How to Use Details to Suspend Disbelief

How to Use Details to Enhance Readers’ Suspension of Disbelief

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is plenty strange, especially in this era of vampires, dragons, time travel, and who knows what else! Because readers are accustomed to far-out premises that stretch reality all out of shape, most won’t blink an eye at a story that features any number of unbelievable phenomena. But […]

Avoid Lengthy Antagonist Narratives

How Much Screen Time Should Your Give Your Antagonist’s POV?

With literature so rich in fascinating bad guys—everyone from Hannibal Lecter to Captain Hook—it’s important to consider how much time you should actually give your antagonist’s POV. Occasionally, there comes a story in which the antagonist is more interesting than the protagonist. However, as a general rule, it’s accepted, and even expected, that the antagonist will […]

Whap! Pow! Zing!—How Can You Tell if Your Story Has Emotional Resonance?

Whap! Pow! Zing!—How Can You Tell if Your Story Has Emotional Resonance?

The magic ingredient in fiction is that special something that socks readers right in the gut and leaves them breathless with joy or sorrow (or maybe wabi-sabi, the Japanese view of beauty in imperfection). We’ve all read books that were perfectly executed, but somehow lacked that magic. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the word craft […]


yWriter Outlining Software in Action

In anticipation of my convalescence from Lasik corrective eye surgery, I skipped the usual how-to video this week and, at the request of a viewer on YouTube, created a short sequel to my popular yWriter tutorial, showing how I use yWriter outlining software once I’ve typed up all my outline notes and am in the […]

Why Your Character’s Motive Matters

How to Find Powerful Motives for Your Characters

You will often be judged by what you do. To a large extent, you are what you do. However, because others’ perceptions of your actions don’t penetrate to the reasons behind your actions,  you will often be judged incorrectly, or even unjustly. It’s no different for your characters. In a book, as much as in life, a person’s […]

How to Use Scene Breaks to Cut Your Story’s Fat

Avoiding excessive word count is a weighty consideration for any writer, but most particularly in order to keep unnecessary fat from weighing down your stories. Here’s a quick trick for using scene breaks to both cut the fat and make it seem like you’ve cut the fat. Fat takes many shapes, everything from repetitive dialogue to […]

How to Tell When Your Book Is Finished: 4 Signs It’s Time to Move On

How to Tell When Your Book Is Finished: 4 Signs It’s Time to Move On

We often complain that life isn’t as clear as it is in the movies. Unlike real life, stories offer definitive story arcs and concrete beginnings and endings. And, yet, ironically, it can often be difficult for writers to know just where that supposedly definitive ending point is in their stories. This ending point isn’t so […]

6 Reasons a Premise Sentence Strengthens Your Story

6 Reasons a Premise Sentence Strengthens Your Story

All stories begin with a premise (a battle in space, two people falling in love, a dog getting lost). But, often, the original conceptions are hazy and unformed. Sometimes, they’re not even a premise sentence, so much as the what-if question that will lead to a premise. What if a little boy’s brain grew too […]

3 Guidelines to Determine if Your Book Has Too Many POVs

Point of view—frequently referred to as POV—allow readers to see the story through the eyes of a character. In most instances, a skillful use of POV limits the story to only what is apparent to the POV characters. As a result, writers are sometimes tempted to include as many POVs as possible in an attempt […]

Is the Thesaurus Your Friend?

5 Pros and Cons of Using the Thesaurus

Writers are surprisingly divided over the value of using the thesaurus. Some consider it their secret weapon; others regard it as a crutch. So which is it? Stephen King’s opinion, from his 1988 essay “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully—in Ten Minutes” is now well known: Any word you have to hunt for […]