“There and Back Again”: The Lord of the Rings and the Power of Despair in Fiction

Someone asked me recently what I thought made an original story. One piece of my answer was that I don’t believe audiences so much seek original premises as original emotional experiences. We want to experience stories that evoke emotion and create catharsis. We don’t just want a comedy that makes the corner of our mouths crinkle; we […]

Figure Out Your Story’s Magic System Using Story Structure

From KMW: If you’ve ever written a story that falls into the broad genre of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and all their many many subgenres), then you may have faced one of the main challenges of the genre: creating a magic system. A magic system can be anything from a thoroughly elaborate high concept […]

How Meditation Can Inspire Your Next Story

As writers, it often seems we are channeling our stories more than creating them. So it should be no surprise to learn the tool of meditation can inspire your next story. I have often thought of writing as something of a meditation. When we’re really in the zone, it can feel like an altered state. […]

Announcing Archetypal Character Guided Meditations! (+Giveaway)

All this summer, I have been working hard on a secret project that combines two of my favorite things: archetypes and guided meditation. Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am releasing six Archetypal Character Guided Meditations! Based on the six transformational character arcs that I shared in my book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs, these meditations […]

How to Rediscover the Joy of Writing

It’s something of an irony that most of us come to writing because we love it—and, yet, it’s actually really freaking hard. Only somewhat tongue in cheek, I will often advise that if “you can not be a writer, then don’t.” And yet it is abundantly clear that more humans than not need to write. (And […]

Why There’s No Such Thing as “Just a Story”

Every so often, I will hear someone say, “It’s just a story.” Most often, I hear this said in situations in which a story is being critiqued. In response to comments that a story failed to reach its potential because it lacked theme or plot structure or strong characterization, a person might insist, “Well, it’s […]

6 Lessons Learned From 4 Years of Writer’s Block

To be a writer, one must do two things: write and, perhaps surprisingly, not write. Usually, we champion the first and demonize the second with much fear and trembling, giving it dread labels such as “writer’s block.” The implication is that, for a writer, not writing is about as bad as it gets. The truth, […]

Do You Need Personal Experience to Write About Something?

We writers like think of ourselves as metaphoric magicians—sitting at our desks, spinning worlds out of nothing but words and imagination. Pour a little research into the recipe, and our alchemy is complete. Yet an ongoing question among writers is the evergreen quandary about whether or not we must “write what we know.” In short, […]

6 Ways to Find Your Best Ideas Before You Start Writing

For writers, ideas are the primal matter. No ideas, no stories. But sometimes trying to figure out how to find your best ideas is like catching butterflies. They flit in; they flit out. If we aren’t paying attention, sometimes we don’t even recognize that they’ve been there. Even when we do stop short in awe […]

Do You Have to Write Every Day? 10 Pros and Cons

Should writers make it a habit to write every day? Is that the secret to success? Is that what distinguishes “real” writers? I used to think so. Often, when someone would ask me for my single recommendation for other writers, my go-to response was to reiterate some form of the advice from Peter de Vries […]