The Narrative Breakdown » Podcast Episodes
By Cheryl Klein and James Monohan
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The craft of creative writing, screenwriting, playwriting, children's books, and literary fiction as discussed by Cheryl Klein and James Monohan. We share tips and techniques of interest to any writer, student, or fan of quality prose fiction, screenplays, plays, English literature, etc. Each episode, we analyze popular novels, movies, Broadway shows, television shows, short stories, and more. Featuring various expert guests as well as material from Cheryl Klein's book 'Second Sight' and James' app 'The Storyometer.'
||CleanArtificial Intelligence and Us||HUMAN - AI relationships with Phillip Chernyak and Chris Shields. We look at plots and themes of the past and, inspired by the film HER, challenge writers to explore new narrative territory involving robots, artificial intelligence, and technology.||3/2/14||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanCopyright Issues for Writers||For creative writers, screenwriters, playwrights, or anyone who appreciates quality story craft.||2/17/14||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanMiddle Grade with Author-Editor Jill Santopolo||Cheryl talks to author and editor Jill Santopolo about middle grade fiction as well as the secrets to productivity. - Referenced in the episode: Jill Santopolo website Sparkle Spa Series Alec Flint books Vermont College of Fine Arts||2/4/14||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanHistory as Source Material||We talk about using history as the source material for your writing, looking at iconic history-inspired films, non-fiction films nominated for the 2014 Oscars, and helpful resources for finding out about true lives and events that might inspire you.||1/20/14||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanAuthor Trent Reedy||Writing about a culture other than your own, balancing pace and tone, using a highlighted chapter list: these are some of the topics covered in our fascinating discussion with the versatile novelist Trent Reedy. - Referenced in the episode: -||1/4/14||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanAuthor Bill Konigsberg||Novelist Bill Konigsberg on identity, free-writing, creative flexibility and learning as you go. - Referenced in the episode: - OPENLY STRAIGHT OUT OF THE POCKET Piper Center for Creative Writing (at Arizona State) Bill Konigsberg's Web site||12/21/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanFlaws Part 2: Flip-Side Strengths||Matt Bird returns to discuss character flaws in relation to their flip-side strengths. - Referenced in the episode: - Audiobooks.com The Cockeyed Caravan Matt's Ultimate Story Checklist Tootsie Sherlock Elementary The 40-Year-Old Virgin||12/7/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanStorytelling in Front of a Live Audience||Storyteller Melanie Hamlett discusses the techniques of spoken word performance as well as her primary source material - an adventurous life fueled by insatiable curiosity. - In the near future, look for her book SEX WITH CLOWNS. -||11/24/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanThe Script of a Writer-Director||James talks to writer/director Laurie Collyer about how a script evolves through pre-production, production, and post-production. Her latest film, SUNLIGHT JR., starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon, is in theaters this week.||11/13/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanOn Horror||We discuss horror films with help from two aficionados - filmmakers Phillip Chernyak and Chris Shields. What makes horror tick? When is it effective or ineffective? How should a writer approach the genre? - Mentioned in the episode: -||10/27/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanWriting for Hire with Kass Morgan||We talk with author and editor Kass Morgan about her novel THE 100, soon to be a TV show on the CW. Topics include working with a packager, applying or not applying her own rules, and the challenges of writing an ensemble story. -||10/19/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanCharacter Flaws Part 1||Character Flaws: What are they? Why are they important? How do you go about picking flaws? How aware should characters be of their flaws? Should they be resolved? This is meaty subject so we'll definitely have to do a part 2. - Links to the sho||10/12/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanDialogue Tags, Macro Editing, and More||We address listener-submitted topics, including ebooks, dialogue tags, and macro editing. This is our 25th (silver anniversary) episode. Thanks for listening! - We mention Wool's publishing deal. Click the link for more info. -||9/19/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanThriller Types and Tropes||Matt Bird is back for a breakdown of the thriller genre. We discuss transgression / noir thrillers, conspiracy thrillers, action thrillers and more. No need to pay for an MFA program. This episode is a graduate-level class that will benefit writers of ...||8/11/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanRainbow Rowell on Crafting Relationships and more||We interview the delightful Rainbow Rowell, celebrated author of Eleanor and Park. Topics include crafting relationships, writing from the gut, building believable characters, the "New Adult" genre, pacing, and Rainbow's upcoming novel, Fangirl. -||8/4/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanBeyond the Basics with E. Lockhart||How does an advanced writer think? Find out as we go beyond the basics of writing with Printz and National Book Award finalist E. Lockhart. We cover many topics, including the challenges of working within one's own high concept structural choices. -||7/22/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanKeeping a Journal||Do you keep a journal? What do you write in it and what role does it play in your creative work? We talk to author Corey Ann Haydu about her own epic diary and related side project, as well as her upcoming novel, OCD LOVE STORY. -||6/30/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanSelling Your Writing||Chad Kultgen is back to discuss the ins and outs of selling novels and scripts. He also gives a great overview of the different ways to break into television writing. - Chad has authored four novels and sold many TV shows and screenplays (including T...||6/18/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanBrainstorming Episodic Concepts||We survey common episodic concept categories and then conquer the blank page with strategies for brainstorming the next big hit. Featuring screenwriter Jason Ginsburg. - (Apologies if you were one of the early downloaders of this episode since it cont...