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November 10, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Economists tend to see everything as economics, which is kind of how proponents of ANY discipline see their discipline, but it’s not a bad way to look at worldbuilding through the lens of economics. In this episode we talk about how this works for us, and how it lets us roll our worldbuilding into our storytelling. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes: Mahtab mentioned The Economics of Science Fiction on Medium.com  
November 3, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Where do you draw the line between what seems plausible, and what would be cool? If you pick “plausible,” how do you stay cool? If you pick “cool,” how do you avoid knocking the readers out of the story? And finally, how might we structure things so that when the time comes, we don’t need to choose one or the other, because we can have both? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and engineered by Alex Jackson
October 27, 2019
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Let’s talk about career planning. It’s a lot more than just launching a career by selling a book, and in this episode we talk about the kinds of things we want to be thinking about and preparing for beyond simply selling our next book or project. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm at WXR 2018, and mastered by Alex Jackson
October 20, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Alternate histories (and historical fantasies) are a staple of genre fiction. In this episode we talk about the worldbuilding process, the tools we use, and the pitfalls we try to avoid when constructing these kinds of stories. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
October 13, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s make history! In this episode we talk about doing exactly that—creating real-feeling histories for secondary world settings. We discuss the resources we turn to, the pitfalls we try to avoid, and the places where we think the history has been done really well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson
October 6, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard How do you decide between digging one really deep, narrow well, and digging one really wide, shallow ocean? In this episode we talk about our desires to build worlds which appear both vanishingly wide and unplumbably deep, when we have time to do neither. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 29, 2019
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon “Positioning feels like the most important question in all of publishing.” — Dongwon Song In this episode we talk about how to ask and answer the question of positioning, which is “who is this book for?” Credits: This episode was recorded before a live audience aboard Liberty of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 22, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Jared Quan Jared Quan serves as a volunteer on several non-profit boards, and joined us to talk about the opportunities that exist for writers. Administration, leadership, writing and editing, and teaching are just a few of the many kinds of roles available for volunteers. Credits: This episode was recorded live at LTUE by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
September 15, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Some science fiction and fantasy stories arise from a premise which, under even just rudimentary examination, appear utterly ridiculous. And some of these stories are hugely successful. In this episode we talk about how we manage our worldbuilding when the goal is less about building a world which works, and more about getting the audience to buy in on something outlandish so we can get on with our story. Liner Notes: “Went With The Wind” begins about two minutes into this full episode of the Carole Burnett Show Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 8, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab How do we come up with names? How do we do it in ways that enhance our worldbuilding? What are the elements that give our invented naming schemes (even the zany ones with lots of syllables and apostrophes) verisimilitude? In this episode we talk about some of the tricks we’ve used, the pitfalls we’ve avoided, and conlangs in general. Liner Notes: In Episode 12.51 we discuss Conlangs (“constructed languages”)with Dirk Elzinga. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 1, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The advice commonly given to writers is to worldbuild an iceberg, but only to show the reader the tip. This is still too much work. Icebergs are big. In this episode we talk about worldbuilding the tip of the iceberg, and then worldbuilding as little as possible of the rest of the iceberg so that the tip behaves correctly.
August 25, 2019
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Authors have brands whether they want to have them or not. It’s a simple principle of marketing, and the better we understand that principle, the better able we are to control how it affects our careers. In this episode we talk marketing, and freely use terms like “relationship marketing,” “authentic experience,” and “brand loyalty,” despite the fact that sometimes these words make our inner artists cringe. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson. 
August 18, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard How do you write a setting in which the status quo is one with which you deeply disagree? How do you create a conflict of this sort without being overtly pedantic or preachy? In this episode we talk about creating engaging worlds while worldbuilding around—and yes, over—landmines. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
August 11, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Let’s talk about worldbuilding with gender roles. Most of us have grown up with a very strongly defined binary, that distinction need not be how we craft the worlds in which we set our stories. In this episode we discuss the resources we have to help us, and the approaches we’ve taken to worldbuild with gender in our own work. We drill down pretty deeply on some worldbuilding with Brandon, and yes, we run quite long. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes * Axes of Power spreadsheet * pronoun.is, * #ownvoices, * #nonbinary
August 6, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab In this episode we talk about how to put characters in conflict with their setting, and how to structure our work so that these conflicts arise organically rather than feeling mandated by plot. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and master by Alex Jackson
July 28, 2019
Your Hosts: Piper, Dongwon, Amal, and Maurice We like food, and we like to talk about food. Our hosts this week talk about how this influences their fiction, (not to mention how incredibly complex [and interesting, and delicious] the subject is.) Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson 
July 21, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard So, you’re going to go someplace and learn something you can’t learn in any other way. Maybe it’s location research for setting. Maybe you’re off to interview an expert. Whatever you’re planning, you need to be planning it well. In this episode we discuss the field research we’ve done, how we went about it, and how we might do it differently. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson  EPISODE ORDER NOTE: As of this writing, episode 14.28’s web-sized audio file isn’t ready. We’ll run it next week, and eventually swap the dates to get 14.29 and 14.28 in the right order.
