PODCAST

The Storyteller’s Mission with Zena Dell Lowe

Zena Dell Lowe

Zena Dell Lowe is a seasoned and engaging teacher with a passion for writers and storytellers. Her focused, concise, and practical episodes (all roughly 20 minutes) not only explore the nuts and bolts of the craft, but also dive deep into the inner life of the artist and the "why" behind creativity. If you believe that story matters, you'll want to give this podcast a listen.

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Crucial Factors Writers Must Overcome to Successfully Engage Culture in Story
3d ago
Crucial Factors Writers Must Overcome to Successfully Engage Culture in Story
Support the showS2_E43. EPISODE DESCRIPTION - Last week we discussed the importance of empathy. Not only for ourselves as writers, but for developing dynamic and engaging characters. This week, we take that same principle and dive deeper as we apply it to our lives and our writing to think about the way we engage culture. Now as a storyteller, writing coach, and artist myself, I tend to see a very common thread that leads to, well, not so good stories.  That common thread is fear. I want to challenge us in this episode to really look at our role in society both as artists, and as Christians, and see where we are letting fear affect our writing. We need not be afraid to address the hard aspects of life. If we are going to change the world through story then we can’t take a sanitized view of the world. In fact, we need to address the world as it really is and reveal that there really is a way out of sin, pain, suffering and anxiety that exists within every person.So we need not be afraid! Follow me on this journey of confronting our fears and facing the world with a bold faith, knowing that Christ called us to be in the world, but not of the world.  DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our websiteUP NEXT - Next week, we take this premise and apply it to our writing as we dive into the difference between ‘Kind’ and ‘Nice’ and how it will change the live’s of your characters.HELPFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES -The Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!Support the show
Crucial Factors Writers Must Overcome to Successfully Engage Culture in Story
3d ago
Crucial Factors Writers Must Overcome to Successfully Engage Culture in Story
Support the showS2_E43. EPISODE DESCRIPTION - Last week we discussed the importance of empathy. Not only for ourselves as writers, but for developing dynamic and engaging characters. This week, we take that same principle and dive deeper as we apply it to our lives and our writing to think about the way we engage culture. Now as a storyteller, writing coach, and artist myself, I tend to see a very common thread that leads to, well, not so good stories.  That common thread is fear. I want to challenge us in this episode to really look at our role in society both as artists, and as Christians, and see where we are letting fear affect our writing. We need not be afraid to address the hard aspects of life. If we are going to change the world through story then we can’t take a sanitized view of the world. In fact, we need to address the world as it really is and reveal that there really is a way out of sin, pain, suffering and anxiety that exists within every person.So we need not be afraid! Follow me on this journey of confronting our fears and facing the world with a bold faith, knowing that Christ called us to be in the world, but not of the world.  DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our websiteUP NEXT - Next week, we take this premise and apply it to our writing as we dive into the difference between ‘Kind’ and ‘Nice’ and how it will change the live’s of your characters.HELPFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES -The Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!Support the show
EMPATHY: The Number One Tool Writers Need to Develop Dynamic Characters
Jun 16 2022
EMPATHY: The Number One Tool Writers Need to Develop Dynamic Characters
S2_E42. EMPATHY! The Number One Tool Writers Need to Develop Dynamic Characters EPISODE DESCRIPTION - Last week, I gave you the 5 dialogue tricks every writer needs to create a clear and dynamic storyline. This week I discuss how to create dynamic characters through empathy. The basis of story is understanding the human condition from an empathetic point of view. In order to do this it is absolutely necessary for a writer to understand and confront their own sin nature. If you don't understand people, you cannot be a good writer. So this, in turn, means that you must be aware of the world around you. The actual world, not the false created world you pretend it is. There is a desire to deny evil, because if evil doesn't exist, then we're not guilty. And what do human beings want to do more than anything? We want to justify ourselves! By knowing that evil exists inside of ourselves, we can then translate more believable characters and more believable scenarios to our stories. DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website.HELPFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES - The Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!UP NEXT - Next week we get out of our comfort zone and change the way we think about engaging culture. Support the show
Five Essential Dialogue Tricks to Help Clarify Your Storyline for Your Readers
Jun 9 2022
Five Essential Dialogue Tricks to Help Clarify Your Storyline for Your Readers
