Out On The Wire

Episode 6: Proof of Concept Transcript

with your host Jessica Abel

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This is our transcript of Episode 6: Proof of Concept, adapted from our script. It’s about 90-95% correct. Please verify against the audio before quoting.


I’m Jessica Abel, and we’re going Out on the Wire.

The show about making stories, step by step.

Out on the Wire is a show about how to tell stories, all kinds of stories, in any narrative medium. We go behind the scenes with the best radio and podcast producers out there, finding out what they have to tell us about story.

And together, we’re making new stories, following the principles of storytelling I discovered while researching my new documentary comic, Out on the Wire: the Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio.

Last time, I gave you a whole set of tools for conducting amazing interviews, and we talked about how research feeds your imagination and your inspiration.

This time, we’re wheels-up, starting an actual, honest-to-goodness draft. With plenty of looks back at what you’ve prepared so far to get you started right, of course!

And at the end of the show, we’ve got a new challenge for you, that will keep you on the road to building a great story.

Out on the Wire. It’s about taking risks. Putting it all on the line. Opening yourself up to the world. Telling your story.

So come on, let’s get out on that wire.

This is episode 6: Proof of concept.  

Chapter 1: Testing your hypothesis

If you’re doing our challenges, at this point, you probably feel like you’ve done a lot already. And you have. You’ve focused your story idea, you’ve written character backstory, you developed a story madlib, you’ve researched and interviewed…

You’ve developed a pretty complete hypothesis of what your eventual story will turn out to be. It may not be in technicolor, but you’re starting to see its form, feel it’s substance.

That’s great. So, what have you not done? Well, there’s that small matter of actually writing your first draft.

I call your work so far a hypothesis advisedly. Your job now is to test that hypothesis with experimentation. with action. By writing.

The rubber has to hit the road. You’ve got to just start writing the actual thing itself.

And one of the worst moments in your whole project can hit you right now, just as you sit down to start work.

Your level of anxiety shoots up. What did you want to say? What do you do first? Why did this sound like a good idea?

That blank page. Oh lord.  

Remember that feeling you had back at the beginning of this whole thing? This story needs to be told, oh god, I can’t tell this story.

But here’s the thing: your page is not blank. You’ve done so much thinking and preparation that it’s actually full of potential energy. You just have to release it.

So if you’re casting around for how to approach the problem…

Ira Glass:

First of all, almost always, its chronological. First of all because if you tell a story in order, that’s the natural way to tell any story, and you get the advantage of narrative suspense. If you start lining things up, actions in a sequence this thing happened to then this next thing, and than this next thing, it raises the question of what’s going to happen next. And narrative suspense is your friend as a writer. And you want to use the ancient power that as one of your tools to keep people with you. And listening.

Ira Glass is a big fan of keeping it simple to start off with. This happened, then this, then this. You’ve already got a timeline built into your Story Madlib. So begin with the beginning. Start with the first thing you know. You can play with the order later.

Ira Glass

So chronological is the default. and then it’s just a matter of your taste. Here are the two or three moments that I know I love. You know, I just love these moments. This is the thing that’s at the heart of it. And then there’s like six or eight or 10 or 12, that, I kind of like these. And if I can work them and that would be fine.

Of course Ira’s talking about writing nonfiction here, of course, where you are literally choosing among quotes or bits of tape, anecdotes or great emotional moments. But the same applies for fiction, you just have to use your imagination to invent those moments. 

Ira Glass

And then the only thing you can do is just to start to write the story.


So, chronological. But chronological what?


Joe Richman

My stories are usually scene based. Structure is always really hard. But if there’s any structural guide, it’s thinking more like a filmmaker. Where things are scene based.


Joe Richman works with people to tell their own stories in his Radio Diaries. He hands a diarist a recorder, and then works with that person over months, even up to a year, to self-record his or her life. The final stories are mostly in the demanding style of non-narrated audio, where there’s no scripted narration, the only tape he uses is that which has been recorded by the diarist.


[Team Contender story audio]


Such as in his story Teen Contender, with Claressa Shields, then-Olympic boxing hopeful (and now gold-medallist).


[Team Contender story audio]


Joe Richman:

this is the scene where she’s talking to her dad. This is the scene where she’s walking over here, is the same where she’s at the gym, this is the scene where she is kind of late night, there’s some diary entries, things that act like narration that can happen anywhere, and you, sometimes what you do, Is like you’re breaking everything up into little atoms, and then restoring it in some way. And so these things can happen anywhere, but the foundation are scenes.


