How to Structure Your Story’s Outline (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 7)

Story outline and story structure—are they different terms describing the same thing? This is a question I frequently receive, and the answer is, “No, they’re completely different concepts and tools.” But learning how to structure your story’s outline is a crucial part of the preparation process. So what’s the difference between outlining and structuring? Outlining is a process, in […]

A Surefire Sign You’re Going Too Easy On Your Characters

A Surefire Way to Raise the Stakes in Your Story

Characters are people to whom bad things happen. This is a good definition as far as it goes, but if this is as far as you take it, you will fail to properly raise the stakes in your story, and the entire reading experience will suffer as a result. Sure, bad things happen to characters. They […]

The Nanowrimo Guide to Outlining (How to Put Your Story Pieces Together)

3 Tips for Weaving Together Your Story’s Pieces (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 6)

Figuring out how to outline a novel is not a linear process. Particularly in the early brainstorming stages, outlining is not a simple progression from Step A to Step B. Your brain is going to be bouncing all over the place: Step A makes you realize something about Step Z, which makes you realize something about […]

The Only Reason Your Story Should Have Flashbacks

The Only Reason Your Story Should Have Flashbacks

Writers love their flashbacks. And with good reason. Flashbacks are a multi-functional technique for stepping outside your story’s timeline and sharing interesting and informative nuggets about your characters’ pasts. But just as they can be used to strengthen your story, they can even more easily cripple it. First things first: what is a flashback? A flashback […]

4 Ways to Write Backstory That Matters (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 5)

There are two equally vital parts to any story: the part you see and the part you don’t. The context and subtext. The story and the backstory. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to outline for NaNoWriMo (only one day away!) or just needing a game plan for your next work-in-progress, one of the most […]

How to Properly Motivate Your Bad Guy

No character is more misunderstood than the bad guy. Even today, it’s far too easy for authors to slip into the remnants of the old melodrama stereotype—black cape, twirled mustache, trick laugh. He’s the bad guy just because… well, he’s bad. Isn’t that enough? Definitely not enough. Next to your protagonist, your antagonist is the […]

How to Find and Fill All Your Plot Holes (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 4)

How to Find and Fill All Your Plot Holes (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 4)

What is the single most important job of an outline for NaNoWriMo—or any other book at any other time of the year? We might come up with lots of answers, but they all tend to boil down to just this one: avoiding plot holes. I hate plot holes. They drive me bazooey. There you are, […]

The Write Mind Planner Review of New Writing Journal

New Writing Journal Review: The WriteMind Planner

Is there anything sweeter than a new writing journal? How about a writing journal optimized to help novelists organize and refine their story notes? I was excited to get the opportunity to review author and designer Perry Elisabeth’s latest project: the Write Mind Planner. Like any self-respecting writer, just that first glimpse of customizable covers, […]

3 Ways Writers Can Instantly Spot Telling

3 Ways Writers Can Instantly Spot Telling

Show, don’t tell is a broad concept, which is why one rule doesn’t cover it all. It’s subjective, and each telling instance found in your writing must be evaluated in context. Does this sentence sound like telling? Is this scene explaining too much? But if you look at only the text, you risk missing “told […]

The Nanowrimo Guide to Outlining (How to Find the Heart of Your Story)

3 Steps to Find the Heart of Your Story (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 3)

Most of the time when you start figuring out how to outline a story, you know one of two things about that story. Either you know the skeleton of your story (its premise or plot), or you know the heart of your story. But it’s not enough to have just one. You gotta have both. On its surface, […]