S2_E41: Five Dialogue Tricks For a Clear StorylineEPISODE DESCRIPTION - Last week, we discussed the importance of getting to your main action and character quickly. This week I give you 5 dialogue tricks to avoid ‘the kiss of death’ in your story, confusion. If you confuse your audience, you automatically take them out of the story, which is the opposite of what you want to do. The rule of thumb in story is to always keep your audience invested.  TRICK #1: You always want to prefer clarity over cleverness, always choose clarity of the words over clever or flowery written  passages.TRICK #2: Provide visual cues for your audience to interpret what is going on. TRICK #3: Provide dialogue. Remember, when it comes to dialogue, don’t rush, slow down, and let the scene unfold naturally. You also have to ask yourself, "How will my audience know this?”TRICK #4: Create a device that allows dialogue to be a part of what is happening in that world. An effective instance of this would be Wilson (the volleyball), in the film Castaway. TRICK #5: Bring in a new character that wouldn’t know what was going on inside that world. This allows the protagonist to justifiably relay information out loud, that the audience needs to know. The key takeaway to remember is to give your dialogue a purpose! We must justify the dialogue for our audience to enjoy it, regardless of how it is created. DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website.UP NEXT - Next week, we discuss the importance and necessity of understanding our own sin nature when creating effective characters and storylines.HELPFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES - The Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!Support the show
What Writers Need to Do at the Start of Each Scene to Keep Their Reader Hooked
Jun 2 2022
What Writers Need to Do at the Start of Each Scene to Keep Their Reader Hooked
EPISODE DESCRIPTION -Today we are diving into #7 in our series of “Aha Moments,” that I’ve had both as a writer, and as a story coach. One mistake that I see happen with a lot of writers, is that they wait too long to get into the action of their story. The story lags on and on without the reader or viewer knowing what the story is actually about.That’s why today’s episode is about setting your scene sparingly. You must get to the pertinent details quickly so that your reader knows what is going on, and then you can reveal more things as you go. The second key to this is making sure you introduce your main character quickly. By page 5 the reader should already know who the main character is and what they are about. There are exceptions to this of course that have been done well, as in the film Witness. Listen now for a more detailed understanding of how to keep your reader hooked and engaged from the very beginning. DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website.UP NEXT - Next week, I'll give you every trick you need on how to write clearly and avoid the ultimate kiss of death in story, confusion. HELPFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES - The Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!Support the show
SPECIAL EPISODE: Zena Unpacks Critical Changes in the Marketplace that Impact the Types of Stories Being Sold as a Guest on Writer's Chat
May 26 2022
SPECIAL EPISODE: Zena Unpacks Critical Changes in the Marketplace that Impact the Types of Stories Being Sold as a Guest on Writer's Chat
S2_E38  This special episode replays Zena's recent presentation as a guest on Writer's Chat, where she was invited to speak on how writers can make their story ideas commercial. The answer, Zena says, is not as simple as it once was, because we've entered a new paradigm when it comes to storytelling. No longer do the old rules apply in terms of what gets published or made into a movie. Today, in order for you to have what the industry deems "a commercial story idea," you'll need a bigger story.  In other words, there's no room today for a one-off, or a stand alone story. What the powers that be want and need is for writers to create story WORLDS. You have to be able to create a universe that has the potential to host more than one kind of story, something with transmedia potential. Given the realities of the way things are today, Zena discusses the kinds of things that writers need to take into account when they're developing their story ideas so that they can maximize their chances of success, but it's important that they don't lose sight of their own passions in the process. To this end, Zena also suggests important things for writers to consider so as to avoid letting the new paradigm stifle us, derail us or demoralize us completely.DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website.UP NEXT - Next week, we will resume our series on A-ha moments, with key insights to improve your own writing. HELPFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES - The Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!The Midsters Podcast - Friendship Meets MidlifeWe are 3 college friends now in our 50s exploring the endless possibilities of midlife...Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify Get the Balance Right For creative rebels, freaks, misfits and geeks who want to profit from their superpowersListen on: Apple Podcasts   SpotifySupport the show
The Best Tip Ever on How to Reveal the Evolution of Important Character Relationships in Story
May 19 2022
The Best Tip Ever on How to Reveal the Evolution of Important Character Relationships in Story
S2 E38. Today in our series of Aha Moments, Zena dives into TIP #6. In essence, the audience needs to see three encounters between characters before they will believe that the relationship has changed or evolved for better or worse. It goes something like this:Scene 1: We establish the standard. What is their relationship like right now?Scene 2: Something happens that shakes things up, or causes one or both of the characters to question their presuppositions regarding the other.Scene 3: Solidifies the change. They end up in a new place, and now they stay there.The bottomline is that the rule of threes is essential in terms of making the audience believe the change in the relationship. Make sure your characters have at least three encounters with each other if you need to show a radical shift in their connection.  DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website.HELPFUL LINKS AND RESOURCES - The Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!Support the show