Once he’s got all that tape, he starts grouping it up, putting thematically-linked bits together. Basically, if he’s got Claressa talking alone in her room about boys, and her coach at the gym giving her hard time about boys, he can put two those bits together, and start to think about how they could become a scene, and then where to place it among the more chronological pieces of the story of Claressa training for the Olympic trials.


[story audio]


This is exactly how I worked on my book, Out on the Wire. It’s how I write this show, for that matter.


For example,I found all the moments in my interview transcripts and research when someone talked about focusing an idea, and I made little files of each, and then threw them in a folder in Scrivener (which is the software I use to write).


Of course, this is nonfiction, where you’re dealing with many facts on the ground, quotes from real people, chronology that exists. When you’re making fiction, you’re inventing whole cloth. But still, you can usefully lump together various ideas you may have had about a phase of chronology, what characters might say, what might happen.


But how does a bunch of stuff on the same topic, or even a chronological bit of action magically transform into a “scene”?


For me, once I did my cutting and grouping, I would read through and use sub-folders to sub-group thoughts where they intersected and reflected on one another. So, for the ideas chapter, I grouped together all the bits that talked about the focus sentence.


Then I could shift the order around, and figure out how to write the connective tissue that linked the bits together, which became my narration.


Each of those sub-folders represented a scene, and scenes have little mini-arcs of their own.


You could call this “chapter” in this podcast, right now, a scene. It has no chronology that I haven’t imposed on it, but it does follow an argument. I start by linking back to the previous episodes and the work you’ve completed. Then I raise a question I imagine you to be asking: “How do I turn all this stuff into an actual story? What next?” Then I give you a few tools: chronology, and scenes. And my hope is, you’re like uh, DUH! just tell it in order! I can do that! Which may actually feel surprising, and great, since the you I’m imagining at the beginning of this show may be feeling anxious, and now maybe you’re feeling more in control.


Remember how, in episode 3, I said,


“The story you want to tell is about events or ideas that change something. Change the world, change the person experiencing them.”


Change is your story. So the things about that person that caused change, or felt change, those are the parts of the person that make up the character.”


So just as stories are about change, and characters are about change, scenes are about change.


A character enters a scene in one emotional state, something happens, and then the character leaves in a different emotional state.


Or we go from some conception, to having our understanding challenged, to coming to a new understanding of whatever it is.


That’s what I’m trying to do for you right now. Joe Richman again:


Joe Richman

I think about, there’s the big narrative of the story, and within that there are narratives with chapters and within that, there are these mini-narratives. Of just every little moment.


And just as importantly, a scene has a clear beginning, and it has an end.


Joe Richman

because If you don’t have things that feel like it’s starting a chapter, and then it’s ending a chapter,  and this is the beginning and this is the ending, it’s just mush. And you can deal with mush if you have a reporter coming in or host coming in and saying, “and then what happened was…,” but if you don’t have that, that mushy run on sentence is just deadly.


Jessica Abel

What are the things that tell you have that?


Joe Richman

A lot of it is just, when you’re interviewing,  or when you’re cutting tape,  is just beginnings and endings,  it’s all about beginnings and endings. That’s just the way I need to think about it. Is like how to build it with little blocks.


Many of the producers I talk to for Out on the Wire talked about scenes as rhythmic units. And it makes sense. You’ve got these cycles, repeating.


Beginning, middle, end.


New beginning. middle. end.


And these cycles fit within larger cycles, the chapters, where you have a larger change, a larger emotional or informational difference between where you were and where you are now. Arcs within arcs.


Glynn Washington:

what you have to do is reinvent the story every 3 minutes. Really, even shorter than that. Probably, you’re going to have a new scene every 90 secs, if keep on cranking that wheel can go on for a very long time. What you can’t do, we can’t do can’t do is sit. Got to move.


Glynn Washington’s show, Snap Judgment, has more evident rhythm than others. It’s soundtracked straight through, and their tagline is “storytelling with a beat.” But Glynn’s not talking about music, he’s talking about scenes.


Ira talked about this in an old article I uncovered from way back in 1998 on Current.org. He said that he’d analyzed a whole pile of NPR stories, and he found that  “every 45 or 50 seconds, you’ll go to a piece of tape.”


and I love this part:


“I bring this up because I produced this writer named David Sedaris, and from the very first time I saw him read, I knew his work would work for the radio — not only because it was completely original, and not only because it was really, really funny, and not only because he had a great reading style that was totally his — but he told anecdotes that ended every 45 or 50 seconds. And I knew I could make it work for Morning Edition.”


