Story Works Round Table

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

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SWRT 115 | Writing Great Sentences, part 2

This week at the Round Table, Alida, Kathryn, and Robert continue their conversation about writing great sentences in novels of any genres. How many types of sentences are there? Do sentences need to be grammatically correct to be great? Do they need to be lyrical to be great? No. The sentences we craft serve a variety of purposes in our prose.

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SWRT 114 | Writing Great Sentences, part 1

What did we find when we set out to find great sentences? Is it all about the grammar? We talk about the categories a sentence can fit into, and why looking at the paragraph and sentence level is so important in your writing. We look at a couple of sentences from The Passion and Unaccustomed Earth. FInally, we talk about long sentences, poetic sentences, and use of metaphorical sentences to spice up your writing!

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SWRT 113 | How to Give a Really Good Critique

Writing groups, are they helpful? If you are a part of a writing group, how do you give helpful feedback to your writing partners? We cover etiquette, how to mark manuscripts, and the time and effort you should put into being a good critique partner. Even as you critique you are learning as a writer, so have fun and grow together!

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SWRT 112 | The Devil Is in the Details: Revision

What details about our story do we miss in first draft? And what can we do to solve them? Is it possible to know everything before you start drafting? And what should your attitude be toward those missing pieces? We dive into how to revise those scenes that you love, and how to use rewriting in your revision process. In the end, it’s all writing! So be excited about making your story the best it can be.

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SWRT 111 | Using One Character to Influence Another’s Arc

Kathryn explains an exercise in pre-writing she has been using to deepen her character arcs and relationships within her novel. We explore how it would affect sub-plots, character relationships, and arcs. What problems could this help you avoid? And how could you use it to develop your antagonist as well? We talk about how Kathryn got into this kind of development, and whether or not it would work for every kind of story!

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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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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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