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 […]

4 Places to Find Your Best Story Conflict

Part 6 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Got a flabby story on your hands? No problem, I got a flashy cure: story conflict. Now, before you roll your eyes and board the Yeah-Yeah-Heard-That-Before-Got-It-Thanks train, let me check your ticket. Because story conflict is neither so simplistic, nor so easy as many […]

The Incredible Hulk

How (Not) to Write Satisfying Action Scenes

Part 2 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Imagine this. You sit down to write the biggest action scenes in your entire story. They’re gonna be epic. Giants will collide. Empires will topple. The conflict will be definitively decided once and for all–and readers will be glued to the page. This is, no doubt, exactly what the folks […]

how to plot your book start with the antagonist

How to Plot a Book: Start With the Antagonist

I hate antagonists. Not so much because they’re, you know, the bad guys. No, I hate them because 90% of the time, they bore me into catatonia. Evil plan to take over the world? Yawn. Just please do whatever you gotta do to make the hero look good. That’s how many authors approach their antagonists–as an […]

How to Write the Perfect Plot Header

How to Write the Perfect Plot (in 2 Easy Steps)

How do you create a story? You start writing and stuff starts happening. Right? True enough that’s how you write a story, but it is not, in fact, how to write the perfect plot. That takes a little more forethought and effort. When we first start out as writers, we tend to have this belief that telling […]

3 Resources You Need to Unlock Fascinating Character Goals

Arguably, the single most important decision you can make in any story is that of character goals. What do your characters want and how will they go about trying to get it? This is the whole theory of story all in a nutshell. I receive many questions from writers who are struggling with plot problems. Easily […]

The #1 Tip for How to Write Books Readers Can’t Put Down

As an author, you have the ability to wield great power. But you know what? You’re probably not wielding it. This power is scary. It probably scares you. It definitely scares your readers. But assuming you want to learn how to write books readers can’t put down–that is a most excellent thing. What power am […]

Learn to Write Deep and Rich Story Conflict

Learn to Write Deep and Rich Story Conflict

What is story anyway? We could explain it in any number of ways, but it’s hard to come up with anything pithier or more accurate than the old saw: No story conflict, no story. If we flip that on its head, we could just as easily say: Story=conflict. Why? Obviously, conflict is pretty entertaining on its own […]

In the Heart of the Sea Cillian Murphy Chris Hemsworth Benjamin Walker

Plot Isn’t Story

What is story? Is it a beginning, middle, and end? Is it, by any chance, a plot? Of course, it is. But only in the same sense that a cake is flour and eggs. By Itself, Plot Isn’t Story A plot, all by itself, does not a story make. You can stick characters onto your […]

Coincidences in Fiction: What You’re Doing Wrong

Coincidences in Fiction: What You’re Doing Wrong

Coincidences are awesome. In real life. But coincidences in fiction? Unfortunately, the same rules don’t apply. In fact, a poor use of coincidences in your story can make or break your readers’ ability to suspend their disbelief and enjoy your plot. In real life, coincidences are (usually) cool. They’re inexplicable, seeming freaks of destiny that […]