The Writer’s Inner Critic: 11 Ways to Tell if Yours Is Healthy

Ah, the writer’s inner critic. It’s that wily inner editor who has such a way of getting in the last word (and first and middle words) on any writing session or project. Most of the time when writers speak of the inner critic, there’s a fair amount of self-deprecating exaggeration of how ruthless that little […]

A Writer’s New Year Reflections: The 6 Gifts I Gave Myself in 2021

Another new year brings another new opportunity for reflection and re-centering. As I talk about nearly every year, my preference for the New Year is to focus less on resolutions for the year ahead and more on reflections of what I experienced and gained in the year past. For me, as I think for many […]

The Two Halves of the Climactic Moment

The Climactic Moment is the story in microcosm. The Climactic Moment is where the protagonist’s final relationship to the plot goal is determined by definitive success or failure, as is the character’s relationship to the thematic Lie and Truth. Although the events of the Climactic Moment might not be the “biggest” of the story, they […]

The Two Halves of the Third Plot Point

Like all the major structural turning points, the Third Plot Point is made up of two halves—which work together to create a scene arc (even though, technically, the entire arc of the beat might be told over the course of a scene sequence made up of many scenes). The halves that create this arc are […]

The Two Halves of the Midpoint

The Midpoint is unique among the major structural turning points. Not only is it made up of its own two individual halves—working together to create a scene arc—but the Midpoint also marks the dividing line between the two halves of the entire story arc. As we explored last year in our series on chiastic structure […]

The Two Halves of the Inciting Event

Stories are made of scenes. By one of their simplest definitions, scenes are transitions. They signify a change of some sort—an arc. They start in one place (whether a physical place or an abstract “place”), and they end in another. This is how we determine whether something happens in a scene and whether it “moves […]

6 Questions to Help You Avoid Repetitive Scenes

It takes a lot of scenes to make a novel. Not only do we need enough scenes to progress the plot and get the characters from Point A to Point B, we also need to reach a certain word count so the book can be a novel. (Or the movie can be a movie. Ya […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Mage Arc: Evil and the Weakness of Humankind

It is appropriate that the final archetypal character arc of the life cycle—the Mage Arc—should be the one to finally confront the ultimate antagonist within the human experience. This is, of course, Evil—in all its abstraction. As the final arc, the Mage symbolizes the end of life and, presumably, its fulfillment. Because the Mage is […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Crone Arc: Death Blight and Tempter

As the fifth of six archetypal character arcs in the life cycle, the Crone Arc offers the first great challenge of a character’s Elder years. Fundamentally, it is a story about a character coming to grips with the full magnitude of mortality. And indeed Death itself is the primary archetypal antagonist within a Crone Arc—or […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the King Arc: Cataclysm and Rebel

The King Arc begins the second half of the life cycle of archetypal character arcs. This placement as the fourth of six arcs necessarily makes it a turning point within the overarching “story structure” of life. We can recognize this particularly in the King’s relationship to his archetypal antagonists. The first three arcs—those of Maiden, […]