One of my favorite podcasts about the craft of writing is Writing Excuses. Hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, Brandon Sanderson, and Dan Wells, they live up to their tagline “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” I disagree with the ‘not that smart’ bit. These people are extremely smart. Each episode is a wonderful blend of education and humor on topics as diverse as outlining, worldbuilding, characterization, plotters versus pantsers, and the state of the industry.
Season Ten they changed the format. It’s still fifteen minutes, and still just as educational and humorous. But now they are presenting it as a master class, much like the ones that you can attend at conventions. Two podcasts will be lessons on that month’s subject. The other two are wildcard episodes to keep things mixed up. I have been paying close attention to all of the podcasts, and I plan on doing all the assignments.
January’s lessons were about ideas, where they come from, and how to cultivate them. For a while there, I wasn’t sure if I would come up with any ideas for short stories. Lesson one proved to be a revelation. Much to my surprise, I have come up with more than the five required for the assignment. Some of them won’t work as a stand alone story, but I know where I will be slotting them into my novels. Who knows. I might have a novella or two if the ideas pan out.
February’s lessons are about characters. The first assignment is to write a scene walk three characters through a scene without directly stating their job, hobby, or emotions. And they have to perform a dead drop. I thought this would be simple. Two weeks and I’m still working on it. I’m liking what I’m writing, so I might modify it and use it for a scene.
I recommend anyone who is interested in writing as a craft to listen to Writing Excuses. I doubly recommend listening to Season Ten and doing the homework. I am looking forward to the upcoming lessons.