Story Grid Editor Roundtable Episodes

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The Roundtable Podcast began in May 2017 as a study group to prepare for the first Story Grid Certified Editor Training. We met every Monday to discuss a story, sometimes a short story by Stephen King, but mostly films. We analyzed them according to the Editor’s Six Core Questions. We struggled at first (we spent almost the entire first session discussing breaking How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days into the beginning hook, middle build, and ending payoff), but we learned a lot.

You can find the rough-around-the-edges Foolscaps from our summer study sessions here (each story is on a different tab, which you can select along the bottom of the sheet; special notes can be found by scrolling to the right).

When we arrived at the training in Nashville, we told Shawn about our meetings. He asked, “Did you record them?” We hadn’t, but we started doing that as soon as our sessions resumed after the training. 

We thought the other members of the “Nineteen” might find some use in our discussions, so we shared the recordings and our rough notes with them every week. After several weeks of delivering recordings and notes, Shawn and Tim asked if we’d be willing to make it a podcast. We enthusiastically agreed. We came up with a name, got some decent microphones, and made it public. 

To date, we’ve recorded 126 episodes. Each season we’ve made adjustments, but what remains the same is that we’re story nerds applying Story Grid tools to stories so we can all deepen our knowledge and level up our craft. We know we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but we’re proud of this body of work. As you listen and review the notes, feel free to disagree with our conclusions! We all grow in an arena with robust discussion. 

I wanted to include a little of our history because it says a lot about our approach in each episode. But the purpose of this post is to make the work more accessible to you. 

What You’ll Find Here

We often say, if you want to find the conventions and obligatory moments of your genre, check out the first two seasons of the Roundtable Podcast. We covered all twelve content genres and listen the genre must-haves at least once. The blessing and challenge of the Story Grid site is that it’s so full of excellent content it can be tricky to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

So in this post I’ve included a list of all the episodes for our seven seasons (full-length, bite size, and teasers). You can find the global genre (and secondary where we’ve identified it), special notes on the episode, and a link to the show notes. (That’s a lot of links! If you find any that are broken, I’d really appreciate a heads up in the comments below.)

For later seasons, when we focused on topics other than the Editor’s Six Core Questions, I’ve listed the topics we explored, for example, forces of antagonism, short stories, or core events. Finally, for the episodes when we had a listener question, I mention the topic. 

Pro search tip from fellow SGCE Shelley Sperry: To find resources on specific topics on the Story Grid site, type “.www.storygrid.com [your topic]” in the address bar of your browser. (Don’t forget the period at the beginning.) That search will provide you with a list of episodes and articles from the Story Grid site that mention your topic. (This is especially useful for finding the gems that Shawn casually drops in every episode of the Story Grid Podcast!)

Can we ask a quick favor? If you enjoy the podcast and find the show notes useful, we’d love for you to tell your writing friends about us and leave a rating and review wherever you listen to podcasts.

What’s next?  

Your Roundtable Story Grid Editors have been Jarie Bolander, Valerie Francis, Anne Hawley, Kim Kessler, and me, Leslie Watts. Jarie, Anne, and Kim have left the podcast to pursue other projects. Now that we’re down to two editors, we aren’t really a roundtable anymore. So Valerie and I have decided to change things up a bit. Stay tuned for the Story Grid Writers’ Room!

Now, let’s get to what we’re here for … the stories!

Season One

In season one, we were fresh from the Story Grid Certification training and a little overwhelmed but eager to apply what we’d learned. We aimed to choose one film from each of Story Grid’s twelve content genres. But what a film appears to be isn’t always what it turns out to be. Anyway, each of us took on one or two of the Editor’s Six Core Questions, and you’ll find the answers to those questions, along with our extra comments, in the show notes. You can download the Story Grid Foolscaps for season one here (each story is on a different tab, which you can select along the bottom of the sheet). 

What are the Editor’s Six Core Questions? You can listen to our Story Grid 101 episode on the topic here. Or read about the Editor’s Six Core Questions here. You can read about each question by following the links below.

Click here to learn more about Content Genres. For more information about the core elements of genre, check out this article or The Four Core Framework by Shawn Coyne. 

Click here to learn more about Conventions and Obligatory Moments (scenes).

Check out these posts to learn more about Point of View and Narrative Devices.

Click here to learn more about Objects of Desire.

Click here to learn more about Controlling Ideas and Themes.

Click here to learn more about the Beginning Hook, Middle Build, and Ending Payoff.

1. Billy Elliot – Performance Story

In the first episode, we analyzed Billy Elliot, the 2000 dance film written by Lee Hall, directed by Stephen Daldry, and produced by Greg Brenman and Jon Finn.

Click here for the show notes.

2. Alien – Horror-Uncanny

We analyzed the 1979 movie Alien, screenplay by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, and directed by Ridley Scott.

Click here for the show notes. 

3. Hot Fuzz – Serial Killer Thriller

In the third episode, we analyzed the 2007 movie Hot Fuzz, screenplay by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, and directed by Edgar Wright. 

Special Note: We disagreed on the global genre for this one, but we all agreed that it’s a great example of a buddy love story.  

Click here for the show notes.

4. Gladiator – Status-Admiration

We analyzed the 2000 movie Gladiator, screenplay by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson, and directed by Ridley Scott. We concluded the secondary external genre  is Society-Political.

Click here for the show notes. 

5. Bridges of Madison County – Love Story

In this episode, we analyzed The Bridges of Madison County (1995), which is based on the novel of the same name by Robert James Waller. The screenplay was written by Richard LaGravenese, and the film directed by Clint Eastwood. 

Special Note: In later seasons we returned to the question of the subgenre in this story and whether the end was positive or negative. Is it a positive ending because the lovers try to commit? Is it a negative ending because they are obstructed? Are there special considerations for forbidden love? See Brokeback Mountain and Like Water for Chocolate below. 

Click here for the show notes.

6. A Midnight Clear – War-Brotherhood

In this episode, we analyzed the tragically underrated 1992 Brotherhood War movie A Midnight Clear, written and directed by Keith Gordon, and based on the 1982 novel by William Wharton. 

Special Note: This film is hard to find, but well worth the effort.  

Click here for the show notes.

7. Thelma and Louise – Society-Women

In this episode, the team drives right up to the edge with the 1991 Society movie Thelma and Louise, Oscar-winning screenplay by Callie Khouri, directed by Ridley Scott.

Special Note: There has been some discussion about whether this is an Action story, but there are elements of Crime as well. Society stories often include those elements. We identified the internal genres as Status-Pathetic for Thelma and Status-Tragic for Louise.  

Click here for the show notes.

8. The Muppet Christmas Carol – Morality-Redemption

The Roundtablers know what the Dickens they’re doing in this episode as they pay a ghostly visit to The Muppet Christmas Carol, the 1992 music-and-puppets version of the classic scary Morality tale, with screenplay by Jerry Juhl based on the story by Charles Dickens.

Special Note: We identified the secondary external genre as Horror-Supernatural. This film is a musical, which is a Style genre. Check out “Genre’s Five Leaf Clover” here to see the other genre leaves of the clover. Shawn and Tim have discussed a different version of A Christmas Carol in an episode of the Story Grid Podcast. You can listen or check out the show notes and transcript here. Want to learn more about Redemption stories? Click here. 

Click here for the show notes. 

9. Jack the Giant Slayer – Action-Labyrinth

The Roundtablers make the long climb with Jack the Giant Slayer, the 2013 Action-Adventure CGI extravaganza, written by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dan Studney, and directed by Bryan Singer.

Special Note: Valerie and Kim wrote an excellent article about quantifying progressive complications based on this film. You can find that here.

Click here for the show notes.

10. Marathon Man – Thriller-Political

In this episode, we drill into the 1976 political thriller Marathon Man, with screenplay by William Goldman (based on his novel of the same name) and directed by John Schlesinger.

Click here for the show notes.

11. True Grit – Western

In this episode, the team rides off across wide-open country with the 1969 Western True Grit, written by Marguerite Roberts based on Charles Portis’s bestselling 1968 novel.

