Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 8: Introduction to the 12 Shadow Archetypes

Where there is light, there is shadow. Where is there is a right way to do things, there are usually several ways to do it wrong. So it goes with archetypal character arcs and their potential shadow archetypes—of which there are two for every positive archetype. Over the last few months, we have explored six […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 6: The Crone Arc

Within the saga of the six archetypal character arcs representing the cycle of human life, the two “elder” arcs that comprise the Third Act of life are perhaps the least dramatized. These arcs are those of the Crone and the Mage. In studying these arcs, it becomes evident that the Third Act of story structure […]

An Introduction to Archetypal Stories

All art is necessarily both reflective and generative of the human experience. And in that way, all art both reflects and generates archetype. Some stories do this more simply and obviously than others. Those stories that we recognize as myth or fable are most blatantly archetypal. But even hyper-realistic stories—when they are well done—offer up […]

Book Launch Day: Writing Your Story’s Theme!

Today I am officially launching my latest writing-craft book Writing Your Story’s Theme. Yay! This book has been such a passion project for me. When I started thinking about what writing-craft book I wanted to publish next, I realized my cornerstone writing guides have so far built on each other in a linear way, moving from […]

Supporting Characters and Theme: 6 Important Questions to Ask About Your Story

Raise your hand if you’ve ever written in a new supporting character just because, hey, somebody had to start that tavern brawl. Creating delightfully colorful, unexpected, and sometimes just plain convenient minor characters is half the fun of writing. That said, we might all want to now sit on those hands we raised. However random […]

surroundings

How to Choose the Right Antagonist for Any Type of Story

Here’s how to choose the right antagonist for your story. You know “If I Didn’t Have You”—that song John Goodman and Billy Crystal belt out at the end of Monsters, Inc.? It’s this total bromance duet about the undying friendship of our two favorite monsters. But pretty much every lyric in there could also be […]

5 Questions for Choosing a Protagonist Who Represents Your Story’s Theme

Choosing a protagonist is often more of an event than a process. Writers sometimes feel more like the protagonist chooses them than the other way around. While most of us heed our first instinct to simply chase after this character to see where he goes, it’s important that at some point we analyze the soundness […]

character's inner conflict

Creating Your Character’s Inner Conflict: Want vs. Need

Man vs. Self—it’s the most archetypal of all stories. This is because all stories are ultimately rooted in the primal and personal struggle of a character’s inner conflict. As individuals, our conflicts with others or the world itself are almost inevitably either reflections or projections of our inner conflicts—our cognitive dissonances, our conflicting wants and […]

How to Use a “Truth Chart” to Figure Out Your Character’s Arc

“How do I figure out my character’s arc?” This is a question I receive commonly—and with good reason. Not only is your character’s arc central to all your other story choices—plot and theme foremost among them—character arc can also seem like one of the most daunting parts of story. Mostly this is because of its […]

thematic metaphor

How to Make Your Plot a Powerful Thematic Metaphor

Your thematic metaphor is the unifying idea that emerges as the meaning behind your characters’ adventures in their story world. Once you have identified your story’s thematic principle, the real work begins. How will you seamlessly join theme to plot? Masterful authors create stories that, on their surfaces, may seem to be entirely plot—and yet […]