February 26th, 2011

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Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 26: Avoiding Stilted Dialogue

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.
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[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.
BrainUnderRepair
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Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 27: Major Overhauls to Broken Stories

Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 27: Major Overhauls to Broken Stories

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/07/11/writing-excuses-4-27-major-overhauls-to-broken-stories/

Key Points: If you are a new writer, just keep writing! Writing group, editor, agent, your own judgment will usually tell you when a book needs work. Identifying that something is wrong and learning writing triage to pick the right thing to fix take lots of practice. Some possible solutions: rearranging things, adding characters or scenes, removing characters or scenes, changing the setting... You can't do everything in one draft -- focus on fixing certain things.
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[Brandon] Okay, before this goes any further, I'm going to end it and give you your writing prompt. Writing prompt this week is to take a story that you have written before and take one throwaway comment or throwaway concept somewhere in that story... find something that you didn't mean to be important at all. I want you to instead read write that scene, rewrite that chapter, so that that idea becomes the major focus of it, and see what happens.
[Dan] Cool.
[Brandon] All right. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
Burp
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Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 28: Brainstorming the End and Working Backwards

Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 28: Brainstorming the End and Working Backwards

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/07/18/writing-excuses-4-28-brainstorming-the-end-and-working-backwards/

Key points: Many writers start by figuring out the ending, then working towards it. Be careful about telegraphing the endings too much. You can always turn an too-obvious ending into an early reveal distraction.
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[Howard] Okay. Is there a character arc for our biker dude?
[Brandon] Yes. But I don't think we have enough time. Dan... um... oh, writing prompt... What is the character arc for our biker dude?
[Dan] Writing prompt. That is a great writing prompt.
[Brandon] We planned that all along, and was our twist ending.
[Dan] And we went back and foreshadowed it in the beginning of the podcast.
[Howard] 15 minutes long because you need to write about a motorcycle, and it's actually 18 minutes in.
[Brandon] All right. Well. There you go. This has been Writing Excuses. Next time, we promise not to throw any puppies at bulldozers.
Burp
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Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 29: Line Editing

Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 29: Line Editing

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/07/25/writing-excuses-4-29-line-editing/

Key Points: Line editing -- tightening up individual sentences -- is normally done after story editing. Avoid excess adverbs (ly words). Adjectives are like pepper -- a little adds flavor, too much ruins the dish. Be wary of anthropomorphizing. Watch mixed and conflicting metaphors (or similes). Beware "seemed to" -- does it or doesn't it? Character act -- active voice lets them act! Go ahead and give us a name.
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[Dan] Yes. Your writing prompt is you need to write a story about a man stumbling through the desert and is aided in some way by a headless monkey.
[Howard] Well, okay.
[Brandon] Okay. This is been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, and have headless monkeys. Now go write.
BrainUnderRepair
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Writing Season Four Episode 30: World Building the Future

Writing Season Four Episode 30: World Building the Future

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/08/01/writing-excuses-4-30-worldbuilding-the-future/

Key Points: A guiding decision -- is the future of your story comprehensible or not? Post-singularity? Consider consequences. Strategies: worst-case scenario, best-case scenario, consider the human element, what's cool. Are you telling character-driven stories or idea stories? Can you work backward -- what story do you want to tell, now what framework does that imply?
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[Brandon] We have a writing prompt. I think we have a writing prompt that will come magically to us from the ether. You are instructed to write your story based on this concept, and here it is.
[Unearthly voice] Oh, no, it's the were-cuttlefish! [strange chomping noises] You are out of excuses and time. Now go write quickly before it gets you. [more strange chomping noises] [Pop! Pop!]