better character goals header

6 Requirements for Writing Better Character Goals

Quick. Tell me what your characters want. Maybe you have an immediate answer. Maybe your protagonist wants to save the world, survive, or live happily ever after. While those are all legit goals that have powered hundreds of good stories, what I’m talking about is what your characters want. I’m talking about the one thing your […]

interesting scenes header

How to Write Interesting Scenes

Here’s a secret about storytelling that many writers overlook. An interesting plot isn’t what makes an interesting story. Interesting characters aren’t what make an interesting story either. In reality, a story is only as interesting as its scenes. That sounds almost too obvious to think about. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it too specifically myself […]

writing for a modern audience header

4 Challenges of Writing for a Modern Audience

Sometimes I think everything I learned about life I learned from The Andy Griffith Show. For instance, in the episode “Andy Discovers America,” when Andy is incredulous about the new school teacher “starting them awful young for history,” Aunt Bea just sighs, “Well, maybe they have to. There’s more of it these days.” If that idea was […]

quotes for writers header

20 of the Most Instructive Quotes About Writing

I’ve been really into writing quotes lately. Many of the posts I write are inspired by great things I read from other authors, so I decided to go on a hunt through my archives and find twenty of my favorite instructive quotes about writing. There’s so much wisdom to be found in our fellow writers. […]

good storytelling header

5 Ways Writers (Try to) Fake Their Way to Good Storytelling

Last week, I found a meme on Pinterest that showed someone dispensing two different soft drinks into the same cardboard cup. One of the drink buttons was labeled “Feeling stressed out when writing” and the other was labeled “Feeling stressed out when you haven’t written.” It’s funny because it’s true. The writing life is constantly […]

show don't tell header

Critique: 8 Quick Tips for Show, Don’t Tell

The key to immersive story experiences is convincing readers they’re right there with characters. They’re smelling the ash in the air, tasting the rain, feeling the churning gut, seeing all the same colors, hearing all the same notes. When narrative writing accomplishes that level of verisimilitude, it has the ability to move readers beyond their […]

helping authors become artists header

Helping Authors Become Artists

In view of this site’s title, it’s not surprising people often ask, “What’s the difference between a writer and an author?” Usually, I admit it’s a cheeky sophistry, since there is no true distinction, save for the common connotation that an “author” is somehow more professional. A writer is just someone who scribbles; an author […]

how to use your outline header

How to Use Your Outline When Writing Your First Draft

Outlining your novel is one thing. But then, whether you prefer to outline with minimalism, maximalism, or hindsight (aka, in revisions), a surprisingly easy stumbling block can be that of figuring out how to use your outline in the first draft. Recently, I received an email from Matt Powers, which made me realize that, out […]

plot and theme header

What Is the Relationship Between Plot and Theme?

Sometimes plot and theme are confused as being basically the same thing. Other times, they’re viewed as so distinct they don’t even belong in the same discussion. So which is it? First questions first: is plot basically the same thing as theme? To some degree, the answer is yes. Or, at least, intuitive phrasing often […]

use theme to create character arc header

5 Ways to Use Theme to Create Character Arc (and Vice Versa)

What’s the easiest way to find your story’s theme—and make it stick? Although any discussion of theme is multi-faceted, one of the best ways to approach this complex topic is through the realization that you can use theme to create character arc—and vice versa. When asked to explain what a particular story is about, some […]