Click here for the show notes.

12. Dead Poets Society – Society

The Roundtable team waxes lyrical over the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir with screenplay by Tom Schulman. 

Special Note: What we thought was a Global Worldview Story when we first recorded this episode, in retrospect, seems like an obvious Society story. Perhaps we reached our initial conclusion because this is a film many of us associated with coming of age? 

Click here for the show notes. 

13. Double Indemnity – Crime-Murder Mystery-Noir

In this episode, we investigate the claims of Double Indemnity, the 1944 film noir classic about murder and insurance fraud, with screenplay by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder.

Click here for the show notes.

14. In Defense of Food – Big Idea Nonfiction

In this episode, we put food on the Roundtable as we study the 2015 Big Idea Nonfiction documentary In Defense of Food, by Edward Gray based on the book by Michael Pollan. 

Click here for the show notes.

Season Two

In season two, we analyzed another round of films using the Editor’s Six Core Questions and additional story-related observations. The Story Grid Foolscaps were converted into separate PDFs for much of the season, and  you’ll find those linked with each episode when available. 

1. Hidden Figures – Performance

The Roundtablers lift off into the Performance genre with the 2015 Oscar nominee Hidden Figures, which tells the story of three remarkable African-American women and their real-life achievements in the face of racism and misogyny at NASA. The screenplay is by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book.

Special Note: We identified Status-Admiration as the internal genre at play here. Hidden Figures is a great example of how the choice of genre influences the way a story is told, where the emphasis is placed, and how the genre impacts the story.

Click here for the show notes.

Click here to download the Foolscap.

2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Action

The Roundtablers soar into Ang Lee’s 2003 “Wung-fu” Action + Society mashup Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the story of a secret young woman warrior and her attempts to be free of all her masters. The screenplay is by Hui Ling Wang, based on the 1935 Chinese Wǔxiá romance by Wáng Dù Lú.

Special Note: We disagreed on the global genre here, to the extent that we didn’t create a foolscap, but the show notes contain a discussion of our thoughts and reasons for our conclusions. 

Click here for the show notes.

3. Brokeback Mountain – Love Story

It’s love and longing as we camp out on Brokeback Mountain, the iconic 2005 love story written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. They won an Oscar for their adaptation of Annie Proulx’s award-winning short story. The movie was directed by Ang Lee, who became the first Asian director to win the Best Director Oscar.

Special Note: There was some discussion about the subgenre and whether it ends negatively or positively.

Click here for the show notes. 

Click here for the Foolscap. 

4. Carrie – Horror-Ambiguous

It’s bucket-o-blood time as the Roundtable team tackles the Horror genre with Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 remake of the Stephen King classic Carrie, with Screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Click here for the show notes.

Click here for the Foolscap.

5. Gone Girl – Thriller-Psychological

In this episode, the Roundtable team disappears into Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and comes back with a verdict of Psychological Thriller, with an extra dose of disturbing.

Click here for the show notes.

Click here for the Foolscap.

6. The Hurt Locker – War-AntiWar

It’s the chaos of war this episode as the Roundtable team goes into The Hurt Locker, the 2008 War film The Hurt Locker. The Oscar-winning screenplay is by Mark Boal, based on his own experience as an embedded journalist in the Iraq War. The movie was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Best Director Oscar that year. 

Special Note: A strong case can be made that the internal genre is Morality-Testing Surrender. This story raises questions about how accurate stories need to be.

Click here for the show notes.

Click here for the Foolscap. 

7. Yojimbo – Western-Vengeance

It’s East meets Western in this episode as the Roundtable team crosses the Pacific and the decades to look at Akira Kurosawa’s 1960 samurai classic, Yojimbo.

Special Note: This is an example of the Machiavellian Action Plot.

Click here for the show notes. 

Click here for the Foolscap.

8. Wonder Woman – Action-Epic-Savior

In this episode, we’re throwing the Lasso of Truth around the 2017 superhero Action movie Wonder Woman and making it tell us the truth about its story. The film was directed by Patty Jenkins from a screenplay principally credited to Allan Heinberg. But Jason Fuchs and Zack Snyder have “Story By” credits, and a note in the Amazon X-Ray suggests that they and Patty Jenkins rewrote parts of the script. So let’s see whether this story avoids or succumbs to the Curse of Multiple Writers.

Special Note: Secondary internal Worldview-Maturation genre is clear.

Click here for the show notes.

Click here for the Foolscap.

9. Selma – Society-Historic

In this episode, we’re marching into the Society genre with the 2014 movie Selma. Paul Webb wrote the screenplay, and Ava DuVernay directed the film.

Special Note: The secondary internal genre, Morality Testing Triumph, is clear in this story.

Click here for the show notes.

Click here for the Foolscap.

10. Real Women Have Curves – Status-Sentimental

In this episode, we stitch up the Status genre with 2002’s Real Women Have Curves, written by Josefina Lopez and George LaVoo, and directed by Patricia Cardoso.

Special Note: We identified the secondary external genre as Society-Domestic. 

Click here for the show notes.

Click here for the Foolscap.

11. Arrival – Worldview-Revelation

The team touches down into the Worldview genre in this episode with the 2016 science fiction revelation drama Arrival, written Eric Heisserer and Ted Chiang, based on Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” and directed by Denis Villeneuve. 

Special Note: We identified the secondary external genre as Action-Adventure Labyrinth Plot. There’s no Foolscap with this episode, but you can find the Editor’s Six Core Questions in the show notes. 

Click here for the show notes. 

12. Mad Money – Crime-Caper

The Roundtablers sneak into the Crime genre and make off with a rather poor impression of the 2007 caper comedy Mad Money, written by Glenn Gers and directed by Callie Khouri.

Special Note: We identified a possible Status-Sentimental internal genre operating here. We include the specific conventions of the Caper subgenre of Crime Story. No Foolscap for this one, but you’ll find the Editor’s Six Core Questions in the show notes. 

Click here for the show notes.

13. Flight – Morality-Redemption

In this episode, the Roundtablers bring the the Morality genre in for a rough landing with Flight, the 2012 film by Robert Zemeckis starring Denzel Washington. 

Click here for the show notes.

Season Three

During the first two seasons of the podcast, we watched a movie each week from one of the twelve Story Grid content genres, then analyzed it using the Editor’s Six Core Questions. We racked up twenty-eight episodes, twenty-eight Global Foolscap worksheets, and twenty-eight sets of extensive notes. 

After all that, we decided it was time for a change. So for season three, we analyzed films in a new way. Each week one of us pitched a favorite film as an example of a significant story principle. Then we teamed up to test the idea, looking at it from all angles to give authors a deeper insight into story structure. We also added listener questions to the format.

1. Manchester by the Sea

In this episode, we debated Valerie’s assertion that Manchester by the Sea is a great example of a surprising but inevitable ending. This haunting 2016 Oscar winner was written and directed by Richard Lonergan. 

Genre: Valerie argues the global genre is Morality-Redemption. Kim suggested the genre is what literary critic Norman Friedman calls a Degeneration plot. 

The listener question concerns trouble with the core event in Gone Girl.

Click here for the show notes. 

2. Song of the Sea 

In this episode, the Roundtablers succumb to the selkie’s call with Song of the Sea, Kim’s pick for a story that combines Virgin’s Promise and Hero’s Journey structures. This 2014 animated fantasy based on Irish myth was written by Will Collins and directed by Tomm Moore.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Action-Adventure Labyrinth plot. She identified the internal genres as Worldview-Maturation and some form of Status. In retrospect, I wonder if the global genre is Maturation as is the case for many children’s films (see the episode analyzing Coco below). 

The listener question concerns the universal human values at stake in Western and Society genres. 

Click here for the show notes.

3. Adaptation 

Anne pitched the 2002 meta-comedy Adaptation as proof that you can break some big story rules and still succeed—but maybe only if you’re screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann. His wild adaptation of Susan Orlean’s nonfiction book The Orchid Thief was directed by Spike Jonze.

Genre: Anne identified the global genre as Performance with a secondary internal Worldview-Disillusionment genre.

