What Writers Can Learn From The Coolest Podcasts On The Web


After I listened to Serial I was desperate for another podcast to keep me occupied and I came across The Black List Table Reads which “takes the best screenplays Hollywood hasn’t yet made and turns them into movies… for your ears.” It’s as cool as it sounds. They use great sound effects and awesomely talented voice artists.

Now, why would you need to listen to movies as a fiction writer?

  1. Show, don’t tell. Movies are the ultimate show, don’t tell. There is no internal thought for movie characters, their actions have to show us how they are feeling and why they act the way they do. When you listen to The Black List Table Reads you realise the importance of using strong verbs. When you listen to a movie there is no image to show you how the character walks and behaves.
    Words like saunter, stride and shuffle make all the difference. It is amazing how they can paint a picture.
  2. Dialogue. The taped interviews in Serial are an amazing source of ‘raw’ dialogue and serves as an excellent example of why dialogue should not sound like real people talking, but should sound like well, dialogue. The Black List Table Reads however is an example of what dialogue should sound like. It’s amazing to compare the two.
  3. Description. Once again, when a script is being read there is no image and the description can’t get in the way of the story. The writers use short, specific descriptions to get us in the scene as quickly as possible. Are your descriptions bogging down your story? Also, you should listen to the different voices and sounds, how would you describe it if you had to write that voice or sound. It opens up a whole new way of thinking about description.

Writing a movie and writing a book are two different things, but a story is a story and we can learn from all kinds of writers. The Black List Table Reads also interviews the writers about everything from the writing process to the business side of the writing. Lots to learn.

Happy listening and happy writing.

PS: I am looking for new podcasts to listen to, so if you know of one please leave a comment.

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This article has 5 comments

  1. Robin

    Papercuts podcast

  2. Alma

    Hi Mia, I just love listening to podcasts about writing, usually when I’m slogging away on the treadmill at gym and fortunately I receive a transcript or blog of the podcast too, because I generally need to make some notes as I learn something new. One of my favourites is Helping writers become authors by K.M. Weiland. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I’d love it if Writers Write could join the podcast fraternity because your blogs are so informative and enjoyable too.

  3. Taylor Spencer

    I’ll be sure to check out The Black List Table Reads. Meanwhile, I recommend checking out Welcome To Night Vale. I don’t know how similar it is to the two podcasts you listed here, but it’s interesting, to say the least. Its kind of like a radio station for a fictional town. I believe right now there are 90 something “episodes”; I’m still making my way through them all haha.

  4. Mia

    Thank you for the suggestions. I can’t wait to get started.

  5. Laurel Hislop

    I love CBC Radio – Writers and Company with Eleanor Wachtel.

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