I love it because, not only “this writer named David Sedaris”… But because Ira explicitly draws the connection between rhythms in audio and in prose. If you’re reading prose out loud, you’ll be able to hear its rhythm.


And I’ll draw the connection for comics. You can often literally see scene changes so clearly, in color or density of black or style, and flipping through a comic you can sense its rhythm. Rhythm is a univeral to storytelling.


But the thing is, your rhythm is very personal. You don’t have to stick to the 45-second rule. Some writers will create leisurely, long scenes, some feel far more scattacto. Your rhythm is your voice shining through. And identifying that voice one way you’ll figure out how you build scenes.

Chapter 2: Iterations


Ok, Great. Thanks, Jess. Sit my ass down and start. That’s super helpful.


Seriously. What if that’s not working? What if what you’re writing just feels…wrong? Does that mean your story hypothesis is crap?


Well, my number one thought is, it will sometimes feel wrong, and that’s fine. Just keep going.


But my number 2 thought is, that’s not what I do. And it’s not what Radiolab does, either. Soren Wheeler, senior producer at Radiolab, and inventor of “the Soren” (episodes 2 and 4), is maybe even more obsessed with collaboration than I am.


Jessica Abel:

So major major emphasis on collaboration?


Soren Wheeler:

Major. Major in fact, also I would act not just in terms of story structure and whether it feels right and an edit and all that, but in terms of writing.


The really good writing comes out of interaction between me and the producer, for me and Jad or whatever, it does not come out when they go back to sit down at their computer.


every version you’ve heard on the radio came out of one person saying, it’s like blah blah blah. No no no, it’s like dah dah dah. And eventually you’ll go back, no that’s too much like, how about dadada. It’s always is a “said to other people” thing. And then somebody will be like stop. Write that down. That one that andy just said. That, okay, right it, okay got it. And then you go into the studio, and you might tweak it in the studio after that, because you’re delivering it again. But yeah, so the writing is, happens in the space between two people.


I don’t see any way of making this without those kinds of interactions.


And I think this moment, right here, this is where I got the idea that has kind of changed my life in the last couple of years. Recording these conversations I have with Ben or Matt or Meagan, my editor for my book Out on the Wire.


Recording them, and then going back to listen to the moments where something clicked to take notes. And even during the process of listening again, more things click.


What do these collaborative conversations sound like? Often it’s a lot of me explaining what I think needs to happen, and the other person asking “why”? And then we often go back to my story MadLib and the ancillary questions: What happened first? What next? What’s interesting about it? Why does this matter?


Ben and I just recently got a LOT better at this, after going through the gauntlet of producing episode 4: Bare Bones. In that one, remember, I spent an extra week or two agonizing over my script, because I really had not done the work to first figure out my focus sentence, my XY Story Formula, or my Soren.


And I did not get back on track until Ben asked me the right questions, and I went through the process of figuring out the answers.


[Ben asking questions]


I had a mess of writing. A big pile. but none of it made sense without the focus. I had to go back and find that.


This is what happens in my fantasy version of the best TV writers’ rooms. Someone comes in with a basic story outline, and then in the writers room, everyone else’s job is to ask the right questions to make the story become what


Ira Glass confirmed my dream at least occasionally comes true in reality. He was a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and became friends with one of the writers, Marti Noxon. Once he had a chance to visit the set. He came away with a This American Life edit-room meme.


Ira Glass

Did I tell you this thing about “what does Buffy feel?”

This has become a shorthand among the bunch of us here in the show. but years ago when Buffy the vampire slayer was still on the air , I basically talked my way onto the set; and sat in the writers room of Buffy one day, as they were working out one of their stories, and that particular day, for whatever reason, Sarah Michelle Gellar had a family, the star of the show had like a family thing she had to deal with, and was gonna have to miss four days of shooting. and so they needed to come up with plot line for an episode of a TV show where the main character wouldn’t be there.


[Clip from Buffy episode: “Gone”]


and they came up very quickly with the idea of, let’s have her turn invisible, so that way just shoot the scene for the beginning of the episode, and for the end of the episode, and for the other scenes, she’ll just do voice over later. and that way we can shoot a whole episode and she won’t have to be here.


