Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?

Why do some stories work and others don’t? The answer is structure. Discover the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. Now available!

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Your Character's Arc in the First Half of the Second Act

Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 9: The First Half of the Second Act

In the structure of character arcs, the First Half of the Second Act is where your character ventures (or is thrust) into uncharted territory—and gets lost. He may not quite see it that way himself, but this is where he begins to discover that the old rules (the Lie He Believes) no longer apply. This […]


Vacation Notice: See You in a Week!

If you’re hunting for the next post in the Creating Stunning Character Arcs series, it will be available next Sunday. I apologize for the break in scheduling, but I’m not too sorry, since as you’re reading this, I’m headed for a week in Honolulu. Thought I’d better mention my absence this time, since the last time I checked […]

elephant in the room are you ignoring your story revision instincts

The Elephant in the Room: Are You Ignoring Your Story Revision Instincts?

We’ve all had those fluid writing moments in which everything just seems to pour onto the paper with grace. The words come from a place you can’t always call upon. In the moment, everything seems eternally beautiful and poetic, and you fear someone will walk through the door and shatter your fragile thoughts. Sometimes, we […]

A thief trying to steal a handbag from a girl

Is Honesty the Most Important Trait in a Likable Character?

Memorable characters come in many shades—everything from Heathcliff’s murderous manipulation to Steve Rogers’s aw-shucks idealism. Sometimes the not-so-likable characters end up being all the more interesting and enduring for their inner darkness. But, generally speaking, most authors are on a mission to write a likable character. We want readers to fall in love with our […]

your character's arc in the first plot point

Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 8: The First Plot Point

If the First Act is setup, then the First Plot Point is the point of no return in character arcs. The setup ends, and the story begins “for realz.” At this point the character commits—usually because he has no choice—to a decision that will propel him out of the comfortable stagnation of the Normal World […]

Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing

Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing

Sometimes the only way you can make progress as a writer is to walk away from your writing. Many writers attest to the necessity of “bum glue” to finish their manuscripts. Some joke about tying themselves to their office chairs. I’ve been known to stick my feet in a bucket of water to curb my […]

vicarious love multiple povs

Vicarious Love: The Greatest Advantage of Multiple POVs

Multiple points of view—should you use them or should you not? More genre books than not use multiple POVs to present multiple protagonists–or sometimes just to give readers a glimpse at what’s happening behind the main character’s back. Usually, I’m more inclined to discuss their drawbacks, because, sadly, they’re more likely to be abused than […]

your character's arc in the first act

Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 7: The First Act

The First Act is one of my favorite parts of any story. Why? On the surface, the First Act seems to be the slowest part of the story—and it often is. It’s just setup, after all, right? True enough, except for that one little word just. It isn’t “just” setup; it’s SETUP! It sets up […]

sherlock holmes lessons for writers

Sherlock Holmes vs. C. Auguste Dupin: 4 Ways to Improve Your Writing

Sherlock Homes rose and lit his pipe. “No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” he observed. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow.–A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Fighting words—within the detective genre, anyway. Yet  the term “detective” had not yet been coined when […]

is your story's tone lying to readers

Is Your Story’s Tone Lying to Readers?

We might define your story’s tone as its attitude. More than that, it’s a guide for readers to help them determine their attitude while reading your story. As such, you have to set your story’s tone right from the beginning. Funny, cheeky, sad, dark, cynical, hopeful? What’s your story’s tone? Even more importantly, does your […]