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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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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Writing for Video Games

James talks to Jerry Bonner, a screenwriter who switched to writing for video games. Check out Jerry’s articles at HNGN. Jerry’s Twitter Games mentioned include: Ride to Hell Prisonscape   (coming in 2015) Tynon The Legend of Zelda Mass Effect 2 Mass Effect 3 Half Life Super Mario Brothers Karateka Metal Gear Solid Red Dead Redemption […]

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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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Middle Grade with Author-Editor Jill Santopolo

Cheryl talks to author and editor Jill Santopolo about middle grade fiction as well as the secrets to productivity. Referenced in the episode: Jill Santopolo website Sparkle Spa Series Alec Flint books Vermont College of Fine Arts Because of Winn-Dixie Books by Lisa Graff A Tangle of Knots Harriet the Spy Chasing the Milky Way […]

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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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Author Bill Konigsberg

Novelist Bill Konigsberg on identity, free-writing, creative flexibility and learning as you go. Referenced in the episode: OPENLY STRAIGHT OUT OF THE POCKET Piper Center for Creative Writing (at Arizona State) Bill Konigsberg’s Web site Ned Vizzini’s IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY Attention! Listeners of the Narrative Breakdown can now get a FREE audio […]

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The Script of a Writer-Director

James talks to writer/director Laurie Collyer about how a script evolves through pre-production, production, and post-production. Her latest film, SUNLIGHT JR., starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon, is in theaters this week. We also discuss her 2006 release SHERRYBABY, starring Maggie Gyllenhaall and Danny Trejo. By the way, SUNLIGHT JR is also available on demand, […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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