Boring! How to Diagnose Your Bad Backstory

Backstory is the history of your character—the part of the story that happens before the story. As writers, it’s often tempting to think readers are every bit as fascinated with our characters backstories as we are. But don’t be fooled. Readers are only interested in what’s going to happen next. If your character’s favorite cat getting […]

4 Ways to Learn How to Daydream Better

3 Ways to Learn How to Daydream Better

You wouldn’t think you’d have to teach a writer to learn how to daydream. After all, the reason you became a writer was likely a natural outgrowth of your daydreams. Too often, however, in the mad rush of life’s busy work, daydreams are relegated to the shadowy cellars of your mind. You’ll think about them “when you have time.” […]

Antagonists Don’t Have to Be Evil

A Quick Secret to Secondary Antagonists

Much of the conflict in a story will comes in the form of people causing problems for your main character. The most obvious form of trouble is that presented by the antagonist, that supremely evil being whose sole purpose in life is to wreak havoc in the universe and cause problems for your MC. But don’t […]

See How Easily You Can Grow Your Author Mailing List

See How Easily You Can Grow Your Author Mailing List

An author mailing list is easily one of the most important marketing tools. The larger your mailing list, the more people you’ll be able to reach with all your important news: book releases, book signings, contests, giveaways, awards—and on and on. The trick to maintaining an effective email list is first convincing readers they should sign […]

4 Tips for Choosing the Most Immersive Story Settings

One of the joys of fiction is its ability to transport us to faraway places. Just by cracking the covers of a book, we can visit the far reaches of Bombay or São Paulo and the imaginative wonders of made-up worlds and galaxies. We plan our story settings meticulously, researching details and creating spectacular backdrops. […]

Does Your Story Have the Extraordinary Factor?

Does Your Story Have the Extraordinary Factor?

Readers want fiction to be extraordinary enough to thrill them with its strangeness and excitement. But they also want it be ordinary enough for them to find aspects they can relate to. How’s a writer supposed to pull off this apparent paradox? How do you make your stories both ordinary and extraordinary? Is Your Hero Ordinary […]

Exclamation Points of Emphasis in Writing

2 Must-Know Rules for Using Italics and Exclamation Points for Emphasis

Excitement is certainly something you want to infuse your stories with. Passion and power, danger and delight—they all require exclamatory writing. But something writers often forget is that emphasis (whether it’s in the form of italics or punctuation) should be treated like salt: A little goes a long way. How Not to Use Italics One of my […]

Learn Story Structure in 90 Seconds3

21 Must-Haves for Your Story Structure (in 90 Seconds)

A writer’s life is busy. Sometimes we need shortcuts. And while there really aren’t any shortcuts, sometimes there are, at least, cheat sheets. Today, I’m going to give you a Mouse-ter Class in story structure—in all of 90 seconds. Ready? Strap in and take a look at the video below to see the foundational art of […]

I Was Normal–Then I Wrote My First Story

Before I even get started I guess I probably need to disclaim my title. The very fact that I was the type of person who wanted to write a story in the first place probably means I was never normal. Stories running rampant in my head, imaginary people demanding my attention, random bits of dialogue […]

Chapter Openings: Orson Scott Card’s Occasionally-Appropriate Trick

A gimmick is a dishonest trick. As such, it’s usually not a good way to gain readers’ trust or engage them your book’s chapter openings. Except …. for when it is. Gimmicks in fiction take many forms, but most simply boil down to flashy intrusions—such as: Multiple fonts to indicate different points of view Strange […]