The 6 Challenges of Writing a Second Novel

Writing your first story is a special experience. It brings many difficulties and challenges, but it also tends to carry itself (and you) along with a sense of passion, fun, and discovery. When we finish it, we may think, Well, it can only get easier from here, right? But as many sophomore writers can attest, writing […]

14 Tips for Dealing With the Passage of Time in a Story

The passage of time in a story is, in some ways, what fiction is all about. But for most authors in most stories, the passage of time won’t necessarily be an explicit consideration. If I asked you right now how much time passes in your latest story, would you know off the top of your […]

6 Ways to Craft Spectacular Set-Piece Scenes

What are set-piece scenes? They’re the big ones. They’re the scenes that define your story, not just in terms of plot mechanics, but particularly in terms of scope and impact. These are the scenes your audience will remember when they think about your story. They’re the scenes they’ll remember even when they’ve forgotten everything else about […]

How to Write a Book When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

I want to write a book. You remember when this big idea first hit, right? Maybe you were browsing for books, waiting for an author’s autograph, or sitting in stupefied awe after finishing a great novel. The idea took root and then, bam, you’re rushing to a stationary store to gear up, buying all the […]

Should You Take a Break From Writing? 5 Red Flags

Writers are supposed to write. That’s just how it works. But should you ever take a break from writing? Is that just code for quitting? Is it a sign you’re copping to your own laziness or fear? Or that you’re really not a disciplined, “serious” writer? The short answer: Who knows? Only you know. The more […]

9 Ways to Approach Relationship Dynamics in Fiction

Creating an amazing supporting cast that can offer important relationship dynamics in fiction will also help develop your protagonist. This isn’t just because great supporting characters will add color, drama, and nuance to your story in their own right. It’s also because every supporting character in your story has the ability to bring out new […]

Archetypes and Story Structure: How They’re Connected

By its very nature, story structure is archetypal. It is a pattern we recognize emerging from story. It is a pattern as big as life itself, and therefore one about which we are always learning more, but it is also a pattern we have been able to distill into specific systems that help us consistently […]

Making Story Structure Your Own

Over the past decade, the term “story structure” has largely come to refer to plot points and beat sheets. When writers start talking about structure, many of us assume they’re talking about the specific and even archetypal shape of story—the rise and fall of plot, the causal balance of action and reaction, the transformational journey […]

Conflict in Fiction: What It Really Is and Why It’s Important to Plot

Conflict is one of the central engines of story. We’ve all heard it: no conflict, no story. On the surface, that makes total sense. But I find there can be a lot of confusion around the word “conflict.” What is conflict in fiction really? What is its purpose? What does it look like in a […]

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 […]