Writing Excuses is fifteen minutes long because we’re in a hurry and they’re not that smart. Well at least that’s how they open each show. Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and (as of season six) Mary Robinette Kowal break downs the difference between strong and weak writing. They offer tips to improve, pitfalls to avoid, and anecdotes from their prolific career in the industry.
Grammar Girl is more than just a podcast. It is a complete website dedicated to helping writers and authors educate themselves on the proper use of grammar and punctuation. I’ve only listened to a handful of different her podcasts but those few tips have improved my writing exponentially.
I am indebted to these podcast and secretly harbor a burning hatred simultaneously.
On the one hand my manuscript is going to be exponentially better when I finish it between now and November. If I have a prayer at winning the Percy Janes Award, it will be primarily due to the influence of these two casts.
The other hand is the one that is buckling under the weight of my laptop and the 180 page manuscript that I was only going to give a proofread before submitting it.
There is an entire world of considerations and techniques that could improve my story and although I was proud of the second draft, I’m really excited with how this third draft is turning out.
I am a listening of The Sword & Laser which is a Sci-fi/Fantasy book club podcast. I’ve been a fan of the show since it was on Geek & Sundry on YouTube and I saw their interviews with R.A Salvatore and George R.R. Martin. I harbor a not-so-secret desire to one day be the Sword & Laser book of the month pick. I’ve curious how they would feel about my writing.
A quick google search for other similar podcasts linked me to Writing Excuses.
Best… Google Search… Ever.
I started listening at the tenth season and I have been working my way back for the last couple of weeks. These guys are great.
If you are an aspiring author at any particular level of success I think this cast is something you should check out. Everyone can learn something from these guys. Writing Excuses help me identify a lot of weakness in my second draft which has prompted this re-write in progress.
Today I made it through most of the first season and I’m very close to having to wait for each new episode each week now. I’m not looking forward to that but the beautiful thing about the archives is that I can just re-listen to episodes when I need some insight.
Everyone reading the new draft so far agree that it’s a vast improvement. That is quite uplifting. Though another measure that makes me feel a lot better about this draft is that now that I’m listening through the first season of Writing Excuses I’ve noticed a lot of the markers they use to describe strong work and good fiction actually apply to my novel.
I’m not overcome with vanity about the quality of the story, I know that it’s probably not going to be my best work. The first novel you write isn’t meant to be great. That’s something I’ve heard from just about every professional author when they offer advice to aspiring writers.
Between Grammar Girl helping me plug the holes in my fundamentals and writing excuses helping me keep my eyes on the bigger picture I’ve never been as confident in my future success as I am right now.
Of course I really should get back to revising.
Like Brandon says at the end of the show.
“You’re out of excuses… now go write!”