July 14, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab How do you write about warfare in your stories when you’ve never fought in a war? How do you describe brilliant tactics when you’re completely untrained in military movements? How can you portray the emotions of someone on a battlefield without having been on a battlefield yourself? In this episode we tackle these questions and more. (Hint: the answers include “research”) Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
July 7, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard In this episode we stories with the “Person-vs-Setting” structure. These are stories where nature fills the role of antagonist, and may also be what governs the pacing, and the delivery of key emotional beats. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
June 30, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Rob Kimbro Rob Kimbro joins us this week to talk about Aristotle’s elements of tragedy, and how they might be applied to our writing. The six elements are (in Aristotle’s order of descending importance): plot, character, idea, dialog, music, and spectacle.  We discuss this tool in terms of critiquing existing work, and in finding direction in the things we create. Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson
June 23, 2019
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon Guest-host Dongwon Song joined us at WXR 2018 as an instructor, and gave great advice regarding the business side of working as an author. In this episode he takes us through a conversation about choosing an agent. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
June 16, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Political Intrigue stories are less about “politics” (as colloquially defined by pop culture) and more about mysteries. Per Mary Robinette, they’re often like heists of information. The word “politics” here is used in its purest sense: POWER. In this episode we talk about how we worldbuild for stories in which the flow of information and misinformation affect the shift of power, and how to craft those stories so they’re, well… intriguing instead of being boring. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
June 9, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab What kinds of governmental systems do you live within? What kinds do you implement? Answering these questions can help you with the worldbuilding of political power structures. In this episode we’ll talk about all that. (Within our time limit, of course.) Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.  
June 2, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Sherlock Holmes has his Watson for a reason. Readers need a character to whom some things must be explained. In this episode we talk about how we create these gateway characters without delivering “maid and butler” dialog, or talking down to the reader. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 26, 2019
Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, and Dongwon The single most asked question we get on the subject of writing cultures other than our own is some variation on “can we even DO this anymore?” Short answer: YES, YOU CAN. Our objective with this episode is to encourage you to put in the work, do the research, and write outside of your culture or personal experience. At risk of sounding cliché, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
May 19, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard What is an allegory, anyway? This episode probably won’t settle that question, but we did manage a discussion on how to use our stories to teach things, or be stand-ins for things, and to do it in the ways that allegories and/or parables might. We talk about some famous allegories, some things whose authors insisted were not allegorical, and the possible pitfalls of didacticism. Credits: This episode was engineered by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.
May 12, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab We often worldbuild religions and rituals for the stories we create. In this episode we discuss the decisions surrounding this, and our approaches for doing it well. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
May 5, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Theme is one of those high-falutin’ concepts we’re often reluctant to approach in a nuts-and-bolts sort of way. In this episode we’ll talk about how our themes can be communicated through elements of our settings, deepening reader engagement with the things we write. We offer examples from our own work, and from things we’ve watched or read which have done this in ways that resonated well for us. Credits: This episode was recorded by Rob Kimbro, and mastered by Alex Jackson
April 28, 2019
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Dongwon This episode is about comp titles (comparative titles), which are those things you use to describe your project in terms of other works. We discuss the ones we’ve used (both successfully and unsuccessfully), and the criteria we use to come up with good ones. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
April 21, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Your setting can quickly tell the reader what kind of a story they’re reading, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we make that happen. Think of it as the “establishing shot” principle from film making, expanded to cover whatever worldbuilding details we choose to reveal first. Liner Notes: Here are the Schlock Mercenary Book 19 prologues Howard described, complete with the footnotes which make fun of prologues. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
April 14, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab We’ve spent a lot of time talking about magic systems in our worldbuilding. It’s time to talk about  science and technology in that same way. This has been a staple (perhaps the defining staple) of science fiction since before “science fiction” was a word. At risk of opening the “where do you get your ideas” can of worms, this episode covers a little bit of where we get our ideas, and where you might get—and subsequently develop—some more of yours. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
April 7, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard “Show, don’t tell,” they tell us. Except sometimes showing is not always the best thing to do. Or even the right thing to do. Sometimes we should be telling. In this episode we’ll tell you about telling. (We’d show you about telling, but we still don’t have a video feed.) Credits: This episode was recorded by Rob Kimbro, and mastered by Alex Jackson
