Editor Roundtable: Bite Size Edition – Season 7 Preview

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Here’s a preview of what the Roundtablers are getting ready to bring you in Season 7. Listen as Kim, Valerie, and Leslie each reveal their Season 7 focus and first story picks.


Valerie – Hook, Build, Payoff: What they are and how they work.

Hi everyone, I’m Valerie Francis and this season I’m studying the hook, build and payoff of a story. I just finished writing a Story Grid Beat on this topic so I’ve been working on this behind the scenes for a while now. 

On every episode of this podcast we give you a summary of the beginning hook, middle build and ending payoff of the story we’re studying, but this season I’m going to dive into each of these acts to examine what they are and how they work. 

How do writers hook their audiences? What does it mean to build a story, and how the heck do keep from getting lost in that middle build? And, what exactly are we paying off?

In the book I wrote for Story Grid, I do give an example of the theory in practice, and now this season, I’ll give you twelve more starting with the 2017 film Baby Driver. This is not the kind of film I’d typically watch but my goal this season is to hit as many different types of stories as possible. My daughter assures me that this movie is lots of fun and since we’ll be recording this season during the pandemic lockdown, I think “lots of fun” is just what the doctor ordered. And hey, it’s got Jon Hamm so, you know, it could be worse.

So, join me in Season 7 for my look into a story’s hook, build and payoff.

Leslie: Point of View and Narrative Device 

Hello intrepid Roundtable listeners! This is Leslie Watts. You probably know me as the editor obsessed with Point of View (POV) and Narrative Device. In the twelve stories we studied in season six, I explored POV and Narrative Device, and although I gained some useful insights, I realize I’ve only scratched the surface. So this season I’m continuing my study. Why? Because it’s through POV and Narrative Device that we create the reader’s experience, and these technical choices determine how well you transmit the story you want to tell to your reader. It’s pretty important.

Narrative device and POV together determine the perspective from which the story is told and how it’s delivered. Your choices need to work and make sense together if you’re going to deliver on the promise of your genre and the point of your story.

In my bite size episode on choosing POV, I talked about how we can write the same basic story, including the same genre, characters, events, and sometimes even the same controlling idea, but end up with a vastly different reader experience depending on the narrative device and POV we choose. That’s because the material is presented through the lens of the narrative device, which we translate into our POV choice. But other dimensions of presentation alter the reader’s experience just as much, and I want to zero in on the effect we create with these choices. 

POV isn’t only a discrete objective choice, though that’s the way it’s often presented. It’s better to think of POV as several spectrums of dimensions we use to create a specific experience or effect. Understanding the results of your POV choice will help you avoid pitfalls of poor execution but also make the process of writing your story much easier. If that isn’t enough, Shawn has said that one of the biggest stumbling blocks in stories submitted to Story Grid Publishing is POV and Narrative Device. 

So I’ll continue to explore these elements in my three story picks and in the stories my fellow Roundtablers choose. 

My first story this season is The Great Gatsby, the 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I’ll include references to the 2013 film directed by Baz Luhrmann as well). This is a first person narrative that at times reads as if it’s omniscient. It’s an excellent example of a great story executed brilliantly. I can’t wait to share insights from my focus on the effects of POV and Narrative Device choices this season. 

Kim: Core Events 

Last season I studied story beginnings, which included at various times opening scenes, beginning hooks, establishing the status quo, and inciting incidents. I did learn a lot but it was not easy and I felt like I floundered a bit. Even though I was able to document what I observed within each story, I still felt like I was missing something in the application. So that led me to shift to the other end of the story and study Core Events. My theory is that by better understanding the core event–the culmination of change and how the story ends–I can better apply what I know about beginnings. 

To understand the core event of a genre, and in a particular story, we will look at how our four core story elements are intricately connected: 

  • the human needs tank that contains the want/need
  • the global life values at stake (which represents the human needs tank)
  • the core emotion (the experience the audience expects to have)
  • and the specific obligatory moment that represents the culminating change of the genre (core event). 

My first pick this season is Howards End. This sweeping 1910 Status and Society novel by E.M. Forster was adapted to an award winning film in 1992, starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins. Stay tuned for our analysis on May 20th.

So there you have it. The first three episodes of Season 7 are coming your way. 

You might have noticed that there are only three of us this coming season. Anne has decided to move on to focus more on her writing, though we hope to see her back for a bite size episode now and then.

Your Roundtable Story Grid Editors are Valerie Francis, Kim Kessler, and Leslie Watts.

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Leslie Watts

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 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.