The listener question concerns great pairings of external and internal genres. 

Click here for the show notes. 

4. Rocky

In this episode, I go fifteen rounds in the ring arguing that tough guy Rocky is a Virgin’s Promise story at heart, while the opposition brings some heavyweight counter-arguments. This 1976 Best Picture was directed by John Avidsen from star Sylvester Stallone’s Oscar nominated script.

Genre: I identified this as a Status-Sentimental global story with secondary external of Performance. Shawn recently described it as a Morality-Redemption story. 

The listener question concerns splitting scenes across multiple chapters. 

Click here for the show notes.

5. Harold and Maude 

Can Jarie make the case that pairing an 18-year-old boy with a 79-year-old woman is truly an innovation on the Love Story? Find out as we examine Harold and Maude, the 1971 cult black comedy directed by Hal Ashby from a script by Colin Higgins.

Genre: Jarie identified the global story as a Courtship Love Story with a secondary Worldview-Education internal genre. Kim identified this story as Worldview-Maturation. I talked about some general approaches to innovation. 

The listener question concerns the roles and characters in Gone Girl

Click here for the show notes. 

6. Waking Ned Divine 

Valerie opens our eyes to the principle of Progressive Complications as we analyze the hilarious 1998 British-Irish village comedy Waking Ned Devine. This sleeper hit was written and directed by Kirk Jones. (This episode led to Valerie and Kim’s post explaining the P10 analysis.)

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Crime-Caper (comedy style). I recall a pretty clear Morality-Redemption internal genre.

The listener question concerns conventions in a love story, particularly roles of lovers and rivals. 

Click here for the show notes.

7. About Time

The editors travel back to fundamentals in this episode as we analyze one of Kim’s favorites, About Time, to learn all about the an internal global genre. This 2013 British romantic fantasy was written and directed by Richard Curtis.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Worldview-Maturation with a secondary external Love Story genre and fantasy style.

The listener question concerns the 15 spinal scenes of the beginning hook, middle build, and ending payoff.

Click here for the show notes. 

8. Black Panther

In this episode, the Roundtablers test Anne’s assertion that Ryan Coogler’s 2018 Marvel blockbuster Black Panther is really a Society political story and not the action movie it looks like.

Genre: Anne identifies the global genre as Society-Political. I identified the global genre as Action-Epic Saviour plot.

The listener question concerns whether the heroic journey applies to cautionary tales. 

Click here for the show notes. 

9. The Wizard of Oz

We’re off to look at symbolism in this episode as we analyze The Wizard of Oz, which I pitched as a great example of extended metaphor. This iconic American classic was written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful World of Oz, and directed primarily by Victor Fleming.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Action-Adventure Labyrinth plot with secondary  Worldview-Maturation internal genre. 

The listener question concerns symbolism, allegory, and metaphor in popular fiction.

Click here for the show notes.

10. Rudy

Put on your favorite jersey and join us as we analyze the 1993 film Rudy. This film was written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh. It’s based on the true story of Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger, a walk on to the 1974-1975 Notre Dame Football team. Jarie feels it’s a great example of how to adapt a true life story.

Genre: Jarie identifies the global genre as Performance-Sports with a secondary internal Status-Sentimental genre.

The listener question concerns writing a memoir.

Click here for the show notes. 

11. Get Out

It’s suspense, mystery and dramatic irony as the Roundtablers explore 2017’s Get Out. Valerie pitched this innovative horror movie, directed by Jordan Peele from his Oscar winning screenplay, as a great example of narrative drive.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Horror-Uncanny.

The listener question concerns third-person point of view.

Click here for the show notes.

12. Jane Eyre

Join the Roundtablers in the wilds of Yorkshire as we examine the framing story as narrative device in the original gothic romance, Jane Eyre. This 2011 version was directed by Cary Fukunaga from Moira Buffini’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 masterpiece.

Genre: We didn’t declare this one for some reason other than to call it a gothic romance, which is a reference to sales category and style. Based on my recollection, I would call this a global Worldview-Maturation Story with secondary Courtship Love Story external.

The listener question concerns the speech in praise of the villain in Dr. Strange.

Click here for the show notes.

13. Inception

Can Anne take the Roundtablers to a story within a story within a story? Find out in this episode as we analyze Christopher Nolan’s 2010 science fiction heist film Inception.

Genre: Anne identified the global genre as Crime-Heist. I recall a fairly strong secondary Worldview-Education internal genre. In this episode, I also talk about the different types of nested stories and Orson Scott Card’s MICE quotient.

The listener question concerns the Five Commandments of Storytelling.

Click here for the show notes.

14. The King’s Speech

The Roundtablers join King George VI behind the mic in this episode as I argue that The King’s Speech is a great example of emotional stakes in a story. Winner of 2010’s Best Picture award, the film was directed by Tom Hooper from David Seidler’s Oscar-winning script. 

Genre: I identified the global genre as Performance with secondary Status-Sentimental internal. 

The listener question concerns act-level commandments and whether they need to take up a whole scene or could take place over several scenes. 

Click here for the show notes.

15. Coco – Five Commandments of Storytelling

We wind up season 3 with another episode of Story Grid 101. Each of the Roundtable Editors tackles one of the Story Grid Five Commandments for a deep dive into the fundamental structure of scene, act, and global story. We use the Pixar animated feature, Coco as our model. This 2017 family favorite was written by Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina.

Genre: We identified the global genre as Worldview-Maturation with a secondary external Action-Adventure Labyrinth plot. 

The Listener question concerns the act-level crisis, climax, and resolution.

Click here for the show notes.

Season Four

In season four, we each chose a specific topic to study within our film picks. Anne chose complex story structure, Valerie explored narrative drive, Jarie dug into dialogue, Kim went with global internal genre stories, and I opted for Action Story conventions. Check out the teaser trailer here.

1. Cloud Atlas

Things get really complicated in this episode as Anne pitches Cloud Atlas so we can all study complex nested story form. This 2012 film was written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell.

Genre: Anne concluded that overall the collections of stories feel like Morality, but she identified different internal genres for each of the main characters. 

Topics

  • Anne: Complex nested stories
  • Jarie: “Filaments” that string nested stories together
  • Narrative device
  • Leslie: Studying a writer’s body of work

The listener question concerns narrative drive.

Click here for the show notes.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean

The conventions of the Action Story sail into port in this episode as Leslie invites the Roundtablers to examine Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. This 2003 comedy-horror-action movie was written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and directed by Gore Verbinski, based on the ride at Disneyland. 

Genre:  I identified the global genre as Action-Duel Hunted plot (hero or luminary agent versus individual (or group) villain or shadow agent). Click here for my roundup post on Action Story conventions. And here to find my Action Story conventions spreadsheet. For a deep dive into this genre, check out Action Story: The Primal Genre by Shawn Coyne. 

Topics

  • Leslie: Action Story conventions
  • Valerie: Action Story and narrative drive.
  • Jarie: Action Story and dialogue
  • Anne: Defying conventions

The listener question concerns providing an analysis of a story all the way to the beat level.

Click here for the show notes.

3. Murder on the Orient Express

All aboard the murder train! In this episode, the Roundtablers set off from Istanbul with Hercule Poirot and a star-studded cast to review Murder on the Orient Express. This 1974 classic, based on Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel, was written by Paul Dehn and directed by Sidney Lumet.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Crime-Murder Mystery-Master Detective.

Topics

  • Valerie: Narrative Drive—Mystery
  • Kim: Progressive complications and stakes
  • Anne: Mini-plot structure
  • Leslie: Point of view, Master Detective subgenre conventions, and villains 

The listener question concerns cliffhangers and how to split scenes into chapters.

Click here for the show notes.

4. The Shawshank Redemption

Get busy living or busy dying when the Roundtable editors chip away at dialogue in The Shawshank Redemption. This 1994 film was written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on Stephen King’s Novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

Genre: Jarie identified the global genre as Crime-Prison with secondary Worldview-Education. Kim thought it might be Status-Admiration or Moraily-Testing Triumph.

