What Are Antagonistic Proxies? And How Can They Help Your Story?

Understanding how story works means stripping it down to the basic mechanics that undergird storyform itself. At its simplest, story is protagonist versus antagonist. However, it’s important to understand the definitions. Although we most commonly (and usefully) think of protagonist and antagonist as vibrant, three-dimensional personalities, the functional reality is a bit simpler. Protagonist is […]

Where Should You Start Plotting Your Story?

Where should you start plotting your story? Why, at the beginning of course! Except… when it comes to fiction, it’s not always that simple, is it? One of the key principles of story theory is “the ending is in the beginning.” What this means is that any consideration of how best to begin a story […]

Find a Writing Buddy! (New Edition)

Need a writing buddy? A critique partner? A beta reader? Here’s your stop! Earlier this year, I posted a “writing buddy linkup,” which opened the comments to anyone looking for a critique partner or accountability partner for their writing. The post was wildly popular and continued to receive entries throughout the year. At last count, […]

Hot Tip for Character Relationships: The Relationship IS a Character

Character relationships are at the heart of most stories. Few protagonists successfully exist in a vacuum. Most will be contextualized by their supporting cast. More than that, the relationships between characters are often the single most interesting and entertaining element in any story. When asking me about my own fiction, people sometimes wonder where I […]

How to Rediscover the Joy of Writing

It’s something of an irony that most of us come to writing because we love it—and, yet, it’s actually really freaking hard. Only somewhat tongue in cheek, I will often advise that if “you can not be a writer, then don’t.” And yet it is abundantly clear that more humans than not need to write. (And […]

What Are Plot Devices? (Why You Should Be Cautious)

What are plot devices? Basically, they’re exactly what they sound like: events that maneuver the plot in particular directions. All stories are built on plot devices. In truth, everything that happens in a story is a plot device. Story structure beats are plot devices. Character arc beats are plot devices. Plot devices are the little […]

The Two Most Important Tricks for How to Build Suspense

Perhaps the greatest skill necessary to keep readers glued to your pages is learning how to build suspense. Whether you’re writing a thriller or a quiet romance, suspense of one type or another is what makes readers race to the end of your story. Suspense comes in many different flavors, everything from the threat of […]

How to Write Interesting Happy Scenes? 6 Tips

With so much emphasis in fiction writing put upon the importance of conflict, a seemingly apt question is, “How can you write interesting happy scenes?” This was the question recently posed to me by Elena Singleterry, who wrote: If possible, I would like to ask a question about writing a happy scene. In my book, […]

8 Different Types of Scenes

Any story will require many different types of scenes. Some of this variety will come from content (romance vs. action vs. humor vs. tragedy). However, much of the variety in types of scenes will arise from the needs of pacing. Authors can find great value in understanding some of the different types of scenes, so […]

How to Use Misdirection in Your Story for Greater Impact

[Just a short post today, so I can put some energy into a super-secret project I can’t wait to share with you all. Hint? It has to do with two of my favorite things: dreamzoning and archetypal character arcs. Stay tuned! I hope to do the big reveal no later than October.] At first glance, […]