I’ve almost caught up on all the episodes of Writing Excuses. Writing Excuses is a fantastic podcast about the ins and outs of writing featuring writing god, Brandon Sanderson, and some of his friends.
Ahem, I mean, featuring the best selling author Brandon Sanderson, an award winning comic creator, Howard Taylor, the young adult author of I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, and in later seasons the incredible, award winning Mary Robinette Kowal.
I’m almost caught up with the current episodes,so I figured now would be a good time to go back and recap what I’ve learned from Writing Excuses. Each season has thirty some-odd episodes and covers a vast array of topics, so rather than recapping ALL of that, I’m just going to talk about one favorite episode per season.
For season one, my favorite episode was probably episode 2, Blending the Familiar and the Original. I’ve heard Brandon Sanderson talk about this before,and I think it’s a very important concept.
The very best story ideas are ones that take something old and make it new. Buffy the Vampire Slayer took the whole high school is hell and all the social issues that went with that and added the twist of no, seriously, high school is hell. Now the whole supernatural high school thing is its own cliche, so to make the same thing happen again, he’d need to take supernatural high school is hell and then add a twist on top of that.
I did the same thing without realizing it when I wrote Persephone. The greek gods are a familiar thing, modern day teenagers are a familiar thing, but when I combined them and created a world where the myths are still happening in modern day, not happening again, not happening to descendants, but actively happening for the first time now and all the characters we associate with ancient times exist now, I made something different.
For better examples and tons of great tips and tricks creating something out of the familiar and the strange listen to the podcast here or read their summary/transcript here.