Rank #1: Episode 3 - Last Search: Mystery Critique
In this episode, Alyssa and Leslie critique the opening pages of a mystery novel in progress. They discuss: tense, point of view, consistency in characterization, dialect in dialogue, permissions and copyright issues, and touch on the issue of showing versus telling.
Apr 28 2015
Rank #2: Episode 122: Do Your Scenes Contain Conflict?
In this episode, Certified Story Grid editors Leslie Watts and Courtney Harrell critique the first chapter of Seeker, a science fiction novella within the Chaos Nova universe by Smith & Kaos. They discuss conflict within stories and scenes.
Antagonistic forces and obstacles are necessary elements of stories because change within a character comes as the result of dealing with conflict. It is the vehicle through which they change over the course of the entire story, but also incrementally, scene by scene.
Conflicts delay the resolution of every unit of story (scene, sequence, act, story). If the character achieves a goal for the unit of story without effort or worry, then tension drops and narrative drive wanes. Even if your story overall has great conflict, you’ll tell a better story if each scene contains robust conflict as well.
This week’s editorial mission shows you how to analyze your scenes for conflict so you can make things as tough as possible for your characters.
Nov 30 2017
Rank #3: Episode 116: The Five Commandments of Story with Shawn Coyne
In this episode, Leslie is joined by Shawn Coyne, the author of T_he Story Grid: What Good Editors Know_. They discuss the five commandments of story in the context of chapter five of Animal Farm by George Orwell and what makes this story a great one to analyze. The five commandments (the inciting incident, progressive complications, crisis question, climax, and resolution) provide the basic structure for your global story, but also your acts, sequences, and scenes, like nesting dolls. If you learn to execute the five commandments in your story, you’ll become a better writer. This week’s mission encourages you to look for the five commandments in one of your favorite stories, and then use them to plan or revise your own work-in-progress.
Oct 19 2017
Rank #4: Episode 125: Putting Your Writing First with Mark McGuinness
In this episode, Leslie talks with poet and creative coach Mark McGuinness from the 21st Century Creative podcast about why it’s important to put your writing first—both for you personally and for your creative career. The editorial mission asks you to write something you might not expect.
Jan 11 2018
Rank #5: Episode 77: Snow Like Ashes: Literary Short Story Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique the opening pages of Brian McWilliams’s “Snow Like Ashes” an as yet unpublished literary fiction short story. They discuss short stories, character arcs, conflict, and narrative identity. Special notice: This story contains some disturbing scenes involving the situations that firefighters experience.
Sep 14 2016
Rank #6: Episode 5 - Think Tank: Middle Grade Fantasy Short Story Critique
In this episode, Alyssa and Leslie critique an excerpt from a middle grade fantasy book. They discuss: point of view/head hopping, passive voice, streamlining language for impact, echoes, strengthening verbs, and hesitant words.
Apr 28 2015
Rank #7: 128. How to Take Your Story from Pretty Good to WOW!
In this episode, Story Grid certified editors Leslie Watts and Lori Puma critique “Night Fishing,” a coming of age short story by Kevin Glasgow. They discuss how to take your story from pretty good to WOW.
You’ll discover specific tools to improve a story that’s already working by enhancing the elements of your genre and style to focus on your ideal reader’s specific expectations. You’ll also hear about ways to connect the protagonist’s external and internal journeys by showing what the former means to them.
Jun 15 2018
Rank #8: Episode 75: The Wolf and the Ravens: Historical Fiction Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique the opening pages of D.J. Umber's The Wolf and the Ravens, an as yet unpublished historical fiction novel. They discuss explaining character motivations, trusting your readers, and making the setting clear.
Aug 24 2016
Rank #9: Episode 100: Answers to Your Questions about Writing and Editing
In this episode, fiction editors Leslie and Clark celebrate 100 episodes. They depart from the regular format to answer your questions about writing and editing. They discuss passive voice, pantsing vs. plotting, head hopping, how long your story should be, and how to write character thoughts. This week’s editorial mission is about finding your strengths and weaknesses.
May 03 2017
Rank #10: Episode 71: Daughter of the Flood: Magical Realism Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique the opening pages of Chrishaun Keller-Hanna's “Daughter of the Flood,” an as yet unpublished magical realism story. They discuss identifying characters, dialogue tags, setting, and strong verbs.
