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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Transmedia Storytelling

Bernie Su of Pemberley Digital talks about his company’s online adaptations of classic novels and how he makes transmedia storytelling work, both narratively and financially. Mentioned in the interview: Pemberley Digital The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Emma Approved Frankenstein M.D.  Emma Approved Fashion Looks Bernie Su talks about Transmedia Storytelling Article on Emma Approved and its […]

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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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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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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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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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Brainstorming Episodic Concepts

We survey common episodic concept categories and then conquer the blank page with strategies for brainstorming the next big hit. Featuring screenwriter Jason Ginsburg. (Apologies if you were one of the early downloaders of this episode since it contained a few technical glitches and some repeated content since we had to re-record parts. But the […]

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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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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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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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