4 Ways to Write a Thought-Provoking Mentor Character

Part 16 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Good stories rise and fall based on their minor characters. You can write an amazing protagonist, but if he isn’t supported by an equally amazing cast, the story will fail to fully develop the protagonist himself, fail to flesh out the thematic premise, and, […]

5 Tips for Writing a Likable “Righteous” Character

It ain’t easy being green, but sometimes it’s even harder being good. When you think of great characters in books and movies, those who pop to mind are often people of moral complexity: youngsters coming of age in a complicated world, antiheroes haunted by their own dark natures, wounded souls fighting not to succumb to […]

5 Ways to Use Myers-Briggs for Characters

5 Ways to Use Myers-Briggs for Characters

I must now put my foot in my mouth. Once upon a time, I rather publicly said a big fat “NO” to the idea of personality-typing, particularly when it came to using Myers-Briggs for characters. Some of you may even remember this gem from my book Outlining Your Novel: In general, I’m not a fan […]

How To Take Advantage of Your 4 Most Important Characters

How to Take Advantage of Your 4 Most Important Characters

Your story may or may not have a cast of a thousand, but even if it does, 996 of those characters are going to be primarily background. They provide the context for the four most important characters in a story. Who are these characters? 1. Your protagonist (of course). 2. The antagonist. 3. The reflection. 4. The […]

3 Ways to Choose the Right Protagonist

3 Ways to Choose the Right Protagonist

Ever had a minor character steal the show and run away with your story? This scenario has its good points and its bad points (usually, it means a great minor character and a problematic plot), and it always leads writers right back to the all-important question of how to choose the right protagonist from the get-go. […]

3 Ways to Test Your Story’s Emotional Stakes

Part 14 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel You can do almost everything right in a story, and it will not matter. Acing your story structure, constructing a solid thematic premise, and punching your card on every important character-arc beat will not matter—if you don’t also nail the emotional stakes. The craft of storytelling […]

Boba Fett’s Guide to Writing Cool Characters

Boba Fett is one of the most beloved scourges of the Star Wars universe. Yet, he says only 27 words (28 if you add the Wilhelm Scream), and is on screen for a mere 6 minutes and 32 seconds. He even gets defeated in a pathetic way by being knocked into the Sarlacc pit by […]

Deepen Your Story with Character Misdirection

Deepen Your Story With Character Misdirection

In childhood, stories are always about exactly what they appear: “See Spot. See Spot run.” But as we grow older and our life experiences deepen, so do our story experiences. What emerges is often a complex weave of subtext and misdirection. Life isn’t always as we perceive it on its surface—and even when it is, half the […]

3 Things to Do if Your Antagonist Is Taking Over Your Story

Next to your protagonist, your antagonist is the single most important character in your story. But beware, lest you discover your antagonist is taking over your story. What does this look like? Why might it happen? And how can you guard against it? Glad you asked. Antagonists are fascinating people. The reasons why people choose […]

It’s Here! My Brand-New Writing Book: Creating Character Arcs!

If you’re writing tight plots, beautiful prose, and engaging characters—and yet your stories still don’t feel as if they’re gelling, you may yet be missing what is arguably the single most important piece of your storytelling puzzle. Maybe your characters aren’t engaging, despite your best efforts. Or maybe they’re following transformative personal journeys, but those journeys always end up […]