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The Story Studio Podcast - Writing, Storytelling, and Marketing Advice for Writers & Business

Updated 3 days ago

Rank #161 in Books category

Arts
Education
Books
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Stories turn songs into symphonies, events into memories, and lives into legends. In our crowded world, “knowing your story” cuts through the noise so you can make your mark — whether you want to sell more books, increase profits, or just make a difference. At Sterling & Stone, Story is our business. The Story Studio Podcast is where we explore ways we can all tell our stories better.

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Stories turn songs into symphonies, events into memories, and lives into legends. In our crowded world, “knowing your story” cuts through the noise so you can make your mark — whether you want to sell more books, increase profits, or just make a difference. At Sterling & Stone, Story is our business. The Story Studio Podcast is where we explore ways we can all tell our stories better.

iTunes Ratings

376 Ratings
Average Ratings
280
34
14
13
35

Down Hill

By Steve from St Michael - Aug 16 2019
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I appreciate the nuggets of wisdom that I’ve been able to get over the last several years of listening. But the podcast has lost its way and its value. Too much rambling and very little content. I used to be very interested in their upcoming projects even though it’s not my genre because they described the process and struggles. Now it’s just a drinking game where I take a shot every time one of the boys says “we can’t talk about that“ or “that thing with that name that’s not ready“. Nonetheless I wish them much success.

Dang! These recent reviews are harsh!

By TheWilcox - Apr 11 2019
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I reviewed the show a long time ago and tonight while listening I decided to look at the reviews. OMG! I can’t believe how rough they are. Those people don’t understand. I know you guys have grown and I appreciate the direction you’re moving in. Happy for you guys and wishing you much success

iTunes Ratings

376 Ratings
Average Ratings
280
34
14
13
35

Down Hill

By Steve from St Michael - Aug 16 2019
Read more
I appreciate the nuggets of wisdom that I’ve been able to get over the last several years of listening. But the podcast has lost its way and its value. Too much rambling and very little content. I used to be very interested in their upcoming projects even though it’s not my genre because they described the process and struggles. Now it’s just a drinking game where I take a shot every time one of the boys says “we can’t talk about that“ or “that thing with that name that’s not ready“. Nonetheless I wish them much success.

Dang! These recent reviews are harsh!

By TheWilcox - Apr 11 2019
Read more
I reviewed the show a long time ago and tonight while listening I decided to look at the reviews. OMG! I can’t believe how rough they are. Those people don’t understand. I know you guys have grown and I appreciate the direction you’re moving in. Happy for you guys and wishing you much success
Cover image of The Story Studio Podcast - Writing, Storytelling, and Marketing Advice for Writers & Business

The Story Studio Podcast - Writing, Storytelling, and Marketing Advice for Writers & Business

Latest release on Jun 03, 2020

Read more

Stories turn songs into symphonies, events into memories, and lives into legends. In our crowded world, “knowing your story” cuts through the noise so you can make your mark — whether you want to sell more books, increase profits, or just make a difference. At Sterling & Stone, Story is our business. The Story Studio Podcast is where we explore ways we can all tell our stories better.

Rank #1: SSP110 Characterization Hacks with Bonnie

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People don’t fall in love with plots, devices, and settings. At least most people don’t. When someone falls in love with a book or a story, most often they are falling in love with carefully crafted and deeply developed characters.

So how do you craft compelling characters for your story? No one knows how better than Bonnie! In fact, she just finished writing the book on characterization! And she has so much fantastic knowledge to share that the guys decided to turn this episode into part 1 and part 2.

Look out for Characterization Hacks with Bonnie Part 2 next week!

Apr 22 2020

1hr 1min

Play

Rank #2: SSP087 Idea Generation with Neeve

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Ideas are spooky. Where do they even come from? And what happens if they disappear forever? These questions have plagued creatives for years and has created a culture of self-limitation among authors. Today, we have Neeve on the show to talk about her new Stone Tablet, Endless Ideas, and how you can overcome creative block and become an idea machine.

We Talk About:

Neeve and her new book with Sean, Endless Ideas (https://sterlingandstone.net/endless-ideas). 

Sean’s wife, Cindy, doing her first 10+ second handstand.

Johnny and Sean’s research trip to a legal cannabis farm.

Neeve listening to a podcast called Spooked (https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/spooked).

Dave’s satisfaction with Mr. Robot’s new season.

Why processing is the magic of ideation.

Why Neeve starts with “no.”

A Tale of Two Authors and the spectrum of idea execution (https://sterlingandstone.net/twoauthors). 

Conquering writer’s block.

An example of Dave reshaping an idea.

Neeve’s idea grading system.

Oct 30 2019

58mins

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Rank #3: SSP003 What We Learned Publishing Over 100 Books

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After writing millions of words in the trenches of the self-publishing landscape, Johnny, Sean, and Dave have emerged with many lessons learned from publishing more than one hundred titles. In this episode the guys share their biggest takeaways, including:

  • Why there are always exceptions to the rules.
  • Why you need to “know your why.”
  • How to frame your expectations appropriately.
  • Why you can’t copy someone’s tactics wholesale.
  • The difference between long-term thinking and short term thinking.
  • Why you need to hone your craft.
  • Why the lack of momentum and unfulfilled promises are the worst things that can happen.
  • How to add subtext to your fiction in order to craft great interpersonal conflict.
  • How developing your unique writing voice is what will attract your ideal reader.
  • How the market is changing and why it will continue to do so.
  • Why you should appreciate where you are in your journey.
  • Why genre hopping is a LOT of work and costly.
  • How publishing on Amazon is similar to SEO.
  • Why writing a book is not the finish line, it’s the starting gate.
  • Readers don’t care about traditionally published vs. self-published. They want quality.
  • How to balance art and commerce when writing stories.
  • Collaboration is the most important part of the process.
  • Why it’s important that you don’t obsess over stats and sales.

