Story Works Round Table

Conversations about stories and the craft of writing with Alida, Kathryn, and Robert.

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SWRT 110 | When Good Characters Do Bad

What do we mean by “do bad”? And when should you let your characters make these morally reprehensible decisions? We talk about how to use the emotional bank account, and the motivation of your character to keep readers from losing their sympathy for the protagonist. And what about those snapped moments? Or when your character is acting out of character? Ultimately we decide it’s a powerful tool, so use it wisely!

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SWRT 109 | Plausibility

How do you craft a story where readers buy the implausible? Does every genre have to deal with this issue? What tools can you use in your character, plot, and world-building to keep your reader engaged in the story? When do your genre conventions help your plausibility? And when can they hurt it?

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SWRT 108 | Put ‘Em Up!

What are some problems with fight scenes? What happens if you go too quickly? Or too slowly? How can you slow the action down in a good way? What does slow action do to the tension within your story? And don’t forget about your character’s wounds!

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SWRT 107 | Traveling Chapters

What is a traveling chapter? And why do all books, regardless of genre, have them? What can you do to amp up your traveling, and make it interesting and compelling to your reader?

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SWRT 106 | Talking Fantasy with Nico Taranovsky, part 2

What is Intrusion and Liminal Fantasy? And why would you choose to mix the types? Why is Nico writing an intrusion fantasy? And what is his take on world-building? In the end, it’s all about writing a story that says something, has impact, and matters to your readers!

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SWRT 105 | Talking Fantasy with Nico Taranovsky

How did Nico get into writing fantasy? And what is the history of this genre? How would you write a classic fantasy story today? And should you have a distinct good versus evil plot? We dive into types of fantasy stories, starting with the Portal/Quest fantasy and how to immerse your reader, without losing them!

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SWRT 104 | Guiding Your Reader with Narrative with Mike Stop Continues

What is a sequencing issue, and why is it so bothersome to Mike (and Alida)? Why do they happen? And how should you address them? What tools do you miss out on when things are out of order? How can you use narrative to help craft surprise, and reveals? And what is the problem with delaying your dialogue tag? We leave you with ways we discover problems in our own manuscripts.

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SWRT 103 | Revising with Theme with Mike Stop Continues

You have a draft, now how should you approach revising to your theme? Mike breaks down a way to approach your draft across multiple facets of your novel, and we talk about how it all works together. How do you transform description, action, and dialogue into a thematic powerhouse? By keeping your theme front and center! Now, go write it on a post-it note and stick it to your monitor!

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SWRT 102 | Prewriting Theme with Mike Stop Continues

This week, Alida, Kathryn welcome Mike Stop Continues back to the show to discuss prewriting theme. We cover:  why you should find your theme before you write, why themes that are too timely are no good,  being human, the role of the character arc in theme, how does...

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SWRT 101 | Using Reveals to Advance Your Story

What is the reveal? And how do you craft one? How do you introduce intrigue artfully? And when should you follow that intrigue with the reveal? Remember your reveal must be worth the emotional investment of the reader!

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About the Hosts

Alida Winternheimer is the author of The Skoghall Mystery Series, A Stone’s Throw, and The Story Works Guide to Writing Fiction Series. She further pursues her fervor for all things story as a writing coach and developmental editor. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her Golden Retriever, Seva the Wonder Dog. She camps, bikes, and kayaks in her free time. Unless it’s winter, in which case she drinks chai by the fire. You can find more at

Kathryn Arnold writes fantasy and anything else that sparks her creativity from her home in Kingston, Washington. She currently earns her living as an insurance underwriting assistant, where she also creates marketing and web copy. When not writing, she plays (and teaches) piano and keyboard in a band (or two), and is working on starting a ministry team with her husband. You can find Kathryn at

Robert Scanlon

Robert Scanlon was born in Australia, but whisked off to England when only a baby. After many years complaining about the weather, he did the sensible thing and moved back to Australia. Despite a career in the music industry, followed by decades teaching public speaking, Robert is an introvert who adores reading. Robert grew up on a diet of sci-fi masters, eventually discovering he had read the library’s entire science fiction section. Now he has to write his own. Robert is the author of Constellation, book one of the Blood Empire space opera series. Find out more at

Robert Scanlon

Former co-host, Matt Herron, was a member of SWRT from episode 1 through episode 17.

Matt is the author of The Auriga Project, a scifi thriller, Scrivener Superpowers, a how-to book for writers, and the forthcoming Tales of the Republic, a serialized novel set in a specualtive future. He also founded the Indie Author Society, an organization that offers community and support for indie authors. When he’s not bending words to his will, Matt likes to climb mountains, throw a frisbee for his Boxer mutt, Elsa, and travel to expand his mind. Learn more about him and his books at

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