Podcast Series Ep 3: Two Motivational Podcasts to Kick Start Your Writing

Writing can be hard. It’s a solitary, isolating profession and sometimes we need a pick me up. These two podcasts accomplish that in their own ways.

Having a cheerleader, even if it’s through the speakers of your computer, headphones, or car as you commute, is vital to the self-esteem of a writer. While we may have our characters we hang out with daily, writing can still be a lonely endeavor.

I’ve listened to podcasts for many years now and part of why I love them is because they meet so many of my needs. In this episode of my Podcasts Series, I talk about two podcasts that keep me going from two different perspectives.

The Petal to the Metal – Hosted by J. Thorn and Rachael Herron

Honestly, I can’t remember how I came across this podcast. I was familiar with J. Thorn since he has worked with my author entrepreneur idol, Joanna Penn in the past. I didn’t know Rachael, even though she’s been writing for years. But I have to say that even though I can’t remember how I found them, I’m glad I did.

This weekly podcast started at the beginning of 2017, so it’s a bit younger than other podcasts I listen to. Both J and Rachael are full-time authors, living the writer’s dream. One of the things I enjoy most about this podcast is the conversation like nature to it. Instead of the polish of a formal show, it’s simply two people talking about writing. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a format. They catch up with what’s going on with each other and then they move on to the question of the week. One will come up with a question for the other that has to do with their writing process, writing goals, or anything else in regards to the writing journey.

The camaraderie between these two is fun to hear and I have found myself laughing along with them. What makes The Petal to the Metal motivational is to hear two writers making a living at writing and be truthful about the world of it. They are cheerleaders for each other. Because it isn’t an easy business, but it is worth it if you have someone to motivate and inspire you.  When I listen to them, they remind me to stay the course and never give up.

Length: 20-30 minutes long depending on the topic.

Find them at http://thepetaltothemetal.com/

The Journeyman Writer – Hosted by Alastair Stephens

Full disclosure that makes me sad: this podcast is no longer producing new shows. It was owned by an organization called Story Wonk and earlier this year, the couple that ran it divorced. However, they continue to maintain the website where the podcasts are and you can still find all 235 episodes on any podcast app you use.

Fortunately, the craft of writing is evergreen, so the discussions and teachings that Alastair imparted can still be used. I found this podcast to be one of the better ones to explain writing craft. He uses a lot of cinema to help explain craft for writing novels and for me, it helped connect the dots. Mindset, productivity, publishing, Nanowrimo are just a few of the things he discussed on the show. And each show is short and sweet, which I appreciated so as not to overwhelm me.

The Journeyman Writer is motivating in the fact that he breaks down the craft in bite size pieces. It makes you feel like not only could you write a book, but you could write a book well and actually learn the craft.

The fact that he has a fun Scottish accent is just a bonus. 🙂

If you listen to The Journeyman Writer and love it like I did, I have good news. While that particular show may be over, I found out that he has recently started a new craft podcast called The Narrative Beat. I haven’t listened to it yet, but now that I know it exists, I plan to check it out as soon as possible. Check back in a couple of months and I’ll have a review of it.

Length: 5-10 minutes depending on the topic.

Find the old episodes at https://storywonk.com/category/podcasts/the-journeyman-writer/

Find Alastair and The Narrative Beat at http://pointnorthmedia.com/

As I always say, there are a ton of podcasts out there and these are only my opinion. But whether or not one of these or a different one helps you, podcasts are one more medium that can help writers on their journey in a number of ways.

where to buy valtrex over the counter What are some of the ways you look to others for motivation? Do you have another podcast you’d like to share that has kickstarted your writing somehow? Share with me and drop a comment below!

Happy Writing!

The Four Types of Character Arcs

An arc gives a character dimension and texture. Here are four types to bring your character to life.

What is a character arc and why is it important?

Think about yourself. You aren’t the same person you’ve always been in every way. At some point, you were one person then experienced something (went to college, got your heartbroken, had a baby, etc.) that changed you perspective or changed you completely.

That, my friend, is an arc.

As to the why?

Without an arc, your protagonist would be one dimensional and boring. Readers need to care about your characters. If they are flat and lifeless, readers will move on to some other hero/heroine.

