The Role of the Antagonist in Story Structure, Pt. 1 of 2

If you’re a student of story structure, then you probably have a pretty good idea how each of the major plot beats affects your protagonist—and, indeed, how the protagonist in turn drives the plot beats. But what about the antagonist? What is the role of the antagonist in story structure? Plot can be described in […]

Do You Have to Write Every Day? 10 Pros and Cons

Should writers make it a habit to write every day? Is that the secret to success? Is that what distinguishes “real” writers? I used to think so. Often, when someone would ask me for my single recommendation for other writers, my go-to response was to reiterate some form of the advice from Peter de Vries […]

The 6 Challenges of Writing a Second Novel

Writing your first story is a special experience. It brings many difficulties and challenges, but it also tends to carry itself (and you) along with a sense of passion, fun, and discovery. When we finish it, we may think, Well, it can only get easier from here, right? But as many sophomore writers can attest, writing […]

14 Tips for Dealing With the Passage of Time in a Story

The passage of time in a story is, in some ways, what fiction is all about. But for most authors in most stories, the passage of time won’t necessarily be an explicit consideration. If I asked you right now how much time passes in your latest story, would you know off the top of your […]

6 Ways to Craft Spectacular Set-Piece Scenes

What are set-piece scenes? They’re the big ones. They’re the scenes that define your story, not just in terms of plot mechanics, but particularly in terms of scope and impact. These are the scenes your audience will remember when they think about your story. They’re the scenes they’ll remember even when they’ve forgotten everything else about […]

3 Questions to Make Sure You Aren’t Missing Out on Important Scenes

For one reason or another, it can sometimes be tempting to avoid writing certain important scenes. Issues that are difficult emotionally or that we have to expend extra effort to research properly may be issues we’d just as soon write our way around. But doing so is usually a fast and easy way to frustrate […]

How to Know When You’re a Successful Author?

How to know when you’re a successful author? I suppose almost every writer asks this at some point—and very likely at frequent points. There are multiple ways to define and measure the answer. For many of us, the answer seems come down to commercial success. And yet because commercial success is sometimes elusive, this metric […]

Should You Take a Break From Writing? 5 Red Flags

Writers are supposed to write. That’s just how it works. But should you ever take a break from writing? Is that just code for quitting? Is it a sign you’re copping to your own laziness or fear? Or that you’re really not a disciplined, “serious” writer? The short answer: Who knows? Only you know. The more […]

9 Ways to Approach Relationship Dynamics in Fiction

Creating an amazing supporting cast that can offer important relationship dynamics in fiction will also help develop your protagonist. This isn’t just because great supporting characters will add color, drama, and nuance to your story in their own right. It’s also because every supporting character in your story has the ability to bring out new […]

Archetypes and Story Structure: How They’re Connected

By its very nature, story structure is archetypal. It is a pattern we recognize emerging from story. It is a pattern as big as life itself, and therefore one about which we are always learning more, but it is also a pattern we have been able to distill into specific systems that help us consistently […]