Topics

  • Jarie: Set and setting driving dialogue
  • Valerie: Setting, dialogue, voiceover, narrative drive
  • Kim: Essential tactics (formerly action)
  • Crime subgenres conventions and dialogue

The listener question concerts positive and negative valence shifts within scenes.

Click here for the show notes.

5. The Fundamentals of Caring

The fundamentals of global internal genre are under review this time as Kim pitches The Fundamentals of Caring, a 2016 independent film written and directed by Rob Burnett.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Worldview-Education.

Topics

  • Kim: Global internal genres
  • Leslie: Conventions for Worldview-Education
  • Anne: Flashbacks
  • Jarie: Set and setting driving dialogue 

The listener question  concerns the difficulty in finding Worldview-Maturation resources on the site.

Click here for the show notes. 

6. Black Mirror’s “Bandersnatch”

TV shows? Video Games? Choose Your Own Adventure? The Roundtablers take on “Bandersnatch” in this episode as Anne continues her exploration into complex story forms. This 2018 episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror was written by Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade.

Genre: Anne leans toward Status here.

Topics

  • Anne: Complex story structure
  • Valerie: Narrative drive
  • Leslie: Why we study stories, point of view, crisis questions
  • Kim: Importance of knowing the global genre

The listener question concerns the internal and external charge columns on the Foolscap.

Click here for the show notes.

7. The Spy Who Dumped Me

It’s international intrigue with a side of comedy on the Roundtable in this episode as I continue to explore Action Story conventions in The Spy Who Dumped Me. This 2018 action-epic-conspiracy film was directed by Susanna Fogel from a screenplay she wrote with David Iserson.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Action-Epic Conspiracy plot (hero or luminary agent against invisible villain or shadow agent). Kim identified the secondary internal genre as Worldview-Maturation. 

Special note: Shawn recently talked about special elements of Spy or Espionage Thrillers, including the idea that the protagonist must grapple with what to do when they realize they are just a pawn in a game being played by states or criminal organizations. The Spy Who Dumped Me is an Action Story, but I can see how the question Shawn mentioned is central to this story too (and maybe all Conspiracy plots). This reminds me of how important it is to read many stories in your subgenre and choose a masterwork from among them. Lists of genre conventions and obligatory moments are useful, but if you really want to deliver what your reader is looking for, you need to know what they expect to find.

Click here for my roundup post on Action Story conventions. And here to find my Action Story conventions spreadsheet. For a deep dive into this genre, check out Action Story: The Primal Genre by Shawn Coyne. 

Topics

  • Leslie: Action Story conventions
  • Kim: Global internal genre stories
  • Jarie: Dialogue
  • Valerie: Narrative Drive and target audience
  • Anne: Violence, plot holes, and flashbacks

In lieu of a question in this episode, we shared some positive feedback from a listener about how he’s benefiting from the podcast. Feedback, both positive and negative, is always welcome.

Click here for the show notes.

8. Fargo

You betcha Jarie and the other Roundtablers are going to chip away at how set and setting drive dialogue in the 1996 Coen Brothers film Fargo. This dark comedy was directed by Joel Coen from the script he co-wrote with Ethan Coen.

Genre: Jarie identified the global genre as Crime-Caper

Topics

  • Jarie: Set and setting in dialogue
  • Valerie: Other aspects of dialogue
  • Leslie: Conventions of Nordic or Scandi Noir Stories
  • Anne: How this film holds up over time and violence in stories

The listener question concerns what we call essential tactics (formerly essential action).

Click here for the show notes.

9. Rear Window

Sit in a chair and watch the suspense unfold in this episode as Valerie and the other Roundtablers examine Rear Window. This 1954 film starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly was directed by the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes was adapted from a story by Cornell Woolrich.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Thriller-Hitchcock.

Topics

  • Valerie: Narrative Drive – Suspense
  • Leslie: Thriller conventions
  • Kim: Role of internal genres in Thrillers
  • Anne: Story form

The listener question concerns the hero at the mercy of the villain (or luminary agent at the mercy of the shadow agent) scene in Thrillers.

Click here for the show notes.

10. A Man Called Ove

In this episode, the Roundtable team goes global with the foreign language film A Man Called Ove to study global internal genres. This 2015 Swedish comedy-drama was written and directed by Hannes Holm.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Morality-Redemption. By looking closely at the flashbacks in the story, Anne concludes the global genre is Worldview-Education. 

Topics

  • Kim: Global internal genre stories
  • Jarie: Dialogue
  • Anne: Story form
  • Leslie: Mini-plot conventions

Special Note: In recent Q&A calls, Shawn has said that we need to fix the nomenclature when it comes to mini-plot because this term is used to mean different things. I’m referring to a story with lots of small stories connected by a central character, location, and theme. Anne has more thoughts on this in the Love Actually episode below.

The listener question concerns how to apply Story Grid principles to short stories.

Click here for the show notes.

11. Live from Nashville

It’s the Live from Nashville 2019 bonus edition where we discuss what it was like to be with more than one hundred fellow story nerds live and in person.

Genre: Maybe be need a new subgenre of Love Story to refer to the love story nerds feel for Story and for one another?

Click here for the show notes.

12. Love Actually

Love is all around us in this episode as the Roundtablers sashay into the mini-plot story structure with Love Actually. This 2003 all-star British romantic comedy was written and directed by Richard Curtis.

Genre: Multiple mini-love stories, including marriage, courtship, and obsession.

Topics

  • Anne: Mini-plot
  • Jarie: Set, setting, and dialogue
  • Valerie: Narrative drive in a mini-plot story
  • Kim: Internal genres
  • Leslie: Love Story conventions (click here to see my table of Love Story conventions in this film) 

The listener question concerns whether to begin writing a novel that’s a passion project or begin with short stories instead. 

Click here for the show notes.

13. The Hunger Games

It’s bread, circuses, and action subgenre conventions in this episode as the Roundtablers look at The Hunger Games. This 2012 movie was written by Billy Ray, Gary Ross, and Suzanne Collins based on Collins’s novel of the same name. 

Genre: I identified the global genre as Action-Adventure Labyrinth plot (luminary agent against the environment). Kim identified the secondary internal genre as Status-Admiration.

Click here for my roundup post on Action Story conventions. And here to find my Action Story conventions spreadsheet. For a deep dive into this genre, check out Action Story: The Primal Genre by Shawn Coyne. 

Topics

  • Leslie: Action Story conventions
  • Kim: Status internal genre
  • Jarie: Set and setting driving dialogue
  • Valerie: Narrative drive and escalating stakes

The listener question concerns how to fictionalize real-life events to write a satisfying story.

Click here for the show notes.

14. A Fish Called Wanda

In this episode, Jarie pitched A Fish Called Wanda as a great example of set and setting driving dialogue. This 1998 film starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, John Cleese and Michael Palin was directed by Charles Crichton from a screenplay by Charles Crichton and John Cleese. 

Genre: Jarie identified the global genre as Crime-Heist.

Topics

  • Jarie: Set and setting in dialogue
  • Valerie: Comedy and dialogue
  • Leslie: Heist conventions
  • Kim: Internal genres

Click here for the show notes.

15. The Queen

It’s tradition versus change as Valerie and the Roundtablers examine dramatic irony in the British historical drama The Queen. This 2006 film examining the events surrounding the death of Princess Diana was written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Frears.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Worldview-Revelation with secondary external Society genre.

Topics

  • Valerie: Narrative drive – dramatic irony
  • Leslie: Worldview and Society conventions
  • Kim: Worldview global internal genre
  • Anne: Narrative devices for novelists

The listener question concerns contemporary fiction readers.

Click here for the show notes.

16 Puzzle

In this episode, Kim and the other Roundtablers continue piecing together global internal genre stories with the 2018 independent film, Puzzle. The screenplay, an adaptation from a 2010 Argentinian film of the same name, was written by Oren Moverman and directed by Marc Turtletaub.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Status-Sentimental with Performance and Love Story subplots.

Topics

  • Kim: Global internal genre
  • Anne; Story “efficiency” and implied resolutions
  • Jarie: Dialogue
  • Leslie: Virgin’s Promise archetype conventions – click here for my table of Virgin’s Promise story and convention examples.