March 31, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard What’s the difference between an obstacle and a complication? Margaret Dunlap takes the lead on this episode for us, giving us the tools we need to create ‘impediments to main character progress’ which will drive our stories across page turns (and commercial breaks) in compelling, twisty ways. Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
March 24, 2019
Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Tempest Bradford, Dongwon Song, and Julia Rios Julia Rios joins us to talk about writing characters who come from one of the many Latin-American cultures or subcultures. “Latinx” is a catch-all term for people with Latin-American heritage, including mixed-race people. In this episode we talk about mash-up cuisine, intersectionality, and how to navigate the subtleties to find the specific cultural elements which will help you create Latinx characters. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
March 17, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard When we say “without rules” we’re talking about stories whose magic is not held under logical scrutiny for the reader. There are lots of reasons why you might do this, and in this episode we’ll talk about not just about the why, but also the how. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson
March 10, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s design magic systems! We talk about how we do it, and how the principles of magic system design apply to the science fiction systems we create, and vice-versa. NOTE: In this episode we’re talking about “hard” magic systems, where there are well-defined rule sets (even if the reader isn’t shown them explicitly.) Next week we’ll talk about “soft” magic. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.
March 3, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Let’s infodump without infodumping. Let’s deliver lots of exposition without sounding expository. Let’s talk with the maid and the butler without having maid-and-butler dialog. Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson
February 24, 2019
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and DongWon We invited attendees at WXR 2018 to ask us some general worldbuilding questions. Here’s what they asked: * What cultural stuff do you need to know during the writing process? * How do you treat overlaps between real-world religions and fictional religions when the fictional religions are part of the story’s fundamental conflict? * How much worldbuilding do you have figured out before you start your first draft, and how much do you discover on the fly? * What’s the point in a book beyond which you shouldn’t introduce big worldbuilding elements? * How do you ensure that the world comes through as a character of its own? * How much change to terminology is too much? Credits: This episode was recorded live by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
February 17, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard How weird, how far outside the realm of what the reader feels to be familiar, is too weird? Where is the line beyond which the fantasy is too fantastic, the unreal too unrealistic, or the aliens too alien? In this episode we discuss finding that line, and with the tools at our disposal, possibly moving it. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.
February 10, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Let’s talk about race, sort-of. Let’s talk about creating races—species of people, really—which is a critically important activity in much of our worldbuilding. In this episode we discuss a few of the pitfalls, some of our own techniques, and a few of our favorite alien¹ races. ¹Can of Worms: It’s likely you’ll subconsciously code your creations after people who are “other” to you. This is both fraught and inescapable, but we don’t want to discourage you from trying. On May 26th we’ll go into detail telling you “yes, you can,” in a Writing The Other episode entitled “Yes You Can.”
February 3, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard When you’re defining your world for the reader, some voice in the text must speak those definitions. This episode is about how we use character voices—their dialog and their narrative view points—to worldbuild. What do they see? How do they perceive it? What are their favorite jokes? What do they say when they swear? Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson    
January 27, 2019
Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, Dongwon, and TJ This is the first of our Writing The Other episodes, in which we set out to help writers portray people who are unlike them. In this episode we’re joined by T.J. Berry. She walks us through the language and terminology of bisexuality.
January 20, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard Margaret Dunlap joins us during season 14 to talk about worldbuilding. In this, her first episode with us, we talk about worlds in which a monolithic culture (like, say, ‘everyone wears hats’) is represented. We cover how to use the trope to your advantage, and how to avoid the trope if it’s going to cause problems.
January 13, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab Mahtab Narsimhan joins us this year for a dozen episodes on worldbuilding, and this week we’re talking about geography and biomes. These pieces of our settings can be central to the stories we tell, but they can also be backdrops, and the story purposes they serve may determine which tools we use to describe them. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
January 6, 2019
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Season 14 is all about worldbuilding¹, and we’re kicking it off with a discussion of when you do that bit of work. Do you handle worldbuilding before you write the story, as you write the story, or after you’ve finished the story? We’ll talk about how we do it, and the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson. ¹ The question of whether this term should be a closed compound (worldbuilding), an open compound (world building), or hyphenated (world-building) is an open one. Our decision to use the closed compound “worldbuilding” in our episode descriptions this year is a matter of personal preference. 
