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Secrets of Story Podcast
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Secrets of Story Podcast

Author: Matt Bird and James Kennedy

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Podcast by Matt Bird and James Kennedy
28 Episodes
Matt and James examine James's first novel to see if it matches some of the writing rules we've discussed over the years.
Last episode's guest Lou Anders returns with more storytelling tricks, including a way to break your story into four quarters: Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, and Martyr.
Matt and James welcome the delightful novelist Lou Anders who expands on Head Heart Gut with a list of eight archetypes hiding in many great stories.
Episode 25: Cult Thinking

Episode 25: Cult Thinking


James has an elaborate theory about how writing is like cult indoctrination. Matt tries to keep up.
Parker Peevyhouse returns to ask about when a character should break their own rules, which results in discussion of The Mandalorian, Knives Out, and whether superhero movies suck. Check out this blog post we cite a few times:
We’re back! Matt and James have a rousing discussion of Head, Heart and Gut (And Spleen, and Groin, and Spirit, and a zillion other permutations…) Read more about and see neat charts here:
James has advice for writing opening scenes and Matt basically agrees with him for once. Plus, James almost gets hit by a meteor and Matt sings the praises of Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Returning guest Jonathan Auxier stops by to discuss franchise finales, because he's about to write one himself. It's another long one!
Do writers lose something when they actually learn to write? In this episode, James and Matt look at the script that got Matt signed and consider that question. If you want, you can download the script at and read along at home!
Matt and James discuss Matt's upcoming book and debate about lots of things. And, inevitably, James tosses off two more 'E's.
James and Matt discuss endings and a video by Michael Arndt (, plus a bonus pun!
James has two more E's for us, and the long-awaited return of Free Story Ideas ...sort of.
James still wants to add to Believe Care Invest. He pitches Isolation (appropriately enough) and then five tricks all starting with E. Can he convince Matt?
Acclaimed Novelist Parker Peevyhouse stops by and she's got a question: Should novelists follow screenwriting advice? Much debate is had!
James gives Matt some good advice on a Free Story Idea, so Matt turns it onto a beatsheet and submits it to James' judgment. Lots of Yes-Anding!
James tries to convince Matt that every great ending has a "Moment of Grace" where the hero submits to a higher power. Matt is skeptical.
Matt and James discuss the power and peril of Hollywoodizing various examples of sci-fi short fiction. Long but fun!
Should heroes primarily pursue their own self interest? Matt and James debate the issue with special guest Geoff Betts, and James pitches a deranged update of "Annie"
Special guest Jonathan Auxier returns to the program to give us some pushback on our last three episodes (Listen to those first!) And after you've listened to this, check out this follow-up blog post:
Must all protagonists be active? James says no! ...At least, not at first.
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