Strong Episodic Concepts

Matt Bird talks about how he measures the strength of a TV show’s basic concept. Mentioned in the episode: Matt’s Ultimate TV Pilot Checklist (using 24 as an example) 24 Breaking Bad Chicago Fire Code Red Rescue Me Copper Homeland House Mad Men The Knick Slings and Arrows   We’re entirely user supported at present […]

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Dark Subject Matter

Two thriller writers go deep into the dark subject matter of their genre. Mentioned in the episode: Alex Dolan’s THE EUTHANIST Alex Dolan’s website Jonathan Stone’s THE TELLER Jonathan Stone’s website ThrillerFest Vertigo Seven The Narrative Breakdown’s episode on Thriller Types and Tropes (starring Matt Bird) True Detective Season 1 Cormac McCarthy   We’re entirely user […]

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Writing a Critical Review

Film and music critic Tim Grierson talks about the craft of writing reviews. Tim’s review of BIRDMAN for Deadspin Tim’s review of SPY for Screen Daily Tim’s review of SPY Deadspin Tim’s review of ALOHA for Deadspin Tim in conversation about animation director Don Hertzfeldt Tim in conversation about WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP Tim discusses filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul We’re […]

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Writing a Gender Other Than Your Own

What should you consider when choosing the gender of your main character? Two exciting debut thriller authors, Alex Dolan and Gwendolyn Womack, join to discuss this topic and related issues. Gwendolyn Womack’s website The Memory Painter Alex Dolan’s website The Euthanist A Reunion of Ghosts (Alex’s recommendation) The Expats (Gwendolyn’s recommendation) The Accident (Gwendolyn’s recommendation) International […]

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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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Romance and Relationships

Kass Morgan joins us to discuss the romance genre and relationship stories in general. Mentioned in the episode: Cheryl’s blog post about Romance tropes The 100: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_and_Sensibility Eleanor and Park: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_%26_Park Sense and Sensibility: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_and_Sensibility Pride and Prejudice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride_and_Prejudice Cheryl’s review of a Pride and Prejudice adaptation Ann of Green Gables: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbClLH8nvUM Emma: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_(novel) Rust and […]

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When Stories Lie

Cheryl, James, and Matt Bird discuss unreliable narrators and deceptive points of view. Mentioned in this episode: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Atonement We Were Liars Fight Club Primal Fear The Sixth Sense Gone Girl Lee Child’s “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” Flowers for Algernon Millicent Min Girl Genius The Usual Suspects You, the […]

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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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Character Goals and Philosophies

We’re back with a great episode on character goals and philosophies, including how those goals can change. Featuring the return of Matt Bird and Cheryl Klein. Direct Download Link for the episode More about this show, for new listeners: This is a creative writing podcast and a screenwriting podcast. In The Narrative Breakdown, Cheryl Klein, […]

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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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Copyright Issues for Writers

An introduction to copyright, libel, public domain, options, fair use and other related topics of importance to writers, featuring two Park Avenue lawyers from the firm of Satterlee, Stephens, Burke, and Burke – Mark Fowler and Mark Lerner. Referenced in the episode: Copyright Term and the Public Domain (the Cornell link) RightsofWriters.com – Mark Folwer’s […]

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History as Source Material

We talk about using history as the source material for your writing, looking at iconic history-inspired films, non-fiction films nominated for the 2014 Oscars, and helpful resources for finding out about true lives and events that might inspire you. Screenwriter Jason Ginsburg returns as co-host. Let us know what you think about the ethics of […]

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Author Trent Reedy

Writing about a culture other than your own, balancing pace and tone, using a highlighted chapter list: these are some of the topics covered in our fascinating discussion with the versatile novelist Trent Reedy. Referenced in the episode: Trent Reedy’s Web site WORDS IN THE DUST DIVIDED WE FALL TRILOGY: BOOK 1 BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA […]

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On Horror

We discuss horror films with help from two aficionados – filmmakers Phillip Chernyak and Chris Shields. What makes horror tick? When is it effective or ineffective? How should a writer approach the genre? Mentioned in the episode: Chris Shield’s Horror Podcast – The Brood The Conjuring The Fly (1986) Nightmare on Elm Street. Scream The […]

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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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Character Flaws Part 1

Character Flaws: What are they? Why are they important?  How do you go about picking flaws?  How aware should characters be of their flaws? Should they be resolved?  This is meaty subject so we’ll definitely have to do a part 2. Links to the shows, films, and books we discuss are listed on this episode’s web page: Wikipedia on Character […]

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Dialogue Tags, Macro Editing, and More

We address listener-submitted topics, including ebooks, dialogue tags, and macro editing. This is our 25th (silver anniversary) episode. Thanks for listening! We mention Wool’s publishing deal. Click the link for more info. Direct Download Link for the episode More about this show, for new listeners: In The Narrative Breakdown, Cheryl Klein, James Monohan, and other […]

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Thriller Types and Tropes

Matt Bird is back for a breakdown of the thriller genre. We discuss transgression / noir thrillers, conspiracy thrillers, action thrillers and more. No need to pay for an MFA program. This episode is a graduate-level class that will benefit writers of all genres, not just thrillers. Films and TV Shows we mention: Breaking Bad […]

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Rainbow Rowell on Crafting Relationships and more

We interview the delightful Rainbow Rowell, celebrated author of Eleanor and Park. Topics include crafting relationships, writing from the gut, building believable characters, the “New Adult” genre, pacing, and Rainbow’s upcoming novel, Fangirl. Other things we mention: Attachments The Fault in Our Stars Direct Download Link for the episode More about this show, for new […]

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Beyond the Basics with E. Lockhart

How does an advanced writer think? Find out as we go beyond the basics of writing with Printz and National Book Award finalist E. Lockhart. We cover many topics, including the challenges of working within one’s own high concept structural choices. Links to what we reference, in order of mention, are listed here on NarrativeBreakdown.com: […]

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Keeping a Journal

Do you keep a journal? What do you write in it and what role does it play in your creative work? We talk to author Corey Ann Haydu about her own epic diary and related side project, as well as her upcoming novel, OCD LOVE STORY. Direct Download Link for the episode More about this […]

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Selling Your Writing

Chad Kultgen is back to discuss the ins and outs of selling novels and scripts. He also gives a great overview of the different ways to break into television writing. Chad has authored four novels and sold many TV shows and screenplays (including The Incredible Burt Wonderstone ). Check out his work on the interweb. […]

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Subtext

The topic is subtext: Why, when, and how you should use it. Cheryl and James, along with guest co-host Matt Bird, discuss several examples, including provocative theories about The Great Gatsby and The Hunger Games. Check out Matt’s excellent Cockeyed Caravan blog post about subtext. And check out Cheryl’s post on the same subject. As […]

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Revision Techniques 1

Cheryl Klein discusses some of her revision techniques, honed through years of editing award-winning work at Arthur Levine Books, including Harry Potter. This discussion will be useful to prose and script writers alike. We also reference Anita Nolan’s excellent essay on revision. For many more revision ideas, check out Cheryl’s book, Second Sight. As an […]

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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 POV in Film

Filmmaker Jack Tomas joins James Monohan to discuss first person point of view techniques in screenwriting and film directing. Examples include Peep Show, the hit British comedy that employs only point of view perspectives. As an alternative to iTunes, you can listen right here: Direct Download Link for the episode More about this show, for […]

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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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