6 Steps to Create Realistic (and Powerful) Scene Dilemmas

Scenes are the building blocks of your story. As go your scenes, so goes your story. If the scenes present a solid chain of deliberate structure, that’s what your story will be. But if too many scenes lack focus or dramatic impetus, so will the story. Every aspect of scene structure is important. Any aspect […]

5 Secrets of Story Structure Audio Book

I wanted to take a quick minute to let you know that there is now an audio book version of 5 Secrets of Story Structure, narrated once again by the lovely Sonja Field. I wrote 5 Secrets as kind of an unofficial sequel to Structuring Your Novel. You can think of 5 Secrets as a […]

This Is How to Transform Info Dumps Into Exciting Plot Reveals

Clues, mysteries, plot reveals, and plot twists—these are some of a writer’s stock tricks for hooking readers page after page. But as important as these tricks are, when they’re asked to bear the load of being the main attraction for readers, they too often turn into boring info dumps. Imagine you’re reading a story in […]

how to choose your story's plot points

How to Choose Your Story’s Plot Points

You’ve got a story, and you’ve got characters who are doing stuff in that story. That means you’ve got a plot. But how do you know if you’ve got your characters doing the right stuff at the right time? At first glance, this seems intuitive. Story is (or should be) a chain of causes and effects. Something […]

story structure q and a

Story Structure Q&A: 6 Outstanding Questions About Structure

Being a good writer is all about being a good learner—having a wide-open mind that’s always looking for the next question. I think you guys must all be good writers, because you know how to ask some good questions! Today, I want to share a story structure Q&A, featuring six thought-provoking emails I’ve received. Story structure […]

how to write a great story despite its flaws

3 Tips for Writing a Story That’s Better Than Its Flaws

Steven Schwartz (composer and/or lyricist for musicals as varied as Pocahontas, Wicked, The Prince of Egypt, and Enchanted) has said  musicals are about structure first and foremost. If you get the structure right, then a multitude of sins can be forgiven. This is certainly the case in The Greatest Showman, whose sins are multitudinous. Any selection […]

4 Ways to Prevent Formulaic Story Structure

4 Ways to Prevent Formulaic Story Structure

One of the most common concerns writers have about story theory is the fear of creating formulaic story structure. If you’re following a set pattern of dictated beats for your story, then won’t your story lack originality? Won’t readers see the expected plot turns coming from a mile off? Indeed, won’t story structure inhibit your […]

4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure (With Examples)

Scene structure is the backbone of strong narrative storytelling. Built properly, scenes effortlessly link one to another to create a chain of give and take, cause and effect, action and reaction, question and answer. The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with […]

How to Calculate Your Book's Length Before Writing

How to Calculate Your Book’s Length Before Writing

Story structure is all about timing. It’s about making sure your rhythm and pacing align for maximum impact, both in keeping readers glued to the page and in resonating emotionally. The reason this timing works is that it is largely instinctive, for both writers and readers. When I first started learning about story structure, I pulled […]

An Easy Way To Notch Up Your Scene Conflict

An Easy Way to Notch Up Your Scene Conflict

Scene conflict is what keeps your story running, chapter after chapter, page after page. Conflict is the heart of each scene, and each of those scenes is one of the dozens of tiny engines keeping your plot moving forward—and your readers glued to the page. It’s helpful to think of scene conflict as not so much […]