||6/10/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanSubtext||The topic is subtext: Why, when, and how you should use it. Cheryl and James, along with guest co-host Matt Bird, discuss several examples, including provocative theories about The Great Gatsby and The Hunger Games. -||5/25/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanRevision Techniques 1||Cheryl Klein discusses some of her revision techniques, honed through years of editing award-winning work at Arthur Levine Books, including Harry Potter. This discussion will be useful to prose and script writers alike. -||5/13/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanNovelist and Screenwriter Chad Kultgen||James talks to novelist and screenwriter Chad Kultgen - it's a discussion that should prove fascinating to all writers - about his ideas, work habits, and success in several mediums. Chad has sold as many as twenty TV shows, written four novels,||5/6/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanThe Power of Irony||Matt Bird and James Monohan discuss the various types of irony you can use in your writing to add depth, build empathy, earn laughs, create meaning, and ultimately hook your audience. We start with Matt's general description of irony as being "a mea...||4/28/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanCrafting Subjectivity Within Objective Point of View||When writing prose from a third person (objective) point of view, what kind of techniques can you use to portray the subjective viewpoint of your characters? Cheryl and James explore this challenge, using Hugh Howey's hit thriller WOOL,||4/20/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||Clean1st Person POV in Film||Filmmaker Jack Tomas joins James Monohan to discuss first person point of view techniques in screenwriting and film directing. Examples include Peep Show, the hit British comedy that employs only point of view perspectives. -||4/14/13||Free||View In iTunes|
||Clean1st Person Point of View||We talk about the pros and cons of writing from a first person point of view. Referenced writers include Woody Allen, Jonathan Ames, Jane Austen, Suzanne Collins, Larry David, Charlie Kaufman, Jaclyn Moriarty, Trent Reedy, David Sedaris, Francisco Stork,||10/29/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanCharacter Hooks||We discuss brainstorming Character Hooks - instantly intriguing character traits that are full of dramatic and/or comedic potential. When you read a book's flap copy or see the trailer for a movie it's not just the the plot conceit, world, tone, style,||10/13/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanGenerating Characters for an Ensemble Cast||Matt Bird joins us again for a look at stories that have an ensemble cast of characters. We brainstorm how to go about generating multiple main characters, focused vs. unfocused ensemble stories, and polarized traits vs. full dimensionality. Plus,||9/30/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanCharacter Development > Essence and Action Traits||Cheryl and James do an overview of character traits, introducing the distinction between Essence Traits (what a character "is") and Action Traits (the traits that more directly lead to plot-related behavior). Examples include Indiana Jones, James Bond,||9/25/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanScene Construction 2 > Power Dynamics and Beats||In our sexiest episode yet, Cheryl and James break down the popular train scene from the James Bond film Casino Royale between Bond (Daniel Craig) and Vesper (Eva Green). Topics include scene construction, power dynamics, scene beats, character tactics,||9/14/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanScene Construction 1 > Character Expectations and Tactics||In our first episode on Scene Construction, we talk about general scene structure, character expectations, beats, and character tactics. Screenwriter and story guru Matt Bird, from CockeyedCaravan.Blogspot.com,||9/8/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanConcept Sources > Science Fiction and Fantasy Ideas||We discuss how to generate Science Fiction and Fantasy story concepts and ideas. Screenwriter and sci-fi aficionado Jason Ginsburg lends his expertise and talks about the "Willy Wonka in Space" screenplay he's writing.||8/31/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanInciting Events Part 2||James and guest writer and filmmaker Jack Tomas continue with our discussion of Inciting Events, including lots of examples from novels, films and TV shows as well as several references to the Hero's Journey and Joseph Campbell. -||8/21/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanBeginnings and Inciting Events part 1||Cheryl and James talk about inciting events as well as how good storytelling is more like a striptease and less like a visit to a nude beach. - Direct Download Link - Or listen right here: - Subscribe in iTunes||8/20/12||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanCharacter Morality||How can you make your characters more interesting via their morality? How do you define the morality of your character? And how can you play with moral status and use it to tell a good story? - Cheryl and James look at Harry Potter and his virtues and...||6/12/11||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanCharacter Contrast (Foils)||Cheryl and James look at how Character Contrast and the use of Foils can help you better define your characters and make them more compelling. - Some questions we address: - How likable do your characters have to be for us to care about them?||4/20/11||Free||View In iTunes|
||CleanTicking Clocks||While breaking down all ten 2011 Best Picture nominees, Cheryl and James discuss the Ticking Clock, a narrative device that can be very effective at building tension and suspense. - We look at: Which nominated films employed the Ticking Clock?||2/26/11||Free||View In iTunes|
I'm an amateur screenwriter from boston and I totally dig your podcast. You have a great chemistry, I like listening to you, and it's really good to get a woman's perspective - seems rare on writing podcasts. Please keep posting them.
The Narrative Breakdown
Can't get enough of the great editorial advice Cheryl Klein provides. These podcasts provide lots of food for thought about crafting and appreciating story--and it's fun to hear Cheryl and James talking about story elements using movies as well as books.
I love being able to listen to the podcasts while I walk or drive--they keep my mind turning long after the podcasts are over. Wonderful for writers, but also for anyone who likes to think about what makes a story (in any form) "good" or compelling. Very relaxed, natural presentation--like listening in on an interesting conversation.
Check out Cheryl's book, "Second Sight", if you want more!
After listening to the five current episodes, I think this is already becoming one of my favorite podcasts. I'm a college student and have been writing for most of my life, but I've found it really difficult to find resources about plot and structure, as the creative writing classes I've taken have mainly focused on how to write clean prose. So it's been amazing to find these podcasts -- I love all the examples of movies and books with certain kinds of structures, and the sense of humor wound into the analysis keeps it engaging. I'm hoping to learn a lot, and I'm introducing my roommate (who also writes) to this, too.