Are you wondering what the ever-growing demand for superb storytelling skills means for your future? Check out our latest interview as Johnny and Sean dive deep into that question in “Storytelling Is the Future: How to Build On Your Self-Publishing Success.”
Download the interview from the info box or show notes in YouTube or head over to https://www.sterlingandstone.net/future.

Feb 21 2018

50mins

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Rank #4: SSP092 Our First Stories

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No matter how successful you are as a storyteller, you have to start somewhere. There’s always a story number one. Today, we talk about our very explorations into storytelling, what motivated us to get started, and what those experiences taught us at the time.

Dec 04 2019

36mins

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Rank #5: SSP086 Who’s The Main Character?

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A few weeks ago, we had an interesting discussion in the company when we tried to identify a movie with a true dual-protagonist setup. We came up with one (maybe three) between several of us. Could such a setup be so rare? Who the main character or protagonist is in a story is not always straightforward, especially in today’s era of serialized everything. Today, we wanted to talk about the potential ambiguities of primary characters in modern fiction.

We Talk About:

Oct 23 2019

39mins

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Rank #6: SSP095 Sterling and Stone 2019 Year-in-Review

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It’s our final podcast of 2019, and we’re feeling a lot of gratitude as we wrap up the year to spend time with our families. This year has been a whirlwind, and our story studio has experienced many trials and triumphs. Today, we wanted to talk about a few of them with you as we look forward to 2020.

We Talk About:

How Sean thinks Merry Happy Whatever is proof here’s an audience for everything (https://www.netflix.com/title/80997965). 

Dave loved the season finale of Mr. Robot and is excited for The Witcher (https://www.netflix.com/title/80189685). 

Johnny’s lesson in confidence.

Sean’s record year in writing.

How 2019 was Sterling & Stone’s “Year of Long-term Decisions.”

The steepening of the Self-Publishing success curve.

The Stone Tablet Series.

The 2019 Avalanche.

In 2020:

Johnny is looking forward to high-octane production.

Dave is looking forward to his new super-secret project.

Sean is looking forward to the success of the other authors in the studio.

Dec 25 2019

57mins

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Rank #7: SSP088 Steal This with Bonnie and Joel

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Out of the madness of our story studio emerged an idea that we think those of you who take part in NaNoWriMo will appreciate: a universal outline we’re calling the Steal This project. Already several of the authors in our studio are tackling the story with their own unique spin, and today we wanted to bring on the architect of the outline and an author executing the idea, Bonnie and Joel, to share with you how we approached creating a universally applicable outline and how you can use this idea in your own creative process.

We Talk About:

One-Click Cover (https://sterlingandstone.net/oneclick).

The Aristocrats Joke.

The purpose of the Steal This project.

How Bonnie approached the outline.

How Joel fleshed out the outline.

Other writers attempting the outline.

Finding the spark that ignites excitement in the writer.

How Joel honed his idea superpower.

Applying this idea to your writing right now.

Nov 06 2019

59mins

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Rank #8: SSP054 Habit Hacking

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The most important part of achieving a goal is not at all sexy. It’s the process—the system you follow day in and day out that results in success. The best way to ensure that you stick to your system is by hacking your lifestyle and building habits around the systems you create. But hacking yourself is often uncomfortable. There needs to be a willingness to step out of your comfort zone if you want to improve. In today’s episode, we share a few ways you can tune your habits to reach your goal.

We Talk About:

The power of streaks (streaks app / strides app)
Awareness of when you should take action
Bundling activities
Establishing rewards
Dictation as a supplement rather than a replacement
The difference between procrastination and a tactical delay.
The magic of re-framing
Accountability

Mar 06 2019

40mins

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Rank #9: SSP107 The Guys Discuss: Battling Resistance

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In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield personifies Resistance as an almost corporeal being of sorts, something that must be faced, battled, and defeated and a daily basis in order to do the real work you were meant to do.

As usual, Sean, Johnny, and Dave all see resistance as
slightly different creatures that show up in their lives in similar, but
distinct ways. And they each have different ways of dealing with it that fit
their personalities and work style.

Sean sees Resistance as a virus that mutates and is a little
different each time he gets infected. Dave views resistance with the same kind
of hatred that he reserves for things he doesn’t know and that drives the deep
internal feeling of suckage. Johnny struggles most with projects that get difficult
and start eating his face.

Listen in to find out how they battle and defeat resistance,
each in their own particular way.

