Announcing the Story Structure Database!

Want to know more about the structure of your favorite books and movies? Search the database to find exactly what you're looking for.

Check It Out!

The Pixar Way to Think About Story Conflict

The Pixar Way to Think About Story Conflict

This week’s video offers two lessons you can learn from the complicated story conflict in Toy Story to improve your own writing. Video Transcript: Conflict, conflict, conflict! It’s like this mantra among fiction writers, right? And we all nod our heads in agreement, because we all know story conflict is integral to good storytelling. But […]


Protagonist and Main Character— Same Person? The Answer May Transform Your Story!

Writers tend to use the terms for protagonist and main character interchangeably. In fact, if asked to define one of these terms, we would probably come right back with the other term as our quickest explanation. And why not? Both describe a story’s central character, right? Not necessarily. This argument doesn’t even matter most of […]

Give Your Readers Exactly What THey Don't Want1

How to Make Readers Happy by Giving Them Exactly What They DON’T Want

This week’s video shows you how to make readers happy by taking advantage of their conflicting desires for the fate of your characters. Video Transcript: I think it’s safe to say when you ask pretty much anybody what they want out of life, they’re not going to come up with answers that involve mind-numbing tragedy, […]

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Sign Up for the Outlining Your Novel Webinar!

My Outlining Your Novel: Create a Roadmap to Storytelling Success webinar is back again! This 90-minute presentation, hosted by Writer’s Digest, will be live online on August 27th at 1 PM EDT (although you can listen or re-listen anytime you want for up to a year). I’ll be talking outlines, answering live questions, and critiquing participants’ outlines. It’s […]

New Story Ideas Distracting You From Your Book? Find Out What You Should Do

New Story Ideas Distracting You From Your Book? Find Out What You Should Do

Sometimes inspiration is dangerous. One of my best recipes for “dreamzoning” is a campfire and music on a moonbright summer night. The good part? My story senses inevitably start tingling and I always come away with dozens of fabulous new scenes for existing stories. The bad part? Sometimes–like last week–I come away with brand new story ideas. In this instance, […]

Learn How NOT to Waste Your Story Setting’s Full Potential

Learn How NOT to Waste Your Story Setting’s Full Potential

This week’s video talks about how Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island benefited from a full and imaginative use of its story setting—and how you can add the same value to your own book. Video Transcript: Story setting should never be a throwaway decision. Your setting is going to influence every page you write. Not only does […]

Covers copy

Need a Professional Book Cover? My Recommendation Is Damonza

Who does your book covers? I get asked that question a lot. With the ever-increasing influx of independent publishing opportunities, producing a high-quality, affordable, and professional book cover is a must. Book cover design is an art unto itself, and one that is integral to any author’s marketing efforts. Unless you happen to be an expert […]

4 Methods to Invigorate Your Prose With Surprising Sentences

4 Methods to Invigorate Your Prose With Surprising Sentences

Good storytelling is all about the big pieces: structure, character, theme. But good writing? That’s much more intricate, much more intimate. Good writing is about creating purposeful and interesting prose. Creating prose of that caliber starts with the mechanics of grammar and spelling. But any middle-schooler is supposed to be able to do that. The art of […]

New Posting Schedule--And Other Wordplayer News

New Posting Schedule–and Other Wordplayer News

Today’s post is a quick heads-up on a couple of important news items and site updates. New Posting Schedule The most important announcement is that I’m going be implementing a few minor changes to the weekly posting schedule. Starting next week, it will look like this: Monday: Main text posts (those previously published on Sunday) […]


Did You Know “Show vs. Tell” Matters in Foreshadowing Too?

This week’s video offers two examples of how tell vs. show in foreshadowing can weaken the overall effect on your story—and what you can do instead. For the last five weeks, we’ve been exploring all kinds of important storytelling tricks we can learn from Steven Spielberg’s bravura classic Jurassic Park. We’ve come to the end […]