mbarker: (Burp)
Writing Excuses 5.17: Dialogue Exercises

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/12/27/writing-excuses-5-17-dialog-exercises/

Key Points: Make your characters identifiable from their dialogue alone. Make sure there's a sense of the world, the setting, and action. If you use dialect, do it sparingly, but be consistent. Word choice, sentence length, verbal quirks, social position -- any and all of these can be used to differentiate your characters. And don't forget the interplay of the characters, too.
talk, talk, talk... )
[Brandon] So we'll go ahead and do a writing prompt. Dan?
[Howard] Ha, ha!
[Dan] Oh, man. Okay. You are walking down a back alley and you meet Jason from Dragonmount and he's getting all uppity about how he had a great writing sample. What do you do to him?
[Brandon] Okay. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (Default)
Writing Excuses 5.16: Critiquing Dan's First Novel

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/12/19/writing-excuses-5-16-critiquing-dans-first-novel/

Key Points: Avoid discontiguities. Stomp out the cliche that all fantasy starts with a long, dry, boring description. Character before things! Punch it up and show us a character's viewpoint. Consider your genre, but put the promise of the story as early as possible. Start the story where it starts, and don't tell us all the stuff you wanted to tell us, just start it and go. You don't have to fill in everything. One telling detail beats pages of prose. Evoke plot, character, and setting. Make each sentence do multiple things. When you rewrite, make decisions. Consider your pace, and rearrange information as needed.
Between the bindings... )
[Brandon] All right, Dan. I'm going to let you give us our writing prompt.
[Dan] Our writing prompt?
[Howard] And remember that time travelers may be reading this writing prompt for last week.
[Dan] May be reading this right now? Okay. This is... take an idiomatic expression and literalize it. So, for example, the crack of dawn... a world in which dawn actually cracks, visibly or audibly. Then describe that going on. Not as a pun, but as world building information.
Final jokes )
mbarker: (Fireworks Delight)
Writing Excuses 5.10: John Brown and the Creative Process

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/11/07/writing-excuses-5-10-john-brown-and-the-creative-process/

Key points: How do you get ideas? Everyone can be creative. When you have a problem, you ask questions, and you come up with answers -- that's creativity. An important part is asking the right questions. To get answers, be on the lookout for zing! Then ask questions, and answer them. Immerse yourself in situations that interest you, and look for tools there. Ask the right questions. For story, think about character, setting, problem, and plot. Look for combinations. Be on the lookout for zings, ask specific questions, then come up with solutions. Make lists and see what's interesting. What are the worst ideas I can think of, and how can I make those ideas really attractive? How can I transform this scene? How do you develop ideas? Ask the right questions. Look for conflicts, look for interest. Look for defining moments. How do you know when to start writing? Freewrite, and see if it's ready. Watch for the click. Watch for the spin. Try to tell it to someone.
an idea-packed session awaits your click... )
[Brandon] All right. A person gets... this is going to be our writing prompt, officially. A person gets surgery so that they can imitate He Who Does Not Sleep. Why? This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
[John] All right.
mbarker: (Smile)
Writing Excuses 5.3: First-Person Viewpoint

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/09/19/writing-excuses-5-3-first-person-viewpoint/

Key points: first-person let's you really get into the character's head. With first-person, the reader doesn't know how reliable they are. First person is very immediate. Beware of dropping out of that immediacy, especially to describe appearances or other things that the character would not stop to think about. Think about how the character would tell the story. Be careful of getting so wrapped up in the voice that you lose the story.
Out of the character's head? )
[Bree] Your character has a secret. We don't know what it is, but how would they get around hinting at that secret without giving it away?
[Brandon] All right. That's your story prompt. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season Five Episode Six: Micropodcasts

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/10/10/writing-excuses-5-6-micropodcasts/