David Fury was the writer who came up with this. He later went on to lots of other amazing things, and he is a really amazing writer. and basically like you know, very very quickly like he came up with the structure for the show and they have a whiteboard, he basically walked through here the beats, ok this thing happens, then this things, she turns invisible and this happens, here’s the scene with Spike, you know, commercial break .


Mainly just walks through the things in a very quick presentation to the rest of the staff to say, here is what I’m thinking, what are you thinking? And he gets through the whole thing and Marti says, “what does Buffy feel?”


like, when is the moment where we register what her feelings. Look at everything that’s happening to her. She goes through this trauma, she turns invisible and nobody knows she’s there, and you know nobody understands, and she becomes visible again, and also there are all these other things, what does Buffy feel like. Like where we have to build in the spot where we see what she feels? which David obviously knew.


[Clip from Buffy episode: “Gone”]


and I think about that all the time. Because when you walk through the plot, it totally was very impressive like that episode is out there, you can watch it on the internet. and, and I feel like it pointed out to me the general principle that, when you are doing a drama, the reason why you are walking people through your plot is so we can feel along with them.


If we don’t remember WHY Buffy feels the way she feels, we forget the stakes, we forget why this struggle is important to her character, and therefore to us.


Chana Joffe-Walt is great at building scenes, and telling a story chronologically. But remember when we heard from her in Episode 4? She talked about just this moment, where you have a pile of stuff written, but it’s not feeling right. That’s her moment to revisit the big why. The framing of the story. WHY does this story matter?


Chana Joffe-Walt

And so I often have a moment like a third of the way into the thing, where I’m like, where is the thing gonna be where I’m sort of stepping back, and the thoughts that I’m usually having are, oh this is like that thing that everybody experiences. Okay this is going to be interesting  for this reason, and I need to say that in some way explicitly. So that people know that that is why this is interesting.


You hit a point where you lose your sense of where you are. And it could happen very very early in the process. And it will probably happen multiple times, if you’re writing anything with any kind of complexity at all.


All of this means you need to reorient and revise.


You’ve been experimenting in the lab, you’re getting your first results, and you realize you need to revisit your hypothesis. Your Story Madlib.


Chapter 3: …Meanwhile, Back In The Lab…


So, since we all know I live in the land of Meta. (I know, you thought I was in France…) Here’s what happened to me…yesterday.


I’ve told you I’ve been working on Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars for over 8 years. But I’m just now about to start drawing the 3rd book, which completes the first arc of the story. I finished the script a few weeks ago, and gave it to Matt to read. And then we planned an editorial session, so I could get his notes. He opens with this bombshell.


Matt Madden

You’ve got a big problem with the ending, because you’re adding a new plotline and you’re going to lose your readers.


And as I told Ben later…


Jessica: when he said that I was like oh man… he’s right. It had never occurred to me before.


Since the beginning, I’ve had this vision for Trish Trash that would span three major story arcs. And I’ve had this idea for the end of the first arc, that Trish would get on a ship and leave Mars. But what’s the number one thought you’d have if a character is setting out to be the first Martian human to visit Earth in 150 years?


What’s gonna happen?


And I do not have a contract to create the second arc. There is no guarantee that there will ever BE a second arc. And I cannot leave all my readers hanging, possibly forever.


And so I decided to refocus the ending, which I did by going back to the bare bones of the story. I looked at my hypothesis and used that to help me figure out where to go.


Jessica: if there’s one objective to meet she needs to be rollergirl of mars at the end of the book. what does trish want…that is what the book is about. if i didn’t want to deal with those things i shouldn’t have called it that in the first place.


But I can’t just tear everything up and start over. The first volume of Trish Trash is already published, in French at least (English soon, I promise).


Jessica: It puts me in the position of a nonfiction writer, because even though I made up these thoughts. there are these facts I establish early on….parents are missing….has to resolve…by the end of the book…these are facts…

Trish will not get out unscathed. There will be losses on the path. But she WILL be rollergirl of Mars.  


You need to know. THIS PROCESS IS NORMAL. This constant back and forth IS the writing process.


And you don’t need to take my word for it, I called up a couple of people from the working group who I knew were going through the same thing.


Sarah Leavitt is working on an historical fiction graphic novel about a serial killer who may or may not have really existed. She’s about a third of the way into drawing the book now.


Sarah Leavitt

if you were tracing my progress on the story, it would be like a scribble, going back and forth..revisiting places and further and back.


