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 […]

How to Send a Message in Your Story... Without Preaching

How to Send a Message in Your Story… Without Preaching

My guess is, if you’re a writer, you have something to say to people. There’s a message in your story. Maybe you want to tell them that life is beautiful, even in the darkest of circumstances. Or that war is pointless. Perhaps you think avocados are nasty and want more people to join you in […]

How Minor Characters Help You Discover Theme

How Minor Characters Help You Discover Theme

Is theme the moral of a story? Is it the message an author wants to share? Or is it something more inherent to the plot itself? If this were a multiple-choice test, then I’d hope you would have chosen C. Although theme is potentially both a moral and a message, neither of these should be […]

Tips for Creating Thematic Resonance

This week’s shows how you can follow Charles Dickens’s example in Little Dorrit by layering it throughout your subplots and creating thematic resonance. Video Transcript: Since theme is often something that arises organically from a story, without much initial conscious thought on the author’s part, it can sometimes be a tricky aspect for writers to […]

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How to Strengthen Your Book’s Thematic Motif Through Repetition

One of the easiest ways to drive home a point is through repetition. Sometimes, repetition in a novel can come across heavy-headed—to the point readers either grow bored or begin to feel manipulated. But what if you could mix the power of repetition with the effectiveness of subtlety? This is exactly what Kurt Vonnegut teaches […]

Should Stories Be Soapboxes?

Should Stories Offer Messages?

Should stories offer messages? Common wisdom insists fiction is meant to entertain, not preach. The novel isn’t a soapbox for religious, political, social, or philosophical views. If you try to use it as such, you’re likely to sacrifice your stories and alienate your readers. And yet, ironically enough, many of the world’s greatest and most […]

Here’s the Right Way to Use Symbolism in Your Story

The right way to use symbolism in stories is more difficult to learn than you might think. In large part, this is because well-done symbols should be almost invisible within the framework of the story. Those that aren’t invisible often feel heavy-handed or even clichéd (such as the inevitable use of the American flag as a […]