Resources and Links

Apr 01 2020

58mins

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Rank #10: SSP081 Writing Routines

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Our creative routines cover the gamut in our studio, proving there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to how to be a productive storyteller. But there are general guidelines to becoming a productive and prolific storyteller, and today we wanted to talk about our routines so you can learn from our mistakes and successes.
We Talk About:
Worst. Show. Ever. is back!
Everything in Dave’s refrigerator is ruined.
Sean is finishing the hardest book he’s ever written today.
Sean’s routine & early creation time.
Dave’s routine & deadlines.
How our story meetings have evolved.
Johnny’s routine & constant optimization.
Breaking the procrastination loop.
Accountability.
Thomas Wolfe’s fail-safe method of productivity.
Learning to be honest with yourself.
The exceptions that prove the rule.
Resources:
https://www.rd.com/culture/daily-rituals-authors/
https://masoncurrey.com/daily-rituals

In 15-Minute Dictation, Platt and Silver show you how to adjust your approach to dictation to leave behind frustrating starts and stops and finally be able to produce more books in less time: https://sterlingandstone.net/book/15-minute-dictation/
This is a book about how Dave understands darkness, its place in story, and how I make dark fiction that people enjoy reading. And, at its heart, this book isn’t just about the dark, but also the light. And in our darkest times, it’s more important than ever that we hold onto the light. But first, we must be willing to explore the darkness: https://sterlingandstone.net/book/into-the-darkness/
If you’ve ever wondered what sets the outstanding career authors apart from the wannabes, if you’ve ever been faced with doubts and fears, this is the book for you. Pick up your copy of The 10X Author today!: https://sterlingandstone.net/book/the-10x-author/
Join the list for LIVE SHOW Reminders: https://sterlingandstone.net/liveshow 
Join the mailing list for nonfiction book updates: http://sterlingandstone.net/stonetable

Sep 18 2019

1hr 1min

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Rank #11: SSP068 Doing the Work with Jamie Davis

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One of our favorite and hardest working author friends is Jamie Davis. Throughout the time we’ve known him, he’s always held true to the work ethic of the 21st century storyteller: write, publish, repeat. And though it took time to make the career a full-time endeavor, Jamie is the model for anyone who’s unsure if their niche storytelling style will ever find an audience.
We Talk About:
Jamie found out he will be a grandfather.
Sean is excited for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood trailer.
Dave is excited about the Deadwood movie.
Dave explains why he thinks the end of GOT sucked.
Jamie’s origin story.
Jamie’s super-secret marketing strategy.
Planning and flexibility.
Jamie’s transition into a full-time author.
Jamie’s success in audiobooks.

All of our best writing and publishing advice in one, affordable book bundle: http://sterlingandstone.net/locker.
To get live show reminders: https://sterlingandstone.net/liveshow.

Jun 12 2019

56mins

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Rank #12: SSP099 The Guys Discuss: Serial Fiction

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Dave always loved Green Mile by Stephen King and
really wanted to do something serial-based.

In 2008 Available Darkness was the first thing Dave
and Sean serialized on their website. But getting traffic to the website to
read it was a struggle.

In 2011 Sean and Dave realized that Kindle could be perfect
for serials. They could publish directly to readers, new episodes updated
quickly, and could be delivered directly to reader’s devices. Readers could get
hooked, love it, and have immediate access to the next episode as soon as it
was ready.

Using the language of episodes and seasons, the way TV shows
do, to communicate with readers, they tried their next serial experiment with Yesterday’s
Gone
. Many people told them it was a terrible idea, but they did it anyway
and fans responded.

Find out what’s worked and what hasn’t for the guys writing
serial fiction. And what kind of series and serials they are working on now.

Resources
and links

Feb 05 2020

56mins

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Rank #13: SSP072 The Story Solution

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We just released The Story Solution. It’s our first new non-fiction book in a long time and marks a new generation of non-fiction under the Stone Table imprint. In The Story Solution, we address your meaning and purpose in life and how you can use story to discover it. Today, we talk about the ideas behind the book and how you can apply its concepts to live your best life.
We Talk About:
Darren Aronofsky’s Mother (https://www.hulu.com/movie/mother-076d945a-5e48-4411-9a65-3e8f2dd68258?content_id=1312732)
The origin of The Story Solution.
The difference between Genre Therapy and The Story Solution.
How Sean and Dave reframed their stories.
A craftsman’s approach to your own life.
Using theme as a guiding light.
Finding your plot points.
Focusing on what your story is: it’s your choice.

You are the main character of your own story, so why not construct your story the way a writer does? The Story Solution will show you how! If you’re ready to take charge of your life the way a writer takes charge of their story, then pick up your copy today: https://sterlingandstone.net/storysolution
All of our best writing and publishing advice in one, affordable book bundle: http://sterlingandstone.net/locker.
To get live show reminders: https://sterlingandstone.net/liveshow.

Jul 10 2019

58mins

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Rank #14: SSP074 Story Research

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Almost literally, Sterling and Stone is a house built on research… or the lack thereof. In part, our collaboration started because of a research roadblock, a dare, and putting a Unicorn in a Western novel. And though we proudly retell that story when it’s useful, the reality of our day-to-day storytelling is different. We do a lot of research. The trick is chasing the right lead. In today’s podcast, we share how we approach the research portion of our pre-production and give a few hacks to help you avoid the Wikipedia research hole.
We Talk About:
Sean is reading and re-reading the Jim Collins catalog and enjoying it.
Dave is reading Lost Connections by Johann Hari (https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Connections-Uncovering-Depression-Unexpected-ebook/dp/B07583XJRW/).
Johnny is absolutely enjoying-without-any-hate-watching-what-so-ever Riverdale, Season 3 (https://www.netflix.com/title/80133311).
The distinction between “get to research” and “have to research.”
Using research for immersion and character.
Dave’s need for authenticity.
Directing the camera and trusting the reader’s imagination.
Acquiring new experiences.
The 80/20 rule for research and finding the few details that matter.
Johnny and Sean’s favorite hacks for side-stepping deep research.