Key Points:
  • What is the right way to kill a character? Bombs. With meaning!
  • Authors that have influenced your writing and why? A. A. Milne, because he has so much fun playing with words. Melanie Rawn, because she mixed magic with characters that I cared about. Tolkein for introducing me to the world that isn't ours. Victor Hugo for finding beauty in the gutter. Jay Lake and Charlie Stross for taking ideas to the nth degree. Pat Rothfuss for showing that even well-worn tropes, done well, are still viable stories.
  • When do you quit your day job? When God tells you to. When your wife tells you that you may. When you get your first advance check.
  • What do you do when you discover you hate a character? Bombs. Redefining them radically. Have something happen to that character that is grossly unfair.
  • How do you respond to accusations of being a Mary Sue? Do you really want to ask that? Is it wrong to write characters that people want to be like?
  • What are some basic tools for ensuring that all characters in a story have different voices? Model them on people you know. Check that they are different enough to recognize. Practice having different characters react differently to a single issue. Make your characters individual.
little podcasts, little podcasts, and they're all made out... )
[Brandon] All right. Let's wrap this up with a writing prompt. I'm going to go ahead and use one again this time.
[Dan] Excellent.
[Brandon] by saying the writing prompt is that these two different people who criticized Dan's book actually both read different books somehow.
[Dan] And thought it was the same one.
[Brandon] And thought it was the same book. They both had the same title, they both said they were written by Dan Wells, but somehow two different books were released. How and why is your writing prompt.
[Dan] Compelling.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
[a short character sketch]

The old man who lives nearby has a little garden in front of his apartment. He's frequently outside, working on the garden, and often says hello and talks a bit when we pass.
under the leaves... )
He took the frame, and went back to put it up under his window sill, in the middle of our small apartment complex.

[The End]
mbarker: (Smile)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 26: Avoiding Stilted Dialogue

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/07/05/writing-excuses-4-26-avoiding-stilted-dialog/

Key points: Stilted dialogue moves like stilts staggering down the street. It doesn't feel like a conversation, or it doesn't match the character. People don't talk in complete sentences. Fiction dialogue represents conversation, it doesn't portray it exactly (skip the ums, hums, haws, etc.). Give the illusion of reality. Write the dialogue you need, then prune it. Beware maid and butler dialogue, where characters talk about things to educate the reader, rather than because they would ordinarily talk about those things. Consider when they would have first talked about that, then let them reflect on those past conversations. Get your characters into arguments, and let them slip in the information you want as a side issue. Toss the characters into a scene and let them talk.
Yackity-yack and don't talk back... )
[Brandon] All right. Howard, you're waving your hand. Why don't you do the...
[Dan] Oo! You have a writing prompt!
[Howard] I've got a writing prompt. This is a two-parter. Start with maid and butler dialogue with a maid and a butler who are establishing important plot points. Write the worst maid and butler dialogue you know how to write. Okay? It's an info dump and it's awful. Now go back and rewrite it. Now the maid and the butler are having an argument, a very impassioned, brutal sort of argument. The same information comes out, only make it not feel like maid and butler dialogue.
[Brandon] All right. There you are. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 31: Tragedy

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/12/27/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-31-tragedy/

Key points: Tragedy is powerful because of the catharsis or emotional release. Even if you don't want to make your whole story a tragedy, you may want to sprinkle tragic arcs in it for extra texture. Tragic flaws can make your characters rounder.
A geek chorus? )
[Brandon] Let's go ahead and give our writing prompt to Dan. Dan, what'cha gonna give us?
[Howard] I am sure glad he picked you.
[Brandon] You love it when I do that, don't you?
[Dan] Yes I do you're going to write a delightful story about happy, cheerful woodland creatures who are all horribly killed.
[Howard] You just described Happy Tree Friends.
[Dan] Okay, they are happy, aquatic creatures.
[Brandon] Happy aquatic creatures that all die horribly?
[Dan] Yeah. Okay, I just described The Little Mermaid. You're going to write a tragedy that hasn't already been done before.
[Howard] An anthropomorphic tragedy?
[Brandon] It's already tragic.
[Dan] You're going to write furry fanfic.
[Howard] My fur suit, the zipper is stuck.
[Brandon] Before we go any further, we're going to end. This has been Writing Excuses, you're out of excuses and so are we. Go write.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 29: Antiheroes