Unlocking the Secret of How to Write Great Setups and Payoffs
May 12 2022
Unlocking the Secret of How to Write Great Setups and Payoffs
S2_E37. Unlocking the Secret of How to Write Great Setups and PayoffsOne of the best things I ever learned in terms of setups and payoffs is how to make a setup ne barely noticeable. A truly good setup is something that the audience shouldn't be aware of, let alone expect a payoff to come from it. The problem is that audiences today are so  sophisticated that they see them coming 1000 miles away. They know when they've been set up. And when an audience member knows they've been set up in either a novel or a movie,  they wait for it to come back into play. They expect you to do something with it later, which diminishes their delight and surprise. So how do you fool your audience? How do you truly set them up without them knowing it? This entire episode is dedicated to the answer to this question, which is possibly the best trick I've ever learned as a writer. DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website. ONLINE PLATFORMThe Storyteller’s Mission online platform offers one-on-one COACHING, SCRIPT and MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES, and ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING. Send us an email at info@thestorytellersmission.com, or if you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing on a future episode, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL!SPECIAL THANKS to composer CARLA PATULLO for the original music she graciously permits us to use in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show
Two Easy Tips to Immediately Maximize the Dramatic Potential of Each Scene
May 5 2022
Two Easy Tips to Immediately Maximize the Dramatic Potential of Each Scene
S2_E36 See the main points for this episode below. Or DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website. EPISODE DESCRIPTION - Today, I'm sharing tips number 3 and 4 of some of the aha moments I've had as a writer. find a way to dramatize the information that you reveal. #3: Find a way to dramatize the information you reveal. When I tried to write my first novel, I ended up revealing a lot of things through the character's head. I'm in the character's head describing to the audience what my character was thinking or feeling. When I dramatized the scenes so that the information came out through dialogue, it was a much more dynamic way to have the information revealed. So, learn how to dramatize the information by creating justifiable scenarios, or dialogue exchanges or conflict events between characters. It's just a way better way for the audience to learn it. #4: Scenes are mini dramas. Every single story is composed of scenes. You have one scene plus another scene plus another scene. And you keep doing that until you finish your story. But in that scene, the scene itself needs to go somewhere. The scene itself needs to have an arc, the scene itself needs to change where the character is at emotionally. So, each scene is a mini drama that needs to alter the internal emotional state of your character, or your audience's perception or experience of what's happening.UP NEXT - Next week, we will discuss a surefire way to do setups and payoffs that will leave your audience begging for more. OUR ONLINE PLATFORM - The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go to place for advanced instruction on writing. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!   TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL recording with your problem, question, or issue!   SPECIAL THANKS - The Storyteller’s Mission with Zena Dell Lowe would like to thank composer CARLA PATULLO for the original music she graciously permits us to use in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.com Support the show
How to Handle Coincidence and Avoid Red Herrings in Story
Apr 28 2022
How to Handle Coincidence and Avoid Red Herrings in Story
S2_E35 See the main points for this episode below. Or DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE on the podcast page of our website. EPISODE DESCRIPTION - Today, I'm switching gears to share some of the aha moments that I have had as a writer or screenwriter. The very first one is: You only get one coincidence per story. Your story should unfold according to the choices that your main character makes. Everything that happens in the story should be intentional, as a result of your character driving the action of the story through his or her choices. But coincidence eliminates that possibility. If something happens coincidentally, it means that the character had no control over it. Therefore, we question their heroism or their value or their abilities to even solve whatever it is that they're trying to solve over the course of the story. Coincidence undermines your character's personal power.In addition to handling coincidence correctly, you also want to be wary of planting too many false clues in the story. This means that everything that you write about should play into the narrative in some way. There can be nothing superfluous or unneeded in story. Everything must be important to plot of the story you're telling.  UP NEXT - Next week, we will two more aha moments, which will immediately solve story problems you could be having.  OUR ONLINE PLATFORM - The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go to place for advanced instruction on writing. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!   TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, LEAVE US A VOICEMAIL recording with your problem, question, or issue!   SPECIAL THANKS - The Storyteller’s Mission with Zena Dell Lowe would like to thank composer CARLA PATULLO for the original music she graciously permits us to use in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.com Support the show (
