Sometimes Even Pilots Have to Wing It

After a woman falls out of the sky in front of his biplane, can a brash barnstormer help her prevent storm-wielding sky pirates from destroying his Nebraska hometown?

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7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

A chapter is a chapter and a scene is a scene. Or are they? What’s the differences between scenes vs. chapters? Are they ever the same thing? Must a chapter always be a complete scene? Or must a scene always be a chapter? What about scene breaks and chapter breaks? Is there a difference? These […]

How to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters

How to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters

Part 13 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Sometimes the greatest act of courage any person can perform is simply that of being honest. This is arguably more valid for writers than for just about anyone—and it is nowhere more valid than in being willing to stay true to your characters. Here’s the thing […]

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It's Always Their Fault

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault

It’s a morbid joke among writers: we are so mean to our characters. And we love it. It’s the stuff of good stories. It’s the stuff of epic conflict. And yet, all this very important imaginative cruelty can sometimes trip us up on our way to writing dynamic characters who can, in turn, deal with this epic […]


How to Choose the Right Antagonist for Your Story

Part 12 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel What’s the secret of how to choose the right antagonist for your story? If you’re thinking it’s probably a little more complicated than simply making him a “bad” guy who’s out to get your protagonist, you’re definitely on the right track. In fact, how to choose […]


The Only 5 Ingredients You Need for Story Subtext

If there’s a magic ingredient in writing, it’s story subtext. It’s actually not magic, of course, any more than any of the other demystified techniques of structure, theme, or character arc. But story subtext often seems like magic simply because, by its very nature, it is the execution of the unexplained. Subtext is supposed to be invisible. It lives […]


The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Foreshadow a Story

Part 11 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Really, your job as an author can be summed up in one simple word: control. It is your responsibility to control readers’ experience of your story, to make them think and feel very specific things. One of the most important and powerful ways in which […]

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Sign for the 3 Missing Pieces of Stunning Story Structure Webinar

The 3 Missing Pieces of Stunning Story Structure webinar is now available for sign up! This 90-minute presentation, hosted by Writer’s Digest, will be live online on September 15th, at 1 PM EDT (although, once you sign up, you can listen or re-listen anytime you want for up to a year). I’ll be talking story structure, answering live […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 53: No Contractions in Dialogue

What’s the worst writing mistake an author can make? It’s a broad one: doing something you think makes you look sophisticated and clever, when really… it doesn’t. A common manifestation of this is a conscientious avoidance of contractions in dialogue and narrative. I’ll admit I fell prey to this as a young writer (who not […]

The #1 Key To Relatable Characters: Backstory

The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory

Part 10 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Ever stop to think about why you enjoy backstory? I receive lots of questions from writers about backstory, most of it along the lines of: I love my backstory soooo much. How can I cram as much as possible of it into the main story? I […]

Why Writers Need To Make Way More Mistakes

6 Reasons You Need to Make Way More Writing Mistakes

Writing mistakes are frustrating—especially when that mistake is novel-sized and cost you months of work before you realized it was, indeed, a mistake. Because frustration is a negative emotion, we usually do everything in our power to, first, avoid making writing mistakes and, then, when we inevitably do make them, distance ourselves from them as […]