7 Tips for How to Add Complexity to Your Story

So you want to add complexity to your story. Most authors do. Complexity just sounds so… sophisticated. It sounds like one of those novels or films that are taken apart and analyzed by really smart critics and professors. It sounds like taking your story to the next level. And in some ways, it is. Complex […]

Is Your Story Too Complicated? Here Are 9 Signs

Calling a story “complex” is a high compliment. But what is complexity? How can we learn how to write stories that are complex—without skidding across that narrow dividing line into complicated? What’s the difference between a complex story and a complicated story? And is your story too complicated? This a topic I’ve spent quite some […]

How to Write Emotional Scenes (Without Making Them Cringey)

Learning how to write emotional scenes is one of the single most important feats any writer must rise to. We want fiction to make us feel something. I’m not talking just a little twinge of satisfaction here or there. I’m talking full-on emotional experiences: tears, laughter, cheers, even rage on occasion. Scenes in which characters […]

How Perfect Does Your Story’s Structural Timing Have to Be?

Structural timing is one of most prominent features of story structure. This positioning of a story’s important turning points is one of the keys for creating a story that feels right to audiences. As often as not, when something seems off about a story, the problem can be narrowed down to wonky structural timing. This […]

13 Rules to Be a Better Beta Reader

Among the greatest gifts one writer can give another is that being a beta reader. A beta reader is a volunteer who reads over a rough manuscript and offers feedback on what’s working and what’s not. This feedback can span the gamut from simply a general reaction to a full-on critique. But not all beta […]

How to Structure Stories With Multiple Main Characters?

One of the most common questions I’m asked is how to structure stories with multiple main characters. If you have two (or more) characters who are equally important to the story and receive equal POV time, how should you balance them when structuring your novel? At its core, story structure is a simple equation: one […]

7 Tips for Opening Your Story In Medias Res

In medias res is the useful but sometimes tricky writing technique of beginning your story “in the middle” of things. At its most basic, this is simply a solid reminder to begin your story with something happening. This might be action in the traditional sense, but it might also just be the character moving toward […]

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About In Medias Res

One of the most significant challenges for writers is crafting a beginning chapter that immediately grabs readers. Most commonly, writers are advised to accomplish this via two different methods: the hook and the technique of beginning in medias res, or “in the middle of things.” But are these really two different techniques? And if not, […]

8 Ways to Avoid Cardboard Characters (and Plot Contrivances While You’re At It)

“The plot was contrived, and the characters were cardboard.” Ouch. That’s about as bad as it can get when it comes to negative story reviews. It’s also perhaps one of the most common complaints audiences have about stories. Certainly, it’s one that irritates me the most! Here’s the thing though: cardboard characters often cause plot contrivances—and […]

Understanding the New Normal World of a Story’s Resolution

A story’s Resolution is a tiny section of the overall story. From the perspective of structural timing, the Resolution represents 2% or even less of the story’s total running time. Some stories give it the generous portion of as much as a few chapters. But in other stories, the Resolution may be implied more than […]