Story Grid Editors Roundtable
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This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better writer. Each week Story Grid Editors Jarie Bolander, Valerie Francis, Anne Hawley, Kim Kessler, and Leslie Watts analyze a film from one of the 12 Story Grid content genres and discuss it using the Editor’s Six Core Questions as developed by Shawn Coyne or through the lens of another story principle.

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    Bite Size Edition - Shawn on Reading

    “It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you are not well-read enough.”

    It’s 20 minutes of professional inspiration for writers and editors this time as the Roundtablers interview Shawn Coyne on the critical importance of reading more widely and deeply.

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    Redemption - A Man Called Ove

    This week, the team goes global with the foreign language film A Man Called Ove to study Global Internal Genres. This 2015 Swedish comedy-drama was written and directed by Hannes Holm.

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    Thriller - Rear Window

    Sit in a chair and watch the suspense unfold this week as Valerie and the other Roundtablers examine Rear Window.

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    Crime - Fargo

    You betcha the Roundtablers are going to chip away at how set and setting drive dialogue in the 1996 Coen Brothers film Fargo. This dark comedy was directed by Joel Coen from the script he co-wrote with Ethan Coen.

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    Action-Epic - The Spy Who Dumped Me

    It’s international intrigue with a side of comedy on the Roundtable this week as Leslie continues to explore action plot conventions in The Spy Who Dumped Me. This 2018 action-epic-conspiracy film was directed by Susanna Fogel from a screenplay she wrote with David Iserson.

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    Complex Status Story - Black Mirror "Bandersnatch"

    TV shows? Video Games? Choose Your Own Adventure? The Roundtablers take on Bandersnatch this week as Anne continues her exploration inot complex story forms. This 2018 episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror was written by Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade.

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    Worldview-Education - The Fundamentals of Caring

    The fundamentals of global internal genre are under review this time as Kim pitches The Fundamentals of Caring, a 2016 independent film written and directed by Rob Burnett.

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    Dialogue - The Shawshank Redemption

    Get busy living or busy dying when the editors chip away at dialogue in The Shawshank Redemption. This 1994 film was written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on Stephen King’s Novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

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    Narrative Drive - Mystery - Murder on the Orient Express

    All aboard the murder train! This week, the Roundtablers set off from Istanbul with Hercule Poirot and a star-studded cast to review Murder on the Orient Express. This 1974 classic, based on Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel, was written by Paul Dehn and directed by Sidney Lumet.

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    Action Subgenre Conventions: Pirates of the Caribbean

    Yo ho! The conventions of the Action story sail into port this week as Leslie invites us to examine Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. This 2003 comedy-horror-action movie was written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and directed by Gore Verbinski, based on the ride at Disneyland.

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    Complex Story Structure - Cloud Atlas

    Things get really complicated this week as Anne pitches Cloud Atlas so we can all study complex nested story form. This 2012 film was written and directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell.

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    Bite Size Edition - Essential Action

    Leslie and Anne’s Story Grid Investigation Team has been on the case, and today we uncover Essential Action, a great tool for evaluating the conflict in your scenes.

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    Season 4 Teaser Trailer

    Here’s a preview of the winning hand of stories the Roundtablers are getting ready to bring you in Season 4. Join us for Episode 0, where Anne, Kim, Valerie, Jarie and Leslie each reveal their first movie of the season and talk about why they chose it, and how they hope studying it will help them in their own writing.

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    Bite Size Edition - Thawing the Fiction Freeze

    It’s 20 minutes of help for frozen writers this time as Anne brings you a bite-size episode on the direct path from story structure right down to the selection of details for a story that will engage, entice and enchant your readers.

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    Story Grid 101: The Five Commandments of Storytelling - Coco

    We wind up Season 3 with another episode of Story Grid 101. Each of the Roundtable Editors is tackling one of the Story Grid Five Commandments for a deep dive into the fundamental structure of scene, act, and global story, using the Pixar animated feature, Coco as our model.

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    Emotional Stakes - The King's Speech

    The Roundtablers join King George VI behind the mic this week to examine emotional stakes in 2010’s Best Picture, The King's Speech, directed by Tom Hooper from David Seidler’s Oscar-winning script.

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    Nested Storytelling - Inception

    Can Anne take the Roundtablers to a story within a story within a story? Find out this week as we analyze Christopher Nolan’s 2010 science fiction heist film Inception.

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    Narrative Device - Jane Eyre

    Join us in the wilds of Yorkshire as we examine the framing story as narrative device in the original gothic romance, Jane Eyre. This 2011 version was directed by Cary Fukunaga from Moira Buffini’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 masterpiece.