You are the main character of your own story, so why not construct your story the way a writer does? The Story Solution will show you how! If you’re ready to take charge of your life the way a writer takes charge of their story, then pick up your copy today: https://sterlingandstone.net/storysolution
All of our best writing and publishing advice in one, affordable book bundle: http://sterlingandstone.net/locker.
To get live show reminders: https://sterlingandstone.net/liveshow.

Jul 24 2019

46mins

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Rank #15: SSP106 The Guys Discuss: Our Favorite Tools

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What are the tools you love and use every day to help you do
all the things you need to get done? The guys share a few of their favorites
and talk about what they use them for and why.

Right now Sean Loves:

Dave likes:

Johnny is using:

In the midst of this discussion, the guys discover that Dave has been helping someone else with habits. Is Dave secretly a Life Coach? Learn “How To Win Your Marriage” with Dave! And so many other tasty life coaching topics. Sean thinks Dave’s coaching website should be Bearcoach.com, which actually exists. Maybe Dave has been secretly life coaching all this time?

Mar 25 2020

43mins

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Rank #16: SSP026 The StoryJacket Process

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We like to make up fun names for each step of our process at Sterling and Stone. Since we introduced the idea of StoryJackets, we’ve gotten many requests for us to talk more about what they are and how they work. That’s what this episode is all about. And because we couldn’t do the topic justice without her, Bonnie’s here to help us share how you can build a StoryJacket into your own process.

We Talk About:
What a StoryJacket is, and how we do StoryJackets.
The improvement arc of our pre-production process.
Asking the cascade of “whys.”
The essential elements a StoryJacket should check for.
What you shouldn’t focus on.
The importance of narrative causality.
How to give and take critiques.



Are you wondering what the ever-growing demand for superb storytelling skills means for your future? Check out our latest interview as Johnny and Sean dive deep into that question in “Storytelling Is the Future: How to Build On Your Self-Publishing Success.”
Download the interview from the info box or show notes in YouTube or head over to https://www.sterlingandstone.net/future.

Aug 01 2018

44mins

Play

Rank #17: SSP004 Breaking Down Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad is a masterwork in storytelling. In this episode, Johnny, Sean, and Dave talk about the importance of story structure. They break down how the first episode Breaking Bad:

  • Sets up the protagonist’s character arc
  • Gives a sense of inevitability
  • Tells a confident story

If you have Netflix, you can watch the first episode of Breaking Bad here: https://www.netflix.com/title/70143836.
The time markers in the notes correlate with the podcast, not the Breaking Bad episode.
Prologue:

  • (14:18) In the opening scene we start with Walt in trouble. The cops are coming. He records a video for his family. Walt runs out to meet the cops in his underwear with a gun.

Starting State:

  • (15:20) Flashback to three weeks earlier and how it leads to the that moment. Walt’s life is mundane, he has little power or control over his life, and he feels emasculated.
  • (16:43) At school we see more of what his life is like. The scene uses the definition of chemistry to show the theme of the show. We see him being treated with disrespect by the students.
  • (18:28) Walt works at a car wash after his job teaching kids, reinforcing his powerlessness, and feelings of being undervalued.
  • (19:20) Walt drives home and struggles with the simplest things in life. A surprise birthday party is waiting for him when he arrives. We see he feels powerless and emasculated through his interaction with Hank. The seed of an idea is planted, followed by a lack-luster hand job.

Inciting Incident:

  • (22:41) Walt finds out he has cancer.
  • (23:44) Walt’s first taste of control and first act of defiance occurs when he’s asked to do something at the car wash that represents everything he hates about his life. He refuses and quits.
  • (24:58) Walt tells Hank he wants to do the ride along.

Plot Turn 1:

  • (25:28) During the ride-along, we meet Jesse and see how Walt responds to another taste of power when he realizes that he knows something Hank doesn’t.
  • (28:12) Walt confronts Jesse and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
  • (31:40) Skyler and Marie’s relationship is presented, and Walt steals supplies from the High School.

Pinch Point 1:

  • (32:05) Walt and Jesse need to find a place to cook.
  • (35:52) Jesse uses the name of the show in dialogue.
  • (36:44) Walt buys an RV to cook in.

Midpoint:

  • (36:58) Second act of defiance. Walt is helping his son buy jeans and kids are making fun of him. Walt attacks one kid in a rage.
  • (38:36) Walt and Jesse are in the desert with the RV and Jesse sees how great Walt’s cooking skills are.
  • (39:06) Walt and Jesse needs to find who to sell the drugs to. We meet Crazy 8 and Emilio.

Pinch Point 2:

  • (40:53) Walt is cooking when Jesse brings Crazy 8 and Emilio to meet him. Emilio recognizes Walt from the ride-along with Hank and suggests killing them. Walt strikes a deal: he’ll teach them how to cook like him if they let him live.
  • (41:30) Walt tells Emilio to put out his cigarette. He flicks out the window of the RV where it lands in dry grass. Walt mixes two toxic chemicals and traps the two inside to die. The cigarette catches fire.

