Story Works Round Table

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

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SWRT 078 | Fatal Flaw

What is a fatal flaw? And how can you develop one for your character? How should the fatal flaw be resolved through your book or series? And how can you keep your characters irrational behavior believable to your readers? Remember that a stories endpoint and a flaws true resolution doesn’t have to be the same thing. Now dig deep into your characters past and find that fatal flaw!

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SWRT 077 | Story Structure part 2

What is Act 2 and why do writers struggle with it? How should you plot Act 2 and what questions should you ask yourself in each and every scene? How do you use subplots and supporting characters to flesh out Act 2? Remember you are writing from the inciting incident to the beginning of Act 3, not all the way to the climax. And that turning point into your climax should be awesome. Act 2 is not going to look great at the end of your first draft, it’s all about weaving in details, subplots, and revelations. Just make sure it gets the attention that it deserves!

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SWRT 076 | Character Agency

What is agency? How does it work in your story? And what does it look like? When is your plot driving your character, rather than your character driving the plot? How can you diagnose agency issues? And how can you maintain that agency all the way through your climax, even with a cast of characters?

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SWRT 075 | Story Structure

What is story structure? And do you need to know everything about it before you write? How should you story fit and where is there wiggle room? What is the difference between an opening hook and an inciting incident? And how important is that midpoint? Remember that you can always innovate your story, but the basics of structure will be there.

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SWRT 074 | Nicey Nice

What is nicey-nice? How can you use character flaws and irrational reactions to combat it? As a writer we need to remember to push boundaries, silence that inner critic, and steer clear of writing our own reactions into our character. So how do you fix a section that is too nice? And how can you use character reactions to build tension into your story? Make your characters reactions messy and their relationships imperfect and you’ll be on your way to writing characters that keep the reader engaged!

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SWRT 073 | Stakes & Agency

What are stakes? And how does your characters agency interact with them? How do you make your stakes personal and individual for your character? And how can you use your stakes to evaluate your plot structure? How should the stakes change through the story? And how do the stakes affect your characters actions? Remember, your characters agency must be the thing that drives your story forward!

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SWRT 072 | Killing Your Characters

Why is killing characters important? How should we approach killing characters? And what are the reasons for doing it? How can it affect your story and your protagonist’s journey? What genres rely on killing characters? And how should you approach killing “extras” in your book? Even nameless characters can have a huge impact – so use your tools wisely!

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SWRT 071 | Pacing

What is pacing? How do you decide the best pace for your story? And how do you achieve that pace? What kind of effect can pacing have for your readers? And why is pacing so different between books and movies? Check out the things we’ve mentioned section to check out those books we talked about – those we loved and even those we didn’t.

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SWRT 070 | Writing Emotions

How should you use layers of emotion? And at what point in the writing process should you focus on getting them on the page? How should your character express their emotions and when can you tell if you are throttling them? Remember that not everything has to be big to be powerful and that each emotional moment for your character will have an emotional tail.

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SWRT 069 | How to End your Story

What is the purpose of your ending? How do you create space for the reader to really feel the emotional impact of your story? And when should you plan how you are going to tie up those plot points and emotional questions you opened at the beginning of your story? How...

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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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