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    Narrative Drive - Get Out

    It’s suspense, mystery and dramatic irony this week as the Roundtablers explore 2017’s Get Out. This innovative horror movie was directed by Jordan Peele from his Oscar winning screenplay.

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    Symbolism - The Wizard of Oz

    The Roundtablers are off to look at symbolism this week as they analyze The Wizard of Oz. This iconic American classic was written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful World of Oz, and directed primarily by Victor Fleming.

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    True Life Performance Story - Rudy

    Put on your favorite jersey and join the Roundtablers as we analyze the 1993 film Rudy. This film was written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh. It’s based on the true story of Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger, a walk on to the 1974-1975 Notre Dame Football team. Jarie feels it’s a great example of how to adapt a true life story.

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    Society Political in Disguise - Black Panther

    This week the Roundtablers put Anne’s assertion that Ryan Coogler’s 2018 Marvel blockbuster Black Panther is really a Society political story and not the action movie it looks like.

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    Worldview Maturation - About Time

    The editors travel back to fundamentals this week as we analyze one of Kim’s favorites, About Time, to learn all about the an internal global genre.

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    Innovating the Love Story - Harold and Maude

    Can Jarie make the case that pairing an 18-year-old boy with a 79-year-old woman is truly an innovation on the Love Story? Find out as we examine Harold and Maude, the 1971 cult black comedy directed by Hal Ashby from a script by Colin Higgins.

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    Status Sentimental and Virgin's Promise - Rocky

    This week Leslie goes fifteen rounds in the ring arguing that tough guy Rocky is a Virgin’s Promise story at heart, while the opposition brings some heavyweight counterarguments.

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    Genre Mashup - Adaptation

    Rountable team member Anne pitched the 2002 meta-comedy Adaptation this week, as proof that you can break some big story rules and still succeed—but maybe only if you’re screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann. His wild adaptation of Susan Orlean’s nonfiction book The Orchid Thief was directed by Spike Jonze.

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    Hero's Journey and Virgin's Promise - Song of the Sea

    This week the Roundtablers succumb to the selkie’s call with Song of the Sea, Kim’s pick for a story that combines Virgin’s Promise and Hero’s Journey structures. This 2014 animated fantasy based on Irish myth was written by Will Collins and directed by Tomm Moore.

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    Morality-Redemption - Manchester by the Sea

    In the premiere of Season Three, the Roundtablers debate Valerie’s assertion that Manchester By The Sea exemplifies the story principle of Surprising But Inevitable Ending. This haunting 2016 Oscar winner was written and directed by Richard Lonergan.

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    Morality-Redemption - Flight

    This week the Roundtablers bring the the Morality genre in for a rough landing with Flight, the 2012 film by Robert Zemeckis starring Denzel Washington.

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    Crime - Mad Money

    This week the Roundtablers sneak into the Crime genre and make off with a rather poor impression of the 2007 caper comedy Mad Money, written by Glenn Gers and directed by Callie Khouri.

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    Worldview - Arrival

    The Roundtable team touches down into the Worldview genre this week with the 2016 science fiction revelation drama Arrival, written Eric Heisserer and Ted Chiang, based on Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” and directed by Denis Villeneuve.

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    Status - Real Women Have Curves

    The Roundtablers trace the outlines of the Status genre this week with Real Women Have Curves, directed in 2002 by Patricia Cardoso from a script by Josefina Lopez and George LaVoo.

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    Society - Selma

    The Roundtable team marches into the Society genre this week with the 2014 historical drama Selma.

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    Action - Wonder Woman

    This week the Roundtablers throw the Lasso of Truth around the 2017 superhero Action movie Wonder Woman, making it tell the truth about its story, directed by Patty Jenkins with screenplay by Alan Heinberg.

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    Western - Yojimbo

    It’s East meets Western this week as the Roundtable team crosses the Pacific and the decades to look at Akira Kurosawa’s 1960 samurai classic,Yojimbo.

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    War Story - The Hurt Locker

    It’s the chaos of war this week as the Roundtable team goes into The Hurt Locker, Mark Boal’s Oscar-winning war drama directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

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    Psychological Thriller - Gone Girl

    This week the Roundtable team disappears into Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and comes back with a verdict of Psychological Thriller, with an extra dose of disturbing.

