Episode 271 – Story Nerd Podcast with Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill

Mark interviews Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill of the Story Nerd Podcast. The Story Nerd Podcast demystifies story theory so writers spend less time studying and more time writing. Literary editors and writers, Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill, analyze a film a week as an example of a storytelling principle.

Prior to the main segment, Mark shares comments from recent episodes, a personal update and a word about this episode’s sponsor.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

In their conversation, Mark, Valerie, and Melanie talk about:

  • How long it took for the three of them to coordinate the interview (2 months) and a bit of banter about time zones and Melanie being so further in the “future” than Valerie and Mark
  • Mark’s nerding out on how the Y2K bug wasn’t solved, it was just pushed back to 2050
  • Mal’s background as a poet and her passion for writing poetry and how much passion could be conveyed in such a “small” piece
  • Loving poetry that has artwork or imagery with it
  • The real art that is involved in writing books that engage children
  • The point at which Valerie’s day job got on her nerves enough and how she’d always enjoyed being creative via music and writing
  • Keeping track of how many words Valerie had written for and discarded from her novel Immortal
  • How Valerie and Melanie met
  • Applying story theory to their own manuscripts
  • Being an extrovert in an introvert’s job
  • Learning something new with every single episode they produce
  • Doing things that are a bit fearful so that you can grow and improve
  • How their “hourly” recording session usually takes 3 hours because they’re having so much fun and such insightful story discussion
  • It doesn’t matter what genre one writes in, one can learn from reading all genres
  • How the concepts that they talk about on the podcast that relate to film can be applied to novel writing, because the story structure elements are all the same
  • Comparing walking, running, and running a marathon to the various steps on the writer journey
  • The way the podcast is broken down into seasons and the themes they are exploring
  • And more…

After the interview Mark reflects on how Valerie and Melanie make story theory so easy by providing clear examples in a way that’s easy and fun to digest, and recommends listeners go check out an episode or two starting with movies they’re familiar with.

Links of Interest:

Valerie Francis is a writer and Certified Story Grid Editor who has studied with Robert McKee, Lisa Cron and many others. As a bona fide story nerd, Valerie has been studying stories every day since May 2017 and loves to share what she’s learned with editing clients and members of her Inner Circle. She has previously co-hosted two other writing-related podcasts, namely the Story Grid Editor Roundtable and the Story Grid Writers’ Room.  

Based in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada, Valerie is currently working on her third novel. She has previously published a middle grade fantasy and an open-door romance, but this time, she’s working on a vampire thriller.  

Melanie Hill is an author, poet, Certified Story Grid Editor and member of the Institute of Professional Editors. She’s originally from Launceston, Tasmania but now lives in Brisbane, Queensland. When Melanie isn’t writing or editing, she cat-wrangles four school-aged children with her husband.  

She’s currently working on her own middle grade performance story, writing a haiku a day to practice precision word choice, and she has the first draft of a spy thriller novel waiting in the wings.  

Melanie has a passion for middle grade and young adult stories, spy stories, fairy tales, and she is rapidly developing a fondness for master detective novels. She combines her skills from a career as a logistics planner with story theory to help authors identified and solve plot problems. 

The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 

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