Every time, my idea of the story shifts, which means i have to go back and check my focus which has illuminated my focus was not clear enough. ….and when it came time to write the Madlib i had to rewrite it a bunch of times to figure out what the focus was. not the main shape of the story, but how she moves through events and some of the particulars of those events


The Madlib itself, your understanding of what the story is and why it matters, will change again and again as you work. The structural underpinnings of the story and the execution of the story are in constant play against one another.


This process happens over and over. Jayson Merryfield is working on a short novel for Nanowrimo, national novel writing month. We first talked about his story in workshop episode 3.5. For him, the story madlib and the writing process inspired a new insight that will make his book exponentially more powerful.


Jayson Merryfield

If i haven’t put thought into it, you feel lost…By using the madlib to give more signposts and goals writing becomes easier, i’m not on my own for as long.


Specifically Jayson had a revelation about his main character, Sydney. She’s hardboiled detective whose father was a community organizer, and she reveres him. He’s a major motivator behind the way she lives her life.


But then he realized he could push the character, test her, by damaging her image of her father.


Jayson Merryfield

The idea that her father isn’t going to match up is going to be a huge revelation for her. It was a huge rush and did a bunch of research…Jimmy Hoffa, what was his story, google didn’t know where his body was…


it was a really big rush but because i was planned out, it helped me i knew the whats, but then the whys came easier.


You’re never done with your research, with the three big questions for a character-based work: who is the protagonist, what does he want, and what stands in his way?


You’re never done with your story Madlib. It’s a living document.


Soren Wheeler

The hardest part of the job is the changing of scales.  it might be the you’re focused on one little piece of tape that you’re deeply in love with, your trying to make work right, up against this other piece of tape…


Soren and I were talking on Skype, and he pushed his face up close to the camera to demonstrate.


Soren Wheeler

I’ll definitely endlessly tell my producers: bounce it, put it on your phone, walk around the block with it. Or, listen to it somewhere… move your physical position and listen to it in a different space. Because this at your computer is your zeroed in production place.


Jessica Abel

it’s like having, you write some something and you put it in a drawer for a month.


Soren Wheeler

One of the big things with producers as they’ll, when they’re in their tight mode making something, are you ready with a draft? Oh no not quite yet… and then it’s like, how about now are you ready? Well know I still have this problem…


and my move is always like, I don’t care if it’s pile of shit on a plate, you going to put in front of me. And then I’m your friend. I asked you for a pile of shit, so when I look at it and say it’s a pile of shit, I’m not saying that as a critical boss. I’m saying yes, this was a pile of shit. Which is what I expected it to be, because you hadn’t had much time with it, but like they just have to get it out. Put in front, bring it back in, get it out and put it in front, bring it back in, get it out…. If they haven’t does that six times, it’s not going to be a good story.


God knows, iterations should be some kind of religion.


Iterations should be some kind of religion.


I think if I did a word-cloud of my interview with Soren, the largest word after “the” would be “iterations.”


I love this advice. Get in deep and work solo. Then go to a cafe and talk it through with a friend. Then listen to the tape of that conversation and analyze. dive in again. Spend some time with your Story Madlib.




chapter 4: Who is that guy again?


And then the other thing that can happen is that you get so deep in your story, not only do you lose sight of your hypothesis, you let your audience lose track of it, too.


Sean Cole

I did a story for Roman… the fence story.


Sean Cole is talking about working with Roman Mars on “Some Other Sign that People Do Not Totally Regret Life”, 99% Invisible episode #59, which we talked about in Out on the Wire episode 4.


Sean Cole

And what I realized I was doing was making sure at every turn of the story, everybody was super, super clear on what was going on, and who was who. Which is not something I ever would have before.


And that’s something that Radiolab does well. And in spades. It’s like all right, so remember, ok, this is that guy, who is that guy? that is that guy, ok? And like, at first I thought it was kind of annoying… But then, I would, like, listen to old pieces and be like, oh no! I don’t know what’s going on! I don’t know who’s talking!


That’s what happens when you put a project away for a while. You start to be able to have enough perspective to edit it like an outside person would.


Sean Cole

I name a person that we’ve heard of and he says who is he again? And I say. That’s what I mean by checking in and making sure everybody knows what’s happening…And why things are important.


That’s something Radiolab does a ton. Like: this is crazy! And I’m going to tell you why it’s crazy! You can sell a lot of ideas that way.




Sean Cole

Signposting, that’s what I’m trying to say! Yeah. Yes, it took me forever and too many words to say it. Signposting is something I got from radiolab. Radiolab signposts like a motherfucker, all over the place. At first was like you don’t need to flag everything, but then later I was like, actually, you know, it keeps people in the game, kind of.