Writing Funny: Why Comedy Feels Dangerous and How to Avoid Crossing the Line
Apr 21 2022
Writing Funny: Why Comedy Feels Dangerous and How to Avoid Crossing the Line
S2_E34 – Why Comedy Feels Dangerous and How to Avoid Crossing the LineIn the conclusion of this series on Writing Funny, Zena addresses two final types of tools or comedic devices (puns/dad jokes and the reversal), and uses those as an entry point to discussing why people are often afraid of comedy, and for good reason. Since comedy can be used to malign the dignity of the human person, it can be a dangerous device. However, by applying a proper theology of humor, and learning when and under what circumstances it might be appropriate to use humor (like sarcasm), we can experience greater freedom in the area of humor, both in our writing and in life.  DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmissionpodcast.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday as Zena launches into a new series on A-Ha Moments she's had as a writer, and various principles that she's learned along the way that have greatly improved her ability to write a good story.NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKSto CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comThe Midsters Podcast - Friendship Meets MidlifeWe are 3 college friends now in our 50s exploring the endless possibilities of midlife...Listen on: Apple Podcasts   SpotifySupport the show
Writing Funny: My Three Favorite Tools to Create Comedic Moments in Story
Apr 14 2022
Writing Funny: My Three Favorite Tools to Create Comedic Moments in Story
S2_E33 – Three Favorite Tools to Create Comedy in StoryIn this current series on Writing Funny, Zena shares three techniques that can specifically be used when working with cliches to create comedic moments in story.1. The simple truth. Break down the literal meaning of a phrase or a key word so that it's simply true, rather than interpreting the expression according to its traditional reference. For example, Steve Martin's joke, "I love a woman with a good head on her shoulders.... because I hate necks."2. The Non Sequitur. The illogical pairing or juxtaposition of two elements. The humor comes from pairing the two ideas next to each other, which don't seem to fit, but actually do in an absurd kind of way. For example, Leslie Nielsen's line,  "The truth hurts. Sure. Not as much as jumping on a bicycle with no seat, but it hurts." 3. Exaggeration in the form of understatements or overstatements.Taking something normal to an absurd degree, either by downplaying it or by overplaying. For example, the doctor's statement to Goldie Hawn's character in The First Wives Club is an overstatement: "If I give you any more halogen, you're going to be able to blink your lips." Monty Python is famous for understating the self control of the British. "It's just a flesh wound," etc. DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmissionpodcast.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for the conclusion of this series on Writing Funny, where Zena will share her final thoughts on what a proper "Theology of Humor" might be.NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKS to CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show (
Writing Funny: The Cardinal Rule of Comedy is Surprise
Apr 7 2022
Writing Funny: The Cardinal Rule of Comedy is Surprise
S2_E32 – The Cardinal Rule of Comedy is Surprise. In this current series on Writing Funny, Zena has been breaking down Melvin Helitzer’s acronym THREES from his book, Comedy Writing Secrets, which identifies the six key ingredients of humor and comedy. In this episode, Zena addresses the most important component of all: the cardinal rule of comedy is the element of surprise. The best way to define the construction of surprise is to use baseball terms. A joke is a curve. It's a fastball that bends at the last instant and fools the batter. You throw a perfectly straight line at the audience and then right at the end, you curve it by delivering something unexpected instead. Good jokes start by taking us somewhere predictable, but then change the outcome so that we are surprised. This is essential to comedy since the number one reason why people laugh is because they’re surprised. Surprise automatically creates interest and delight and laughter. And the quickest way to get there is to set up a cliché – something your audience already understands and therefore anticipates the predictable outcome – and then at the last moment, you change it.  DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmissionpodcast.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another exciting episode, whatever that may be! NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKS to CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show (
Writing Funny: 2 Rules and 3 Tools to Build Suspense and Create Anticipation in Comedy
Mar 31 2022
Writing Funny: 2 Rules and 3 Tools to Build Suspense and Create Anticipation in Comedy
In this continuation of of the Writing Funny series, Zena unpacks the last two letters in Melvin Helitzer's acronym, THREES, which make up the 6 primary ingredients of comedy writing. Emotion refers to creating anticipation and excitement on behalf of the audience -- basically building the tension and getting them to invest in the joke or story or scenario. This is done through setups. Surprise refers to the payoff, where you deliver the punchline or the outcome that you've built up to, but in a way in which the audience is surprised, and therefore delighted. Emotion and Surprise work together through good setups and payoffs.To achieve it, there are several comedy rules and tools that you can use, such us: 1. Whatever can go wrong, must go wrong.2. Comedy must come from the character.3. Use "The Pause" to create emotion and build up suspense.4. Utilize the rule of three's. 5. Tell a joke on the way to a joke.Support the show (