Plot Turn 2:

  • (43:06) Walt puts a mask on Jesse and drives the RV away from the fire. He gets the RV stuck, so he gets out with the gun and we arrive at the point where we started. He sees it’s not the cops coming, but the fire department. The fire trucks pass them by.

Resolution:

  • (44:37) Walt goes home, cleans the money, and gets in bed with his wife. When his wife asks what happened, he instead makes love to her, asserting himself like he hadn’t before and feeling powerful.

Are you wondering what the ever-growing demand for superb storytelling skills means for your future? Check out our latest interview as Johnny and Sean dive deep into that question in “Storytelling Is the Future: How to Build On Your Self-Publishing Success.”
Download the interview from the info box or show notes in YouTube or head over to https://www.sterlingandstone.net/future.

Feb 28 2018

57mins

Play

Rank #18: SSP075 Story Inspiration

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“Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a question that every author gets asked at least once in their career. And the true answer is never satisfying to the untrained eye: “Ideas are all around you.” In today’s podcast, we talk about what inspires us to tell great stories and our process when actively looking for inspiration.
We Talk About:
Watching and reading stories for inspiration for your own work.
Inspiration vs. Execution.
Watching shows that lost their way and figuring out why.
What Johnny listens to when writing different stories.
What the guys look for in inspiration.

You are the main character of your own story, so why not construct your story the way a writer does? The Story Solution will show you how! If you’re ready to take charge of your life the way a writer takes charge of their story, then pick up your copy today: https://sterlingandstone.net/storysolution
All of our best writing and publishing advice in one, affordable book bundle: http://sterlingandstone.net/locker.
To get live show reminders: https://sterlingandstone.net/liveshow.

Jul 31 2019

31mins

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Rank #19: SSP051 Opening the Door to the Story Studio

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Today’s intro-absent podcast is the beginning of a brand new look for the show. For too long, we’ve been struggling to fit into a business suit that’s too small and not at all our style. In order to complete our journey of becoming a 100%-Story-First company, we need to extend the effort to every facet of what we do. Today, we talk about then the journey of the Story Studio Podcast and how it is evolving to give you a learning experience that’s truly novel.
We Talk About:
What kind of show we want to have.
What changes on April 1st.
Getting back to our roots for real this time.
The difference between performative teaching and opening the door.

Feb 13 2019

34mins

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Rank #20: SSP061 The Stone Table: Reimagined with Neeve Silver

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Closing down the Smarter Artist part of Sterling and Stone was bittersweet for us. We have a desire to teach, but the transactional nature of the Smarter Artist brand leeched life from the fiction side of the company. We’re passionate about uplifting the community through honest transparency, but a tell-all platform became the very thing that crippled us. If we wanted to continue telling stories, letting go of the Smarter Artist was inevitable. And the best way to fill the void was to turn our educational efforts inward.
But we realized that as the stable of writers within the company grew, our need for an internal curriculum became more and more essential. We need to have materials available for our storytellers that allows them to learn everything we’d learned about the art of storytelling and the practice of collaboration.
Then we met someone awesome: Neeve Silver.
Neeve joined the family to help us market our books as we settle into the fiction-first stage of the company. And as an outsider looking in, she showed us how we were stepping back from our community when they needed us most.
And that was the lightbulb moment.
In today’s (and next week’s) podcast, we want to share what the next chapter of the non-fiction side of Sterling and Stone looks like. And we believe that it’ll both serve our internal needs and the needs of those who still want to learn from our hijinks.
We Talk About:
Black Summer (https://www.netflix.com/title/80198988)
Sean recommends watching The Sinner (https://www.netflix.com/title/80175802) for a study on Mystery Box storytelling
Neeve recommends All Our Wrong Todays (https://www.amazon.com/All-Our-Wrong-Todays-Novel-ebook/dp/B01FEY5EP2)
Smarter Artist has evolved into the Stone Table.
Building an internal curriculum.
Neeve’s perspective after two months in the company.
Why the Smarter Artist wasn’t sustainable.
The forthcoming Stone Table books.

Apr 24 2019

52mins

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SSP116 The Guys Watch: The Godfather

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In today’s episode of The Story Studio Podcast Sean and Johnny rewatched The Godfather and Dave watched it for the first time and asked some great questions of each other.

  • How does a movie live up to the legacy of being one of the best movies ever?
  • How do all of the cliches and moments endlessly referenced in other films fall when finally seeing the original source material for the first time?
  • What makes this movie such a classic? And how does it compare to so many of the movies and shows that it inspired which came afterward?
  • Sopranos vs The Godfather.
  • Goodfellas vs The Godfather.

Most of all, you’ll want to tune in to today’s episode to find out what Dave hates about The Godfather and what authors can take from classic films like The Godfather and apply to their own work.

Jun 03 2020

53mins

Play

SSP115 The Guys Discuss: Avoiding Burnout

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Getting to do what you love for a living is pretty incredible. But when you are building your author career through writing and releasing books in series, there is a high possibility of burning out.

In today’s episode, the guys discuss what they have learned about avoiding burnout during the past decade of writing and self-publishing books, both from their experiences getting burned out in the past and how they avoid it now.

Here are a few things they have learned about tapping in to different headspaces while working on different kinds of projects and at different stages in projects as well. We’d love to hear from you on what you do to avoid burnout with your writing.

