How to Use Antagonists in Your Story: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

How to use antagonists in your story is a critical skill that can either elevate or undermine your entire story. In many ways, antagonists are the true architects of unforgettable plots, and as you navigate the path between narrative brilliance and potential pitfalls, the art of utilizing your story’s antagonists becomes crucial to success. When […]

7 Tips to Craft Compelling Character Motivation in Fiction

From KMW:¬†As “the lie that tells the truth,” fiction only works when it is able to present a reasonable facsimile of reality. At the level of plot, it does this by creating a string of causes and effects that feel plausible. The foundation of this plausibility is the greatest “cause” of them all: character motivation. […]

Lessons From 2023: 5 Reflections on “Flat Arc” Periods

Welcome to 2024! And welcome to what has become a yearly tradition here at Helping Writers Become Authors. Every January, I write a New Year’s post in which I look back at the year that has passed and reflect on its major themes, lessons, and gifts. When I began this little ritual six years ago, […]

Violence in Fiction: 6 Archetypes

From KMW: The dictionary tells us the definition of violence is: “Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” By that definition, we can recognize that violence in fiction is a staple. Almost every story features some example, even if it’s “just” verbal aggression. Certain genres, such as mysteries and […]

Write Better Action Scenes: Make It About the Characters

[From KMW: Since I am traveling this week, I’m offering up a shorter post today about how to write better action scenes. For my birthday, I gave myself a month-long “writing retreat” in the mountains! I’ll be posting regular content again next week, and you can check Instagram for some peeks into my adventures.] As […]

How to Use Archetypes in a Series

One of the most common questions I receive is how to use archetypes in a series. The short answer is: however you want! Archetypes are endlessly adaptable. However, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Most have to do with understanding the shape of the story you’re going to be telling over the […]

Announcing Archetypal Character Guided Meditations! (+Giveaway)

All this summer, I have been working hard on a secret project that combines two of my favorite things: archetypes and guided meditation. Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am releasing six Archetypal Character Guided Meditations! Based on the six transformational character arcs that I shared in my book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs, these meditations […]

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 […]

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 Discover What Your Character Fears

At the root of all character motivations are a handful of deeply primal drivers. Love and hate, desire and fear. Fear is a big one. As the appointed protector of our survival, fear undergirds¬†many of our reasons and motives in life. Therefore, understanding what your character fears can offer significant insights into your story and […]