Backstory-as-Story vs. Alternating Timelines (Backstory Techniques, Pt. 2 of 3)

Backstory techniques are crucial to the success of any type of story. Whether you share all of your characters’ pertinent backstories or none, backstory still informs the entire story. What, when, and how to share backstory are important decisions for any writer. Making the right choices will determine not just whether or not your backstory works, but possibly […]

Prologues vs. Flashbacks (Backstory Techniques, Pt. 1 of 3)

If you want to rev up a group of passionate writers, just bring up the topic of backstory. As much as we love our stories, we often love our backstories even more. If plot offers a what and a how, backstory is often the why. It can provide both context and subtext, bringing depth, understanding, and […]

How Archetypes Changed My Life and My Writing

Story and life are inextricably linked. To write better stories, we study life. And to live better lives, we study stories. There are many obvious reasons why this is so. Stories, after all, are meant to be relatively accurate reflections of life. However, the more I study story theory, the deeper the rabbit hole seems […]

Here Are Two Ways to Write Organic Themes

Organic themes are symbiotic with their stories’ plots. This is because when everything is working well in a story, plot and theme are two halves of a whole, each one “proving” the other. When plot and theme are not working together, that’s a sure sign your story is in trouble. Theme can be a tricky […]

Genre Tips: How to Write Literary Fiction

What exactly is literary fiction? Although the term often means many different things to different people, the general consensus is that literary fiction encompasses dramatic stories that consciously focus on existential themes and artistic prose. Naturally, these elements can appear in any type of story, so deciding you want to learn how to write literary […]

Genre Tips: How to Write Mystery

Following closely on the heels of romance, mystery is one of the most popular fiction genres of all time. At its simplest, the genre is a puzzle for audiences and characters to figure out together. At its most complex, mystery offers a deep-dive into humanity’s most pressing existential questions and threats. Populated by manifold subgenres, […]

Genre Tips: How to Write Historical Fiction

All fiction is a contemplation of human existence. This is perhaps nowhere more obvious than in the historical genre, which purposefully looks back in time and seeks to create context for and find meaning in the events that have already happened to the human race. Learning how to write historical fiction requires all the usual […]

Genre Tips: How to Write Romance

Romance makes the world go ’round. In many respects, it makes the book world go ’round too. Romance consistently remains one of the bestselling of all fiction genres, so it’s no surprise so many people write it—both out of personal enjoyment and because, when it hits the sweet spot, it can be extremely lucrative. Learning […]

Genre Tips: How to Write Fantasy

Genre is an important consideration for any writer. Not only can identifying your story’s genre (and perhaps subgenre) help you create cohesion and resonance amongst your plot, character arcs, and theme, it will also be a crucial piece of information when it comes time to market your story to readers. Today, I’m opening a five-part […]

5 Tips for How to Return to Writing After a Long Break

Making a return to writing after a long time away can feel overwhelming or even bewildering. Depending on the reasons for your break, you may be confronting a wide array of emotions—everything from anticipation and excitement to trepidation and confusion. If you find yourself worried or uncertain about how to proceed, the first step is […]