mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 16: Breaking the Fourth Wall


Key points: Breaking the fourth wall is a term from theater, when an actor addresses the audience (who were behind the invisible fourth wall). Narrators can have knowledge that characters can't, and address the reader, without breaking the characters or story in quite the same way. Anything that reminds the reader that this is a book breaks (or at least bends) the fourth wall. Once is too many, but the writer has to hit the happy medium if they are going to break the fourth wall.
What about theater in the round? )
[Brandon] All right. I'm going to force Isaac to give us a writing prompt.
[Isaac] Awesome. I was thinking about these different cultures. In the Philippines, one of their kind of pseudo-cusswords is [they san anok nun pating? Roughly?] which means, "son of a shark!" So your writing prompt is to write a story where somebody is really a son of a shark and breaks the fourth wall which happens to be the glass wall at an aquarium.
[Howard] But no lava girl.
[Brandon] But no lava girl. All right. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.
mbarker: (Burp)
[Brandon] This is Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 28: World Building Political Correctness. [Note: later in the podcast, they changed the name]


Key points: Writing gender issues is hugely challenging. Be wary of 21st-century sociological conventions in anachronistic settings, but be aware that readers may have trouble empathizing with very different thinking and sensibilities. Subtle changes are more easily believable than huge changes. World building -- is it important to the plot or characters? If not, don't overdo it. Recognize that you may have a blind spot regarding gender issues -- write your story your way, then listen to your alpha readers, and address their concerns. 
bickering and snickering... )
[Brandon] All right. Let's go ahead and give a writing prompt. I'll make myself... oh, you're pointing at Dan. Howard chose you. Dan, you're going to have to do it.
[Howard] Dan is scowling at me.
[Dan] OK then. All right. You are writing a future society, a future military, where the only people allowed in the military are homosexual and you need a good explanation of why.
[Brandon] That's an excellent writing prompt. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (Burp)
Writing Excuses Season Three Episode One: World Building History


Key points: You don't have to write a history book, you need to create the illusion that the history exists. You need to know which parts of the history are important to your story. Small details can give historical rounding and fullness. You can't spell history without spelling story, too. People like to believe that there are causes in history, but beware monocausationalism -- everything has multiple causes. Pay attention to the reason you are worldbuilding history -- and if it isn't adding to the story, stop. Write your story -- then look for points of conflict and worldbuild there, or as you stumble across important parts, worldbuild those. It's always okay to go back and fix it.
moments on the tides of history )
[Howard] Writing prompt. There's a war. You're writing a historical paragraph about a war that has five distinct causes. Come up with all five and justify them.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. We are done, you are out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
Writing Excuses Season Two Episode 18: World Building Governments


Key points: Monarchies put a face on the government, and may simplify the plot, since it is easier to vilify one person or relate to them. Science fiction often uses loosely tied states because travel delays make it likely. When you are world building, why do you want political intrigue in your book? Exaggerate. Where are the conflicts in the government? Where does the power come from? The more the reader knows about how things work, the more the protagonist can use those rules to solve problems. What can common citizens do, or not do? Take two steps away.
mukluks )
[Brandon] All right. You have your Writing Prompt. Unfortunately, you need to write a government run by colon cleansers.
[Dan] That is correct. Let's change it for more creativity. Start with the colon cleansers concept, and then remove it two steps away.
[Howard] Oh, there's poo everywhere.
[Brandon] I didn't do this. This wasn't my fault. This is been Writing Excuses. I'm sorry.
mbarker: (Me typing?)
Writing Excuses Season Two Episode 16: World Building -- Non-Human Races


Key points: nonhuman races add a sense of wonder to the setting. Don't just borrow Tolkien-esque races. Brandon will almost always focus mostly on humans, maybe. Avoid making an important characteristic a defining theme. Even nonhuman races are individuals. What do they want?
the script )
[Brandon] The writing prompt is to write...
[Howard] Create a believable alien and write something from his perspective.
[Brandon] There you go.
[Dan] Perfect.
mbarker: (Burp)
Writing Excuses Episode 32: Talking Exposition with Patrick Rothfuss


Key points: don't start with info dumps. Avoid essays, police artist sketches, thesis statements, repeating. Use three good details, and characters in action. Toss readers into the world, and move the story and the characters forward. Arguments are good. Make every sentence do more than one thing. Give your readers a little tease, then wait. Make the exposition a payoff instead of an entry price.
to da dump, to da dump, to da dump, dump, dump )
Take one thing that's unimportant and explain the heck out of it. Take something else that is very important and don't explain it all.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Episode 27: World-Building Religion

[Note: this is not about a religion building a world, this is about writers who are building a fictional world and the role of religion in that. Just in case anyone is having trouble parsing the title. Fictional World Building: Religion?]

Key points: what you believe informs your writing, but your story should turn around what your characters believe. Religion belongs in world building because it is a human motivation. Talking about religion may offend some people, but putting pen to paper also may offend some people. Do your world building around sources of conflict. How will you use it in your story?
Details )
Writing prompt: develop a religion where people worship something that no one would ever worship in our world. And it can't be silly.

May 2017

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