May 27 2020

55mins

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SSP114 The Guys Discuss: When a Story Gets Stuck

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Ever have a story get stuck? There are a few different ways in which this can happen. Sometimes a story gets mechanically stuck where you’ve written your way into some kind of corner and can’t seem to find your way back out. Then there is also emotionally stuck, and getting stuck inside your own head.

In today’s episode, the guys discuss what they each do to get themselves kickstarted again when they have a story that gets stuck. Dave’s answer might surprise you!

May 20 2020

1hr 2mins

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SSP113 The Guys Discuss: Building Worlds Together

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Have you ever wanted to collaborate with another author or multiple authors to build a fictional world where you can come together to create extraordinary stories? More inputs mean more points of view, more details, richer texture, and greater depth. But it can also be overwhelming and complicated to manage.

Find out how the guys have successfully built worlds for best selling series like Yesterday’s Gone, Invasion, The Beam, Dead City, The Dream Engine, and more. Also, find out about projects that didn’t work for them and why.

Resources and Links:

May 13 2020

52mins

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SSP112 Characterization Hacks with Bonnie Part 2

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In today’s episode, Sean and Johnny continue the conversation with Bonnie about Characterization Hacks. They talk about commercial characters, over-the-top superman characters, supermen with relatable flaws, everyman characters, and more.

They also look at how characters develop not only within individual books, movies, or TV episodes but across series and multiple seasons of series (think Dr. Who).

People rarely fall in love with plots, settings, clever twists, or other devices. It is almost always the characters they fall in love with in a story. So do yourself a favor and give character development the time and attention it really needs.

If you ever struggle to develop your characters, then this episode is not to be missed.

May 06 2020

1hr 1min

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SSP111 The Guys Discuss: Balancing Structure & Creativity

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Creating outlines and beats can keep you moving by always knowing what’s next when a pure pantser might have to stop and figure out what happens. But sometimes too much structure can stifle creativity and make your story feel less fresh and exciting than it should.

In today’s episode, the guys talk about how each of their processes has evolved and changed over the years to help them balance using the structure they know helps them save time, overcome writer’s block, and write faster, with the need for freedom and creativity to explore unexpected aspects of stories that arise in the telling.

Johnny talks about a recent project that nearly drove him crazy and consumed more than a year of his life and also taught him, that for his own personal process, less is often more when it comes to backstories and beats. It’s hard for him to perform at his best when he is beholden to an overly detailed outline and feels like he has to work hard to wedge all the details in.

Lately Dave has been moving in the opposite direction, working from more fleshed out and detailed Bonnie-styled outlines and beats and has been enjoying the process more than he used to. But of course, he isn’t enjoying the current aspect of trying to write in the same house where his wife and children are also working and learning and living on top of each other 24/7 like everyone is these days. Dave has a few choice words to say about all of that.

As usual, Sean is the Baby Bear of the bunch, not too hot/big/hard, not too cold/small/hard, but somewhere kind of in the middle.

Listen in to find out more of what the guys think about the current world crisis as well as how and what they are working on now.

Apr 29 2020

52mins

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SSP110 Characterization Hacks with Bonnie

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People don’t fall in love with plots, devices, and settings. At least most people don’t. When someone falls in love with a book or a story, most often they are falling in love with carefully crafted and deeply developed characters.

So how do you craft compelling characters for your story? No one knows how better than Bonnie! In fact, she just finished writing the book on characterization! And she has so much fantastic knowledge to share that the guys decided to turn this episode into part 1 and part 2.

Look out for Characterization Hacks with Bonnie Part 2 next week!

Apr 22 2020

1hr 1min

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SSP109 The Guys Watch: The Watchmen Part 2

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In last week’s episode, The Guys Watch: The Watchmen Part 1, the guys and the Story Studio discussed The Watchmen. They went into all kinds of detail about what worked and what didn’t in terms of world-building and mystery boxes and more. This week, in Part 2, the guys and the story studio look at what they can take away from the series as storytellers and what they want to steal to implement in their own work.

The Watchmen

Apr 15 2020

56mins

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SSP108 The Guys Watch: The Watchmen Part 1

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On today’s episode, most of the Sterling & Stone Story Studio appears along with the guys to discuss The Watchmen. The whole studio watched it together and in this, part 1 episode, they all talk about the show itself, what they loved, what worked and what didn’t in terms of world-building and mystery boxes.

In next week’s episode, Part 2 of The Watchmen, the guys and the studio discuss what they took away (and want to steal) from the series as storytellers to implement in their own work.

The Watchmen

Apr 08 2020

1hr 17mins

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SSP107 The Guys Discuss: Battling Resistance

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In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield personifies Resistance as an almost corporeal being of sorts, something that must be faced, battled, and defeated and a daily basis in order to do the real work you were meant to do.

As usual, Sean, Johnny, and Dave all see resistance as
slightly different creatures that show up in their lives in similar, but
distinct ways. And they each have different ways of dealing with it that fit
their personalities and work style.

Sean sees Resistance as a virus that mutates and is a little
different each time he gets infected. Dave views resistance with the same kind
of hatred that he reserves for things he doesn’t know and that drives the deep
internal feeling of suckage. Johnny struggles most with projects that get difficult
and start eating his face.

Listen in to find out how they battle and defeat resistance,
each in their own particular way.

Resources and Links

Apr 01 2020

58mins

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SSP106 The Guys Discuss: Our Favorite Tools

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What are the tools you love and use every day to help you do
all the things you need to get done? The guys share a few of their favorites
and talk about what they use them for and why.

