Story Works Round Table

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

SWRT 040 | Character Relationships

Are you supporting characters always supportive? How can you use character conflicts and relationships to up the stakes and tension in your work? Don’t forget: no one exists in a vacuum! And characters are defined by how they interact with others!

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SWRT 039 | Tropes

What is the actual definition of a trope? And how should you use one? Why do we conflate it with so many other things? And how can you use them artistically without falling into cliche’s or heavy handed writing?

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SWRT 038 | The Bechdel-Wallace Test

What is the Bechdel-Wallace test and why is it important? Should we know more about it? And are we just products of our culture? How can you apply this test to your fiction? And what is our responsibility as writers and creators to change the worldview around us? Is there a male counterpart to the Bechdel-Wallace test? Should there be? It all comes down to character development, so make sure you are looking at them from all angles!

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SWRT 037 | Revision

Revision – love it? Hate it? How do we approach it? What should your mindset be when you approach revision? And how long does it take us? Revision is just a part of the process and a necessary one! So learn to enjoy it!

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SWRT 036 | First Drafts

How do we draft our first drafts? And how do you handle problems that come up while you are drafting? What tools do we use? And remember, it’s your first draft for a reason!

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SWRT 035 | Goal Setting

Why do we desire to set goals for the new year? And why Robert hates goal setting? What is the framework of inputs and outcomes and how can we use it to avoid goal overwhelm? We talk about the power of the to do list, and that you must know yourself and your tendencies in order to be successful. In the end Alida wraps it up in one neat bundle of tips!

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SWRT 034 | That’s Motivation!

How do you stay motivated when life takes over your days? We talk about the issue of negative motivation, and how you can use motivation as a verb. What motivates us? How can you reconnect to the feeling of writing? We talk challenges, deadlines, writing in small chunks, and wrap up with our tips and tricks to keep ourselves motivated.

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SWRT 033 | Backstory

What is backstory? And how is it used in your story? What is the difference between backstory and history? How do you know when backstory is needed? And how should you interweave it into your story?

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SWRT 032 | Resting the Writer’s Brain

Welcome back Robert! Since Robert just got back from a recent trip, we dive into the idea of travel. Are we travelers? And how far do you have to go to refresh your writing brain? What if you can’t afford to travel? And should your travel involve writing? What are the benefits of breaking out of your routine? And how should you record your travel for later?

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SWRT 031 | Writing Skills, part 2

What are some benefits of writing short? How can you make sure your writing is working for your readers? And what are some challenges we face as writers? Finally we talk about what process to go through as you seek to improve your writing!

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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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