Writing Excuses 7.30: Microcasting

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Microcasting is where the group, way back when they podcasted this episode, decided to read off some questions fans have asked. To participate in future micro-cast, just tag the group #WritingExcuses with your question. And now for the questions.

How do you deal with bad reviews?

Come to grips with the fact that your work will not be universally loved. Calling bad reviewers heathens and getting fans to bash these reviewers frequently is one of the more passive aggressive ways to deal with bad reviews, even if it is a tad childish. Can we blame them? How many of us writers in the audience have wanted the bad reviews to just go away? Childish pranks are some of the answers, but on the more constructive side, we have Mary. Her interpretation of reviews falls in two categories, ‘target audience’ and ‘not target audience’. As long as the target audience is happy, she can easily ignore the bad reviews found in the ‘not target audience’. When a ‘target audience’ does have a bad review for an author, it should be considered a learning experience. If you are an author that would dwell on bad reviews, the best answer the podcasters give is: “Don’t read them.”

How do we apply Brandon’s Rules of Magic in science fiction? Though Mary was not on the podcast when this topic came up, she explained the method very well. You can apply Brandon’s rules by taking how a society is impacted by magic, how it is used and how it can affect the society at large. How is the plot affected by the object? What is the counter or remedy to this affect? This creates a dynamic plot element that an author can build on. Magic becomes science because it is explained into an accepted or unaccepted element of the society.

How can you better ‘suspension of disbelief’? Start by giving the readers the ability to know the characters in your story. This sets a foundation which a writer can build upon. “How to boil a frog,” is exactly what Brandon is trying to say, and Howard jumps in to translate. Give the audience nothing that they need to disbelieve at first. Then raise the temperature gradually and eventually you have a boiled frog, as well as a moment where the reader can completely suspend their disbelief in your story.

Other questions answered:
–        How do you keep tension high without exhausting the reader?
–        You’ve made your manuscript as good as you know how to.
         Now you need to make it even better, based on feedback. What do you do?
–       How do you deal with annoying fans? *See Mary’s Shmoozing below*

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, narrated by Jenny Sterlin.

Writing Prompt: The story of the writer and her VERY ENTHUSIASTIC alien fan who is impossible to escape.

“Oddly, no. Sometimes you guys are dull.” 5:22, Mary Robinette Kowal.

Mary’s Shmoozing 101 Link: Right here.

Editor’s Note: Linda K Strahl is a transfer student from University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, where she was studying Archaeology and minoring in Creative Writing. She came to Lewis University in Fall of 2010 to major in Creative Writing. After participating in the production of two plays at Phillip Lynch Theater she has become an enthusiastic dramaturg, and is contemplating a career as a researcher and playwriter.

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