The listener question concerns why Story Grid doesn’t treat Young Adult fiction as a genre. 

 Click here for the show notes.

Season Five 

In season five, we each chose a specific topic to study within our film picks. Anne chose film adaptations of novels, Valerie explored Psychological Thrillers, Jarie focused on Love Story, Kim went with stories that don’t quite work, and I opted for “expansive-scope” Action Stories. Check out the teaser trailer here.

1. A Little Princess

When the villain goes low, we go high with the classic Status-Admiration story, A Little Princess. This 1905 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett was most recently adapted to film in 1995 by screenwriter Richard La Gravenese and director Alfonso Cuaron.

Genre: Anne identified the global genre of the novel as Status-Admiration and the secondary external genre as Society.  The film feels closer to Worldview. 

 Topics

  • Anne: Film adaptations of novels
  • Jarie: Paternal love
  • Leslie: Point of view, magical realism, and adaptations generally
  • Valerie: Empathy

The listener question concerns obligatory moments (formerly scenes) whether they become too predictable for readers.

Click here for the show notes.

2. Thor: Ragnarok

We’re keeping one eye on superheroes in this episode as Leslie hammers home some insights about the epic-style Action story in Thor: Ragnarok. This 2017 Marvel blockbuster was written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost, and directed by Taika Waititi.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Action-Epic Saviour plot (hero or luminary agent against villain or shadow agent intent on destroying society). My Editor’s Six Core Questions analysis is included in the show notes.

 Topics

  • Leslie: Expansive-scope Action Stories (one story part of a large world of stories and settings)
  • Valerie: Characters and empathy
  • Kim: Internal arcs of supporting characters
  • Jarie: Superhero Love

The listener question concerns scene and sequel as described by Dwight V. Swain.

Click here for the show notes. 

3. Primal Fear

The multiple personalities around the Roundtable try to puzzle out whether the 1995 thriller Primal Fear works, and why—or why not. This film, starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton in his first feature film role, was written by Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman, based on William Diehl’s 1993 novel of the same name. It was directed by Greg Hoblit.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Psychological Thriller. Valerie included her Editor’s Six Core Questions analysis in the show notes. 

 Topics

  • Valerie: What makes a Psychological Thriller different from other Thrillers?
  • Kim: Internal genres
  • Anne: Why this story doesn’t work
  • Jarie: Ex-lovers and self-loving narcissist psychopaths
  • Leslie: Messages within the story

The listener question concerns literary fiction.

Click here for the show notes. 

4. Sense and Sensibility

The Roundtablers return to the love story in this episode with Sense and Sensibility. This Oscar-winning 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1811 novel was written by Emma Thompson and directed by Ang Lee.

Genre: Jarie identified the global genre as a Courtship Love Story. The internal genres are Status-Admiration for Elinor and Worldview-Maturation for Marianne. Jarie includes his Editor’ Six Core Questions analysis in the show notes. 

 Topics

  • Jarie: Deep dive into Love Story
  • Kim: Internal genres and core emotion
  • Anne: Novel to movie adaptation
  • Leslie: Core events, life values, and cognitive dissonance about Love Story

The listener question concerns the All is Lost moment.

Click here for the show notes.

5. Jupiter Ascending

The Wachowskis once again give the Roundtablers reason to tear their hair out, this time with their 2015 failed blockbuster, Jupiter Ascending. Despite a fine cast, a promising storyline, and brilliant special effects, this story doesn’t really work. Kim leads us in trying to figure out why.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Action-Epic Savior plot with a secondary Worldview-Education internal genre. Kim includes her Editor’ Six Core Questions analysis in the show notes. 

 Topics

  • Kim: Stories that don’t quite work
  • Anne: Why do some people like a story when it doesn’t work?
  • Leslie: Genre conventions
  • Valerie: Creating empathy
  • Jarie: Love subplot

The listener question concerns how to craft a compelling hero and villain in Thriller.

Click here for the show notes.

6. If Beale Street Could Talk

Hope, love, and injustice intersect in this episode in Anne’s pitch: James Baldwin’s 1973 novel If Beale Street Could Talk, and the 2018 film adaptation that was written and directed by Barry Jenkins.

Genre: Anne identified the global genre as Worldview-Maturation. Secondary external genres include Love Story and Society Story. Anne included the Foolscap in the show notes. 

 Topics

  • Anne: The unadaptable novel
  • Jarie: Pure love torn apart
  • Leslie: The gift expressed
  • Valerie: Empathy

The listener question concerns satire.

Click here for the show notes. 

7. Deep Impact

It’s a disaster in this episode as the Leslie leads our fearless crew through Deep Impact. This first of two 1998 films about giant space rocks hitting the earth was written by Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin and directed by Mimi Leder.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Action-Adventure Doomsday plot with secondary internal Worldview-Education. The Foolscap is included in the show notes. 

 Topics

  • Leslie: Action Stories with expansive scope (stand-alone story)
  • Anne: Mini-plot structure
  • Jarie: Puppy love
  • Valerie: Creating empathy

The listener question concerns how to know if a scene belongs in your story.

Click here for the show notes.

8. The Girl on the Train

We’re all aboard in this episode to try to separate the truth from the lies in The Girl on the Train. This 2016 psychological thriller was directed by Tate Taylor from a screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson, based on the record-breaking bestseller of the same name by Paula Hawkins.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Psychological Thriller with secondary internal genre Worldview-Revelation.

 Topics

  • Valerie: What makes a psychological thriller tick?
  • Kim: Worldview-Revelation, setting up and paying off a great twist 
  • Jarie: Obsessive love
  • Anne: Scene types

The listener question concerns utopian fiction.

Click here for the show notes.

9. Crazy Rich Asians

Let’s get whisked away to Singapore to explore modern love in the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians. This romantic comedy was written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim and directed by Jon M. Chu.

Genre: Jarie identified the global genre as Courtship Love Story with secondary internal Worldview-Maturation. Jarie includes his Editor’s Six Core Questions analysis in the show notes. 

 Topics

  • Jarie: Modern love collides with tradition
  • Leslie: Spotting the global genre among subplots
  • Anne: The middle build and looking at scene types abstractly
  • Kim: Stories that don’t completely work

Listener questions concern which genres to write in if you want to be a commercial writer and how to pitch Story Grid content genres to agents.

Click here for the show notes.

10. Passengers

Wake us up when it’s over! Kim continues her study of stories that don’t work in this episode with 2016’s Passengers, written by Jon Spaihts and directed by Morten Tyldum. This film had a flaw so widely perceived that several film blogs created fixes for it. The Roundtablers are going to do the same.

Genre: Kim found it hard to find a clear global genre among Action and Love, Morality and Worldview.  I argue the story is a global Worldview-Education story with love and action subplots.

 Topics

  • Kim: Stories that don’t quite work
  • Valerie: Back to basics: 15 spinal scenes and genre
  • Jarie: Love triangle without helpers/harmers
  • Anne: middle build scene and beat types
  • Leslie: Another take on the global genre: Worldview-Education

The listener questions concern the smallest unit of stories, beats.

Click here for the show notes.

11. Like Water for Chocolate

Come along to Mexico and decide whether the movie or the novel is tastier, as Anne pitches Like Water For Chocolate in her study of novels adapted to film. The 1992 Mexican film was directed by Alfonso Arau from the screenplay Laura Esquivel adapted from her 1989 novel of the same name.

Genre: Anne identified the global genre as a Courtship Love Story (forbidden type).

 Topics

  • Anne: Film adaptations of novels
  • Kim: Genres at play
  • Jarie: Opposite forces mixed with moral weight in Love Story
  • Leslie: reality genre & magical realism

The listener question concerns a request for Story Grid analysis of a specific story.

Click here for the show notes.

12. The Return of the King

I conclude my epic examination of the action story on an expansive scale with the epic-est epic of them all, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This 2003 conclusion to The Lord of the Rings trilogy was directed by Peter Jackson from a screenplay he wrote with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien. 

