The Magic Words (Bonus Episode)

Cheryl reads the first chapter of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults. The book is available as of September 6th, 2016. In this bonus episode, Cheryl reads the first chapter exclusively for Narrative Breakdown listeners. Like what you hear? Buy the book! Want to win a critique of your full […]

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Misunderstood Characters

Why a misunderstood character can be very useful. Featuring Cheryl Klein and Matt Bird! Check out Cheryl’s The Magic Words, and Matt Bird’s The Secrets of Story — the best creative writing books of the year. Yes, we’re a bit biased but it’s true! Mentioned in this episode: The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for […]

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Screenplays of 2014

Matt Bird joins us to discuss a selection of quality screenplays from 2014. We look at what makes these scripts tick and what the takeaways are for writers. Mentioned in the episode: Matt Bird’s blog series on the best screenplays of 2014 Selma  Nightcrawler Whiplash Edge of Tomorrow Snowpiercer Boyhood Amistad Mississippi Burning Schindler’s List […]

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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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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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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 Contrast (Foils)

Cheryl and James look at how Character Contrast and the use of Foils can help you better define your characters and make them more compelling. Some questions we address: How likable do your characters have to be for us to care about them? What are some different types of foils?  What uses of character contrast […]

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