How to Write Stories Readers Will Actually Remember

How to Write Stories Your Readers Will Remember

Think back about the books you read and the movies you watched in the last year (heck, think about just the ones you experienced in the last month). Which do you still remember vividly? Which are already foggy in your memory? Now: which type of story do you want to write? No-brainer, of course. You want to […]

Powerful Themes in Captain American Winter Soldier

Is This the Single Best Way to Write Powerful Themes?

Part 9 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel The longer I study stories, the more convinced I am that the one single thing that sets apart the great stories from the meh ones is theme. What this means, of course, is that figuring out how to write powerful themes is possibly the most […]

How to Create a Complex Moral Argument for Your Theme

How to Create a Complex Moral Argument for Your Theme

On their surface, stories are nothing more than entertainment. They’re fun little ditties about cool people doing interesting things. But that’s not all stories are. Even the simplest of stories are saying something–they’re positing a moral argument about the world we live in. Cool, right? Even when we don’t intend to share a “message” with […]

Your Fiction May Be Failing for One Simple Reason: You’re Not Being Honest

Your Fiction May Be Failing for One Simple Reason: You’re Not Being Honest

Writers talk a lot about “being honest,” “being vulnerable,” “pouring ourselves into our writing,” and “not being self-conscious” in our writing. But what does all that really mean? And how can flunking any of the above be the reason your fiction may be failing? What Is Honest Fiction? Let’s begin by asking the obvious question: What […]

Your Plot and Theme: Are They a Team?

We all know writing a book is no easy task. The reason it’s ultimately so tricky is that a novel must bring together about a gazillion little working pieces, which the author then has to somehow fit together, so they all start ticking together as a seamless whole. That’s like taking apart a Swiss watch and trying […]

Stories That Matter: 5 Necessary Factors for Weighty Fiction

Stories That Matter: 5 Necessary Factors for Weighty Fiction

What is weighty fiction? I would argue that it is, almost unto itself, the definition for stories that matter. It’s the opposite of fluffy fiction (which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with fluff–we all enjoy a fair share of that as well). Most authors want to write something that matters. Even if we’re never going to […]

What's the Difference Between Your Story's Theme and Its Message?

What’s the Difference Between Your Story’s Theme and Its Message?

One of the common myths about a story’s theme is that it must also be the story’s “moral” or “message.” Because theme always deals with fundamental truths that inevitably affect human morality, it’s easy to assume a story’s theme must always be specific and applicable to the readers. This isn’t necessarily a false assumption. As we’ve […]

Want a Powerful Theme for Your Novel? Play Devil's Advocate!

Want a Powerful Theme for Your Novel? Play Devil’s Advocate!

Here’s the thing about a powerful theme. It’s not black and white. It’s not the moral of the story. It’s not an answer–it’s a question. And here’s the thing about questions: they very often have more than one answer. Let’s say you’re writing a story that asks a simple little question like, “Is lying bad?” That seems […]

What Role Does Theme Play in Your Story's Climax

What Is the Role of Theme in a Story’s Climax?

Today, I’m going to be a bad blog writer. I’m not going to make you think at all to find the answer to the title question: “What is the role of theme in a story’s climax?” I’m just going to tell you straight up: The role of theme in your story’s climax is all-important. The […]

Don't Know Your Story's Theme? Take a Look at Your Character's Arc

Don’t Know Your Story’s Theme? Take a Look at Your Character’s Arc

What separates a good story from a great one? We might throw out a lot of opinions, but mine is this: Your story’s theme is what will raise it above the pack, out of mere entertainment into something that sticks with readers, impacts their lives, and maybe even challenges them to grow. Awesomesauce!, you say. […]