A New Way To Structure Your Story's Scenes

A New Way to Think About Scene Structure

Stories live and die on their scene structure. A great plot—even a well-structured great plot—won’t be able to stand if its individual scenes are floundering with no clear sense of purpose and direction in the overall story. Dwight V. Swain engineered the classic approach to scene structure, which breaks down each scene into integers of […]

3 Things to Do if Your Antagonist Is Taking Over Your Story

Next to your protagonist, your antagonist is the single most important character in your story. But beware, lest you discover your antagonist is taking over your story. What does this look like? Why might it happen? And how can you guard against it? Glad you asked. Antagonists are fascinating people. The reasons why people choose […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 55

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 54: Story Events That Don’t Move the Plot

One of your chief jobs as a writer is to come up with story events—stuff that happens in your story. Coming up with these exciting elements is likely why you started writing in the first place. Like C.S. Lewis, you were zapped with the electrifying image of a faun carrying packages and an umbrella through the snow—and […]

20 Gifts That Should Be On Every Writer's List This Christmas

20 Christmas Gifts for Writers That Should Be On Your List

Tired of people giving you books and pens for Christmas? Oh, wait, of course you’re not—not if you’re a writer! But if you’re tired of everybody on your list giving you books and pens, here’s a little inspiration to help them choose just the right Christmas gifts for writers like you. Christmas Gifts for Writers Under […]

The Nanowrimo Guide To Outlining (How To Write A Scene Outline You Can Use)

How to Write a Scene Outline You Can Use (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 9)

When most people ask “how to outline a novel,” what they’re really asking is “how to write a scene outline.” But here’s the thing: writing a good scene outline should be the last thing you do in your outlining process—which brings us to the ninth and final part in our two-month exploration of how to outline […]

How to identify The Most Important Part of Your Premise

How to Identify Your Story’s Premise–and Its Most Important Part

A high-concept premise can make or break your book—but not in the way you might think. It’s not enough just to come up with a cool idea for your book. You also have to make it work on every single page. Otherwise, no matter how cool it is, it quickly becomes the wrong premise. The key to […]

Today, I'm Thankful for... YOU!

Today, I’m Thankful for… YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving, Wordplayers! I hope you’re gearing up for a wonderful day of family, friends, football, good food, and maybe some good shopping deals. I’m considering doing my first-ever Black Friday shopping trip, so wish me luck! As always this year, I am overwhelmed with things to be thankful for. It’s been a challenging year […]

The Nanowrimo Guide to Outlining (Learning What's Important About Your Characters)

Making the Most of Character Interviews (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 8)

Plot and character aren’t so different after all. In fact, in many ways, they’re the same thing. Over the course of the last seven posts, as you’ve focused on outlining your plot, you’ve also been outlining your characters, perhaps without even knowing it. But now it’s finally time to focus exclusively on character interviews. By […]

How to Write Stories Readers Will Find Inexspected

How to Write Unexpected Story Events

Stories are all pretty much the same. Something happens that inspires something else to happen that inspires a resolution of some sort. With all the billions of stories out there, it’s no surprise we see the same plot elements recycled frequently. But don’t let the frequency of blasé, expected plot events become an excuse. Instead, […]

It’s Here! My Brand-New Writing Book: Creating Character Arcs!

If you’re writing tight plots, beautiful prose, and engaging characters—and yet your stories still don’t feel as if they’re gelling, you may yet be missing what is arguably the single most important piece of your storytelling puzzle. Maybe your characters aren’t engaging, despite your best efforts. Or maybe they’re following transformative personal journeys, but those journeys always end up […]