How Perfect Does Your Story’s Structural Timing Have to Be?

Structural timing is one of most prominent features of story structure. This positioning of a story’s important turning points is one of the keys for creating a story that feels right to audiences. As often as not, when something seems off about a story, the problem can be narrowed down to wonky structural timing. This […]

13 Rules to Be a Better Beta Reader

Among the greatest gifts one writer can give another is that being a beta reader. A beta reader is a volunteer who reads over a rough manuscript and offers feedback on what’s working and what’s not. This feedback can span the gamut from simply a general reaction to a full-on critique. But not all beta […]

How to Structure Stories With Multiple Main Characters?

One of the most common questions I’m asked is how to structure stories with multiple main characters. If you have two (or more) characters who are equally important to the story and receive equal POV time, how should you balance them when structuring your novel? At its core, story structure is a simple equation: one […]

7 Tips for Opening Your Story In Medias Res

In medias res is the useful but sometimes tricky writing technique of beginning your story “in the middle” of things. At its most basic, this is simply a solid reminder to begin your story with something happening. This might be action in the traditional sense, but it might also just be the character moving toward […]

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About In Medias Res

One of the most significant challenges for writers is crafting a beginning chapter that immediately grabs readers. Most commonly, writers are advised to accomplish this via two different methods: the hook and the technique of beginning in medias res, or “in the middle of things.” But are these really two different techniques? And if not, […]

Capturing Authentic Human Reactions in Fiction

Note: I’m taking a break this week to enjoy the holiday in the U.S., so am sharing this shortie instead of the usual post and podcast. Enjoy! The goal of all memorable fiction is to capture the truth about humanity. Sometimes that truth is weighty and all-encompassing, such as the ubiquitous “good triumphs over evil.” […]

8 Ways to Avoid Cardboard Characters (and Plot Contrivances While You’re At It)

“The plot was contrived, and the characters were cardboard.” Ouch. That’s about as bad as it can get when it comes to negative story reviews. It’s also perhaps one of the most common complaints audiences have about stories. Certainly, it’s one that irritates me the most! Here’s the thing though: cardboard characters often cause plot contrivances—and […]

Understanding the New Normal World of a Story’s Resolution

A story’s Resolution is a tiny section of the overall story. From the perspective of structural timing, the Resolution represents 2% or even less of the story’s total running time. Some stories give it the generous portion of as much as a few chapters. But in other stories, the Resolution may be implied more than […]

Understanding the Underworld of a Story’s Third Act

A story’s Third Act is unique. We often think of the Third Act in terms of its being climactic—and therefore full of excitement and high stakes. And it often is. But ultimately the Third Act fulfills a much more symbolic function within a story. Simply put, it is the proving ground for all the character […]

Understanding the Adventure World of a Story’s Second Act

Every story is an adventure. No matter its genre, focus, or tone, a story is always about an undertaking of some sort, whether cosmically large or familiarly small. This is why writers can use the metaphor of the Adventure World for a story’s Second Act to better understand this crucial part of story structure in […]