Story Nerd Episodes

April 17, 2024

Left-brained stories (mysteries, crime thrillers, spy stories) are among the highest selling books on the market today. Readers can’t get enough of them, and that means the bar for authors is really high because we have to create a puzzle that our readers haven’t seen before. Add to this the fact that the fundamentals of

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April 3, 2024

Now this is the epitome of a left-brained story. THE LAST OF SHEILA has puzzles within puzzles, an intricate plot that has been expertly set up, and a cast of characters who aren’t who they seem to me. There are so many amazing things about it, I hardly know which of them to highlight for

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March 27, 2024

This film offers two hugely valuable lessons to writers of all genres. The first is about the inciting incident and when it needs to happen. The second is about unlikeable characters and how to handle them. In Gosford Park, it’s the victim who is unlikeable and that adds an interesting dimension to the murder mystery

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March 26, 2024

In our last episode about our most embarrassing literary moments, Melanie and I said that line writing (or prose writing) means learning to write a narrative. We also said that there are specific techniques involved in writing a narrative, but we didn’t say what any of them are. So that’s the purpose of this little

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March 23, 2024

No one is born knowing how to write great prose. Like any other kind of specialized writing (ex., newspapers, academia, web, etc.), writing prose is a particular skill that can, and must, be learned. While Melanie and I were meeting to discuss our upcoming webinar about line writing, we started to share (horror) stories from

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March 20, 2024

Readers are on a need to know basis. That means that, as storytellers, we only tell them what they need to know, and only when they need to know it. In this adaptation of John le Carre’s novel, the filmmakers could have told us everything we needed to know about Issa in the first few

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March 13, 2024

The movie had both me and Valerie on the edge of our seats. When we come across a masterful movie we pull out as much as we can for you. This episode is chock-a-block full of info about point of view, narrative drive, clues, and liars. We also examine how the twist in The Good

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March 6, 2024

A comedic take on a murder mystery had so much potential, but unfortunately, the creators of SEE HOW THEY RUN wasted it with what can only be described as lazy writing and lazy editing. This is what happens when the writers of murder mysteries aren’t also superfans of the genre, or when they try to

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February 28, 2024

It’s a long episode this week because there’s a whole lot to talk about in this excellent adaptation of John le Carre’s bestselling novel. Melanie gives her top tips for writing mysteries and Valerie discusses the type of protagonist we usually find in left-brained stories. One question lingered for them both: When did George Smiley

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February 14, 2024

This week Valerie and Melanie continue their study of left-brained stories. They step into the outback to discover how Australian crime writers create an atmosphere of isolation by combining plot and setting. Melanie is tracking clues, motives, and murderers’ actions to discover the techniques used to raise questions and divert attention in the story –

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February 7, 2024

It’s time for a brand new season of the show and this time around, Valerie and Melanie are studying the same topic: left-brained stories. Never heard of it before? Don’t worry. Valerie made up the term to describe any story that has a puzzle of some kind and invites the reader/audience to try to solve

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February 4, 2024

For the past two seasons Valerie has been talking about character dimension and cast design. The key to understanding both concepts is to recognize that a person isn’t a uniform, constant creature. A person’s behaviour changes depending on the situation she finds herself in and the people she finds herself interacting with. In this brief

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January 31, 2024

This week Valerie and Melanie round up their a-ha moments and the lessons they’ve learned over the past ten episodes. What are their key takeaways wrt creating conflict in a story? How can you design a cast that supports both the main character’s development and the plot? Tune in to find out!

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