Story Works Round Table

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

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SWRT 064 | Story Collections, Novel-in-Stories, Serialization

How do you approach a short story collection? And when do you know you are writing one? What is the difference between a collection of short stories and a novel-in-stories? And what are the challenges of writing a short story collection? Why do some genre’s seem to lend themselves to serialization? And what is the difference between a serialized work, and a collection of short stories?

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SWRT 063 | Short Stories: How they differ from novels

We all know short stories are short, but how does that change the way you write them? What is it with short stories and the ambiguous ending? And how can you tell if you are writing a short story, a lead magnet, or just a scene? Short stories are a great tool to use to better your writing craft so go out and write some, read some more, and enjoy yourself!

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SWRT 062 | Energizing Dialogue

What should you do with dialogue heavy passages? How can you break it up? Should you worry about it in the first draft? What are revision techniques to catch your dialogue heavy sections? How can you approach teaching your character? What are some techniques to layer in information? And how do you use them correctly? The most important thing is to focus on what you want to achieve, and figure out how best to communicate that with your reader.

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SWRT 061 | Character Motivation

How do we address character motivation? Do we struggle with it? When do we work it into our stories? How can you get to know your character better in order to develop that motivation? What are the three layers of motivation? And how do you plan for your characters motivation over a series? What happens when your character has competing motivations?

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SWRT 059 | Everything You Want to Know About Show, Don’t Tell

What does “show, don’t tell” actually mean? And how is it misleading? How should you use narrative summary to your benefit as a writer? Do you need scene breaks? And how do you make your telling showy? How present is your narrator? And what are the dangers of losing your narrator in a first-person point of view?

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SWRT 058 | Narrative Drive with Emma Darwin

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?

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SWRT 057 | Historical Fiction with Emma Darwin

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.

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SWRT 056 | First Encounter Fiction

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?

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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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