Writing Excuses

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

13.27: Characters as Foils (7/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice A foil is a character who serves as a contrast to another character. The foil might be a sidekick, an antagonist, a romantic interest, or really any other character who gets enough focus for the contrast to be useful. In this episode we talk about foils, offering examples, … Continue reading 13.27: Characters as Foils

13.26: Character Relationships (7/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Our characters become far more interesting when they begin interacting with each other. These interactions—these relationships—are often how our stories get told. In this episode we explore ways in which we can fine tune relationships in service of our stories. The tools include the Kowal Relationship Axes (Mind, … Continue reading 13.26: Character Relationships

13.25: Our Journey With Character (6/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard Brandon wanted to ask us how our perspectives on character have changed since the very beginning of our writing. It’s a difficult question to answer, and a very soulful sort of thing to answer in front of other people. So Brandon went first while the rest of us racked … Continue reading 13.25: Our Journey With Character

13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu (6/2018)

Your Hosts: Piper Drake, Aliette de Bodard, and Wesley Chu, with special guest Ken Liu Our hosts for this episode are experts in a great many different things. One thing that they have in common is that they’re all members of the Asian Disapora, and in this episode we’ll learn what kinds of things writers get … Continue reading 13.24: What Writers Get Wrong, with Piper, Aliette, and Wesley, with special guest Ken Liu

13.23: Internal Conflicts (6/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Internal conflicts, simply put, are problems your characters have with themselves. In this episode we address the ways in which writers can build stories and subplots around internal conflicts, and how we can tell when it’s not working. Notes: the MICE quotient is Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. Mary’s … Continue reading 13.23: Internal Conflicts

13.22: Character Arcs (6/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard When Mary says we could do fifteen different episodes on character arcs, she’s being conservative. Notwithstanding, we set out to talk meaningfully about character arcs in one episode rather than in fifteen (or fifty.) We look at the shapes of these arcs, how they progress in our narratives, … Continue reading 13.22: Character Arcs

13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation (5/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard Our listeners submitted some great questions! How do you fairly and even-handedly write a deeply compelling character you deeply dislike? What’s the best way to discuss a character’s underlying motivations without expressly stating them in narrative or dialog? How well should characters understand their own motivations? How do … Continue reading 13.21: Q&A on Character Depth and Motivation

13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman (5/2018)

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with special guest Emma Newman Emma Newman, author, audio book narrator, and podcaster, joined us on the Baltic sea for WXR 2017, where, six days after a brilliant presentation on overcoming fear, she recorded a session with us on the same topic. The class was just that good. … Continue reading 13.20: Fear and Writing, with Emma Newman

13.19: Backstories (5/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice Character backstories: these are the tales that describe how the characters in your story became who they are by the time they arrive in the book. How much backstory needs to be written before you start in on the manuscript? How much needs to be in the manuscript … Continue reading 13.19: Backstories

13.18: Naturally Revealing Character Motivation (5/2018)

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard What motivates us? What really motivates us? Why? (Note: our motivations are probably not in service of some overarching plot.) How can we use this information to believably motivate characters? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson