Episode 8: Your Baby's Ugly - Jessica Abel
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Episode 8: Your Baby’s Ugly

Our stories are our babies, but not all babies are cute. This week, we figure out just how far we’ve still got to go when we take a finished draft of our own show and subject it to the cold scrutiny of an edit by Robert Smith and Jess Jiang of Planet Money. Our baby was kinda messed up, but he’s much prettier now.

Also: learn what makes Ira Glass mad, find out how editing is like biofeedback, and hear how Rob Rosenthal of the Transom Story Workshop and the HowSound podcast trains the next generation of expert producers and editors.

Listen to the show:

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If you’re looking for a written version of this episode, you can find our transcript here.

Get the show notes!

Out on the Wire is a limited series, and has finished. But you can turn it into your own personal storytelling course by having the show notes mailed to you every week. I’ll also include a free 9-page excerpt from Out on the Wire (the book).

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Out on the Wire Bonus Pack


Check out the Out on the Wire Bonus Pack. Featuring all of the new interviews we conducted for the show, plus our soundtrack music by Matt Madden. It’s ten bucks (or more, if you’re feeling generous.) It’s a great way to spend more time with our fabulous guests and support the show.

Includes full length interviews with:

Stephanie Foo (This American Life)

Jonathan Mitchell (The Truth podcast)

Larissa MacFarquahar (The New Yorker)

Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet)

Our edit with Robert Smith and Jess Jiang (Planet Money)

Rob Rosenthal (the Transom Workshop, How Sound)

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Find us elsewhere on the internet

I’m on Twitter @jccabel, Producer Benjamin is @BenjaminFrisch.

Besides our Soundcloud, we’re on Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest. We’ll be sharing some goodies and answering your questions—see you there!

Take a look around my website. Check out the great comics on Ben’s website. Find out more about experimental comics on Matt’s blog.

This week’s challenge:

Get an edit. This is different from the challenge for episode 7, where I suggested you to do a focus session, which is editorial collaboration that  happens during the conceptual or writing phase of a project.

An edit is a critique, and it happens on an at-least-semi-complete draft of a piece. This is when most people think of showing their work to someone (and often chicken out).

But it’s not that common that you’ll think to read your work aloud to someone. Unless you’re critiquing comics, where the images are key, I’d say this is the moment to pull out those junior-high drama club chops, and really perform your work, even it’s for an audience of one.

Your collaborator or collaborators don’t need to be editorial experts to have useful feedback, they just need to be able to get in touch with how they feel at any given moment in your story. have them take notes as best they can, and when you go back over the work after reading it, try to listen to what they say with an open heart, as hard as it can be to hear.

This week we heard from

Glynn Washington, Ira Glass,  Robert Smith, Jess Jiang, Soren Wheeler and Rob Rosenthal.


The Episode 7: Dark Forest archive

If you’re interested in learning more about how episode seven came to be, we’ve compiled our progress here for you. First is our original mix of the episode we sent to Robert and Jess, followed by their full edit and the discussion Ben I had afterward, and then the final, finished episode.

Get better at helping others make their work shine. It’s a wonderful gift to give another storyteller. But it’s not all altruism: every time you work through a story, you learn more about your own work, and how to improve it.

Get the “Become a better editor” worksheet and bonus Rob Rosenthal tips on how he trains up new editors at the Transom Story Workshop. 

I want to become a better editor.

Next time on Out on the Wire

In Episode 9: Work It, our final episode of season one, we’re talking to pros about how they make it work—life, art, money, family, everything.

Answer these 10 quick questions
to uncover the real reasons why you’re not able
to take control of your creative work.

Start Here