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Chris King interview ()
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Chris King

How and when are you planning on releasing Sixth of the Dusk, the cosmere short story you wrote for Writing Excuses?

Brandon Sanderson

Once the entire Writing Excuses team have finished their stories. If you're not familiar we did this thing were each brainstormed a story on air and then we went and wrote them and now we are doing revisions on them. Well, Mary went and I wrote ours, Dan and Howard didn't write theirs... but they're catching up... Once they are all done, we will release them together in an anthology. We will do, the workshopping episodes that we did, we workshopped each others stories, and you'll be able to on Writing Excuses read the rough draft, because that will be included in the anthology, listen to the episode where we workshop it and then read the final draft, which will be in the anthology and get the whole— see what we changed and things like that.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Questioner

I'm a huge fan of the Writing Excuses podcast.

Brandon Sanderson

Well thank you.

Questioner

I always say it's like a master class in genre writing, so I thought you should—for aspiring writers who are in the room—that you should take a few minutes and tell them about the podcast in case they don't know about it.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. So, what happened is, my brother was taking this class in college. My brother's one of these people who take like ten years to get an associate's degree or whatever it is. *laughter* You know, he's got a good job in IT. It's like, he doesn't need the degree, but he feels like he should have one, so he's like taking a class here, and taking a class there. I see people nodding; you either have done this or have loved ones who have done this, but anyway--

Bystander

Like doing this ourselves--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, or doing this yourself. *laughter* So, he's taking this podcasting class for whatever reason. He's like, "Hey, you should do one of these, Brandon." "What? I'm not into podcasting; I'm not a radio personality." He's like, "No, no; you should do this." And he had this great idea—we wanted to do like this web serial that's adventures, like an old classic radio drama, and all of this... writing-intensive stuff, which is why he came to me. And I passed on it; I said, "No, I'm not gonna do that; it sounds fun but I just have too many things on my plate; there's no way I can write all of this for you."

But the idea for a podcast stuck in my brain, and I started listening to some podcasts—I really enjoyed a lot of them I listened to, but it seemed like there was this habitual problem in podcasting where it would be, friends sit around a table and chat, and then, you know, you turn on the podcast and it says one hour and thirty minutes, and you're like, "Ninety minutes, guys? Come on! Is there no editing going on? Can't you stick to a point?" Like, a lot of them are like, you know, the three-hour-long podcast where we're going to, I dunno, drive to Texas and talk about it. And they'll have this topic on, it will be like, "We're gonna discuss the new Batman movie," and I'm like, "Oh good, I want to hear what fellow geeks think about it." And then you see that it's a two-hour-long podcast, and you know they're gonna talk about Batman for like fifteen minutes of that, and then the rest is gonna be like what they had for dinner. *laughter* Because you know, you've been to lots of cons; you've been to lots of panels. You know how it goes; we get off topic. And every discussion of Star Trek turns into an argument of who's the best captain or whatever, and it's the same sort of thing over again.

So anyway, I was thinking about this, and thought, I really would like to do a writing advice podcast. So many people email me wanting advice; so many people would like to try to take my class but can't. Often my class has fifteen seats and I have seventy-five people showing up wanting to add, and we pack as many into the room as we can, but I wanted to do something that would let me give some of this writing advice. So I figured I wanted to do a podcast that was short and sweet. I wanted to organize it more like a little news program where you have one moderator throwing questions at people, and making sure that it stayed on topic, and did it in just a short period of time—I thought fifteen minutes was the right amount of time; just a quick, on-topic podcast—but I can get kind of dry. I've got this university background, right? I just kind of blab—you've been watching me; I do this—and so I'm like, it'll be better if I bring on people who are funny so that people can laugh—that are glib and all this other stuff—and so I went and got the two funniest people I know, which are Howard Tayler and Dan Wells—a horror writer and a comic book illustrator and writer—and I figured that would also give some diversity to the podcast.

And so we started doing this podcast, and it really took off—it was very popular—and so we eventually added a fourth member because we realized that we were not as diverse a cast as we could be, considering we were all three white dudes from the same town. *laughter* So, we called up Mary [Robinette Kowal], who has a very different perspective on life than us, and had been the best guest on the podcast that we'd ever had, and we figured at that point, the podcast now had a sponsor—Audible—so we could afford to fly Mary out, because we do it in person. We can't—this whole Skype thing, you just don't have the same chemistry. And so we started flying Mary out, and so for now, two seasons we've been doing with Mary, so it's the four of us doing writing advice, that we just tackle a topic every week and go at it, and we've had a lot of fun with it. We recorded a bunch of episodes before Dan moved to Germany for a little while, and we did cool things like, for instance, we each brainstormed a story—one episode was for each of us—and then we're all writing these stories which we will then post the rough drafts, and then we will workshop them on an episode, and see the evolution of the story, and then we'll do revisions. I actually, when I worked on my story, I grabbed one of the screen capture technologies—what's it called?—Camtasia, and I recorded myself typing the whole thing. It's like, wow, this is me at the computer going for six hours; maybe we can speed it up or something. But I had screen captures of me just typing the whole story, and then I will do screen captures of the revision process, and then post those so that people can watch a story being built, and watch it evolve, and watch all this sort of stuff. So, it's pretty cool, the podcast, so if you're interested in writing and reading, or if you just want to hear us sometimes be funny, feel free to listen; it's Writing Excuses.