Writing Funny: Good Humor is a Combination of Realism and Exaggeration
Mar 24 2022
Writing Funny: Good Humor is a Combination of Realism and Exaggeration
In this week's episode, Zena continues to unpack Melvin Helitzer's acronym THREES, which encompasses the six primary ingredients of all comedy. We've already covered the first two,  target and hostility. Today, we address realism and exaggeration. These go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. Realism - The best comedy is based in reality. If it isn't based in reality, then we don't connect to it. We don't resonate with it. Realism means it's based on something that we can all relate to because it's realistic or true to the human experience. Exaggeration - However,  while it must be based in reality, it also has to be exaggerated. Comedy is just reality turned up a notch; it's taken to an extreme degree, and that's what makes it funny. DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmission.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another exciting episode on how to write funny! NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKS to CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show (
Writing Funny: The Presence and Purpose of Hostility in Comedy
Mar 17 2022
Writing Funny: The Presence and Purpose of Hostility in Comedy
S2_E29 – The Presence and Purpose of Hostility in ComedyThis week in our series on writing funny, we're talking about the second letter in Melvin Helitzer's acronym THREES, which makes up the six primary ingredients of all comedy writing. H = Hostility, because all comedy is intrinsically hostile. Humor is meant to eradicate many of the hostile feelings we have in our daily lives. So, what are we hostile towards?Sex, authority, financial concerns, family affairs, angst and technology, physical characteristics -- pretty much anything that makes up our normal, everyday human experiences can become fuel for hostility. Hostility is going to be there no matter what we write. The key is to allow humor to become a cathartic and cleansing experience, rather than something that feeds the deep seeds of rage and division and turmoil. Even though hostility is always going to be an inherent part of comedy, it can still be used in a healthy and constructive way.DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmission.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another exciting episode, whatever that may be! NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKS to CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show (
Writing Funny: How to Target the Subject of Your Joke Without Destroying it
Mar 10 2022
Writing Funny: How to Target the Subject of Your Joke Without Destroying it
S2_E28. How to TARGET the subject of your joke without utterly destroying it.What are the principles and tools for comedy writing? This week we look at the "T" in Melvin Helitzer's acronym, T.H.R.E.E.S., which is Target. Humor must have a Target. We think humor is fun. But it isn't. Humor is criticism cloaked as entertainment. It's directed at a specific target. This is why so many people are leery of humor. It can be mean. It can denigrate somebody's humanity. In this episode, Zena shares all sorts of things that can be targets, and shows how some types of jokes might still be acceptable if they're told more from a self-deprecating perspective, even if they target specific people groups.DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmission.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another exciting episode, whatever that may be! NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKSto CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show (
Writing Funny: Foundational Tools & Principles for Using Humor in Story
Mar 3 2022
Writing Funny: Foundational Tools & Principles for Using Humor in Story
S2_E27. Writing Funny For the past few weeks, we've been talking about how to use visual cues to enhance the meaning of your story. Today we launch a new series that explores the tools and principles associated with writing comedy, which is another avenue available for us in order to convey  deeper levels of meaning to our audience. But to explore this topic, we need to get beyond our own preconceptions. Christians tend to assume either A.) comedy is less than, or less important than drama, or B.) Comedy is dangerous and should be avoided. But comedy is not the opposite of serious; it's the opposite of despair.In the opening session of this series on comedy, Zena explores the importance of humor in God's creative design, and ponders why He gave us this gift in the first place. She also lays a foundation for some of the key principles we need to keep in mind as we dive deep into this subject matter.And here's the good news. You don't have to be funny to write funny.  Humor can be taught since it has a structure. It follows certain patterns, rules, and formulas that we can emulate to construct funny stuff.  So, join Zena as she unpacks the tools and principles of comedy, and explores the philosophical principles that can guide us into creating the kinds of comedic material that doesn't cause harm. , there are principles that we can learn to help us construct humor consistently. We can get really good at it if we learn what these rules are. And that's what we're going to be talking about. That's what this series is about. Zena will be teaching you some tools and principles that you can adopt and apply in order to write funny. DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmission.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another exciting episode, whatever that may be! NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKS to CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show (