With an arc, readers go on the journey with the character through their ups and downs, their fatal flaws, and in the end, the reader will feel complete.

A few months ago when I was working on character development, I was having a bit of trouble with my arc. I knew about the dominant “hero’s journey” arc, but honestly, I didn’t think it fit my character. This left me frustrated and unsure of how much I actually knew my character.

I started researching character arcs and found that there are two basic types of character arcs:

      • The kind that positively change your character
      • The kind that negatively change your character.

Most characters change from the beginning to the end, right? Whether they live or die tells us the difference.

Sure. But if you really want to bring your characters to life, you’re going to need to give them some depth and texture.

Digging deeper, character arcs are actually broken down into four main types. Many will say that there are only three with one being a sub-arc of sorts from one of the main ones. But I prefer to give it it’s own credit because, although slight, it is there.

There may be some extremes to the arcs (think Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies or The Bride from the Kill Bill movies, one of my favorite character arcs), but they all stem from the main four arcs.

1 – The Change or Transformation Arc

The change/transformation arc is the most common of positive arcs. We’ve seen it a thousand times in the “hero’s journey”. The protagonist changes significantly in some way. They are set along a path that brings out hidden talents or strengths, causing them to go from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

By the end of the story, the protagonist is the hero and their world is forever and irrevocably changed.

Example: Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy

2 – The Growth or Progressive Arc

The growth/progressive arc is another popular arc where the character remains much the same, but overcomes a conflict that makes them better. In the growth/progressive arc, our hero/heroine overcomes an obstacle that is within themselves.

Usually there is an external catalyst that rocks their world where they are forced to use their talents or strengths that may have always been within them, but suppressed for their own reasons. The protagonist has fundamentally stayed the same, but they are a new and improved version of themselves.

Example: Red in The Shawshank Redemption

3 – The Shift or Altered Arc

This is the aforementioned subtle arc. The character hasn’t transformed or been made better. But their set of circumstances has made them a different person. The shift/altered arc is slight, but there. The protagonist may have acquired a new position, gained new perspective, or discovered old, forgotten talents or strengths.  This differs in the fact that they know they have them (unlike the change arc) but forgotten them, not repressed them (as with the growth arc).

The character is the same, but different.

Example: Indiana Jones in any of the Indiana Jones movies

4 – The Fall/Descent Arc

The fall/descent arc is our negative arc. It is common to tragedies that lead to the downfall of the protagonist. The arc follows the character along their collision course to failure, corruption, or even death. It can be an internal or external downfall.

The fall/descent arc is a tricky one because it can depress readers, especially if it comes off a gratuitous downfall.

Either way, our protagonist ends up in a place worse off than when they started.

Example: Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas

It may appear that the positive arcs are one and the same. Don’t get hung up on the vocabulary. It is important to understand that while they may seem similar on the surface, the change is a different level for each one. Change and growth may be synonyms, but to say they imply the same thing would cheat your characters out of who they were meant to be.


buy Depakote in usa What do you think of the examples above? What are some of the best character arcs you can recall?  Does identifying a character arc help you understand your characters?

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Happy Writing!

How to Create Enriching Characters Using Ennegrams

Creating compelling characters draw readers in from the beginning. Ennegrams are one way to get the job done.

A few weeks ago, I was working with my group of trusted betas on my current manuscript. I was getting great feedback, which was a relief.

Then one of them asked me, “What is the male protagonist’s fatal flaw?”

After a pause, I was able to launch into what I believed it to be. But as I spoke, it didn’t sound real to my own ears.

Even after the meeting, that question plagued me as I continued to write this character. Fatal flaw…hmm. He’s a good guy, but is he too good? He did screw up years before and is still paying for it. Was that his fatal flaw? I was beginning to wonder if I could see the forest for the trees when it came to this character.

And did he really need a fatal flaw? Wasn’t a regular flaw good enough?

To write an excellent character, they should be real and the reader should care about them. They should have strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. They also have goals and motivations. No one, in real life or fiction, does anything without motivation of some sort.

What motivates someone to get what they want tells us about their personalities. In fiction, for a character to evolve, they need to resolve a conflict. Which is why we writers need to find a fatal flaw in our characters.

