4 Questions to Prevent Plot Holes

How peachy would the writing life be if we didn’t have to prevent plot holes. Just imagine—you could write anything you wanted to, and every single thing would make sense. No need to worry about the fact that your two awesome scenes actually don’t make sense side by side. They get to be in the […]

Scene Structure Exceptions: Incidents and Happenings

After our recent series about scene structure, it might seem that everything in a book must be tied down hard and fast within that framework. But what about when something in your story doesn’t seem to fit into the goal/conflict/disaster paradigm of the scene? What if something happens (and needs to happen) that doesn’t create conflict and doesn’t end […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 9: Options for Dilemmas in a Scene Sequel

If the first part of your sequel*—the reaction—appeals to your readers’ emotions, the second part is all about the intellect. Once your characters’ first-blush emotional responses to the previous scene’s disaster has passed, they will have to get down to the all-important business of thinking about what they’re going to do next. The previous disaster has […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Characters Who Lack Purpose

Raise your hand if you love to be bored. What’s this, you say? You don’t like wandering around the house, puttering aimlessly at half a dozen jobs, flipping through TV channels and finding zero of interest, or poking around the Internet and smacking your head against the keyboard with the sheer futility of it all? If […]

6 Ways to Pull Off Dual Timelines in Your Novel

Some stories are so complicated they require not just one, but dual timelines to tell everything. Often, this is the result of an intricate and integral backstory, such as we might find in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood or Ann Brashares’s My Name Is Memory, which switch back and forth from a “present-day” […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Too Much Explanation

Readers have needs. Authors are supposed to fulfill those needs. One of those needs is knowing what’s going on in a story, so naturally the author’s response is to explain what’s going on. So far, so good, right? Well, that depends. Explanations, in whatever form (narrative, dialogue, or action), are essential to any story. But […]

Action and Reaction in Scene Structure: The Two Pistons Powering Your Story

Your story is a precision machine. If you were to take the shiny cover off this machine, what you would find inside would be an intricate mass of nuts, bolts, gears—and an engineer only knows what else. At the heart of it all, you’d find two huge pistons running the show. One of those pistons […]