Bonus Ep – Native American Lit Panel

In this bonus episode, authors Eric Gansworth and Joseph Bruchac and their editors, Cheryl Klein and Stacy Whitman, discuss the particular pleasures and challenges of writing, editing, and publishing Native American young adult literature. Relevant links: Eric Gansworth’s website Joseph Bruchac’s website Stacy Whitman’s website Cheryl Klein’s website Debbie Reese’s website (mentioned in the conversation) […]

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Stories in Video Games

Video game critic Tom McShea talks about the best storytelling happening in video games. Games mentioned include: The Legends of Zelda THe Walking Dead The Last of Us Mass Effect 3 Dragon’s Lair Arcade Game Laserdisc Sleep No More (a theatrical experience in NY) Fallout 3 Bioshock Bioshock Infinite In other news… It’s good to […]

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Query Letters

How should you compose your query letter when submitting a manuscript? Cheryl and author Katy Beebe discuss the do’s and dont’s. By the way… Thanks for listening. Sorry we’ve been away! We hope to be more consistent in the fall but could use your help. Our PayPal donation email is narrativebreakdown@gmail.com Any amounts are appreciated […]

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Graphic Novels vs Screenplays

Chad Kultgen on writing a graphic novel, creating a new comedy for NBC, and getting his novel adapted into a major motion picture. Plus, Cheryl and James announce a new opportunity for listeners. Listeners! We’re celebrating our 40th episode. Thanks for your support over the last couple of years. We’d love to do more shows, […]

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Using Meta-Data, Labels, Colors, Keywords, etc.

Scrivener expert Gwen Hernandez talks about using meta-data, labels, colors, keywords, and annotations to streamline projects and ease the re-writing process. To varying degrees, these techniques can be applied in other software, not just Scrivener. And for those not familiar with Scrivener, we provide a brief introduction to the application that has become one of […]

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Artificial Intelligence and Us

HUMAN – AI relationships with Phillip Chernyak and Chris Shields. We look at plots and themes of the past and, inspired by the film HER, challenge writers to explore new narrative territory involving robots, artificial intelligence, and technology. Mentioned in the episode: HER Top Ten Data Episodes from Star Trek NG (1986) Robot and Frank […]

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Writing for Hire with Kass Morgan

We talk with author and editor Kass Morgan about her novel THE 100, soon to be a TV show on the CW. Topics include working with a packager, applying or not applying her own rules, and the challenges of writing an ensemble story. Follow Kass on Twitter. Mentioned in the episode: Alloy Entertainment Battlestar Gallactica […]

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Novelist and Screenwriter Chad Kultgen

James talks to novelist and screenwriter Chad Kultgen – it’s a discussion that should prove fascinating to all writers – about his ideas, work habits, and success in several mediums. Chad has sold as many as twenty TV shows, written four novels, penned several screenplays, and ventured into graphic novels and videogames. Chad’s novels include […]

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The Power of Irony

Matt Bird and James Monohan discuss the various types of irony you can use in your writing to add depth, build empathy, earn laughs, create meaning, and ultimately hook your audience. We start with Matt’s general description of irony as being “a meaningful gap between expectation and outcome” and go from there, using examples from […]

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Crafting Subjectivity Within Objective Point of View

When writing prose from a third person (objective) point of view, what kind of techniques can you use to portray the subjective viewpoint of your characters? Cheryl and James explore this challenge, using Hugh Howey‘s hit thriller WOOL, along with HARRY POTTER, as fodder for the discussion. We’re glad to be back in action on […]

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1st Person Point of View

We talk about the pros and cons of writing from a first person point of view. Referenced writers include Woody Allen, Jonathan Ames, Jane Austen, Suzanne Collins, Larry David, Charlie Kaufman, Jaclyn Moriarty, Trent Reedy, David Sedaris, Francisco Stork, Lisa Yee, and more. Links: Cheryl Klein’s blog. James’ brainstorming app for writers, which just came […]

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Character Hooks

We discuss brainstorming Character Hooks – instantly intriguing character traits that are full of dramatic and/or comedic potential. When you read a book’s flap copy or see the trailer for a movie it’s not just the the plot conceit, world, tone, style, and the talent involved that makes you want pony up your hard-earned cash. […]

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Generating Characters for an Ensemble Cast

Matt Bird joins us again for a look at stories that have an ensemble cast of characters. We brainstorm how to go about generating multiple main characters, focused vs. unfocused ensemble stories, and polarized traits vs. full dimensionality. Plus, a digression into a racially-related subtopic helps make this the most controversial episode yet. See you […]

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Character Development > Essence and Action Traits

Cheryl and James do an overview of character traits, introducing the distinction between Essence Traits (what a character “is”) and Action Traits (the traits that more directly lead to plot-related behavior). Examples include Indiana Jones, James Bond, The Big Chill, the work of Joan Bauer, Mad Men, The Hunger Games, Back to the Future, and […]

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Scene Construction 2 > Power Dynamics and Beats

In our sexiest episode yet, Cheryl and James break down the popular train scene from the James Bond film Casino Royale between Bond (Daniel Craig) and Vesper (Eva Green). Topics include scene construction, power dynamics, scene beats, character tactics, dialogue, sexual tension,and Cheryl’s unabashed weakness for quality banter and Daniel Craig’s perfectly formed…nevermind. Links: The […]

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Scene Construction 1 > Character Expectations and Tactics

In our first episode on Scene Construction, we talk about general scene structure, character expectations, beats, and character tactics. Screenwriter and story guru Matt Bird, from CockeyedCaravan.Blogspot.com, joins us for what may be our most ambitious episode yet. Links: The Twelve Angry Men scene that we reference. Matt Bird’s Cockeyed Caravan blog. Please Subscribe in […]

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Concept Sources > Science Fiction and Fantasy Ideas

We discuss how to generate Science Fiction and Fantasy story concepts and ideas. Screenwriter and sci-fi aficionado Jason Ginsburg lends his expertise and talks about the “Willy Wonka in Space” screenplay he’s writing. James gushes about the Storyometer – a brainstorming, outlining, and note-taking tool for writers – which has been officially approved by the […]

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Inciting Events Part 2

James and guest writer and filmmaker Jack Tomas continue with our discussion of Inciting Events, including lots of examples from novels, films and TV shows as well as several references to the Hero’s Journey and Joseph Campbell. While James teases the Inciting Events section of his upcoming iPhone / iPad app – a creative writing […]

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Beginnings and Inciting Events part 1

Cheryl and James talk about inciting events as well as how good storytelling is more like a striptease and less like a visit to a nude beach. Direct Download Link Or listen right here: Subscribe in iTunes

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Character Morality

How can you make your characters more interesting via their morality? How do you define the morality of your character? And how can you play with moral status and use it to tell a good story? Cheryl and James look at Harry Potter and his virtues and flaws, the moral grey of Severus Snape, Katniss […]

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