Writing excuses

You know that feeling when you’re so excited to tell someone about something that you do that little jiggle up and down on the spot – like you desperately need to pee?

OK, maybe you haven’t had that since you were five years old, but that’s kind of how I feel about telling you about the Writing Excuses podcast.


I first discovered this podcast when I was doing an online science fiction/fantasy (SFF)writing course in late 2012 with the Gotham Writers Workshop (which is worthy of a blog post unto itself … another time).

Writing Excuses is brilliant. It’s a super-charged shot of literary nerdgasm straight into your writing fingers. If I ever get published, these guys are getting a thank you on the acknowledgement page, even though I’ve never met them.

Basically, it’s four of the hottest SFF authors/web comic around – Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal and Howard Tayler – talking shop for fifteen minutes each week. They’ve been doing it since early 2008 and are now in their ninth season, representing more than 330 episodes that have garnered them several Hugo nominations and one win.

But what’s so great about their podcast is it serves up a great big dose of inspiration and thought-provoking discussion. Each week, there’s a different topic like:

  • Roguishness
  • Antiheroes
  • Your first contract
  • Reading critically
  • Unreliable narrators
  • The seven-point story structure
  • World building: religions
  • Writing love scenes …

I could go on, because there’s 330ish of them.

There is a SFF slant to the whole thing but that rarely excludes anyone because pretty much all the challenges that face SFF authors will, at one time or another, stump  other fiction writers as well (although perhaps not so much the ‘non-human races’ issue).

It’s short, it’s sweet, and it rounds off with a writing prompt that I’m sure has sparked countless new novels, plot twists or characters.

I listen to this podcast when I’m at the gym, and it’s the most inspirational moment of my writing week. I often have to pause what I’m doing and record a voice memo to get some idea down. When I listen back, it usually sounds like this: “GASP … protagonist needs to have a quirk … GASP … to make her more likeable … GASP … maybe snorts when she laughs … GASP …”, and then I get back on the treadmill for more self-flagellation.

The whole eight seasons are available for free on their website www.writingexcuses.com.

One thought on “Writing excuses

  1. Fabulous Bianca! I can’t wait to listen to them. And I love this blog too. If you can fit in some writing in the evening then, dammit, so can I.


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