An Introduction to Archetypal Stories

All art is necessarily both reflective and generative of the human experience. And in that way, all art both reflects and generates archetype. Some stories do this more simply and obviously than others. Those stories that we recognize as myth or fable are most blatantly archetypal. But even hyper-realistic stories—when they are well done—offer up […]

Story Theory and the Quest for Meaning

Story has been our constant companion throughout the journey of human existence. Why is that? Modern audiences are inundated and entranced by advanced storytelling. But stories have been with us from as far back as we can remember. Is it because they entertain us? Is it because they inform us? Because they distract us? Yes, […]

3 Character Arcs in the Karpman Drama Triangle

Drama presents something of an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, drama is the essence of story. Without it and its inherent dissonance, conflict, and stakes, there really isn’t much to a story. As writers and readers, we love drama. The irony is that, in real life, we recognize drama is often inherently destructive. “Drama queen,” “spare […]

7 Writing Lessons Learned in 2020

Happy New Year! For me, the turning of the year is certainly a time of examining habits, renewing intentions, and creating plans. But more than setting goals for the coming year, I prefer to think about the lessons I have learned from the year that has passed. In my experience, goals all but just happen […]

What Is Dreamzoning? (7 Steps to Finding New Story Ideas)

Every writer knows a thing or two about daydreaming. But what about dreamzoning? What’s that—and how can it help you cultivate inspiration for your storytelling? Put simplistically, dreamzoning is basically just daydreaming on steroids. It’s purposeful, focused daydreaming. It’s intense. It’s fun. And if you’re a writer, it’s the mother lode of all story ideas. […]

7 Steps to Stop Overthinking Your Writing

It’s a question I’ve received countless times from readers over the years—and one I’ve found myself asking of late as well: How do you stop overthinking your writing? Writers are often known as thinkers. Indeed, we’re often proud of the connotation. We spend a lot of time in our heads. We love to read. We […]

5 Questions About Scene Sequences

In many ways story structure is a fractal pattern. The same patterns we find on the macro level of the entire story arc also repeat themselves, within an ever-tightening spiral, from scene structure all the way down to sentence structure. Somewhere in between story and scene, we find scene sequences. Within the story’s larger narrative, […]

Are You Growing as a Writer? (Here’s the Only Way to Tell)

Do you want to grow as a writer? I know you do, simply because you are a writer. I know because you are here reading this post, either because you subscribe to this blog and others like it as a way to mainline writing knowledge on a regular basis, or because you stumbled onto this post […]

The Power of Chiastic Story Structure (Especially in a Series)

When writers put on their story theorist caps, nothing is more exciting than those moments when you get to recognize consistent patterns emerging within obvious story forms. This is the basis of all of our understanding (and musing) about story, including the chiastic story structure we’ve been studying these past few months. Although writers sometimes […]

The Midpoint as the Swivel Point of Your Story’s Linked Structure

The “saggy middle” of a story is one of the biggest challenges writers face. The Second Act is twice as long as the other two acts and yet is often less clearly defined. What’s a writer to do to keep the pacing just as tight and the events just as interesting over the long haul […]