How To Outline Your Book Series

How to Outline a Series of Bestselling Books

Every good series has to start somewhere. If you’re of the mindset (as I am) that a problem as complicated as the novel is best approached from the big-picture view of an outline, then it only makes sense that the even greater complexities of serial fiction will benefit even more when their authors understand how […]

Top 3 Ways to Rivet Readers with Plot Twists

Top 10 Ways to Rivet Readers with Plot Reveals

Today, I’m going to show you how to make stuff happen in your story. Duh, right? What could be easier? You put characters on the page, they dance around, stuff happens. Mission accomplished. Except if you’re not using plot reveals to execute all this happenin’ stuff, your readers may end up bored anyway. What are plot reveals? […]

Top 10 Writing Posts of 2016

Top 10 Writing Posts of 2016

Did we really just wave goodbye to 2016 and enter that nebulous hinterland in which we frequently embarrass ourselves by putting the wrong year on our checks? Yep, looks like. 2016 was something of a landmark year for me. On a personal level, my life has changed in many ways I wasn’t expecting, and I […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 55

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 55: Beginning Your Story Too Late

Story beginnings are fraught with important decisions. But perhaps none of those decisions is more important than the question of when to begin your story. Too early or too late—either one can prevent readers from engaging with the story and obsessively reading on to find out what happens. Perhaps the more common mistake is beginning your story […]

Top Books of 2016

My Top Books of 2016

The one thing that’s almost as fun as looking back on the writing I accomplished during the year is looking back on reading my top books of 2016. Ironically, the one year I decide to host a “Read 100 Books in a Year” challenge on Goodreads is also the first year in recent memory when I […]

Deepen Your Story with Character Misdirection

Deepen Your Story With Character Misdirection

In childhood, stories are always about exactly what they appear: “See Spot. See Spot run.” But as we grow older and our life experiences deepen, so do our story experiences. What emerges is often a complex weave of subtext and misdirection. Life isn’t always as we perceive it on its surface—and even when it is, half the […]

To All Wordplayers A Very Merry Christmas

To All Wordplayers: A Very Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! I love this holiday because it is, for me, a time of gratitude—a time to count the blessings I sometimes take for granted throughout the rest of the year. This weekend, as I am enjoying time with my family, opening the gifts we share with each other to show appreciation and affection, […]

The #1 Way to Write Intense Story Conflict

The #1 Way to Write Intense Story Conflict

One of the main pursuits of any writer is story conflict. The old saw tells us, “no conflict, no story,” so we’re always chasing after this little friction-causing engine. But as with so many things in writing, sometimes concentrating on the thing itself ends with us missing the forest for the trees. Story conflict is […]

A New Way To Structure Your Story's Scenes

A New Way to Think About Scene Structure

Stories live and die on their scene structure. A great plot—even a well-structured great plot—won’t be able to stand if its individual scenes are floundering with no clear sense of purpose and direction in the overall story. Dwight V. Swain engineered the classic approach to scene structure, which breaks down each scene into integers of […]

3 Things to Do if Your Antagonist Is Taking Over Your Story

Next to your protagonist, your antagonist is the single most important character in your story. But beware, lest you discover your antagonist is taking over your story. What does this look like? Why might it happen? And how can you guard against it? Glad you asked. Antagonists are fascinating people. The reasons why people choose […]