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The Art of Semi-Fiction

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Exploring Every Corner of the Written Word

Exploring Every Corner of the Written Word


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Exploring Every Corner of the Written Word




Episode 34: Tropes, Clichés, Stereotypes, and Archetypes (Part 2)

In which Robynne and Jane continue their three-part series on tropes, clichés, stereotypes, and archetypes. In this second part, you’ll learn seven ways to avoid these ominous obstacles to accomplished authorship. You’ll learn why you should read a lot in your genre and why you need to write original plots and characters . . . and much more. While expounding their seven points, Robynne and Jane discuss shirtless sweaty hunks and flawless beauties, Shrek the Musical (and the movie), and...


Episode 33: Tropes, Clichés, Stereotypes, and Archetypes (Part 1)

In which Robynne and Jane dive into a three-part series on tropes, clichés, stereotypes, and archetypes. In this first part, you’ll get everything from detailed definitions to the pitfalls associated with these four nemeses of good writing. Intrigued? We thought you would be. And though every single writer alive has fallen prey to using one, or more, of these dastardly fiends, don’t despair! There are ways to recognize, avoid, and eliminate them from polluting or diluting your powerful...


Episode 32: Can I Write Both Fiction and Nonfiction?

In which Jane asks the burning question: can I write both fiction and nonfiction? On the way to answering that question, Jane talks about how it’s often expected that writers pick one lane and stick with it, primarily because it makes the marketing efforts a whole lot easier. But there are plenty of authors who successfully straddle both genres. Jocelyn Green, for example, has written eight historical fiction novels. But she has also published eight nonfiction books, as well. But how does...


Episode 31: Should I Be Writing Memoir?

In which Robynne and Jane discuss the ever-interesting and wildly popular topic of Memoir. Robynne points out the vast changes the last ten years have seen in the definition and popularity of memoir, as well as the specs and inherent marketability. What is a memoir today? A compelling personal narrative that is written about an event or time period in which something important happened. A NY Times best-selling author, and friend of Robynne and Jane, gets a mention as her many memoirs are...


Episode 30: Self-Editing (Part 2)

In which Robynne and Jane continue the conversation on Self-Editing. Jane’s already decided she now likes the thought of self-editing. But by the end of the episode, she absolutely loves it. Why? Because it’s easy AND effective. This go-round, on the chopping block are adverbs. They are usually markers for weak verbs. (Hint: “ly” words are often HUGE red flags for sluggish verbs. Example: she ate greedily vs. she gobbled.) Also getting the chop are stage directions … omitting unnecessary,...


Episode 29: Self-Editing (Part 1)

In which Robynne and Jane delve into the incredibly important, yet often misunderstood topic of Self-Editing. It’s such a large and important topic, however, that this is only Part 1 of a two-part series. And even then, the subject is not exhausted. Here’s something Robynne learns about Jane in the first minutes of the episode: Jane does not like self-editing. Or she didn’t. But Robynne quickly edges her to the dark side of Self-Editing Enthusiasts. And it wasn’t very hard. Self-editing is...


Episode 28: Jealousy and Envy

In which Jane and Robynne pull up their big girl britches and dive into the prickly subject of being envious of our fellow writers. Robynne reluctantly admits that, yes, in a way, she’s experienced moments of jealousy. In her defense, however, it wasn’t over an author’s ability or opportunity. What was she jealous about? Listen in! Jane then admits to her personal struggles with the green-eyed monster. She relayed a moment when she was at an Inspire workshop with multi-published author,...


Episode 27: How to Create Compelling Characters

In which Robynne and Jane talk about creating complex, compelling characters. And before you nonfiction writers tune out. This isn’t just for fiction writers … or for memoirists and narrative nonfiction writers. Everyone needs to know how to make characters sing. Robynne starts with discussing the importance of understanding the whole character you’re writing about, not just the 45-year-old man he is in your story. Knowing your character’s background, and what formed them, helps your reader...


Episode 26: Why Do You Write?

In which Jane and Robynne explore the many reasons for writing at all. Jane opens with a question to Robynne: Why do YOU write. As usual, Robynne’s answer is a little unorthodox … it’s a combination of many, many things, including a bit of a compulsion, a way to learn about herself and others, a way to process events and emotions, a way to share information and encouragement. Jane followed that up with an interesting question: would you, as a writer, still write if there were no hope of...


Episode 25: Increasing Stakes

In which Robynne and Jane dive into the many ways to increase the stakes of your fiction or narrative nonfiction. Creating some sort of tension is imperative to grab your reader’s attention (and keep it!) and these tips will help you do just that. Jane starts with a great definition of stakes: what creates conflict in your novel: spiritual, financial, physical death or loss. Robynne adds that death is a profound stake, but, really, all stakes need to be is some important conflict. Internal...


