How to Use Misdirection in Your Story for Greater Impact

[Just a short post today, so I can put some energy into a super-secret project I can’t wait to share with you all. Hint? It has to do with two of my favorite things: dreamzoning and archetypal character arcs. Stay tuned! I hope to do the big reveal no later than October.] At first glance, […]

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Foreshadow a Story

Part 11 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Really, your job as an author can be summed up in one simple word: control. It is your responsibility to control readers’ experience of your story, to make them think and feel very specific things. One of the most important and powerful ways in which […]

Setup and Payoff: The Two Equally Important Halves of Story Foreshadowing

Setup and Payoff: The Two Equally Important Halves of Story Foreshadowing

I have good news and I have bad news. Let’s assume you have a killer story idea. It offers unique plot developments and totally unexpected plot twists. That’s the good news. The bad news is that these deliciously original plot elements just aren’t going to end up working out for your readers. Why? For one […]

Foreshadowing and Misdirection: Use Them Together to Empower Your Fiction

This week’s video shows you how to balance foreshadowing and misdirection in your fiction to create resonance without giving away your story’s ending. Video Transcript: Foreshadowing and misdirection: two words you don’t often hear together. Because aren’t they dichotomous? Foreshadowing is about planting clues to prepare readers for coming events. It’s important because it puts […]

How to Make Readers Happy by Giving Them Exactly What They DON’T Want

This week’s video shows you how to make readers happy by taking advantage of their conflicting desires for the fate of your characters. Video Transcript: I think it’s safe to say when you ask pretty much anybody what they want out of life, they’re not going to come up with answers that involve mind-numbing tragedy, […]

Did You Know “Show vs. Tell” Matters in Foreshadowing Too?

This week’s video offers two examples of how tell vs. show in foreshadowing can weaken the overall effect on your story—and what you can do instead. For the last five weeks, we’ve been exploring all kinds of important storytelling tricks we can learn from Steven Spielberg’s bravura classic Jurassic Park. We’ve come to the end […]

Why Authors Can’t Afford to Dupe Their Readers (or Why Hawkeye Ruined Age of Ultron)

This week’s video talks about why a certain plot twist in Age of Ultron made me really, really, really mad—and how you can do better in your own stories. Video Transcript: So if you’ve been watching me for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out I’m a major Marvel fan. But I’m just going […]

How to Drive Your Readers Wild With Hints and Story Hooks—Without Frustrating Them

How to Drive Your Readers Wild With Hints and Story Hooks—Without Frustrating Them

This week’s video shows you how to use hints and story hooks to keep readers turning your pages, while still timing your tension just right to keep from trying their patience. Video Transcript: We could argue that the single greatest job of a good story is simply that of convincing readers that something interesting is […]

foreshadowing's number one job

Foreshadowing’s #1 Job in Your Story

This week’s video reveals a simple but often overlooked function of foreshadowing that all writers should be aware of. Video Transcript: As you may have noticed (or maybe not) I’ve taken almost a six-month break from the video posts. So starting this week, I’m pleased to say that I plan to return to my old […]

Misdirection: The Importance of Fooling Readers

Misdirection: Why We Have to Fool Our Readers

This week’s video compares authors to magicians and talks about why the art of misdirection is a crucial skill. Video Transcript: A couple weeks ago we talked about how important it is to be honest with our readers. But today I want to totally flip that advice on its head and talk about how important […]