Writing Excuses

When an author develops a fictitious world, coming up with ideas can seem like an impossible task. Writing involves an endless amount of editing and rewriting, and the process can seem like an eternity. But who says writing has to be a one-person job?

Writing Excuses delves into the mechanics of fiction writing, sharing different writing processes with a comical twist. The hosts vary per episode and vary from Wesley Chu, Piper J. Drake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mary Ann Mohanraj, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. The hosts, who are all authors, share their hardships with brainstorming ideas, developing characters, and other issues that arise while writing.

The objective of Writing Excuses is to provide writing advice to amateur and professional writers. The podcast emits a community vibe, where writers can find other writers with similar dilemmas.

In the first episode, “Brainstorming,” Sanderson, Tayler, and Wells discuss effective ways to brainstorm ideas and create outlines for potential stories. Tayler shares his inspiration: taking baths and drinking Pepsi. Sanderson goes to the gym, whereas Wells sleeps before settling on an idea.

For outlining, some people just dump their ideas on a page and try to find connections between them. The hosts stress that writers should always have a notebook or writing tool on them. That way they can write down their ideas when an epiphany strikes. Some tools, like WikidPad, a database that allows users to record and structure their ideas in a digital notepad, can aid the outline process.

They add that writers should focus on specific characters and conflicts, rather than getting lost in background information—an affliction known as World Builders Disease. It’s also important to look for pivotal moments where the characters, plot and setting unite.

Each episode refers to a single point in the previous episode, then uses it as the main topic in the current episode. This detail gives the podcast fluidity. Like a story, the listeners are guided through the steps to create a strong piece of fictional writing.

Writing Excuses is a fast-paced, talk show-style podcast. The show makes listeners feel like they belong to a writing community, while also providing ideas on how to improve their fiction.

Writing Excuses airs every Sunday on the podcast’s website.

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