December 30, 2018
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn. Last week’s episode may have sounded like the last one for 2018, but that’s an artifact of December having five Sundays rather than four. Fifth Sundays are our “wildcards,” and something wild seems like a nice way to round out the year. Tom Marshburn, who is both spaceman and parent, talks to us about what it’s like to be both. Credits: This episode was recorded by Ben Hewett, and mastered by Alex Jackson
December 25, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard We decided to wrap up this year on character by letting Brandon ask us some deep questions. “We decided” might be the wrong phrase, because nobody except Brandon knew what the questions were, so it might be more accurate to say “we rolled with it.” It rolled quite nicely. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson. It was posted to the web by Howard, who is also the one who didn’t post until twenty-eight hours and twenty-minutes after he should have. 
December 16, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Zoraida Córdova Zoraida Córdova, an award-winning author of urban fantasy, was born in Ecuador and grew up in Queens. She joins us to talk about what writers get wrong (and what they can get right and do well) when portraying latinas in the United States. Credits: This episode was recorded live at FanX Salt Lake (formerly “Salt Lake Comic-Con”) by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson Liner Notes:  * The comic book Howard referenced is Guardians of Infinity #3, (2016), which features a back-up story entitled “Yo Soy Groot.” * Peggy Whitson is the astronaut Mary referenced. As of this writing, she holds the record for longest single spaceflight by an American. 
December 9, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice Last week we talked about character death. This week we talk about other, less fatal ways in which a character story can be finished, and how we, as writers, can tell when we’re done with a character arc. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
December 2, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard The characters we create are not all destined for long lives. Sure, some are, but a great many of them are on paths that will end in an abrupt fatality of one kind or another, and in this episode we’ll talk about how we choose which characters to put on those paths, and how those paths might be shaped. We also talk about characters who walk perilous paths and emerge unscathed (sometimes thanks less to their pluck and wit, and more due to plot armor.) Liner Notes:“The Worshipful Society of Glovers” can be found here at Uncanny Magazine . Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.
November 25, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard You had questions about fixing character problems. We had had answers! Here are the questions: * How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? * How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? * How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? * How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? * How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? * How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? * How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.
November 18, 2018
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett When we talk about space travel we’re usually talking about rocket scientists and astronauts. In this episode we spoke with our guests Bart Smith and Ben Hewett, about the “unsexy” (read: possibly boring but don’t be deceived) side of the space program—budgeting, logistics, and procurement. RFI and RFP, with toilets, hammers, and business cards; that’s this episode. (For those unfamiliar with the above TLAs [three letter acronyms], RFI and RFP stand for Request for Information and Request for Proposal.)
November 15, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Mercedes Lackey NaNoWriMo 2018 is half-way over today. Are you stuck? Do you need to get unstuck? Mercedes Lackey joined us at GenCon Indy back in 2017 to talk about writer’s block, and how it’s very likely a symptom of something else. In this episode we discuss the interpretation of those symptoms, and how we go about solving the root problems.
November 11, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Amal, and Maurice Narration is that stuff which tells your story, but isn’t dialog. It’s the voice of your narrator, and it might be multiple voices depending on how you’re handling point of view. In this episode we’ll talk about the things you can do to challenge yourself and level up your narration.
November 7, 2018
Your Mini-Episode Hosts: Amal El-Mohtar and Maurice Broaddus, with Special Asides from Mary Robinette Kowal We’re a week in to NaNoWriMo. If you’re scared of it, Amal is here to tell you that it’s okay to feel that way, Maurice is here with the encouraging words “consequence-free.”
November 4, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard As writers of speculative fiction we are frequently tasked with writing a species or race of alien people. In this episode we talk about some of the tricks we use to create non-human characters in ways that make them both comprehensible and compelling, and the pitfalls we seek to avoid in the process. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.
October 31, 2018
Your Mini-Episode Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard Back in 2017 we recorded a bonus episode for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and then forgot to air it. Here, then, in the spirit of never throwing anything away, is a spot of motivation which is both timely AND one year late.
