Story Works Round Table

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

SWRT 32: Stakes & Tension

What is the difference between stakes, tension and danger, and how can we use them correctly to create a compelling story? How do you increase stakes without ending the world? And why should they be personal to your protagonist? How do you make readers really feel the tension? Use these three to craft a surprising story, no matter your genre.

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SWRT 31: Action Scenes!

What is an action scene? And how should you go about building one? Why is it so important to choreograph your action? And how can you use your narrator to bring clarity? Don’t forget about your senses, using anticipation, and making sure that reader feels what you are trying to convey.

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SWRT 30: Dialogue–dialects, gestures, tags, pet peeves

What are some problems that authors encounter with dialogue? Should you give your character an accent or dialect? And how should you represent that on the page? What makes for good dialogue tags and action beats? We talk pet peeves, our own dialogue tics we struggle with and Include some very entertaining examples of what not to do from Robert!

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SWRT 29: Hooks-Premise & Opening

What is a hook? And what are the different functions they can serve in a novel? How do you craft an opening hook, and what things should you keep in mind as you do? And finally, don’t forget about the value that first sentence can have on your whole work.

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SWRT 28: Third Person Point of View

What is the third person point of view and why is it so popular? How do you use multiple points of view in the third person? And what are the pitfalls that authors encounter? How do you know if a character has earned their point of view? And whose point of view should your next scene be written in?

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SWRT 27: First Person Point of View

Continuing our conversations on point of view, we take a look at first person point of view. We delve into common misconceptions about first person point of view, and challenges that writers face with the viewpoint. How can you utilize first person to develop your characters voice? And why does young adult fiction seem to prefer the first person point of view?

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SWRT 26: Introduction to Point of View

What is point of view, how do we use it, and what are the different nuances behind it? What is a narrator and how does the narrative voice effect the story? Did you pick the wrong point of view characters? And how can point of view create nuance and depth in your writing?

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SWRT 25: Trouble

What is trouble? How does it contribute to both character and plot arcs? How do you have to pay off trouble? And do you have to get it into every scene? We enjoy making a character struggle with a speeding ticket, and talk about how it can contribute to hooks both between chapters and books.

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SWRT 24: Soggy Middle Problem

What is a soggy middle? And what kind of writers tend to have problems with it? Are you giving your middle the attention and care it deserves? And what makes a soggy middle after all? After some much needed middle shaming we all agree – do not tolerate a soggy middle!

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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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