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

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

Your Secret Weapon Against Story Coincidences

Your Secret Weapon Against Story Coincidences

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 of thumb is that it’s all right to use a coincidence to get your characters into trouble, but never to get them out. This not only rules out deus ex […]

12 Tips for Writing and Releasing Collaborative Book Bundles

Episodic Storytelling? Here’s Why

The term “episodic” is rarely a compliment when used for 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 theme. Not exactly what most of us are striving for. What we want is for the plot, […]

Use This Subplot to Bring Depth to Plot-Driven Stories

Subplots are surprisingly misunderstood. Primarily, this is because the best subplots are always natural offshoots of the plot itself. They’re so integral to the plot that they’re basically inextricable from it. Let me start with a basic definition of the subplot: The subplot is a thematically related exploration of a minor part of the protagonist’s […]

Is Your Story’s Pacing Moving Too Fast?

Stakes are important in any story. In some genres, readers want to feel a sense of desperation and urgency on the characters’ behalf. One of the best ways to ramp up that feeling is to tighten the story’s timeline and speed up events. Your characters have to disarm a ticking bomb? How much more exciting […]

What's the Difference Between Conflict and Tension?

What’s the Difference Between Conflict and Tension?

What is the difference between conflict and tension? I sometimes use the two terms interchangeably, not so much because they’re the same thing (they’re not) but because they’re kissing cousins that fulfill similar functions within the story. Conflict indicates a defined obstruction between the character and the goal. Two people arguing. Two armies fighting. Or […]

Pour on the Conflict!

As we continue with our series about what I learned while writing my fantasy novel Dreamlander, I’d like to devote today’s post to the all-important subject of conflict. I love action stories, so most of my novels lean in that direction. Dreamlander is no different. It features large-scale Renaissance-esque battles among other things. But the truth is […]

Are You Skimming Your Story’s Potential?

It’s not enough to write a story that just covers its bases. By that I mean a story that essentially works—it’s properly structured, the prose is professional, and it possesses all the working pieces (plot, character, etc.). You can check all the boxes on your story checklist and still end up with a story that […]

Why Your Story Stakes Shouldn’t Be Too High

What’s one of the first things any novelist learns? Raise the stakes, right? You’re supposed to think of the worst possible thing that could happen to your character, then make it worse. Losing his job—eh, that’s not so bad. So maybe, after he loses his job, his daughter gets kidnapped. But that’s still not the […]