Episode 36: Save the Cat with Sophie Beal and Gary Dalkin

The Secrets of Story Podcast is back, baby! We recorded an episode a while ago that turned out so poorly that it led to a falling out, but now we’ve canned that episode and we have a bright, shiny new episode that went much better. This episode, we welcome two very special guests! Sophie Beal is the Co-Director and Founder of Cadence Publishing, and Gary Dalkin is the Senior Associate Editor with Cadence Publishing and a freelance editor at To The Last Word. They have an article in the upcoming issue of Writing where they’ll debate the merits of Blake Snyder’s infamous book of writing advice, “Save the Cat”. They offered to preview that article here and the four of us have a good time hashing it out.

Meanwhile, Sophie and Gary ask you to check out “Sold”, their latest book from Cadence Publishing. The log line: “Fifteen-year-old Roza thinks she's leaving Albania for better things in the UK. But her dad has sold her as a slave. Whatever it takes, she has to break free.” 

And of course you should check out James’s latest novel “Dare to Know”!

And you can pre-order my new book, “The Secrets of Character: Writing a Hero Anyone Will Love”, which is sort of book-long rebuttal to the titular advice in “Save the Cat”.


Episode 33: Niceness, Apologies and PTSD

It’s time for a new episode of “The Secrets of Story Podcast”! (I love annoying James by putting the punctuation outside the quotations, where it belongs.) In this episode, we check back in on a prediction that James made four years ago back in episode 4 that stories would start getting nicer. As it turns out, “Ted Lasso” proves him right!


Episode 31: Irony

Welcome back to the Secrets of Story Podcast! James and I have both had epic vacations, so we’re rested and ready and raring to go. For this episode, we got into a long, unproductive, and very contentious discussion about whether comedy ages well, but I snipped all that out, so you get 69 minutes of sweetness and light as we discuss Irony in Casablanca, Blazing Saddles and Mulan!

Here’s the video I did about Irony in Mulan, so you can see some of these in action:

Episode 30: Genre, Burgers, and Alien

Just two weeks later, here’s another episode of “The Secrets of Story Podcast”! We’ll try to stick to a biweekly strategy for a while, alternating with “Marvel Reread Club” on the alternate Fridays.

And hey starting on Monday, I’ll embark on a major new project on Mondays through Thursdays, so you’ll have five days a week of posts for a while!

Today’s episode was extricated from the previous episode. This is the discussion Jonathan Auxier wanted to have, but we ended up having a different discussion about the Sayers triangle that broke off and became its own episode.  Now we can present Jonathan’s original idea about genre, how it is like burgers, and what this all has to do with the movie Alien. James then high-roads us with some classical music cues.

Episode 29: Author Draft, Artifact Draft, Audience Draft

The Secrets of Story Podcast is back! Sorry for the long delay-- I promise it’s not because I’ve been distracted by my shiny new podcast (Marvel Reread Club), this episode just took a lot of effort to make happen. In the end, just like the last two episodes of MRC, we had enough material from this SOS recording session to make two episodes. In this case, it was trickier, because our conversation with Jonathan Auxier jumped back and forth between two topics, each of which deserved their own episode, so I had to carefully disentangle them to become episodes 29 and 30.

Here is the first of those episodes, and it’s a doozie! Jonathan introduces the idea of the “Sayers Triangle”, which basically boils down to this: Everything you write needs an Author Draft, an Artifact Draft, and an Audience Draft. James and I are blown away by this, and we spend 40 minutes grappling with it.  Eventually, we end up discussing how it applies to Jonathan’s new book series “The Fabled Stables” and it all becomes clear...  


Episode 28: The Order of Odd-Fish

Hey everybody, it’s that long-promised episode of the podcast about James’s book! Ultimately, at James’s insistence, we recorded 4 ½ hours of material over two nights, and then thankfully he offered to cut it down himself, so this is the first ever James-edited episode!

Buy the book on Amazon here!

Buy the book on Audible here!

Some of the book’s fan art on James’s website, and on Instagram.

Here's a write-up of the art show. 

And finally, here’s the amazing chart James just drew up of the characters:

Episode 26: The Eight Character Wheel with Lou Anders

UPDATE: I changed the title from “Beyond Head Heart Gut” to make it clear this is a stand-alone episode. 

Hey guys, it’s a new episode of the podcast! James and I welcome the delightful novelist Lou Anders who expands on Head Heart Gut with a list of eight archetypes hiding in many great stories!  Check out Lou’s site to grab his books and RPGs!

Episode 25: Cult Thinking

Is anybody still reading this blog? We’ve got a full front page with no comments now, which may be a first. Please comment!

And I reiterate, please review the podcast on Audible, where we have no reviews.  Click on “More Options”.

Meanwhile, here’s a new episode of the podcast! James presents an elaborate theory about how storytelling is like cult indoctrination, and I try to keep up.

Here’s that video essay about the movie Midsommar James talks about:

And here's the list he's discussing:

1. Find the vulnerable target
2. Invite the Target to an innocuous event
3. Cut the target off from outside influences
4. Lovebomb the target; dangle the Prize in front of the Target
5. Extract an agreement from the Target that they want the prize
6. Shut down dissent by threatening to withhold the prize, iterating between carrot and stick
7. Arouse guilt in them and lead them to self-betrayal
8. Bring the subject to a breaking point
9. Offer leniency and clear steps to make things right: compulsion of confession, channeling of guilt, action to be done.
10. Release of guilt through ritual or signficicant act
11. Progress and harmony
12. Final confession and rebirth into new community and identity

(I’m doubling up posts tomorrow so we don’t break our 31 days of BCI.)