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The Two Halves of the Midpoint

The Midpoint is unique among the major structural turning points. Not only is it made up of its own two individual halves—working together to create a scene arc—but the Midpoint also marks the dividing line between the two halves of the entire story arc. As we explored last year in our series on chiastic structure […]

Black Friday Deals for Writers

This Black Friday weekend, you can use the code OUTLINE to grab my Outlining Your Novel Workbook software at a special holiday discount of 25% its normal price of $40. (And scroll down for a list of deals from all around the online writing community.)   Start Outlining Your Best Book Today As a reader […]

Happy Thanksgiving, Wordplayers!

Happy Thanksgiving, Wordplayers! I’m taking this week off to focus on the things I’m grateful for in my life. Mostly just for fun, I thought I’d share a random list of some them: Wordplayers! This site, which keeps me learning and writing and thinking week after week, month after month, year after year. Beautiful, beautiful […]

The Two Halves of the First Plot Point

The First Plot Point is one of the most important turning points within the entire structure of story. As with all of the major structural beats, the idea of a “turning point” offers the inherent concept of two halves: turning away from one thing/state into another thing/state. The First Plot Point is often referred to […]

The Two Halves of the Inciting Event

Stories are made of scenes. By one of their simplest definitions, scenes are transitions. They signify a change of some sort—an arc. They start in one place (whether a physical place or an abstract “place”), and they end in another. This is how we determine whether something happens in a scene and whether it “moves […]

Humanizing the Bad Guy (or, Some Thoughts on Violence in Fiction)

Our sense of story is almost like an extrasensory organ. It enables us to pick up on subtle signals in tone and intent and this allows us to interpret how we should respond when we encounter violence in fiction. These signals are more important than the actual act we are reading about or viewing. This […]

6 Questions to Help You Avoid Repetitive Scenes

It takes a lot of scenes to make a novel. Not only do we need enough scenes to progress the plot and get the characters from Point A to Point B, we also need to reach a certain word count so the book can be a novel. (Or the movie can be a movie. Ya […]

How to Make Your Character’s Choices More Difficult

One of the best things about conflict is that it pushes your characters to act. In every scene, your characters are making choices—big ones and small ones and thereby steering their fate. Some decisions will be obvious and require little to no thought, but others will be muddier, with no clear “better” option, generating inner […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Mage Arc: Evil and the Weakness of Humankind

It is appropriate that the final archetypal character arc of the life cycle—the Mage Arc—should be the one to finally confront the ultimate antagonist within the human experience. This is, of course, Evil—in all its abstraction. As the final arc, the Mage symbolizes the end of life and, presumably, its fulfillment. Because the Mage is […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Crone Arc: Death Blight and Tempter

As the fifth of six archetypal character arcs in the life cycle, the Crone Arc offers the first great challenge of a character’s Elder years. Fundamentally, it is a story about a character coming to grips with the full magnitude of mortality. And indeed Death itself is the primary archetypal antagonist within a Crone Arc—or […]