Rank #1: 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 #2: 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 #3: 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 #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 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 #6: 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 #7: Episode 106: Capture Your Character’s Essence
In this episode, fiction editor Leslie Watts and guest fiction editor Anne Hawley critique the opening pages of The Bad Shepherd, a crime story set in Los Angeles in the 1980s, by Dale M. Nelson. They discuss characters and how to make them relatable so your reader can connect with them. This week's editorial mission asks you to capture your character's essence in a sentence.
Jun 28 2017
Rank #8: Episode 124: Your Character’s Internal Journey
In this episode, Certified Story Grid editors Leslie Watts and Rebecca Monterusso critique “The Flight,” a science fiction short story by Scott Adam Gordon. They discuss the internal journey or change that characters experience as a result of external events in a story. Leslie and Rebecca then uncover which internal genres might be present in “The Flight.” This week’s editorial mission offers questions to help you identify and craft the internal change at work in your stories.
Jan 04 2018
Rank #9: Episode 63 - Posted as Missing, an Action-Adventure Romance
In this episode, Leslie and Alyssa critique the opening of Michael Walsh's Posted as Missing, an action-adventure romance. They discuss genre, traumatic events and how to include them in fiction, underwriting, strong verbs, echoes, and foreign languages.
May 18 2016
Rank #10: Episode 6 - Looking in Shadows: Crime/Thriller Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Alyssa critique an excerpt from a crime/thriller novel in progress. They discuss what’s working for the unconventional opening, dive deeper into active openings, and ask for clues about the protagonist’s competence. They go on to discuss varying sentence structure, the creation of new words, and what to avoid with elaborate dialogue tags.
Apr 28 2015
Rank #11: Episode 50 - Feather the Painter, Fantasy Critique
Alyssa & Leslie critique the opening of Mary Pat Lynch’s Feather the Painter, a fantasy novel. They discuss repetitive sentence structure, tension, sensory detail, dialect, and getting to know setting through your character’s point of view.
Feb 17 2016
Rank #12: 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 #13: Episode 36 - Crystal, Young Adult Fiction Critique
Alyssa & Leslie discuss genre, pacing, tension, and engagement as they critique the first five pages of Christine Waters’s Crystal, a young adult story.
Nov 11 2015
Rank #14: Episode 66 - Castor Revelations: Science Fiction/Fantasy Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique the opening pages of Stephen Allan’s Kastori Revelations, a published science fiction/fantasy novel. They discuss story beginnings, indicating the passage of time, action, and military culture.
Jun 08 2016
Rank #15: Ep. 132 Inciting Incidents for Your Scenes
What are inciting incidents? Why do our stories and scenes need them? What are the elements of a solid inciting incident? This week, Story Grid Certified editor Leslie Watts discusses these story event catalysts in the context of the opening of Drew Horstman’s fantasy novel, Nicholas Crumb. The editorial mission encourages you to collect inciting incidents by reading and watching stories—and from your own life.
The Writership Podcast is designed to help you develop self-editing skills and write a better story. In every episode, Leslie critiques a fiction submission from a real writer who is, or hopes to be, a published author. They understand they may need help seeing what's working and not in their stories and are brave enough to share the experience. Each episode comes with an editorial mission to apply the topic discussed so you can improve your writing too.
Aug 31 2018
Rank #16: Episode 17 - The Clone Rules Science Fiction Critique
In this episode, Alyssa and Leslie critique the opening pages from a science fiction novel. They discuss choosing tense, rapid fire and commonplace dialogue, and well-executed backstory.
Jul 01 2015
Rank #17: 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 #18: Episode 101: Check Your Narrative Distance
In this episode, fiction editors Leslie and Clark critique the beginning of Osweyth, an epic fantasy novel inspired by Cornish folklore by J M Hudson. They discuss narrative distance, omniscient point of view, and moving smoothly between vantage points. They also talked about the weather as a character in the story, lush prose, sentence and paragraph length, and commas. The editorial mission asks you to check your narrative distance, that is how close your reader is to the character or narrator.
May 10 2017
Rank #19: Episode 92: Day 115: Science Fiction Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Clark critique the first chapter of Day 115, a science fiction novel by J. M. Bedard. They discuss pacing, providing enough detail to make clear the setting and characters’ vantage point, and questions that pull the reader into your story. Leslie's birthday giveaway ends on January 25, 2017. Check out the show notes at Writership.com/episode for details.
Jan 18 2017
Rank #20: Episode 8 - Prophecy’s Queen: Fantasy Critique
In this episode, Leslie and Alyssa critique the opening pages from a fantasy novella in progress. They discuss information dumps, delaying back story, and revisit elaborate dialogue tags. They go on to discuss overcapitalization and why that’s a problem for your reader, and leave you with an editorial mission based on what this submission teaches us about characterization.
Apr 28 2015