132 episodes

For novelists, memoirists and screenwriters who want to know how stories work so they can finish their manuscripts faster, and without frustration. Each week literary editors Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill explain the craft of storytelling using films as examples. The goal is simple: to learn from writers who have come before us...what worked well and what didn't work so well. If you want to spend more time writing your book/screenplay and less time studying story theory, this podcast is for you.

"The only thing that matters, and that ever will matter, is the story. That's it." - Tom Hanks (Oxford Union 2024)

Story Nerd Melanie Hill, Valerie Francis

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 17 Ratings

For novelists, memoirists and screenwriters who want to know how stories work so they can finish their manuscripts faster, and without frustration. Each week literary editors Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill explain the craft of storytelling using films as examples. The goal is simple: to learn from writers who have come before us...what worked well and what didn't work so well. If you want to spend more time writing your book/screenplay and less time studying story theory, this podcast is for you.

"The only thing that matters, and that ever will matter, is the story. That's it." - Tom Hanks (Oxford Union 2024)

    Our Best Advice: female characters + setups and payoffs

    Our Best Advice: female characters + setups and payoffs

    We've reached the end of another season and so we're wrapping up our best advice and a-ha moments just for you. Tune in to hear what we have to say about writing female characters and using female archetypes. We also share why it's crucial for you to use the first half of your story to set up everything that happens in the second half. (Hint: it all about brain science!) - V.

    • 30 min
    Hanna - women aren't small men

    Hanna - women aren't small men

    I have been looking forward to this episode since the start of the season. I specifically selected Hanna so we could study fight scenes and weapons handling with female characters - Hanna doesn’t disappoint. I consider aspects of female fight scenes and firing pistols. Valerie wasn’t so lucky this week. Hanna is light on story because the action scenes take up a lot of space. However she did find a strong example of another story telling principle…join us to find out what it was. - M.

    • 41 min
    Where'd You Go, Bernadette: deus ex machina

    Where'd You Go, Bernadette: deus ex machina

    Quite often, stories that don't work have more to teach us than the stories that do. Maybe Maria Semple's novel (upon which this film is based), is simply one that's challenging to adapt to the screen. Whatever the case, this move has missed the mark on some basic storytelling principles (it has too many backstory info dumps, a Deus Ex Machina, and weak narrative drive). If you want to understand the impact these things have on a story, and on the reader/viewer, this episode is for you! - V.

    • 33 min
    The Genius of Novellas

    The Genius of Novellas

    Novellas are the ace up your writerly sleeve! They enable you to practice all of the principles of storytelling in a shorter, more manageable form. That's going to make you a much better novelist because your story will be focused and you won't get lost in your manuscript. And oh, the best part? Novellas are on the rise. - V.

    *Script note: In the episode, I mention that Jenna Bush recommended two novellas in her March 2024 bookclub. That is incorrect. She recommended one — THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET (Sandra Cisneros)

    • 11 min
    Crazy Rich Asians: when the antagonist is more compelling than the protagonist

    Crazy Rich Asians: when the antagonist is more compelling than the protagonist

    Crazy Rich Asians pitches two female leads against each other - sounds excellent right? Not so fast… This should set up an epic battle of wills as one fights against traditions she doesn’t understand while the other fights to retain order and tradition. This week, I find out what happens when the protagonist doesn’t plausibly match, then surpass, the antagonist.  Valerie discusses how superficial innovation doesn’t hide questionable male characters or Asian stereotypes.

    • 44 min
    Yentil: the heroine's journey

    Yentil: the heroine's journey

    This movie was way ahead of its time. It's a brilliant example of the heroine's journey and Melanie walks us through all 10 phases as outlined in Maureen Murdock's THE HEROINE'S JOURNEY: A WOMAN'S QUEST FOR WHOLENESS. Thanks to its excellent use of setups and payoffs, it also has an ending that is both surprising and inevitable.

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

C.P Hoff ,

Oh so GOOD

I love this podcast! I don’t only learn a lot but I enjoy doing it.

Fitzbutton ,

Story Nerds that don’t feel nerdy

Instead they make the listener feel like they’re exploring new craft techniques and letter the reader learn along with them with practical tips and insights from movies.

MJLevitt ,

Informative and entertaining

Did season 1 make me question whether I have good taste in movies? Yes.

This is a super informative podcast. It’s made me think harder about my own writing. I appreciate that the hosts always remind me (and all listeners) that these tools aren’t to make us write less, but more because sometimes it can feel so overwhelming.

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