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 […]

How To Troubleshoot and Repair Any Scene

8 Ways to Troubleshoot a Scene–and 5 Ways Make It Fabulous

So there I was: sitting at my desk, notebook in front of me—and absolutely no words staring back at me. The problem? I knew what needed to happen in this scene, but now that the time had come to write it, it seemed flat as a roadkill raccoon. It was clearly time to troubleshoot a […]

A New Way To Structure Your Story's Scenes

A New Way to Think About Scene Structure

Stories live and die on their scene structure. A great plot—even a well-structured great plot—won’t be able to stand if its individual scenes are floundering with no clear sense of purpose and direction in the overall story. Dwight V. Swain engineered the classic approach to scene structure, which breaks down each scene into integers of […]

Sign for the 3 Missing Pieces of Stunning Story Structure Webinar

The 3 Missing Pieces of Stunning Story Structure webinar is now available for sign up! This 90-minute presentation, hosted by Writer’s Digest, will be live online on September 15th, at 1 PM EDT (although, once you sign up, you can listen or re-listen anytime you want for up to a year). I’ll be talking story structure, answering live […]

Thor Dark World Chris Hemsworth

How to Get the Most Out of Your Sequel Scenes

Part 8 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Sometimes just the mention of “sequel scenes” makes writers cross their eyes. Isn’t a sequel, you know, a followup to your first book? What does it have to do with individual scenes? The answers to these questions are important, because the sequel makes up […]

Don’t Make This Mistake With Your Story Structure

Part 7 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel I talk a lot about how important story structure is. But let’s be honest. Story structure is a complicated beast. Few stories ace every single beat to perfection every single time. I’ve read (and watched) incredible stories that were incredible in spite of the fact […]

8 Reasons Every Author Should Learn Story Theory

7 Reasons You Need Story Theory

Just as in fiction itself, the writer’s life is marked by several major turning points–perhaps the most important of which is discovering story theory. In the story of your writing life, the Hook, of course, is that moment when you find yourself entranced with your first story idea. Maybe you were three years old–as I […]

How To Transform Your Story With A Moment of Truth

How to Transform Your Story With a Moment of Truth

Part 4 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel “How can I fix the saggy middle of my story?” I love it when writers ask me that. Why? Because the answer is so incredibly juicy–and it all revolves around the Moment of Truth that needs to occur at every story’s Midpoint. The Second […]