Genre: I identified the global genre as Action-Epic Saviour plot. You can find the Foolscap in the show notes.

 Topics

  • Leslie: Expansive-scope Action Stories (one of three stories in a trilogy)
  • Jarie: Building strong and believable esprit de corps
  • Anne: Scene types
  • Valerie: Empathy, dramatic irony, and satisfying endings
  • Kim: The big meta why and the power of mentors

The listener question concerns the gender divide convention in modern love stories.

Click here for the show notes. 

13. Black Swan

In this episode, genre disagreements don’t stop the team from pointe-ing out the great storytelling in Black Swan. This 2010 film about artistic passion was directed by Darren Aronofsky from a screenplay by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, and John McLaughlin.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Performance Story with a Worldview-Maturation internal genre. Kim concluded the global genre is Status-Tragic. 

 Topics

  • Valerie: Descent from sanity to insanity in story
  • Kim: Status-Tragic conventions and obligatory moments
  • Jarie: Parental Love driving opposing forces
  • Anne: New scene types

The listener question concerns whether the global genre of a series must be the same as the global genres of the books within the series. 

Click here for the show notes.

14. Love Story

Back in 1970, love meant never having to say you were sorry. Or so Love Story, that year’s popular tearjerker, would have us believe.  The film was directed by Arthur Hiller from a screenplay by Erich Segal, who also wrote the accompanying novel.

Genre: Jarie identified the global genre as Love Story. We had some discussion about whether the subgenre was courtship or marriage. Jarie included his Editor’s Six Core Questions analysis.

Topics

  • Jarie: Love Story as a modern day, if dated, masterwork 
  • Leslie: Point of view (first person) and narrative device (Oliver is telling the story) relying on dramatic irony
  • Anne: problems with the story

The listener question concerns where familial love fits within the content genres and what universal human values are relevant. 

Click here for the show notes. 

15. The Girl in the Book

The Roundtablers work hard to discover what doesn’t quite work in in this episode’s story, The Girl in the Book. The 2015 film was written and directed by Marya Cohn. Some strong content warnings in this one, folks. 

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Morality-Testing Triumph. There was some discussion about Worldview-Disillusionment.

Topics

  • Kim: Stories that don’t quite work 
  • Anne: Does a literary story have to follow the rules?
  • Leslie: Point of view (neutral omniscience) and narrative device (Alice’s coherent narrative of abuse and recovery)
  • Valerie: Objects of desire

The listener question concerns how to fill in the Foolscap.

Click here for the show notes.

Season Six

In season six, we each chose a specific topic to study within our film picks. Anne chose short stories, Valerie explored forces of antagonism, Kim went with universal human values, and I opted for point of view and narrative device. Check out the teaser trailer here.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a wonderful look at Point of View and Narrative Device in this episode, as Leslie opens Season 6 of the podcast with It’s a Wonderful Life. This 1946 perennial holiday favorite was directed by Frank Capra, and written by Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra. The screenplay was based on the short story “The Greatest Gift,” originally published as a Christmas card in 1943 by Philip Van Doren Stern.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Worldview-Education with a secondary external Love Story. Other potential global genres considered were Worldview-Revelation, Status-Sentimental, and Status-Admiration.

Topics 

  • Leslie: Point of view (film is editorial omniscience, short story is neutral omniscience) and Narrative Device (conversation between angels) 
  • Anne: Objects of Desire
  • Kim: Crafting beginnings
  • Valerie: Forces of antagonism

The listener question concerns the MacGuffin in The Martian.

Click here for the show notes. 

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Kim takes a close look at The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, in order to study how a story’s life values are established in the beginning hook. This 2018 film was directed by Mike Newell from a screenplay by Don Roos, Tom Bezucha, and Kevin Hood. It was based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. 

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Worldview-Education with secondary external Courtship Love Story.

Topics

  • Kim: Establishing universal human values  in the Beginning Hook
  • Valerie: Forces of antagonism in the middle build
  • Leslie: Point of view (novel is first and third person; film feels like neutral omniscient) and narrative device (novel: epistolary, collection of written materials by some entity).
  • Anne: Novel to film adaptations

The listener question concerns the act-level crisis question.

Click here for the show notes.

3. Whiplash

Valerie bangs the drum in this episode for the importance of powerful forces of antagonism as the Roundtablers examine 2014’s Whiplash, written and directed by Damien Chazelle.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Performance. 

Topics

  • Valerie: Forces of antagonism
  • Leslie: Point of view (objective omniscient) and narrative device (a former music student who wants to help young students make wise choices about their training)
  • Kim: Universal human values in the beginning hook
  • Anne: Objects of desire

The listener question concerns the core emotion in a Performance story.

Click here for the show notes.

4. “Wolves of Karelia”

The Roundtablers take on a whole new question in this episode as Anne starts her study of how modern short stories work. We analyze Arna Bontemps Hemenway’s 5200-word tale of love and war, “Wolves of Karelia,” published in August, 2019 in The Atlantic.

Genre: Anne identified the global genre as Status-Tragic.

Topics

  • Anne: How short stories work
  • Leslie: Point of view (first person past tense) and narrative device (as if Simo is telling his story and simultaneously thinking about it in the context of an interview)
  • Kim: Story beginnings, establishing universal human values
  • Valerie: Forces of antagonism

Listener question, how to use the foolscap to plot a complicated story with multiple lead characters and plotlines?

Click here for the show notes.

5. “The Bear Came over the Mountain”

It’s another wintry story in this episode as I continue her exploration of point of view and narrative device in Alice Munro’s 1999 short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” and Away From Her, the 2006 Sarah Polley film adapted from it.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Morality-Testing Triumph with a secondary external Marriage Love Story.

  • Leslie: Point of view (neutral omniscient) and narrative device (as if a provider at the care home wanted to share a story to enlighten family members about their situation)
  • Kim: Creating a crisis
  • Anne: How the opening scene reveals the whole meaning of the story
  • Valerie: Editor’s Six Core Questions analysis

The listener question concerns how to improve flimsy characters.

Click here for the show notes.

6. Silver Linings Playbook

The Roundtablers find more cloud than silver lining in in this episode’s entry, as Kim looks at establishing universal human values in your opening scenes with Silver Linings Playbook, both the 2008 novel by Matthew Quick and its 2012 film adaptation by David O. Russell.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Worldview-Maturation with Love, Performance, and Society-Domestic external plots.

Topics

  • Kim: Crafting an intentional beginning
  • Anne: Fifteen or twenty spinal scenes 
  • Leslie: Point of view (novel is first person, present tense, film feels like selective omniscience from Pat’s perspective until the midpoint when it begins to feel like neutral omniscience) and narrative device (the novel is Pat’s daily memoir, the film doesn’t seem to have a narrative device)
  • Valerie: Narrative drive and empathy

The listener question concerns how to balance two protagonists.

Click here for the show notes.

7. Blade Runner

Valerie leads the team into the dystopian future of 2019, to examine the forces of antagonism in Ridley Scott’s 1982 science fiction noir classic, Blade Runner. Loosely adapted from Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the screenplay was written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as a Thriller, Kim suggests the global genre might be Crime-Noir, I’ve concluded it’s Worldview-Education.

Topics

  • Valerie: Forces of antagonism and empathy
  • Anne: Problems with the story spine
  • Kim: Cautionary tale in creating subtext
  • Leslie: Point of view (voiceover suggests first person, novel uses editorial omniscient) and narrative (as if Deckard tells his story in the film to other men in similar situations)

The listener question concerns turning points and value shifts in the spreadsheet.

Click here for the show notes.

8. “Pilgrims”

Anne’s short story choice in this episode might be a little too short. Join the Roundtablers as they hash out the issue with Elizabeth Gilbert’s famously reduced  “Pilgrims” (1993).

Genre: Anne identified the global genre as Worldview-Education.

Topics

  • Anne: Short story structure
  • Kim: Uncovering genre conventions and obligatory moments
  • Valerie: Fundamentals of storytelling
  • Leslie: Shattering moments in short stories, point of view (first person/I as protagonist), and narrative device (as if Buck is telling a story around the campfire)

The listener question concerns how to identify global genre between competing ones in a masterwork. 