Special Episode: Zena Highlights the Crucial Role of the Storyteller in Culture as a Guest on the Act One Podcast
Feb 24 2022
Special Episode: Zena Highlights the Crucial Role of the Storyteller in Culture as a Guest on the Act One Podcast
S2_E26 – Special Episode: Zena Highlights the Crucial Role of the Storyteller in Culture as a Guest on the Act One Podcast with James DukeRecently, I had the honor of being invited to be a guest on the Act One Podcast with James Duke, where I was encouraged to give my unfiltered opinions on anything related to art and Christianity. I trust I did not disappoint! While this special episode is considerably longer than our normal episode length, James and  I  discuss some major issues facing artists today that every Christian writer ought to be aware of as they endeavor to write their own projects. May you be challenged, encouraged, enlightened, and inspired by the ideas discussed in this special episode.DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmission.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another exciting episode, whatever that may be! NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKSto CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comThe Midsters Podcast - Friendship Meets MidlifeWe are 3 college friends now in our 50s exploring the endless possibilities of midlife...Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify Get the Balance Right For creative rebels, freaks, misfits and geeks who want to profit from their superpowersListen on: Apple Podcasts   SpotifySupport the show
Using Objects & Metaphors to Show the Internal Emotional Arc of Your Character
Feb 17 2022
Using Objects & Metaphors to Show the Internal Emotional Arc of Your Character
S2_E25 – Using Objects & Metaphors to Show the Internal Emotional Arc of Your CharacterFor the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing how to “show, don’t tell” in story by employing a few of my favorite techniques that help writers accomplish this without having to write pages and pages of dialogue. Namely, how to create significant actions for your characters, how to establish a pattern and then break it in order to convey deeper meaning, and how to utilize Rituals and Traditions as a way to reveal character – who the character is at their core. Today, we’re going to continue this dialogue by exploring two more tools at your disposal: How to create visual metaphors that reveal the internal emotional arc of your character, and how to use props and objects to help show how a character has changed over the course of the story. Both of these require the same primary tool of establishing a pattern and then breaking it. And yet, this should give writers even more insight into what’s possible for their own stories.  This list is by no means exhaustive. If you’re interested in taking an online course dedicated to this topic, sign up for The Storyteller’s Digest on the website, where you’ll be notified just as soon as that class is available online.DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmission.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another exciting episode, whatever that may be! NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKS to CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comThe Midsters Podcast - Friendship Meets MidlifeWe are 3 college friends now in our 50s exploring the endless possibilities of midlife...Listen on: Apple Podcasts   SpotifySupport the show
How to Use Rituals and Traditions to Reveal Deeper Meaning in Story
Feb 10 2022
How to Use Rituals and Traditions to Reveal Deeper Meaning in Story
S2_E24 – How to Use Rituals and Traditions to Reveal Deeper Meaning in StoryLast week, we started talking about how one of the best tools you’ll ever learn how to use in story is to establish and pattern and then break it. When you do this, it immediately adds deeper meaning to the story, reveals character progression and/or a change in character relationships, adds energy to the narrative, and does all of this in a visual way. It’s a wonderful tool to master.This week, I’m expanding on that to explore the use of Ritual and Tradition in story. This is another fabulous tool that you can use to reveal character information, and help us understand who a character is at their core. Show us your character’s rituals or traditions. And notice from the outset what you’re setting yourself up to be able to do, because what is a ritual or a tradition if not an established pattern? So, this can also be used to show a deviation down the road, but it doesn't have to deviate from the pattern in order to successfully be used to reveal a great deal about that character. We glean a lot of significant knowledge from the rituals and traditions that our character performs, from who they are at their core, to what the status is of their current relationships, with God, themselves, and others.DOWNLOAD FULL TRANSCRIPTS FOR FREE at www.thestorytellersmission.com. WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for another layer to this technique. Here, we’ve talked about establishing a pattern and breaking it. Next week, we’ll see this applied in a variety of different ways so that you can get an idea of how helpful this tool can be. NEED HELP? The Storyteller’s Mission online platform is your go-to place for help with all your writing needs. Sign up for one-on-one COACHING, get a SCRIPT CRITIQUE, or register for one of our  ADVANCED CLASSES ON WRITING today!TOPIC REQUESTS?  If you have a question or a specific writing related topic that you would like Zena to consider addressing in a future podcast, SEND AN EMAIL to info@thestorytellersmission.com. We’d love to hear from you!SPECIAL THANKS to CARLA PATULLO for the original music used in the intro and outro of this podcast. To find out more about this amazing talent, go to  www.carlapatullo.comSupport the show (