simplify your story before you lose readers

Simplify Your Story–Before You Lose Readers

This week’s video talks about the storytelling principle of “double mumbo jumbo,” why you should avoid it in your story, and how to simplify your story. Video Transcript: Complexity in fiction is a beautiful thing. But so is simplicity, particularly since not all complexity is good complexity. There’s a principle in storytelling, which the late […]

Why Readers May Put Down Your Book - Even if They Love It

Why Readers Might Put Down Your Book—Even if They Love It

This week’s video cautions against failing to identify and utilize the part of your book readers will like best.   Video Transcript: I’m going to start off today’s video with a really important question, and that is: What is the best part of your book? I’m not necessarily talking about the best scene; I’m talking […]

Shocked woman reader.

How to Shock Your Readers—in a Good Way

We want to give readers everything they’re hoping for when they pick up our stories. Somewhat contradictorily, one of the things they’re hoping for is to be shocked. Readers love it when authors surprise them in good ways. Backbones straighten up, mouths fall open, breaths get sucked in, heart rates speed up. It’s awesome! As […]

Your Secret Weapon Against Story Coincidences

Your Secret Weapon Against Story Coincidences

This week’s video talks about why story coincidences are a bad thing and offers three tips for avoiding them in your own books. Video Transcript: Coincidences may be charming enough in real life, but in fiction, they’re a fast track to wrecking your readers’ suspension of disbelief. A clever rule ofthumb is that it’s all […]

Episodic Storytelling? Here’s Why

This week’s video offers some pointers for avoiding dead-end events in your stories. Video Transcript: The term “episodic” is very rarely going to be a compliment when used in reference to a novel. What it usually indicates is a herky-jerkiness to the plot, a lack of cohesion, and an overall story arc that doesn’t pull together into a concerted […]

Use This Subplot to Bring Depth to Your Story

This week’s video suggests the value of an “emotional subplot” to bring instant depth to any character. Video Transcript: Subplots are surprisingly misunderstood among writers, primarily because the best subplots are natural offshoots of the plot itself. They’re so integral to the plot that they’re basically inextricable from it. Let me just start today with a really basic definition […]

Should You Slam Your Story’s Brakes?

This week’s video cautions against allowing your story’s “ticking clock” to speed things up too much. Video Transcript: High stakes are important in any story. To one extent or another, we always want readers to feel a sense of desperation and urgency. One of the best ways to ramp up that feeling is to tighten the story’s timeline […]

What's the Difference Between Conflict and Tension?

What’s the Difference Between Conflict and Tension?

This week’s video answers one of your questions about the finer points of distinction between these two important story catalysts. Video Transcript: I talk a lot about conflict and tension, because, as we all know, they’re the gasoline in our stories’ engines. A few months ago, one of you asked the very astute question, “What is […]

What I Learned Writing Dreamlander: Pour on the Conflict

This week’s video reveals the varied layers of conflict we can choose to include in our stories—and why we want as many of those layers as possible. Video Transcript: As we continue with our series about what I learned while writing my fantasy novel Dreamlander, I’d like to devote today’s video to the all-important subject of conflict. I love […]

Are You Skimming Your Story’s Potential?

This week’s video talks about how getting all the obvious things right in a story isn’t always enough if you’re lacking one crucial element. Video Transcript: It’s not enough to have a story that covers its bases—and by that I mean a story that essentially works. It’s properly structured, the prose is professional, and it possesses all the […]