But signposting might be the hardest part of the story to envision correctly, because you’re in way too deep.


So when you do you do talk about your work with someone, there will be moments when you can tell from their face that they’re lost. and that’s where you need a signpost to get them oriented again.


Soren Wheeler

and You’ve gone through so many times, you’re not gonna get lost. you know, you’re never getting lost in this information.This information is like a groove in your brain. so you don’t need signposts. Sign posting is probably one of the most…


Jessica Abel

Collaborative elements or something?


Soren Wheeler



…and that’s what radio people call “the edit.”


We’ll talk about the edit, which I often call the critique, soon. In episode 8.


Which is not the next episode I’m afraid.


Because in between, we’re going to have to go through the Dark Forest.


Don’t worry. I’ll hold your hand.


challenge intro


Now for this week’s challenge. Remember, we post new full episodes every two weeks. At the end of each episode, there is a challenge, designed to get you working on a narrative project of your own.


The challenges build on one another, so that over the course of the season, you move forward with your project.


And if you find yourself in need of timely feedback, you know where you can find it: in the Out on the Wire Working Group.


Even if you’re listening to this episode weeks or months after the initial release, you can post your work in the discussion devoted to each episode’s challenge.


You join the Working Group by going to my website at jessicaabel.com/podcast, and signing up to receive my newsletter.


That’s Jessicaabel.com/podcast.




OK, this week, you can probably guess what I’m going to say.


Write a scene. It can be any scene, it doesn’t have to be at the beginning, but if you’re posting to the Working Group, make it a short one.


Whether or not you’re working along with us in the Working Group, here’s what you want to do:


Is there a chronology to rely on? great. Start with that. If not, put your ideas or bits of tape in an order that builds from individual elements to coherent argument.


Ask yourself questions: Why is this scene in the story? What do we get from it?


What does Buffy feel?


What change does it represent? Remember: Just as stories are about change, and characters are about change, scenes are about change.


Write it, then iterate it. Read it out loud to someone and get feedback. Record it, then listen on your headphones while taking a walk. Rewrite.


Then check it against your hypothesis. Does this scene change what you understand about your story?


Post your scene on the Working Group and get feedback from us.


As you probably know, we post workshop episodes in intervening weeks between the full episodes, where Matt and Ben and I discuss some of the most interesting work posted on the group that week.


Work posted by SATURDAY November 28, 2015, at midnight Pacific Time, will be eligible to be featured on the next workshop episode. Don’t worry: We’ll ask permission before talking about your work on air.


And if you’re listening after that date, you can still post and get feedback! We just can’t talk about your work on the show.


Again, you can get access to the group by signing up on my website: jessicaabel.com/podcast.




I’ll have show notes on this episode, including


  • links to the stories we referenced
  • And some fantastic resources our members have been sharing in the working group.


on my site, at jessicaabel.com/podcast.


You can also get show notes emailed to you, if you’re on the newsletter.


I mentioned my main go-to writing software, Scrivener, in this episode. Scrivener is not sponsoring the show, I just really like it and wanted to share, so I reached out to them, and they’ve offered a discount code just for Out on the Wire listeners. Use the code “Wire”  at checkout for a 20% discount. You do have to buy Scrivener directly from the company, not via the app store, to take advantage of this code, so we’ll have a link on our show page.


We’ve got a great bunch of patrons on Patreon, and we really hope you’ll consider joining them, and contributing your support to this show. We’ve got extended interviews with Larissa MacFarquhar, Stephanie Foo, and Jonathan Mitchell as well as additional Ira Glass interview clips, in there for our patrons, and we’ve designed thank-you gifts for you, everything from hand drawn internet avatars to personal story consultations with me.

Your support really means the world to us!

We’ve got links to our Patreon at my website, at jessicaabel.com/podcast.


You can find me on twitter at @jccabel. Benjamin is @BenjaminFrisch.


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Out on the Wire produced by Benjamin Frisch, with music contributed by Matt Madden.

Made with the support of La Maison des Auteurs, Angouleme.


And special thanks to our voice actor this episode, Gilles Colas.


See you in a week with Benjamin Frisch and Matt Madden for a discussion of some of your work from the Out on the Wire Working Group in our workshop episode!

and then in two weeks with…Episode 7: Dark Forest

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Get Bonus Content & Support Out on a Wire


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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