful to relive. Whatever it might be, as writers we need to prepare ourselves to embrace that pain, soak up that discomfort, and put the words on the page. Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: "No, I'm Fine." by Howard Tayler Video Link for this episode, and two other episodes
2020-11-30
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15.47: Worldbuilding Science Fiction, with Cory Doctorow

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Piper, and Howard, with Cory Doctorow Worldbuilding is something you do to some degree in everything you write. Cory Doctorow  writes (among many other things) near-future SF, and he joins us for a discussion of extrapolative worldbuilding. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
2020-11-23
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15.46: Crafting Chinese-American Characters

Your Hosts: Dan, Piper, and Tempest, with special guest Yang Yang Wang Yang Yang Wang, an author, actor, and director (among many other things) joins us for a discussion of language, food, and a whole raft of other cultural elements critical to crafting Chinese-American characters. Credits: this episode was recorded by Ross Smith and mastered by Alex Jackson
2020-11-16
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