Why Doubt Is the Key to Flat Character Arcs

Flat Character Arcs create some of the most exciting and powerful stories. Most of the time, when people think of “character arc,” they’re likely to think of Positive Change Arcs, in which the protagonist himself undergoes an empowering personal change. Flat Arcs, by contrast, are about a protagonist who does not personally change, but who […]

The Only Reason You Should Write A Female Protagonist

Why We Need More Thematically-Pertinent Female Protagonists

It’s become a mantra now: “We need more female protagonists.” But I say: No. Uhh…. what? No. I say stop already with this crazily simplistic demand for “female protagonists.” Because it’s so totally not working. The problem, as is so often the case, is that authors, producers, and directors, who are either feeling pressured to […]

7 Ways to Write Thematically-Pertinent Antagonists

7 Ways to Write Thematically-Pertinent Antagonists

Thematically-pertinent antagonists are the lynchpin that holds together any successful story. You can write delicious protagonists, snappy dialogue, riveting conflict, and deep themes—and still, your story can fail simply because the antagonist was taken for granted as a leering, two-dimensional bad guy. We’ve talked before about how (somewhat non-intuitively) the character who provides the entire foundation for […]

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 […]