Free Scrivener Template: How to Structure Your Story

Love Scrivener? Me too. This insanely comprehensive word processor, designed to help authors organize all their writing notes and files in one place, is arguably the single best digital tool for writers ever created. These days, I use it exclusively for my fiction (buh-bye, Word), and it is constantly helping me refine my approach to […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes (Flat Plots)

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 60: Flat Plots

One of the most deflating criticisms authors hear is that “they’re writing flat plots.” Not only does this (seem to) indicate a certain lack of personal depth, it’s also a sign the story is boring and forgettable. Fortunately, there’s no reason you need ever fall prey to this pitfall. In our last installment of the Most […]

Move the Plot2

What Does It Mean to Move the Plot?

“Move the plot, move the plot—everything in your story must move your plot!!!” So rail all writing professors. Meanwhile, the writers themselves just want to bang their heads against their keyboards in desperate frustration. “Okay, yes, fine, great—I want to move the plot. But what does that even meeeeaaannnn?!?!?!?!” (Enough interrobangs, for you?) (No?) (Okay, sorry: […]

2 Ways To Make Sure You've Chosen the Right Scene

2 Ways to Choose the Right Scene

Today, I’m guest posting over on Jerry Jenkins’s site, with the post “Does This Scene Deserve a Place in Your Story? 2 Ways to Find Out.” Here’s an excerpt: “Cut this scene. It doesn’t move the plot.” That is my most frequent comment on manuscripts I edit for others. It causes most writers to groan. […]

How to Write a Story Without a Plot (and Why You Shouldn't)

How to Write a Story Without a Plot (and Why You Shouldn’t)

Can you write a story without a plot? Ultimately, that depends entirely on your definition of a story. There are quite a few people who would argue for plot-less variations, but I’m not one of them. When I talk about story, I’m talking about plot. Why? Because it’s the most intuitive entry point to a […]

Top 3 Ways to Rivet Readers with Plot Twists

Top 10 Ways to Rivet Readers with Plot Reveals

Today, I’m going to show you how to make stuff happen in your story. Duh, right? What could be easier? You put characters on the page, they dance around, stuff happens. Mission accomplished. Except if you’re not using plot reveals to execute all this happenin’ stuff, your readers may end up bored anyway. What are plot reveals? […]

The #1 Way to Write Intense Story Conflict

The #1 Way to Write Intense Story Conflict

One of the main pursuits of any writer is story conflict. The old saw tells us, “no conflict, no story,” so we’re always chasing after this little friction-causing engine. But as with so many things in writing, sometimes concentrating on the thing itself ends with us missing the forest for the trees. Story conflict is […]

How to identify The Most Important Part of Your Premise

How to Identify Your Story’s Premise–and Its Most Important Part

A high-concept premise can make or break your book—but not in the way you might think. It’s not enough just to come up with a cool idea for your book. You also have to make it work on every single page. Otherwise, no matter how cool it is, it quickly becomes the wrong premise. The key to […]

How to Write Stories Readers Will Find Inexspected

How to Write Unexpected Story Events

Stories are all pretty much the same. Something happens that inspires something else to happen that inspires a resolution of some sort. With all the billions of stories out there, it’s no surprise we see the same plot elements recycled frequently. But don’t let the frequency of blasé, expected plot events become an excuse. Instead, […]

The Only 5 Ingredients You Need for Story Subtext

If there’s a magic ingredient in writing, it’s story subtext. It’s actually not magic, of course, any more than any of the other demystified techniques of structure, theme, or character arc. But story subtext often seems like magic simply because, by its very nature, it is the execution of the unexplained. Subtext is supposed to be invisible. It lives […]