As writers, we’re often looking for great resources for learning or strengthening our craft. There’s a lot of information out there in various forms ―books, blog posts, webinars, conferences and more ― but I’d like to shine a spotlight on the Writing Excuses podcast.
I’ve been listening to this podcast for years now (episodes can be found free-of-charge on iTunes or handily archived on the Writing Excuses website). Initially run by fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson, horror writer Dan Wells and web cartoonist Howard Tayler, they have recently been joined by puppeteer and author Mary Robinette Kowal. Their tagline is ‘Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart’ ― catchy, but utterly untrue because they really are that smart. These four professional writers bring their own experiences to the table to produce a short, tight lesson in each and every episode. It’s a gold mine for those just starting out. When I first started to listen, they were already well into season three. But what I learned in a few short podcasts convinced me that I needed to download every episode from their past seasons. The information contained in those episodes was invaluable as I was finishing revisions on my manuscript and moving into the query process.
The topics they cover range from the craft of writing to the business of publishing: the basics of queries, brainstorming, world building, submissions, plot twists, voice, killing your darlings, traditional vs. self-publishing, editing, pacing and much, much more. They record and post any sessions they give at conferences, and they frequently invite guests to the show to focus in on his or her specific area of expertise. If you want to learn the craft and business of writing, there’s no better way than learning from those in the trenches. They usually discuss genre fiction and tend to lean more heavily towards sci-fi and fantasy writing, but all writers will come away from this podcast with some tidbit of new and useful knowledge to apply to their own writing.
I highly recommend this podcast to someone who is looking to expand their knowledge about their craft and is looking for an alternate way to learn. Give it a try the next time you’re driving to work or doing the dishes; those fifteen minutes may prove to be the most useful time you spend all day.
Photo credit: Jess Newton