So yeah, my character was going to need a fatal flaw.

In the world of psychology, counselors have studied personalities in humans for centuries and continue to do so. But they have narrowed down personalities to fit into nine categories. Using “ennea” which means “nine” in Greek, they call these traits “enneagrams”. For writers, it can aid in characterization to know which one of these your character exhibits. And then exploit it to bring them to life.

Laurie Campbell is a romance writer that holds workshops on creating fatal flaws. As a former counseling therapist, she is somewhat of an expert in this area so I studied up on what she had to say.

Here’s a quick rundown of what each of the nine personalities are and their corresponding fatal flaws:

Type One: Perfectionist/AngerType ones have high standards for everyone around them, including themselves. They live in a black and white world and do their very best to avoid criticism.

On the flip side, their fatal flaw, anger, can bring about hard feelings towards themselves or others. They can be considered hard because when perfection isn’t achieved or even strived for, type ones show their disappointment through anger.

Type Two: Nurturer/PrideType twos need to be needed. They tend to be a bit of a martyr, frequently giving up everything for everyone else. This can lead to hurt feelings and yet they will continue to give.

Their fatal flaw is pride. Unfortunately, pride can make them weak instead of the pillar of strength they like to think they are by giving, giving, giving.

Type Three: Achiever/DeceptionType threes are very self-aware of their image to the world. They’re always “on” no matter the situation. They live to succeed and failure is not an option. Threes tend to be firstborn or even only children.

Given their need to appear successful all the time, threes fatal flaw is deception. They wear a mask to hide anything that isn’t “right” and keep up the façade at all costs.

Type Four: Romantic/Envy – Type fours are the romantics, the artists. They feel everything and in a big sweeping way. Big ups, big downs. Drama, tragedy, love. They search out these big feelings in order not to feel ordinary.

In spite of Fours loving tragedy and big feelings, they are often times left with feelings of envy. That everyone else has it bigger and better than they do. This keeps Fours from being truly happy.

Type Five: Observer/Avarice – Fives enjoy their alone time. They like to think and stay below the radar. Many people would call Fives introverts, but there is a lot more to the introvert than simply staying to themselves.

Fives have to learn to be more giving of their time, open up to others. Something that they really don’t want to do.

Type Six: Skeptic/FearSixes are steady. They worry about the ones they love and want to keep them safe. And will do what they need to in order to keep them that way, even if it means breaking some rules.

But by burdening themselves with worry, they tend to walk around worried where the next danger to their loved ones is going to come from and what they will do to handle it.

Type Seven: Adventurer/GluttonySevens are always looking for the next exciting thing. They love to make plans and not be tied down. They get their rush from moving to the next thing.

But always being on the move and keeping their options open can eventually lead them to a sense of aimlessness and realizing that at some point in life they have to commit to something or someone can be a hard lesson to learn.

Type Eight: Leader/LustEights are the natural born leaders. They take control and expect others to fall in line with them. They look out for what they perceive to be weak, which can be met with some resistance.

Source: https://media.giphy.com/media/ A9grgCQ0Dm012/giphy.gif

Their biggest flaw is their lust for power, control, to have the “my way or the highway” mentality. Eights can be heroic, but eights can also find themselves in for a fight, especially if they come across another eight!

And finally…

Type Nine: Peacemaker/SlothNines will never rock the boat. They want to float through life on a comfortable cloud where everyone gets along and when unpleasantness comes to pass, they sweep it under the rug. But life doesn’t work that way, even for themselves.

Their fatal flaw, sloth, leaves them ill-equipped to deal with any pent-up anger they may have for going with the flow one too many times or to make a decision when pressed.

By understanding who your character’s personality is (my guy ended up being a number seven), exploring their fatal flaw ramps up the tension and conflict. Knowing them will keep you from have two peacemakers together who never make a decision about anything and nothing ever gets done.

Because without conflict, you have no story. No depth, no texture to the characters or their relationships.

Fatal flaws are an essential cornerstone to making your character real and not so perfect. None of us are perfect and neither are our characters.

Even the best set of abs needs a personality.

So how do you find out your character’s fatal flaws? Do you recognize any of your characters in these nine types?

Comment below and let me hear from you!

Happy Writing!