Story Works Round Table

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

SWRT 026 | Writing Villains

Is writing villains easy? How can you develop a villain without a point of view? Is a villain always seen as evil? How can you get into your villains head? Can we effectively troubleshoot our own villains? And what about writing them with a point of view? So take your villain, give them a good shave and a motivation and get writing!

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SWRT 025 | Re-readable Books

Should all authors aspire to write a re-readable book? Does it have to be re-readable in order to be enjoyable? What can we learn from books we have re-read? We talk about reasons we re-read books, get deep into a food analogy, and leave you with a large list of our favorites we hope you enjoy!

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SWRT 024 | Twists

What is a twist and how do you separate it from your typical surprising ending? Do all twists have to be massive plot level revelations? And is a twist just a gimmick? Should all books have twists? And at what point in your story should your twist arrive? Finally – we discuss how all stories can have twists and challenge everyone to write one of their own!

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SWRT 023 | 3D Villains

What makes a good villain? How do you avoid cliches? How do you effectively layer your villains? And how do you use villains in different genres? Can you have an ideal as a villain? And what about those villains we don’t vanquish by the end of the book? Don’t forget that your villainy must be tangible to your protagonist and relatable to your reader!

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SWRT 022 | Inspiration

What is a high concept idea? And do you need one in order to write? Should you build your story around your theme or let it emerge through your story? And what about writing to genre conventions? We talk about what inspires us, how to write in and out of the box, and shut down that voice of resistance in your head!

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SWRT 021 | Distinct Characters

How do you know if you have created a distinct character? How important is role? And what is a supporting character anyway? How do motivation and subplot work toward giving your characters individuality? And what sort of tools can you use to help create these individuals? In the end Alida wraps it all up together, and even gives some great exercises to help you create distinct characters.

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SWRT 020 | Setting

How is setting different from world building? What do you put on the page and what should you leave out? How much detail is too much detail? And how do you keep your setting active in your story? Robert gives great practical ways to evaluate your style of writing setting, and how to make it better!

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SWRT 019 | 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 018 | Naming

At what point does a character or place earn a name? How do naming and significance relate? And how do you keep nameless characters descriptors from becoming boring or repetitive? And what about real world places? Is there such thing as a short cut? And finally we commiserate about the difficulty of naming characters. We all just want them to sound awesome!

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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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