Right now Sean Loves:

Dave likes:

Johnny is using:

In the midst of this discussion, the guys discover that Dave has been helping someone else with habits. Is Dave secretly a Life Coach? Learn “How To Win Your Marriage” with Dave! And so many other tasty life coaching topics. Sean thinks Dave’s coaching website should be Bearcoach.com, which actually exists. Maybe Dave has been secretly life coaching all this time?

Mar 25 2020

43mins

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SSP105 The Guys Discuss: If We New Then…

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If we only knew then what we know now. The guys insist that
they don’t legitimately have regrets, but if they had a time machine and could
go back to any point in their joint careers, what would they do differently
now?

In today’s episode, the guys discuss lessons learned both in
their writing lives and in running the business of being indie authors.

They look at moments when they got distracted by shiny
object syndrome (over and over and over again), times they tried that fell
entirely flat, and instances when they had great success in one area but
instead of capitalizing on it to keep that flywheel moving, they branched off
and focused on something else instead.

Learn from a few of the guys’ missteps as authors and
marketers so you don’t have to make those particular mistakes yourself and also
hear how those mistakes helped them learn and get better along the way.

Mar 18 2020

43mins

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SSP104 The Guys Talk: Writing and Marketing with Jeff Haskell

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In today’s episode, the guys talk with Jeff Haskell, an
author they met at S3, the Story Shop Summit in Austin, Tx. Jeff writes
Superhero science fiction, a little bit of nonfiction and is branching out
right now into military sci-fi as Jeffrey H Haskell.

He’s been writing his whole life and publishing for the past
3.5 years. In July of 2016, he was accepted into the Kindle Scout program,
published for that in September of 2016, and has been publishing his own stuff
ever since.

Jeff and the guys talk about the temperature of indie
publishing at the moment, what’s going on now that wasn’t there 5-10 years ago.

  • What’s working now and how to stay positive in the current environment?
  • What strategies have gotten diluted over time?
  • How well do different kinds of ads work now and why?
  • Why do indies hate to talk about craft?

Resources and Links

Mar 11 2020

1hr 1min

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SSP103 The Guys Answer: Anthologies and Serials

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On today’s episode, the guys answer listener questions about
anthologies and serials.

Anthologies are collections of works (stories, poems, or
episodes) that each stand on their own but may sometimes share a theme, topic,
or subject matter. They usually do not share characters or story arcs, though
they may, depending on how coordinated the collection is. Serials, on the other
hand, are a group of stories or episodes that might, sometimes, be able to
stand on their own but are also part of a larger story arc and share characters
and other elements that continue from one episode to the next.

The guys discuss the commercial value and drawbacks of both
anthologies and serials, using examples of a few of their favorites in each
category, as well as future projects they are working on in the story studio.

Another way the guys are helping other authors rather than
doing traditional anthologies is The Story Stacks genre-specific promotions for
authors. If you are an author interested in participating, click here to learn more and apply.

Resources and links:

Mar 04 2020

40mins

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SSP102 The Guys Watch Being John Malkovich (SPOILERS!)

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In today’s episode, the guys talk about watching Being John Malkovich.

Spoiler Alert: Be warned, if you haven’t seen it yet, this
episode may very well spoil it for you.

Dave hates this movie. He hates everything about it but most
of all, he hates how much everyone else seems to love it. Especially Sean. Johnny’s
somewhere in between.

Hear Dave rant, Sean gush, and Johnny calmly discuss. Then,
in an exciting and pivotal moment of the show, you can witness the magic of
Bonnie winning Dave over to concede a point.

Beyond personal likes and dislikes, the guys dive into
dissecting (with the help of Bonnie) just what it is about this movie that made
it so innovative and attention-grabbing back when it first came out and what about
the storytelling still holds up all these years later.

Want to ask the guys your biggest burning storytelling question? Or suggest a movie for them to watch and tear into tiny shreds? Send your suggestions to help@sterlingandstone.com.

Feb 26 2020

56mins

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SSP101 The Guys Discuss When Life Gets In The Way

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It’s difficult to create great work when your confidence
gets rocked or when your emotional self is in turmoil. There are so many things
that can put a kink in anyone’s creative drive. Moving, marriage, childbirth,
divorce, illness, construction projects, job changes, or a death in the family
among many other things can really throw you off your creative game.

So, what do the guys do when life gets in the way of
writing?

For Dave when life feels out of control, he focuses on the
things he can control. Look for consistency and build on that. Take something
you’re doing every day anyway and attach your writing practice to it. Don’t
forget (like Dave often does) to reach out to friends for emotional support.
And never, ever forget to leave cookies for Santa!

When Sean goes through a hard time, he tries to be
realistic. Don’t just say you’re fine when people ask and pretend nothing’s
wrong. Get to the root of the problem, figure out what’s really there, then
decide if it’s something you have to deal with now, can it be dealt with later
(after writing time) or is it even something for you to deal with at all. Pick
your battles.

Johnny finds that when one part of his routine falls apart,
everything does. As goes his exercise and diet, so goes writing and mood and
everything else. To maintain productivity, he needs to try to maintain it
across all aspects of his life.

The best way to still be able to write even when things in
life are crashing down around you is to be working on the right project. Sean,
Johnny, and Dave all talk about what the right project looks like and feels
like to them.

