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 […]

The Pixar Way to Think About Story Conflict

The Pixar Way to Think About Story Conflict

This week’s video offers two lessons you can learn from the complicated story conflict in Toy Story to improve your own writing. Video Transcript: Conflict, conflict, conflict! It’s like this mantra among fiction writers, right? And we all nod our heads in agreement, because we all know story conflict is integral to good storytelling. But […]

Amping Your Story Stakes: Why Even Positive Events Should Have Consequences

Amping Your Story Stakes: Why Even Positive Events Should Have Consequences

This week’s video offers another example from Jurassic Park for an easy way to instantly inject more continuity and tension in your story stakes. Video Transcript: Good fiction is about consequences. Something happens which causes something else to happen, which keeps the cause-and-effect ball rolling. If the cause has no effect, then the story peters […]

What Jurassic Park Can Teach You About Compounding Conflict in Your Story

What Jurassic Park Can Teach You About Compounding Conflict in Your Story

Think your story is falling a little flat? The problem might be that your conflict is too one-sided. The most interesting stories are always those that result from the complex interweaving of various threads of compounding conflict. In his book The Anatomy of Story, John Truby talks about “four-corner opposition”: A simplistic opposition between characters […]