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What is narrative drive? And why is it so important to your story? How can you craft drive with characters choices, cause, and effect? What happens when your character comes alive? How does it affect your plot, their agency, and the surprising inevitability of your story? And finally what are some ways you can develop these narrative drive skills?read more
What drew Emma to historical fiction, and what is it’s allure? How important is your motivation for writing, and what you are trying to communicate to your reader? How does theme drive your story? Emma explains some ways she uses structural tools to make her writing better. And finally, we talk about the trap of authenticity in our writing.read more
Why do first encounter stories fascinate us? What sort of problems are typical in first encounter fiction? How does it make us deal with our own humanity? And how can you use first encounters outside of its typical alien invasion genre?read more
What is the difference between hard and soft magic systems? How does it apply to science fiction as well as fantasy? What are some pros and cons of the spectrum? How do you avoid deus ex machina with all powerful magic systems? How do you incorporate consequence into your systems? And where do we fall on the sliding scale?read more
What is the difference between working in a community and in isolation as a writer? How does it change your work and your mindset? Do we prefer traditional or digital communities? And what are the pros and cons of digital versus face to face? How does a writing community help you grow? And how can it hurt your efforts? As with everything, be careful to balance your life with your community and your writing so that you don’t suffer from overwhelm! And don’t forget, the Story Works community is available to you!read more
This week, Alida and Robert continue their conversation about the writing process, creativity, first drafts, where ideas come from, and how revision really works. The inspiration for our conversation is George Saunders' essay "What Writers Really Do When They Write."...read more
This week, Alida and Robert discuss a craft essay by George Saunders, titled "What Writers Really Do When They Write." It's all about the writing process, and we get a lot of value out of this essay. We highly recommend it to anyone writing a story. Get the essay at...read more
How do you balance real people, events, and places within your fictional narrative? Should you use major historical figures as protagonists? Or should they just pass by as setting or scenery? Have you asked yourself what you are aiming for in terms of your historical fiction? And why do you want to use a real figure or real event instead of complete fiction? And how important is that authors note?read more
Want to know what it takes to write a good opening? How do you hook your reader and get them invested in your story? How do you create character empathy and what are the action steps that you need to take in order to write a great opening?read more
What can cause problems in your action balance? How do you identify these problems? And how can you work to solve them? What counts as an action beat versus a quiet moment? And what should your characters be doing in those moments?read more
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 www.wordessential.com/about.
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 www.skyfirewords.com.
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 www.RobertScanlon.com
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 www.mgherron.com.