But what if the project is part of the problem? Well, the guys have ideas to help turn a project stuck in the doldrums into something you can’t wait to get back to again.

Feb 19 2020

49mins

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SSP100 The Guys Discuss: What We’ve Stopped Doing

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Episode 100! A milestone indeed. The guys have hit it several times on past podcasts like The Self-Publishing Podcast and others and joke that they often end up changing the name and starting a new podcast sometime after episode 100. But this time they have no intention of doing that.

The last two years at Sterling and Stone have seen them
usher in some big changes. Along with doing lots of exciting new things, they
have also stopped doing a number of things they used to do.

Slow down to go faster

It used to be all about speed. While they are still fans of
writing fast to outrun the inner critic and increase output, they have slowed
down production so they can bank books, pulling together larger collections of
related works, so they can better position and publish them to greatest effect.

They’ve also stopped playing a lot of things by ear, running
so fast they sometimes tripped over themselves in an effort to keep the
flywheel of constant releases going. All book lines are being more
strategically mapped out now in exciting new ways.

Running ads

For the moment Sterling & Stone has completely stopped running ads while they focus on reworking the back catalog, creating webs between authors and lines, and get releases better lined-up so when they start again, the ads will have a bigger bang for each advertising buck.

Writing for TV

At long last, the guys are able to talk freely about some of the super-secret projects and negotiations that have been going on behind closed doors. Listen in to find out which book line is having a pilot made!

Sterling & Stone has also started working with outside authors to build promotional engines that will shine light on the books of all authors involved. If you’re an author who has been following along for a while and wants to learn more about the Story Stacks project the guys are doing with Bookfunnel, click here to apply to be part of future promotions.

Resources and Links:

Feb 12 2020

49mins

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SSP099 The Guys Discuss: Serial Fiction

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Dave always loved Green Mile by Stephen King and
really wanted to do something serial-based.

In 2008 Available Darkness was the first thing Dave
and Sean serialized on their website. But getting traffic to the website to
read it was a struggle.

In 2011 Sean and Dave realized that Kindle could be perfect
for serials. They could publish directly to readers, new episodes updated
quickly, and could be delivered directly to reader’s devices. Readers could get
hooked, love it, and have immediate access to the next episode as soon as it
was ready.

Using the language of episodes and seasons, the way TV shows
do, to communicate with readers, they tried their next serial experiment with Yesterday’s
Gone
. Many people told them it was a terrible idea, but they did it anyway
and fans responded.

Find out what’s worked and what hasn’t for the guys writing
serial fiction. And what kind of series and serials they are working on now.

Resources
and links

Feb 05 2020

56mins

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SSP098 The Guys Try: Productivity Techniques

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What productivity systems and techniques work best for
creatives and specifically writers? The Story Studio Podcast wanted to find
out.

On today’s episode Dave, Sean, and Johnny try out three
different productivity techniques and report back with their results. Sort of…

It was suggested that all three of the guys Kon Mari their offices and desktops, but Dave, who claims that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the only book he ever returned to the Amazon Store, flatly refused. So, as much as we all wanted to find out exactly what in the world “sparks joy” for Dave, we may never know.

The techniques the guys picked from were:

  • David Allen’s Getting Things Done
  • Promodoro
  • Don’t Break The Chain
  • Zen to Done.

All three of the guys said that they were at least familiar with all of these techniques and several they have all tried before. Listen in to find out who picked which technique and what they took away from the experiment.

Resources and links:

If you are an author interested in partnering with Sterling and Stone on our new Story Stacks promotions, click this link to learn more and apply.

Jan 29 2020

57mins

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SSP097 Writing For Television with Jono Matt

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Jono Matt is a writer in LA and the scrappiest MF Johnny has
ever met. Recently, Jessie Cole came on the show to talk about Savana Bananas,
the sitcom that Sean and Johnny are involved with. Jono is the co-writer and
showrunner for Savana Bananas.

Want to hear the origin story of Savana Bananas and how
Jono, Sean, and Johnny first met?

Find out how Jono not only got himself an invite to the Golden Globes but got a plus one ticket too!

Hear about Jono’s experience in the Imagine Impact project,
a content accelerator incubator and development pipeline project started by Ron
Howard and Brian Grazer and how it has affected the Savana Bananas project.

Learn how writers find the emotional way into a commercial
idea that connects deeply with readers and viewers in a way that keeps them
coming back for more. Jono has some pretty good guides and examples like the
Lego Movie.

Get the update from Jono on what’s next for Savana Bananas.

Resources and Links:

Jan 22 2020

1hr 16mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

376 Ratings
Average Ratings
280
34
14
13
35

Down Hill

By Steve from St Michael - Aug 16 2019
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I appreciate the nuggets of wisdom that I’ve been able to get over the last several years of listening. But the podcast has lost its way and its value. Too much rambling and very little content. I used to be very interested in their upcoming projects even though it’s not my genre because they described the process and struggles. Now it’s just a drinking game where I take a shot every time one of the boys says “we can’t talk about that“ or “that thing with that name that’s not ready“. Nonetheless I wish them much success.

Dang! These recent reviews are harsh!

By TheWilcox - Apr 11 2019
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I reviewed the show a long time ago and tonight while listening I decided to look at the reviews. OMG! I can’t believe how rough they are. Those people don’t understand. I know you guys have grown and I appreciate the direction you’re moving in. Happy for you guys and wishing you much success