surroundings

How to Choose the Right Antagonist for Any Type of Story

Here’s how to choose the right antagonist for your story. You know “If I Didn’t Have You”—that song John Goodman and Billy Crystal belt out at the end of Monsters, Inc.? It’s this total bromance duet about the undying friendship of our two favorite monsters. But pretty much every lyric in there could also be […]

How to Overcome Fear as a Writer and Embrace Your Profound Courage

Long ago, someone gave me a birthday card that said “Fearless.” For many years, I tacked it on my bulletin board above my desk. Even now, it’s one of the few cards I’ve ever saved. I kept it because while a part of me resonated with the idea that I might be fearless, the rest […]

5 Secrets of Story Structure Audio Book

I wanted to take a quick minute to let you know that there is now an audio book version of 5 Secrets of Story Structure, narrated once again by the lovely Sonja Field. I wrote 5 Secrets as kind of an unofficial sequel to Structuring Your Novel. You can think of 5 Secrets as a […]

How to Write Your Memoir Like a Novel

A few years ago, I went to a workshop in New York City for writers. There I was surrounded by a group of novelists. As someone who loves to write fiction, I was interested, but at the time, I wasn’t working on a novel. I was working on a memoir, a book about a series […]

23 Tips for a Zero Waste Home Office

A little over a year ago, I decided to create a more sustainable, zero waste lifestyle. As a writer, time at the desk is a huge part of my life, so figuring out how to create a zero waste home office was a top priority from the beginning—and, honestly, one of the easiest parts of […]

How to Know Which Parts of Your Story Readers Will Like Best (It Isn’t Always What You Think)

You want readers to like your story. You want to give them something to love on every single page. But it’s so much easier said than done. How can you know—really know—which parts of your story readers will like and which will have them yawning and skipping ahead? So many stories, in all mediums, hit […]

A Writer’s Guide to Understanding People

“Write three-dimensional characters.” “Bring your characters to life.” “Create realistic human experiences.” These ditties of writing advice are so common they’re almost clichés. But how can you fulfill these dictums to write “real characters” without first mastering the even more foundational principle of understanding people? Recently, I received an email from a reader, which raised […]

This Is How to Transform Info Dumps Into Exciting Plot Reveals

Clues, mysteries, plot reveals, and plot twists—these are some of a writer’s stock tricks for hooking readers page after page. But as important as these tricks are, when they’re asked to bear the load of being the main attraction for readers, they too often turn into boring info dumps. Imagine you’re reading a story in […]

A Challenge to Write Life-Changing Fiction (+Giveaway)

Stories have intentions. That wonderful idea was just one of many nuggets I found myself highlighting in what has so far turned out to be my surprise read of the year—noted literary agent Donald Maass’s The Emotional Craft of Fiction. Like many of you, I cut my teeth on Maass’s now-classic Writing the Breakout Novel, but […]

5 Questions for Choosing a Protagonist Who Represents Your Story’s Theme

Choosing a protagonist is often more of an event than a process. Writers sometimes feel more like the protagonist chooses them than the other way around. While most of us heed our first instinct to simply chase after this character to see where he goes, it’s important that at some point we analyze the soundness […]