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/12/20/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-29-antiheroes/

Key Points: Antiheroes come in many flavors, including Frodo, Punisher, and the Talented Mister Ripley. Frodos are heroes, except they fail. Punishers do evil for good purposes. Talented Mister Ripley's are unsympathetic, unheroic, horrible. Sympathetic villains are not antiheroes, nor are heroes with a steep character arc. Heroes are like Christmas Day, and you wish it could last all year. Classical antiheroes are like olde Halloween, you never ever want to be like that, but it's stilll fascinating. Punisher antiheroes are more like modern Halloween, with cool costumes and candy from the neighbors. If you plan to write an antihero story, think about which kind you are writing and what will keep people turning pages.
Inside the jack-o'-lantern )
[Brandon] Your writing prompt is going to be to write a true classical antihero and make it fun for Howard.
[Howard] I don't actually have to read what they write, do I?
[Dan] Yes, you do. And you have to grade them.
[Brandon] And you have to eat dinner at their house.
[Dan] And you have to dress up as a clown for their first date.
[Howard] All right. Schlock mercenary at gmail dot com. Go ahead and send me...
[Brandon] I want you guys to do this.
[Howard] Oh, dear.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
[Howard] Something awful.
[Brandon] [laughter and then choking...]
mbarker: (Me typing?)
Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 27: Mixing Humor with Drama and Horror

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/12/01/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-27-mixing-humor-with-drama-and-horror/

Key points: To blend humor and drama, start with the drama, identify the key points, then add humor. Humor is good while reading, but drama and character make readers come back. When the humor detracts, excise! Be careful about humor that pushes readers out of the story. Make humor fit the character -- don't break characters for a joke.
Chunks of humor, drama, and horror )
[Brandon] All right. Howard, we're going to make you do the writing prompt because you're the expert on this.
[Howard] Okay. Take the most intense character tragedy you can imagine for a character that you've already got and find humor in it for another character to point out. Whether or not it's appropriate, find humor in that tragedy.
[Brandon] All right. This has been Writing Excuses. [The podcast cut off at this point. We can only assume that Brandon provided the tag line "You're out of excuses, now go write."]
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 16: The Anti-Mary Sue Episode

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/09/13/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-16-the-anti-mary-sue-episode/

Key points: Mary Sue means wish fulfillment. To write different voices, steep yourself in that voice and culture. Keep someone in mind when you write a character, a dominant impression. Get inside your character's head. Fix it in revision. Find someone fascinating and write about them, to avoid always telling your story.
the voices in your head... )
[Jordo] Writing prompt?
[Brandon] Producer Jordo says I have to do a writing prompt, so I'm going to make John Brown do it.
[John] Okay. Here's your writing prompt. Go out and do some research. Find a fascinating character that is nothing like you. Go pick some topic that you don't know about. Then write a story.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 12: Subplots

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/08/16/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-12-subplots/

Key points: Subplots are secondary plots. They can flesh out other characters, make the world feel more real, keep the tension high, and introduce elements as foreshadowing for the main plot. They can also provide quick accomplishments for a sense of progress. Be wary of subplots being more interesting than the main plot. How many subplots? It depends on your genre and skills, but don't overload the reader. Subplots feel real when they advance character, the main plot, or reveal setting.
plenty of words about subplots )
[Dan] Here's our writing prompt. By odd happenstance, Brandon and I are wearing the same T-shirt today. Well, two different instances of a similar T-shirt.
[Howard -- choked laughter] Thank you.
[Dan] It is from an explosives company. We all know why we are both wearing the same T-shirt, but your prompt is to write a story about why we are wearing an explosives and blasting T-shirt.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 1: Q&A At Mountain Con with John Brown

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2008/10/12/writing-excuses-season-2-episode-1-qa-on-setting-and-characters-at-mountain-con-with-john-brown/

Key Points: Setting drives characters who drive plot. Getting the right visual details can be as simple as looking at a picture while writing, although lush minimalism and studying masters also helps. When characters deviate from the plot, you need to consider why, and decide whether to go with it or bring them back to the plan.
chunky! )

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