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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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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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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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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Flaws Part 2: Flip-Side Strengths

Matt Bird returns to discuss character flaws in relation to their flip-side strengths. Referenced in the episode: Audiobooks.com The Cockeyed Caravan Matt’s Ultimate Story Checklist Tootsie Sherlock Elementary The 40-Year-Old Virgin The Americans Almost Human The Hurt Locker The King’s Speech Also, the iPhone/iPad app The Storyometer has been updated, featuring many more prompts and […]

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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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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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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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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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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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