Click here for the show notes.

9. “Waters of Versailles”

It’s wet, it’s wild, and it’s decadent in this episode as Leslie leads the Roundtablers through Kelly Robson’s Nebula-award-nominated novella, “Waters of Versailles,” a status story with a fantasy historical setting in the French court of the 18th century.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Status-Tragic with a secondary Performance Story. Valerie suggested Worldview-Revelation, and Anne considered Status-Sentimental.

Topics

  • Leslie: Point of view (selective omniscience) and narrative device (experiential replay of memories as if Sylvain is trying to understand how he extricated himself from an unhappy situation)
  • Kim: Universal human values through conventions and obligatory moments
  • Valerie: Forces of antagonism
  • Anne: Why choose Novella length?

The listener question concerns core values and universal human values in scenes.

Click here for the show notes.

10. Brooklyn

In a rare convergence of taste, all four Roundtablers loved in this episode’s story, Brooklyn, and derived masses of actionable story advice from it. This 2015 film was directed by James Crowley from a screenplay that Nick Hornby adapted from  Colm Tóibín’s 2008 novel of the same name.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Status-Sentimental with secondary Courtship Love Story.

Topics

  • Kim: Establishing universal human values through setting
  • Valerie: Forces of antagonism
  • Anne: Scene types
  • Leslie: Point of view (novel is selective omniscience) and narrative device (as if Eilis is trying to make sense of circumstances so she can make a decision)

The listener question concerns the reward and all is lost moments in the heroic journey.

Click here for the show notes.

11. Mrs. Doubtfire

The Roundtablers try to figure out what’s good storytelling and what’s just Robin Williams in this episode as Valerie pitches the 1993 comedy Mrs. Doubtfire in her quest to understand how society itself acts as a force of antagonism. The film was directed by Chris Columbus from a script by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, and based on the 1987 middle-grade novel Alias Madam Doubtfire by Anne Fine.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Performance with Worldview-Maturation internal genre. Kim sees a Status genre for Daniel, Worldview-Maturation for Miranda, and possibly Society-Domestic for the external

Topics

  • Valerie: Forces of Antagonism: Society
  • Kim: Establishing plausibility or credibility in your beginning
  • Anne: Objects of desire
  • Leslie: Point of view (third person-dramatic mode) and narrative device (as if kids present a play to remind their parents of what’s important)

The listener question concerns how to use Story Grid tools to critique a chapter or short story.

Click here for the show notes.

12. “A Private Experience”

We journey to the riot-torn streets of Kano, Nigeria in this episode as we analyze Anne’s short story pick, “A Private Experience,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. in this episode, Anne  looks at Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “A Private Experience,” in order to study the short story and what makes it tick. This 2008 short story of just over 4000 words was originally published in The Guardian, and is available to read online for free

Genre: Anne identified the global genre as Worldview.

Topics

  • Anne: Short story
  • Valerie: Short stories and vignettes
  • Kim: Indicating universal human values through word choice and situations
  • Leslie: Point of view (Selective omniscience) and narrative device (as if Chika is trying to make sense of what’s happened)

The listener question concerns the Foolscap and three-act structure.

Click here for the show notes.

Season Seven

In our seventh season, we were down to three. Valerie focused on the hook, build, and payoff (what they are and how they work, applying the three-act structure to stories & ); Kim explored core events, particularly those of the esteem tank genres, and I continued my obsessive exploration of point of view and narrative device. Click here for the trailer.

1. Howards End

This week, Kim looks at core events in the context of E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End and the 1992 film adaptation, written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and directed by James Ivory.

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Society-Domestic with a Status internal genre. 

Topics

  • Kim: Core event in Society Story
  • Valerie: Beginning, middle, and end of the story
  • Leslie: Point of view (editorial omniscience) and narrative device (as if it were conversations over tea [with epistolary elements] to help the listener see relationships in a new way) 

The listener question concerns framing devices.

Click here for the show notes.

2. Baby Driver

This week, Valerie drives home the importance of a compelling middle build in the context of the 2017 film Baby Driver, written and directed by Edgar Wright.

Genre: Valerie calls the global genre “murky” offering possibilities of Crime, Thriller, and Love Story. Kim discusses the differences between Crime and Thriller, and I concluded it’s a Thriller with Worldview-Education internal genre.

Topics

  • Valerie: Middle build in two parts
  • Kim: Core events of Crime story vs. Thriller
  • Leslie: Point of view (selective omniscience) and narrative device (as if Baby is reliving the events while in prison [complete with soundtrack] to help him maintain meaning until he can be released) 

The listener question concerns Obsession Love Story and erotic Thrillers. 

Click here for the show notes.

3. The Great Gatsby

I examine The Great Gatsby as part of my ongoing study of POV and narrative device. The novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1925 has been adapted multiple times. In addition to the novel, we reference the 2013 film directed by Baz Luhrmann from a screenplay by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Worldview-Disillusionment with secondary Obsession Love Story (see lively discussion on this topic in the comments of the show notes). 

Topics

  • Leslie: Point of view: (first person), narrative device (Nick writes the story after Gatsby’s death to try to metabolize events), and dramatic irony 
  • Valerie: Middle build in two parts 
  • Kim: Core events 

The listener question concerns how to plan sequences. 

Click here for the show notes.

4. Center Stage

Kim studies core events in the context of the 2000 film Center Stage, directed by Nicholas Hytner from a screenplay by Carol Heikkinin. 

Genre: Kim identified the global genre as Performance with secondary Status-Sentimental internal genre. 

  • Kim: Core Events of Performance and Status genres 
  • Valerie: Three-act structure with multi-protagonist stories
  • Leslie: Point of view (third person dramatic mode) and narrative device (as if watching a play written by a young dance teacher who amalgamated several events into one story) 

The listener question concerns how to track multiple POV characters in an epic story and the common structural problems that arise. 

Click here for the show notes.

5. Marriage Story

This week, Valerie looks at Marriage Story in order to study a story’s Three-Act structure. This 2019 film was written and directed by Noah Baumbach.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Love-Marriage Story with Worldview-Disillusionment internal for Charlie and Status-Sentimental for Nicole. Kim concludes the internal genre is Morality.

Topics

  • Valerie: Beginning, Middle, End
  • Kim: Core Event for Marriage Love Story and Morality
  • Leslie: Point of view (neutral omniscience) and narrative device (as if someone like Nicole or Charlie writes story after fully metabolizing the divorce to help others in a similar situation face conflict)

The listener question concerns using Story Grid tools to plot a novel.

Click here for the show notes.

6. Ragtime

Gain a new perspective on history and point of view as the Roundtablers analyze E. L. Doctorow’s 1975 novel, Ragtime. The 1981 film based on the novel was directed by Miloš Forman from a screenplay by Michael Weller and Bo Goldman.

Genre: I identified the global genre as Society-Historical.

Topics

  • Leslie: Point of view (editorial omniscience) and narrative device (as if little boy alone or with little girl tell the story of events in the distant past)  
  • Valerie: Beginning, middle, and end
  • Kim: Core Event of Society Story

The listener question concerns how to tell if you’re on track when you you don’t have an editor. 

Click here for the show notes.

7. Fried Green Tomatoes

In this episode, the Roundtablers examine the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, directed by Jon Avnet from a screenplay by Fannie Flagg and Carol Sobieski. It was based on the 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg.

Genre: Kim spotted several potential genres including Society, Crime, or Status. She decided it feels most like Status and Society. I concluded the global genre is Worldview-Education, which I notice is often the case when we have multiple external genres that are a little hard to pin down (see Passengers, Blade Runner, Baby Driver, or Jupiter Ascending). 

Topics

  • Kim: Core events
  • Valerie: Framing or nested story structure
  • Leslie: Point of view (multiple components, neutral omniscience and first person) and narrative device (as if someone like the author wove these stories from a box of clippings, letters, and photos)

The listener question concerns how the protagonist embodies the theme of the story and the part the antagonist plays.  

