Top 14 Tips and Tools for Creating Unique Character Voices

Voice in fiction is crucial—but also elusive. First, writers must consider their own authorial voices, then the story’s specific narrative voice, and last but certainly not least character voices. In fact, if you’re writing fiction, the most important voices on the page technically aren’t yours, but your characters’. All of ’em. And they all need […]

9 Negative Character Arcs in the Enneagram

The Enneagram personality theory is a wonderful tool for writers. Beneath the surface of the system’s nine types, you can find development guides that include all the working parts of solid transformational character arcs. Last week, we discussed the positive character arcs in the Enneagram. Today, we’re going to look at the flipside: nine negative […]

9 Positive Character Arcs in the Enneagram

Character arcs aren’t just the stuff of good fiction. They’re also the essence of all personal growth and transformation. Little wonder, then, that some of the best shortcuts writers can find for identifying the most powerful character-arc options are those found in personal development tools such as the Enneagram. These days, most of us are […]

Conflict + Choices = Character Agency

Note From KMW:¬†Character agency is a hot topic these days, but truly it was always an important topic for writers. Why? Because a character (particularly a protagonist) with no agency is a character who isn’t likely to be very interesting. More than that, a character with little to no agency won’t be able to generate […]

How to Write Emotional Scenes (Without Making Them Cringey)

Learning how to write emotional scenes is one of the single most important feats any writer must rise to. We want fiction to make us feel something. I’m not talking just a little twinge of satisfaction here or there. I’m talking full-on emotional experiences: tears, laughter, cheers, even rage on occasion. Scenes in which characters […]

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 […]

Capturing Authentic Human Reactions in Fiction

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.” But sometimes the important truths in fiction are found in the tiniest representations of the world around us and the people who inhabit it. When authors faithfully […]

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 […]

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

One way to think about plot is as a “push-pull between protagonist and antagonist.” Although the protagonist is the character who frames and, indeed, decides the story’s structure, the role of the antagonist in story structure is equally important. Last week, I shared an overview of the antagonist’s role in the first five major structural […]

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 […]