February 20th, 2011

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Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 28: World Building Gender Roles

[Brandon] This is Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 28: World Building Political Correctness. [Note: later in the podcast, they changed the name]

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/12/06/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-28-world-building-gender-roles/

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. 
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[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.
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Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 30: Unreliable Narrators

Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 30: Unreliable Narrators

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/12/13/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-30-unreliable-narrators/

Key Points: Unreliable narrator, third person limited, depends on how wrong the character's perceptions are. Unreliable narrator, first-person, often just lies to the reader. Unreliable narrator can add a subtext, another layer of meaning that the reader deduces. Another use of unreliable narrator is to let us see the character's viewpoint more clearly, since we experience their flawed view of the world. Yet another use is as a plot device to hide a twist. Epistolary stories, told through letters and journals, often are unreliable because people hide things in their writing. You can also have epigraphs that are clearly mistaken. Using third person limited unreliable narrators who are competing can introduce tension and characterize because the reader sees both sides, even though the characters don't individually know enough. Some books have a character who misleads by paying attention to red herrings and discarding real clues as meaningless. Seeing the uncertainty -- experiencing the confusion of the unreliable narrator -- also builds sympathy. Just don't withhold too much, have good reasons for what you withhold and why.
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[Brandon] I'm going to go ahead and give our writing prompt this time. I would like you to do... to have one event occur, and then have five different perspectives of that event which are... none of which are completely true. Just people's own views of what happened. They did this once in the X-Files, it was a wonderful episode. [Note: probably X-Files Jose Chung's "From Outer Space"] The movie Hero accomplished this, different narratives explaining the same event.
[Howard] There's an episode of CSI that did the same thing.
[Dan] Rashomon by Kurosawa.
[Brandon] Give this a try yourself. This has been Writing Excuses, you're out of excuses, now go write.
[Howard] Five times.
[Dan] You're out of five excuses.
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Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 29: Antiheroes

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.
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[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...]
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Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 31: Tragedy

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.
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[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.
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Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 32: Collaboration

Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 32: Collaboration

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/01/03/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-32-collaboration/

Key points: First, last, and in between: Don't. Collaboration means (a) famous author outlines, skilled sidekick fleshes out (b) alternating chapters (c) brainstorm and split writing/editing (d) come up with a shared world then write your own books. Don't collaborate to try to shore up a weak point -- learn how to do it! Collaboration is hard work. Consistency is a problem. How are you going to handle disagreements? Three rules for collaboration: #1, learn to do it yourself first; #2, Lay groundrules beforehand; #3, Decide on the process.
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[Howard] I've got the writing prompt. I'm actually going to provide two writing prompts. Writing prompt number one is for all of those people out there who want to be collaborative writers and think it will solve their problems. On your own, write a story about two people collaborating in which things go horribly, horribly wrong. Writing prompt number two. This is for all of those writers who want to write comics and are saying, boy, I sure wish I could find somebody to draw this for me, because they are looking for collaboration. I'm going to tell you what I had to do, and you go do it. Write your comic, and then go draw it your own dang self.
[Brandon] Amen.
[Dan] Take that, listeners.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, and if you make any, Howard will beat you up.
[Howard] Now go write. And draw.
[Dan] Now.