Welcome to the
Story Nerd Podcast
A well-written story is an author’s best possible marketing strategy, but how do you know if your manuscript is any good?
Enter, story theory.
Once you understand the principles of storytelling, you won’t have to guess whether your story works; you’ll know. Better yet, when you find weaknesses, you’ll be able to fix them.
And the best news of all is that story theory isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems. There are only a handful of concepts and authors who know how to use them can write their own ticket.
On the Story Nerd Podcast, our mission is to demystify story theory so writers spend less time studying and more time writing.
Welcome to Story 101. These snappy little episodes are designed to be your quick reference guide to story theory. So for those days when you need a refresher, you can pop in and give it a listen, and then get back to writing. You've got this!
Season 1: Genre
Everything in story flows from its genre. The problem is that there is no standard definition of what genre is, or how it works. So, this season, Valerie and Melanie did a deep dive into dozens of theory concepts to find the best approach to genre for writers (because the marketing approach is very different from the writer’s approach). What they discovered may surprise you.
Season 2 : The Hero’s Gift Expressed + Forces of Antagonism
Not much has been written about The Hero’s Gift Expressed, yet it’s one of the most crucial storytelling principles to incorporate into your story. This season, Valerie explains the concept and shows how it impacts the entire story, especially the climax. Meanwhile, Melanie examines Forces of Antagonism. Your protagonist might be the most important character in your novel, but the antagonist is the second most important; without him, you don’t have a story. The best part about this season is that these two storytelling principles dovetail perfectly.
Season 3: Beginnings & Endings + Sequences
Writing a novel is a massive project, and like all big tasks a winning strategy is to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. This season, Valerie looks at two of a story's Acts (the Beginning Hook (or first Act) and the Ending Payoff (or last act)) and how they work together. And Melanie breaks the Acts down even further into Sequences.
Season 4: Middles + Subtext
This season, Valerie continues her study of a story's Act structure with a deep dive into the second Act which is called the Middle Build. What exactly does Act 2 build and how can you avoid a saggy middle in your story? Having finished her study of Sequences, Melanie is tackling a very different topic: subtext. Because characters don't always say what they mean, or mean what they say. Plus, a character's actions and behaviours also convey meaning.
Season 5: Plot Structure + Resonance
Are you writing an archplot, a miniplot or an antiplot story? Does your story have a single protagonist, or multiple protagonists? The answers to these questions will have a huge impact on the way you structure your story and in this season, Valerie will tell you why.
All new stories evolve from the stories that came before them. Understanding how to tap into a reader’s desire to revisit the stories they long for is essential to writing a book readers will love. This is the study of Resonance (recurring themes, motifs, and conventions in writing) and it's Melanie's focus this season.
Season 6: empathy + stakes
Readers must empathize with a protagonist because nobody cares about what's happening unless they care about who it's happening to. But what is empathy and how do writers create it? That's exactly what Valerie explores in this season of the podcast.
Writers are asked 'what's at stake' or told to 'raise the stakes'. So, what are stakes and why do they matter? This season, Melanie will deep dive into this widely spoken about, but little understood, topic.
MEET THE CO-HOSTS
Valerie is a writer and Certified Story Grid Editor who has studied with Robert McKee, Lisa Cron and many others. As a bona fide story nerd, Valerie has been studying stories every day since May 2017 and loves to share what she’s learned with editing clients and members of her Inner Circle. She has previously co-hosted two other writing-related podcasts, namely the Story Grid Editor Roundtable and the Story Grid Writers’ Room.
Based in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada, Valerie is currently working on her third novel. She has previously published a middle grade fantasy and an open-door romance, but this time, she’s working on a vampire thriller.
Melanie is an author, poet, Certified Story Grid Editor and member of the Institute of Professional Editors. She’s originally from Launceston, Tasmania but now lives in Brisbane, Queensland. When Melanie isn’t writing or editing, she cat-wrangles four school-aged children with her husband.
She’s currently working on her own middle grade performance story, writing a haiku a day to practice precision word choice, and she has the first draft of a spy thriller novel waiting in the wings.
Melanie has a passion for middle grade and young adult stories, spy stories, fairy tales, and she is rapidly developing a fondness for master detective novels. She combines her skills from a career as a logistics planner with story theory to help authors identified and solve plot problems.