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6 Requirements for Writing Better Character Goals

Quick. Tell me what your characters want. Maybe you have an immediate answer. Maybe your protagonist wants to save the world, survive, or live happily ever after. While those are all legit goals that have powered hundreds of good stories, what I’m talking about is what your characters want. I’m talking about the one thing your […]

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5 Ways to Use Theme to Create Character Arc (and Vice Versa)

What’s the easiest way to find your story’s theme—and make it stick? Although any discussion of theme is multi-faceted, one of the best ways to approach this complex topic is through the realization that you can use theme to create character arc—and vice versa. When asked to explain what a particular story is about, some […]

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How to Write Emotion: An Experimental Study

Not too many years ago, I thought an accurately portrayed scene naturally caused readers to experience the emotions that the characters would logically feel in such situations. Not true! As Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi explain in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, we must take our innate skills of observation and […]

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7 Things Your Character Is Hiding

Being able to write realistic, consistent, multi-dimensional characters is vital to gaining reader interest. Doing so first requires we know a lot about who our characters are—you know, the obvious stuff: positive and negative traits, behavioral habits, desires, goals, and the like. But it’s not always the obvious parts of characterization that create the most […]

writing large casts of characters

The 10 Rules of Writing Large Casts of Characters

Large casts of characters are the thing these days. Rowling, Martin, and Marvel—just to name a few newsworthy examples—victoriously (and sometimes not-so-victoriously) throw casts of hundreds at screen and paper. Understandably, writers rush to emulate—both because, on a head level, this seems like the obvious path to success, and because, on a heart level, we […]

Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters2

5 Ways to Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters

The Enneagram. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve even used the Enneagram to write better characters. Like Myers-Briggs, Socionics, and the Four Temperaments, the Enneagram is one of many systems within the study of personality theory. These systems are designed to identify the patterns found in the different ways we approach various aspects of […]

Use Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene

How to Intertwine Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene

If plot, character, and theme are the foundational underpinnings of story itself, then they must be present in every scene as well, right? But that gets tricky. How can you make sure these elements are doing their job in every scene? And if they’re not present in every scene, does that necessarily mean the scene is […]

5 Steps to Writing Great Character Chemistry

5 Steps to Writing Great Character Chemistry

What is character chemistry? And how can you use it to make your story un-put-down-able? We most often hear about character chemistry in reference to actors—particularly those playing love interests to each other. Chemistry is hard to define but easy to spot. When two people show up on stage together and the result is a […]

4 Ways to Write a Better Anta

4 Ways to Write a Better Antagonist

Part 19 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel I have to believe Thanos would be a good writer. Why? Because he totally understands one of the most important principles of story theory: Pretty, isn’t it? Perfectly balanced. As all things should be. Too much to one side or the other… [and it […]

secrets of storytelling

The 5 Secrets of Good Storytelling (That Writers Forget All the Time)

I’m having a harder and harder time getting excited about stories these days. Not because I don’t love stories, but because I do love them—and because it’s ever-increasingly difficult to find truly great ones that employ all the secrets of good storytelling. By “great stories,” I mean stories that are put together with intelligence, understanding, passion, […]