Jul 20 2016
Rank #11: Episode 76: The Automatic Author: Literary Science Fiction Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique the opening pages of Marcelo Mendes’s “The Automatic Author” an as yet unpublished literary science fiction short story. They discuss short stories, economy of words, where to start your story, and ways to evoke feelings.
Aug 31 2016
Rank #12: Episode 73: Feathers of the Phoenix: Historical Fantasy Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique the opening pages of J.T. Morse's Feathers of the Phoenix, an as yet unpublished historical fantasy novel. They discuss point of view, the omniscient narrator, word choice, and accents.
Aug 10 2016
Rank #13: Episode 108: Narrative Drive—Compelling Your Reader to Turn the Page
In this episode, fiction editors Leslie Watts and Anne Hawley critique the first chapter of Esperanza, a science fiction horror novel by Mike Ward. They discuss narrative drive. Different people use the term “narrative drive” to mean different things. What we discuss here is the amount of information the reader possesses relative to the character. The reader can have more, less, or the same information the characters in the scene have. In the opening scene of our submission today, the author gives the reader a key piece of information that the character doesn’t have, and it changes the way we experience the scene and the question that compels us to find out what happens next.
Jul 28 2017
Rank #14: Episode 93: The Writer’s Internal Genre
In this episode, Leslie and Clark talk about the internal genre for your journey as a writer. As writers, we face resistance in different forms (we hit a snag in our project, life throws us a curve ball). These unexpected events are opportunities to become derailed or renew our commitment to our work. Leslie and Clark explore what you can do to stay on track.
Feb 15 2017
Rank #15: Episode 102: How to Choose Your Story's Point of View
In this episode, fiction editors Leslie and Clark discuss point of view (POV) in their critique of “The Second Prayer: A Confession for the Dead,” a thriller short story by David L. Storm. The POV is the filter through which the reader experiences your story: Each option has advantages and disadvantages and can produce vastly different results. In this week’s editorial mission, Leslie and Clark share a list of questions to ask when you choose the POV for your first draft and later when you revise your draft. Check out the show notes at Writership.org/episodes for the complete story and written critique.
May 18 2017
Rank #16: Episode 109: Where to Begin Your Story?
In this episode, fiction editors Leslie and Clark critique the prologue and first chapter of From the Flame, a fantasy novel by Kristen Franklin. They discuss where to begin your story. If all the events of the protagonist’s life were laid out in front of you, which is the most powerful moment to use for chapter one?
Aug 07 2017
Rank #17: Episode 118: Why You Must Choose a Genre
In this episode, fiction editor Leslie Watts and author C. Steven Manley critique “The Highwayman,” a fantasy short story by Jacob Oakley. They discuss genre and why it’s important to choose one primary one. The same characters, setting, and circumstances can give rise to a wide range of stories. When you nail down your primary or global genre, you’ll gain valuable information about the story you want to tell that will help you plan, draft, and revise your story.
Oct 31 2017
Rank #18: Episode 64 - Michele Potter’s The Colonists - Historical Fiction
In this episode, Leslie welcomed Clark Chamberlain, the new co-host of the podcast. They critiqued the beginning of Michelle Porter’s The Colonists, an as yet unpublished historical fiction novel. They discussed internal dialogue, increasing character interaction, strong verbs, ellipses, and em dashes.
May 25 2016
Rank #19: Episode 52 - Hard Reboot, Dystopian YA Critique
Alyssa & Leslie critique the prologue and opening of chapter one from JF Erickson’s Hard Reboot. They discuss worldbuilding, advanced dialogue punctuation, maintaining tension, and stage direction.
Mar 02 2016
Rank #20: Ep. 131 Analyzing Your Scenes
You’ve written lots of scenes for your work in progress, but how do you know whether they work? In this episode, Story Grid Certified editor Leslie Watts shows you how to analyze your scenes by looking at the opening of AW Moyer’s YA fantasy story, The Grim Book.
The Writership Podcast is designed to help you develop self-editing skills and write better stories. In a typical episode, my guest-host and I critique a fiction submission from a real writer who is, or hopes to be, a published author. These writers want to find out what's working and not in their stories and are brave enough to share the experience. At the end of the episode, I’ll share an editorial mission to help you apply the topic we’ve discussed, so you can improve your writing too.
Jul 08 2018