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Productivity Tools

Writing Prompts

Places To Find Story Ideas

About Writing/Storytelling

Jon Scalzi’s The Big Idea One writer asking other writers about the Big Idea behind their stories. Always fascinating.

Story Structure To Die For – an introductory article and the offer of a whole free ebook on the topic by novelist and screenwriter P.J. Reece.

On writing unsympathetic characters – from Elizabeth Hand’s talk at the Odyssey S/F Writers Workshop’s Backstory – author interviews and more

On Writing About Loss – and other ‘exhausted’ topics, by short story writer Robin Black. Some great ideas here.

Leverage Writers’ Blog – The TV show Leverage (which I’ve never seen) has some wonderfully opinionated writers who share their thoughts here. This page has articles about screenwriting, but they focus on story, story, story (not the ins and outs of typsetting or the TV business, although there is some of that, which you can skip if you don’t care.) WARNING The language is not always G-Rated.

Podcasts for Inspiration

The StoryADay Podcast

15-20 minutes about writing, creativity, inspiration, prompts and more, based on the monthly StoryADay Themes. Every two weeks throughout the year.

The Author Events Series from the Philadelphia Free Library

This podcast features published authors on tour to promote their latest release. Sometimes the podcast features archived events, but usually they are recent. Each author usually reads a little from their work then takes questions from the audience. The library has a good system, where they take microphones into the audience so you can hear the questions as well as the answers. The audio quality is good and the questions are asked by everyday folks like you and me. I love this podcast.

Authors On Tour Live from the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver

This podcasts hosts many of the same authors as the Philadelphia podcast, but the authors often read different passages and answer different questions. Also, it hosts more ‘smaller’ authors who have a local connection. It’s nice to get a non-East-coast, non-establishment perspective. Also, AOT sometimes takes its recorder on the road and reports from places like Book Expo America.

Book Lust with Nancy Pearl

A monthly podcast from the University Bookstore in Seattle. For the past four years Nancy Pearl has talked to big name authors on tour. This interview-style works well, perhaps because it’s in a bookstore and the authors are comfortable; perhaps because Nancy Pearl is an intelligent interviewer. The audio quality is great and the half-hour length is long enough to go in-depth with the authors but not so long that it drags. This is available as audio-only or video too.

Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon

Running since Oct 2010, still being updated. Interviews with authors. Fewer big names than the other podcasts, which means you hear some new voices.

Writers on Writing

From the University of California at Irvine. Discussions on art and writing, featuring interviews with writers, and occasionally editors and agents. Recent guests have included Edwidge Dandicat and Betsy Lerner.

Bibliocracy from KPFK

Interviews with authors. Interviewer talks a bit too much, but really loves books, so we’ll forgive him.


This one isn’t about writers or specifically for writers, but it’s inspiring anyway. Little potted stories of people’s lives.

Storycorps is a group that collects real-life stories for the National Folk Archive in the US. Storycorps takes its mobile booths all over the country and invites people to bring a relative or friend in, and interview them. From the old New York couple talking about their first date, to the girl who lost her fiance on 9/11, to the 100 year old southern triplet who used to dance in sideshows, to daughter interviewing mothers…just try listening to these without tearing up, I dare you. Then go away and figure out how to do the same to your readers 😉

Education – Craft and Workshop Podcasts

Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcasts

This podcast features excerpts from classes taught at the Odyssey writing workshop held each summer. 16 writers are picked each year for this professional-level workshop, and it features published authors as teachers and lecturers. Each podcast is 15-20 minutes long and packed with useful information for more than just Science Fiction or Fantasy writers. These talks are aimed specifically at writers, not readers, and you should come away inspired to get back to your own writing after listening. Sometimes the talks touch on the publishing business, but more often the topic is craft-related.

Writing Excuses

Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells are writers and artists in the science fiction world. Their podcast’s tagline is was enough to turn me into a fan: “15 Minutes Long, because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart”. They discuss the craft of writing from their perspective as working writers. The free-form conversation follows a different topic in every episode. As always, just because these guys are sci-fi and fantasy writers, this does not make their advice applicable only to SF writers! My top ‘must-listen’ podcast.


All the stuff inside a MFA, none of the crippling student debt. You should subscribe!

The Writing Show Slushpile Workshop

Story consultant Paula B takes first chapters from a listener/writer and critiques it. This grew out of the most popular segment of her former podcast The Writing Show. I’ve always found it useful from time to time, to really tear apart someone else’s work and see what they’re doing – what works, what doesn’t and why. This show is all about doing that. Maybe you’ll even be brave enough to submit your first chapter…


Litopia hosts four different podcasts: Litopia After Dark, The Debriefer, Between The Lines and Open House. Litopia After Dark is a “A literary salon” with five hosts, each of whom brings a topic and gets a different discussion going, and a chatroom where people can send in comments during the broadcast. It is extremely well produced and it is fun. Good for reminding lonely authors in our garrets that we’re not alone! Between the Lines is an interview-with-the-author podcast and Open House is a call-in show (“Skype-in”, actually). My favourite, though is The Debriefer podcast hosted by Florida lawyer Donna Ballman. She covers legal issues as related to writing: using legal issues in stories, legal issues that affect writers. It’s a short, focussed podcast and I find it quite fascinating.

Holly Lisle on Writing

This one violates my policy of not reviewing podcasts that are no longer being updated. There are only six episodes of this podcast, from 2006 but they are so tightly focused on the craft of writing, that I wanted to include them anyway. She seems to have moved on to creating products like workshops and classes that she charges for (and I don’t blame her one bit), so grab the free podcast info and graduate to paid classes if you like her stuff.

Writing For Rookies

This podcast is aimed specifically at non-fiction, science fiction, screenwriting and comic book writers. It’s relatively new but promising.

Improve Your Writing – Further Reading on the Craft

A reading list for articles about Point Of View

Podcasts for writers – a list

Short Story Collections Online – 100 words is a challenging yet achievable length of story, especially when you’re trying to write one a day. Read some stories at this site to get inspired (and think about submitting one of yours, when the challenge is over!)

3 AM Magazine – With the tagline “Whatever it is, we’re against it”, how could I resist this publication? Its rebellious spirit is the perfect inspiration for short fiction writers.

BBC Classic Short Stories – Let the BBC’s hand-picked readers tell you some classic tales in this well-produced audio series. Includes stories like Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ The Yellow Wallpaper and stories by O. Henry, Edgar Allen Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kate Chopin and more

Escapepod – the best in Science Fiction read to you in a weekly podcast. Also check out their horror, fantasy, and young adult speculative sister podcasts.

Flash Fiction Online – another great source to find short fiction that packs a punch.

Flash Fiction Chronicles – more short fiction, available online.

LeVar Burton Reads – an excellent podcast where the USA’s favorite literacy advocate reads stories he loves in his silky-smooth voice.

Nano Fiction – super short stories. Take a look and see just what you could achieve in very few words!

Project Gutenberg – The Granddaddy of them all. All books here are public domain (and therefore a little elderly, no I mean they’re classics) but you can rest assured you’re not abusing anyone’s copyright. Books are available in a variety of formats from Text files to ePub and Kindle formats.

Smokelong Quarterly – A venerable repository of flash fiction online. All stories can be read in a smoke-break—that’s how long this website’s been running. You used to be able to smoke in public!

Vestal Review – Possibly the oldest online flash fiction magazine out there, and still publishing great stuff.

Flash Fiction Reading

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