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    Horror - Carrie

    It’s bucket-o-blood time as the Roundtable team tackles the Horror genre with Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 remake of the Stephen King classic Carrie. Screenplay by Stephen King and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

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    Love Story - Brokeback Mountain

    This week we embrace the Love Story once again as we camp out on Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s 2005 multiple-Oscar-winning masterpiece about the love affair between two cowboys in Wyoming. The screenplay is by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, based on the award-winning short story by Annie Proulx.

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    Action - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    The Roundtablers soar this week into Ang Lee’s 2003 “Wung-fu” Action + Society mashup Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the story of a secret young woman warrior and her attempts to be free of all her masters. The screenplay is by Hui Ling Wang, based on the 1935 Chinese Wǔxiá romance by Wáng Dù Lú.

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    Performance-Hidden Figures

    The Roundtablers lift off into the Performance genre this week with the 2015 Oscar nominee Hidden Figures, which tells the story of three remarkable African-American women and their real-life achievements in the face of racism at NASA. The screenplay is by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book.

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    Big Idea Nonfiction - In Defense of Food

    This week we put food on the Roundtable as we study the 2015 Big Idea Nonfiction documentary In Defense of Food, by Edward Gray based on the book by Michael Pollan. Visit us on Twitter @StoryGridRT and let us know what you think of our analysis.

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    Crime - Double Indemnity

    This week the Roundtable team investigates the claims of Double Indemnity, the 1944 film noir classic about murder and insurance fraud, with screenplay by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder. Visit us on Twitter @StoryGridRT and let us know what you think of our analysis.

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    Worldview or Society - Dead Poets Society

    The Roundtable team waxes lyrical over the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir with screenplay by Tom Schulman. What we thought was a Global Worldview Story could actually be a Society Story. Visit us on Twitter @StoryGridRT and let us know what you think of our analysis.

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    Western - True Grit

    In this week’s episode, the team rides off across wide-open country with the 1969 Western True Grit, written by Marguerite Roberts based on Charles Portis’s bestselling 1968 novel. Visit us on Twitter @StoryGridRT and let us know what you think of our analysis.

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    Political Thriller - Marathon Man

    In this week’s episode, the team drills into the 1976 thriller Marathon Man, written by William Goldman based on his novel. Visit us on Twitter @StoryGridRT and let us know what you think of our analysis.

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    Action - Jack the Giant Slayer

    The Roundtablers make the long climb up Jack the Giant Slayer, the 2013 Action-Adventure CGI extravaganza, written by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney and directed by Bryan Singer. Share your thoughts on our analysis or ask questions on Twitter @StoryGridRT.

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    Redemption - The Muppet Christmas Carol

    The Roundtablers know what the Dickens they’re doing this week as they pay a ghostly visit to The Muppet Christmas Carol, the 1992 music-and-puppets version of the classic scary Morality tale, with screenplay by Jerry Juhl based on the story by Charles Dickens. Visit us on Twitter @StoryGridRT and let us know what you think of our analysis.

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    Society - Thelma and Louise

    In this week’s episode, the team drives right up to the edge with the 1991 Society movie Thelma and Louise, Oscar-winning screenplay by Callie Khouri, directed by Ridley Scott. Share your thoughts on our analysis or ask questions on Twitter @StoryGridRT

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    Brotherhood War Story - A Midnight Clear

    In this week’s episode, the Roundtable goes to war with the tragically underrated 1992 Brotherhood War movie A Midnight Clear, written and directed by Keith Gordon, and based on the 1982 novel by William Wharton. Share your thoughts on our analysis or ask questions on Twitter @StoryGridRT.

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    Courtship Love Story - The Bridges of Madison County

    It’s love, loss and longing this week as the Roundtable team crosses The Bridges of Madison County, the 1995 film written by Richard LaGravenese from Robert James Waller’s 1992 novel. Visit us on Twitter @StoryGridRT and let us know what you think of our analysis.

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    Status Genre - Gladiator

    In this week’s episode, we examine the 2000 Status/Admiration epic Gladiator, written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson. Let us know what you think of our analysis. You can reach us on Twitter @StoryGridRT.

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    Thriller Genre - Hot Fuzz

    In this week’s episode, the team takes a look at the 2007 British comedy thriller Hot Fuzz, written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Let us know what you think of our analysis. See full show notes at

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    Horror Genre - Alien

    In this week’s episode, the team takes a look at Ridley Scott’s 1979 Horror classic Alien, written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Let us know what you think of our analysis. See full show notes at

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    Performance Genre - Billy Elliot

    In this week’s episode, the team takes a look at the 2000 Performance genre movie Billy Elliot, written by Lee Hall. Let us know what you think of our analysis. View the Story Grid Foolscap and other notes at

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