Episode 24: More Tips for Tighter, More Powerful, Writing

In which Robynne and Jane continuing their conversation on how to really tighten your writing until it’s strong, powerful, and compelling. When last we left the Dynamic Duo, they had already given a great set of tips. But, you know what? There is so much more! Did you know that the phrase “try and” is incorrect? (Should be “try to.”) And did you know that we all tend to overuse some words? For Robynne, the words “lovely” and “rubbish” way too much. Jane admits a slight addiction to “just.”...


Episode 23: Tips for Tighter, More Powerful Writing

In which Robynne and Jane talk about how to make your writing as tight, clean, focused and powerful as possible. Jane admits that she writes pretty minimalistic out of the gate, but even then, can benefit from an intentional attempt to write with efficiency and power. Robynne, on the other hand, loves words and often needs to rein a few of them in to make sure they’re serving the story or the point. Which leads us to the first (almost self-explanatory) tip: Know what you’re writing about. If...


Episode 22: Do I Need an Agent?

In which Jane and Robynne answer the burning question most writers ask at some point: do I need an agent? It’s actually not as simple as you think to make this decision, and it’s even less simple to choose the RIGHT agent. Both Jane and Robynne tell the stories of how they found and were signed by their agents. (Spoiler alert: the key to it all is relationship!) And then they dive into the pros and cons of having an agent, how to find the right one for you, and what the heck an agent even...


Episode 21: Four Common Mistakes Writers Make

In which Robynne and Jane talk, funnily enough, about some of the common mistakes writers make, especially new(ish) ones. Although most of what they talk about applies to all writers, they go a little deeper with Christian writers with the first mistake: believing that a call to writing means that you’re going to be rich and famous. Yeah, that’s not a given, and Robynne deftly explains why … and why focusing on those possible outcomes might mean you’ll miss the biggest benefits of the...


Episode 20: What is S.E.T.T.? And Why is it Important?

In which Jane ushers us into the inner sanctum of craft. First, she tests Robynne about the five senses needed in our rich fiction and creative/narrative nonfiction. Thankfully, Robynne remembered all five (note the non-hesitation when she rattled them off): touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste. Once those senses were firmly in our little brains, she pulled out the big craft guns: S.E.T.T. What’s S.E.T.T., you ask? Jane unwraps it beautifully: Senses (including all five of them is crucial...


Episode 19: Four Ways to Make Sure You DON’T Get Published

In which Robynne and Jane become super jocular (they clearly crack themselves up) as they turn one of the most asked questions in writing (How can I get published??) on its head. Here, the dynamic duo opts to unpack the four top ways NOT to get published. Robynne also drops a truth bomb about intelligence, but that’s just a bonus for you. As are Jane’s exemplary acting skills. But I digress. In this episode, all important points are covered … submission guidelines, how much to send in a...


Episode 18: The Benefits of Journaling

In which Jane dives into one of her very favorite topics: The benefits of keeping a journal. Why keep a journal? There are so many reasons … to evaluate and examine big events … to process huge emotional episodes … to generate ideas … prayer requests … devotionals … brainstorming. You get the idea. They can be all these things and more. Anne Lamott uses 3 x 5 cards, Robynne loves a combination of writing and voice recording, and Jane loves bejeweled journals. What does this have to do with...


Episode 17: Writing Conferences 101

In which Robynne waxes poetic on one of her favorite topics: Writing Conferences. She firmly believes that writing is a team event, NOT a solo sport. So, she’s particularly passionate about this topic. Northern California has a particularly rich literary environment with numerous solid conferences, workshops, etc., but there are over thirty Christian writing conferences scattered throughout North America. WCCW, ACFW, and OCW get a big plug for quality conferences on the West Coast, but...


Episode 16: Brainstorming—Dreams, Visions, and Headlines

In which Jane tackles the tricky subject of figuring out unique ways to get your creative juices flowing when you’ve finished a project and need a new direction, hit a literary wall, or are suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. So, if inspiration is eluding you, here are some interesting possible sources for your next greatest writing idea. Or starting point for a free writing session. Or some notes you need to give to your therapist. But I digress. On dreaming, we learn something...


Episode 15: The Value of Critique Groups—The One Big Thing (Part 2)

In which Robynne and Jane further their discussion about different kinds of writing groups. This time, however, they hone specifically in on critique groups. Robynne makes the VERY bold declaration that if she had to choose between BEING critiqued and critiquing others, she’d always choose critiquing others. Why? Listen in and you’ll find out! What’s more, you’ll learn what The One Big Thing is, and why it is a crucial component in a strong, effective, life-changing critique. If you don’t...