Click here for the show notes.

8. The Imitation Game

This week, Valerie looks at The Imitation Game in order to study how to integrate a framing story into a global story. This 2014 film was directed by Morten Tyldum from a screenplay by Graham Moore. It was based on the 1983 biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.

Genre: Valerie identified the global genre as Performance global with Status Admiration internal and Crime and Love Story subplots. The framing story is Crime with Worldview-Education internal. Kim concluded the global is Status-Admiration..

  • Valerie: How to integrate a framing story into the global story
  • Kim: Core Event of Status Story
  • Leslie: Point of view (present interview with Nock is in first person, and Turing’s memories from the past are in selective omniscient) and narrative device (Alan Turing tells his story so that he can be released and allowed to continue his work)

The listener question concerns our individual process for revision.

Click here for the show notes.

9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

For the final story of the season, I pitched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in order to study point of view and narrative device. The novel by J.K. Rowling was published in 2005. The film based on the novel was released in 2009 and was directed by David Yates with screenplay by Steve Kloves. 

Genre: I identified the global genre as Action-Epic Savior plot with secondary internal Worldview-Maturation.

  • Leslie: Point of view (in the novel, selective omniscience with instances of neutral and editorial omniscience)and narrative device (as if someone used a pensieve with a great collection of memories to help young people facing life-threatening situations as  well as the usual challenges that come with adolescence) 
  • Valerie: Beginning, middle, and end
  • Kim: Core event of Action Story 

Click here for the show notes.

Bite Size Episodes

In the bite-size episodes, we bring you some shorter articles and interviews on topics that interest us as writers and editors.

Thawing the Fiction Freeze

It’s 20 minutes of help for frozen writers this time as Anne brings you a bite-size episode on the direct path from story structure right down to the selection of details for a story that will engage, entice and enchant your readers.

Click here for the show notes.

Internal Genres

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Kim Kessler and Leslie Watts bring you a bite-size episode on internal genres.

Click here for the show notes.

Essential Action (now Tactic)

Leslie and Anne’s Story Grid Investigation Team has been on the case, and today we uncover Essential Tactic (formerly essential action), a great tool for evaluating the conflict in your scenes. 

Click here for the show notes.

Spreadsheet: The Giant Tamer

It’s 20 minutes of brain-changing inspiration this time as Anne brings you a bite-size episode on how the Story Grid spreadsheet helped her write a better novel.

Click here for the show notes.

Shawn on Reading

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you are not well-read enough.” 

It’s 20 minutes of professional inspiration for writers and editors this time as the Roundtablers interview Shawn Coyne on the critical importance of reading more widely and deeply.

Click here for the show notes.

Too Much Information

What is exposition, and why should novelists be leery of it? Turns out there’s brain science behind “Show Don’t Tell.” Editor Anne Hawley lays it all out in this 20-minute Bite Size Edition.

Click here for the show notes.

Vetting Your Book Idea

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Kim Kessler bring you a bite-size episode on Vetting Your Book Idea.

Click here for the show notes.

Value Shift 101

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Valerie Francis brings you a bite-size episode on Value Shift.

Click here for the show notes.

How to Plan a Novel

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Jarie Bolander bring you a bite-size episode on how to plan a novel.

Click here for the show notes.

It’s Always Today

It’s 10 minutes of deep insight into the writer’s habits and mindset as Valerie brings you a bite-size episode about daily writing targets and our old friend, Resistance.

Click here for the show notes.

Cause and Effect

It’s 15 minutes of deep insight this time as Leslie Watts brings you a bite-size episode on Cause and Effect.

Click here for the show notes.

Objects of Desire

It’s 15 minutes of Story Grid 101 this time as Anne Hawley brings you a bite-size episode on the fourth of the Editor’s Six Core Questions: Objects of Desire.

Click here for the show notes.

Genre

It’s 20 minutes of Story Grid 101 insight and chat this time as Anne and guest editor Rachelle Ramirez bring you a bite-size episode on some basics of Genre.

Click here for the show notes.

Beginning, Middle, End

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight as Valerie Francis brings you a bite-size episode on the Beginning, Middle and End of a story.

Click here for the show notes.

Becoming an Editor

It’s 20 minutes of chat and fun this time as Kim Kessler and new Story Grid Certified Editor Danielle Kiowski bring you a bite-size episode on what it’s like to become an editor.

Click here for the show notes.

Choosing Your Point of View

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Leslie Watts brings you a bite-size episode on how to choose your point of view.

Click here for the show notes.

Conventions and Obligatory Scenes

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Kim Kessler brings you a bite-size episode on the truth behind Conventions and Obligatory Scenes.

Click here for the show notes.

How to Analyze a Scene

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Valerie Francis and Leslie Watts bring you a bite-size episode on how to analyze a scene.

Click here for the show notes.

Anne Learns to Write

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Anne brings you a bite-size episode on how, after writing for five decades, she has finally learned to write.

Click here for the show notes.

Why You Need a Masterwork

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Valerie Francis and Leslie Watts bring you a bite-size episode on why you need a masterwork.

Click here for the show notes.

P10 Analysis of Whiplash 

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Valerie Francis and Leslie Watts bring you a bite-size episode all about the progressive complications and escalating stakes of Whiplash.

Click here for the show notes.

Character Development

It’s 20 minutes of insight this time as Valerie Francis and Leslie Watts bring you a bite-size episode on character development.

Click here for the show notes.

Nonfiction Seminar

It’s 20 minutes of insight this time as Valerie Francis and Leslie Watts bring you a bite-size episode on Big Idea Nonfiction.

Click here for the show notes.

Shawn on Short Stories

It’s 20 minutes of deep insight this time as Valerie Francis and Shawn Coyne bring you a bite-size episode on short stories.

Click here for the show notes.

Power of Past and Present

It’s 20 minutes of insight this time as Kim Kessler and Anne Hawley bring you a bite-size episode on the power of past and present.

Click here for the show notes.

Big Idea Nonfiction with Shelley Sperry

It’s 30 minutes of insight this time as Leslie Watts and Shelley Sperry bring you a bite-size episode on Big Idea Nonfiction.

Click here for the show notes.

Power of Past and Present Part 2 

It’s 20 minutes of insight this time as Kim Kessler chats with Anne Hawley about the power of past and present.

Click here for the show notes.

Marriage Story Scene Analysis

It’s 30 minutes of deep insight as Valerie Francis and Leslie Watts bring you a bite-size episode on analyzing a scene, with an example from Marriage Story.

Click here for the show notes.

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About the Author

Leslie Watts is a certified Story Grid editor, writer, and podcaster. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember: from her sixth-grade magazine about cats to writing practice while drafting opinions for an appellate court judge. When the dust settled after her children were born, she launched www.Writership.com to help writers unearth the treasure in their manuscripts. She believes writers become better storytellers through practice, and that editors owe a duty of care to help writers with specific and supportive guidance to meet reader expectations and express their unique gifts in the world.
Story Grid 101: The Five First Principles of the Story Grid Methodology
by Shawn Coyne
What are the first principles in writing a story that works? At Story Grid, it’s easy to get distracted by the tools, spreadsheets, commandments, macro lense, micro lense, and on... Read more »
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Comments
Author Leslie Watts

4 Comments

Jonathan Berman says:

Well, have been around for the ride since the get-go, and so very much appreciated the minute, incisive, and voluminous amount of work put into each of the episodes. Everyones’ skill and dedication were manifest throughout. Really, thanks so much.

And thanks to Leslie for corralling the sprawling body of knowledge produced throughout the run.

Best of luck to everyone in their current and future endeavors, and looking forward to what’s next!

Reply
Leslie Watts says:

Thanks, Jonathan! I’m so pleased the podcast has been supportive of your journey!

Reply
Krista Adams says:

What an incredible body of work. Kudos to all of you. I’ve learned so much from listening to you all. Looking forward to the next incarnation.

Reply
Leslie Watts says:

Thanks, Krista! It’s been a fun way to add structure and accountability in my own studies. I’m so glad it’s been useful for you too!

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