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. […]

Want a Tight Story? Streamline Your Symbolism

Write a Tight Story: Streamline Your Symbolism

This week’s video offers a surprisingly simple tip for how to write a tight story that features both varied and rich themes. Video Transcript: Theme can be a bit of a tricky thing to understand how to pull off in a story. The main theme will always be central to the protagonist’s character arc. It […]

5 Important Ways to Use Symbolism in Your Story

5 Important Ways to Use Symbolism in Your Story

Today, I’m guest posting over on Storyfix, with the post “5 Important Ways to Use Symbolism in Your Story.” Here’s an excerpt: Symbolism can sometimes be a tough concept for authors to get their heads around. How do we come up with the right symbols in the first place? What should they be symbolic of? And how do […]

Jane Eyre: The Writer's Digest Annotated Classic by K.M. Weiland and Charlotte Brotne

Sneak Peek at The Annotated Jane Eyre’s “Workbook” + Giveaway

Only a month to go until the release of the book that has taught me more than just about anything I’ve ever written. Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic comes out August 1st, 2014 (stay tuned for info about my biggest drawing yet–with some absolutely insane prizes sponsored by Writer’s Digest). In the meantime, here’s a peek at the workbook in the back of […]