October 28, 2018
Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Amal Many of us write characters who know more than we know, and/or who think faster than we do. Writing those characters is tricky. In this episode we talk about our own tricks, and the tricks we’ve seen others use. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
October 21, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special space-guest Kjell Lindgren Kjell Lindgren, flight surgeon, Expedition 44/45, joined us for an episode that perhaps should have been called “we ask the space-man all of the things.” We asked him stuff that we wanted to know more about, and came away richer for the experience. If there’s just one technical term worth bringing home from this episode, it’s “expeditionary behavior.” It’s the sort of thing that can make us all richer for the experience. Credits: This episode was recorded by Benjamin Hewett at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and mastered by Alex Jackson at Writing Excuses Mission Control in Chicago. BONUS: NASA invited us back to be on THEIR show, Houston We Have a Podcast, and that episode went live about three days before this did. More Kjell Lindgren!
October 14, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice This is the second of our pair of episodes in which we talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
October 7, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard This is the first of two episodes in which we’ll talk about how we, your hosts, fix the problems we’ve identified with the characters in our work. Credits: this episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 30, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Wendy Tolliver Wendy skis, and snowboards, and  writes YA novels. She is also the parent of three, one of whom suffers from mental illness. She joined us to talk about how writers can do a better job of depicting it, and how to avoid the pitfalls and the harmful cliches. Credits: This episode was recorded live at Salt Lake Fan X by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 23, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard We begin by making a useful distinction between alpha and beta reader: the alpha reader is an industry professional, while the beta reader is a stand-in for the eventual audience of readers. We then set about discussing how to find alpha readers, and how to employ them in order to make your work better. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 16, 2018
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard with special guest J.Y. Yang J.Y. Yang is a Hugo-nominated short story writer from Singapore who identifies as non-binary. They joined us to talk about this non-binary identification, and how writers can do a better job of depicting it (beyond simply using non-gendered pronouns.) Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm and mastered by Alex Jackson
September 9, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Amal, Mary, and Maurice If you live in the northern hemisphere, inland, perhaps above the 40th parallel, you are probably quite sure that there are four distinct seasons. There are, however, many, many people for whom “seasons” are things that happen to other people. This is the conflict between your default and the rest of the world, and in this episode we’ll talk about confronting your default. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
September 2, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard Tropes, archetypes, and even cliches are tools in our toolboxes. There’s no avoiding them, but there are definitely ways to use them incorrectly. In this episode we’ll talk about how we shake off our fear of using tropes through understanding how they work. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
August 26, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard You had questions. We came up with answers. The questions are below: * How do you fulfill promises about character arcs without being cliché? How do you subvert character tropes without betraying the reader? * Do you need to complete each character arc in a single story featuring multiple characters? * What separates an iconic character from a caricature? * Have you ever had an iconic character necessarily become a character in need of an arc? * How do you continue a character’s story after they’ve completed their original arc? * How much does a character need to change in their arc?
August 22, 2018
Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Lawrence Schoen Lawrence Schoen, clinical psychologist, cognitive hypnotist, small press publisher, Klingon language expert, and novelist, joined us at GenCon Indy for a bonus episode about elephants and death. Howard and Lawrence both write uplifted elephants into their stories, and their stories also feature death as a theme, so this is a closer fit than it may seem to be at first blush. Liner Notes: This episode was recorded in 2016, and after falling through the cracks (thanks in no small part to being below the fold on a spreadsheet), was rescheduled to coincide with the release of Moons of Barsk, Lawrence’s second novel in the uplifted-elephant setting. Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by our Patreon supporters
August 19, 2018
Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with Kristie Claxton Kristie Claxton joined us at WXR 2017 to talk about reading outside of the spaces where we’re comfortable and familiar. Specifically, we focused on how to learn about people who are not you by reading stories by and about them. Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson
August 12, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice How can we, as writers, best handle weighty matters? This is our year on character, so we’ll approach this with a focus on character creation, depiction, and dialog? This topic is, in and of itself, weighty. Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson
August 5, 2018
Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard “Write what you know” gets misapplied a lot. In this episode we’ll talk about how to know things by listening well. In particular, we’re looking at writing interesting characters by listening to real people. We also talk about the more formal act of interviewing people¹, and how to deal with the attendant complexities. Liner Notes:  Mary references her interviewing of rocket scientists and astronauts, which we just talked about last week. When this episode was recorded the JPL trip was still in our future, and was “will have been” extremely cool. Comment Notes: The audio file wasn’t correctly linked until Tuesday. The irony of the our “how to listen” episode having exactly zero “listen” buttons is not lost on anyone. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and engineered by Alex Jackson. Their fine work was obscured from public view by the careless hands of Howard Tayler.
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