This is our eighth season. This season, we plan to bring you stories we love from various publications, editors who offer insight into how to get published on their sites, stories from our class and stories our listeners submit to us. You’ll also hear stories from hosts Andrea + Allison and of course commentary by your hosts.

Episode 74: Think Like a Writer with Dani Shapiro

Today on our show, we have the brilliant and generous Dani Shapiro, author of five novels and five memoirs, plus thousands of essays and a podcast called Family Secrets. A few years ago, Andrea sat down with Dani and talked about thinking like a writer, repeating themes in writing, figuring out what a story is about, and the conflicts all writers face, especially mothers, in revealing other people’s stories. 

Dani Shapiro also reads a story published in the New York Times Book Review in 2013 that we adore. It’s called The Me My Child Mustn’t Know.

Dani Shapiro’s newest memoir, Inheritance is one of our favorite memoirs. In her early 50s, Dani found out her father was not her biological father. Inheritance is a thrilling page-turner. Click here to buy it.


Episode 73: How to Write When Shit Gets Real


This episode is going to be a little different because shit just got really real. Three weeks ago, Allison was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. In this episode, we share the stories we wrote about this situation. We are treating this episode as if we’re in writing class by sharing our own writing and critiquing it, because writing and sharing and then getting and giving feedback is how we deal with whatever's going on in our lives. We thought writing and critiquing would help us process what’s going on. 

We hope that hearing our stories will motivate you to write and stay connected to the people you love while you go through your own shit.


Episode 72: Create Scenes So People Remember

Today on our show, we’re talking about how to create a scene and why scenes matter. We often bring up the writing tip show AND tell. The scene is the show. It’s the action. It’s where we put dialogue and show character. Scenes are the moments we remember.

For more on show and tell, listen to Episode 47: Show and Tell. You’ll hear one of Andrea Askowitz’s stories, where she fights with her son about homework. And you’ll hear stories by Allison Langer and Misha Mehrel where they show and tell effectively.

Listener Michael Howell submitted the essay in this episode, How Are You Really? In his story, Mike creates the most well-described and horrifying scene while in combat in Afghanistan. He slows down, so the reader/listener knows something huge is about to happen. He gives telling details and transitions out of the scene to slow down the moment. Today, we share his story with you.

Mike Howell is a 29-year-old Veteran who fought in Afghanistan. Mike Joined the Marines out of high school and is currently working as an auto service advisor. He’s also in school for business and writing. Mike hopes to eventually become a full time author. 


Episode 71: What’s Inside Your Container?

WARNING: This episode contains content about a suicide attempt.

Today on our show, we’re talking about a container, which is a cool way to structure a story. It’s a method to tell your entire story while you are contained in a place or period of time. For example, on a plane, in a meeting, or an afternoon at a hair appointment. The goal is for the narrator to take the reader or listener along in the moment while stepping out of the container to tell a much bigger story. 

Lorinne Griswold, a listener from San Francisco, submitted her story, Self Care, which details her 20-year-old daughter’s attempted suicide. 

Lorinne’s essay starts right before her hair appointment and ends when she leaves that appointment. The story is told while Lorinne is sitting in the stylists chair. She expertly takes us in and out of that appointment so we feel like we are sitting in the chair with her. We learn so much about her daughter and her past struggles with being a mother. We also learn how she has been dealing with the current situation, and what she has learned.

Lorinne Griswold graduated from St. Mary’s College of California with a B.S. in business and has been working for Chevron for almost 30 years. Lorinne told us she has always used journaling as a creative outlet, but when she started struggling with her oldest daughter a few years ago, journaling became one of the only ways to untangle all the messy feelings in her head. She has filled more than 100 journals but has never shared her writing with anyone. That all changed when she found the Writing Class Radio podcast and realized that she wasn’t the only one using writing to work out her SH!T. Listening to others be vulnerable and honest gave Lorinne the courage to write and submit her own story. 


Episode 70: How to Write About the Unbelievable

Today on our show, we’re talking about how to write about the unbelievable. Things like UFOs, mediums, and talking to the dead. In the story you’ll hear, our narrator hears a voice from beyond.

In this episode, like many past episodes, we also get into the concept of likeable narrator. If you want more on likeable narrator, listen to these episodes: Likeable Narrator--Be the Biggest Asshole in the StoryA Time I Fucked Up part 1 and part 2.

We bring up likeable narrator, because we feel like the most effective way to write about the unbelievable is to be an extra-reliable narrator--someone the reader or listener can trust. The narrator has to express doubt, or else risk sounding like a crazy person. You also have to give details and reasons why you believe (a real situation or scene). Don’t try to over-convince the reader or listener, just tell your story with vulnerability.

Pat Martin, a listener from Atlanta, Georgia, submitted the story in this episode. Her story was previously published in Guideposts Magazine. Pat Martin is a nurse, pastor, speaker and author of the book, You Can Get There From Here. She’s also the founder and executive director of the non-profit KIDDS Dance Project. Her philosophy for life is, "Character is better than talent any day.”