Search Results for: subtext

Add Muscle to Your Fiction With Unity and Contrast

Our eyes see the world in shades of light and dark. Without one or the other, details fade into invisibility. The painting technique known as chiaroscuro (which as Lemony Snicket would say, is a big, big word meaning, quite literally, “light-dark”) makes full use of the contrast between light and dark to pull details into […]

How to Discover the Purpose of Every Scene in Your Story

In creating meaningful and effective scenes, the most important questions writers should ask are: What is the focus of this scene? What is its purpose? Let’s a take a look at how to find the best answers to these questions. How to Find Your Scene’s Purpose Scenes are created in one of two ways. 1. […]

When Arguments Are a Good Thing: Conflict in Dialogue

Most authors and their readers will agree that nothing beats a good bout of dialogue. Witty, poignant, romantic, angry—it’s all good. We all love it when characters open their big mouths and let fly. But creating good dialogue isn’t as easy as saying the first thing that pops to mind. Good dialogue is all about […]

How to Tell if You Should Show Your Character’s Backstory

In other recent posts, we’ve discussed the value of backstory, even to the point of writing your backstory as your story when it’s the more interesting of the two. But generally speaking that’s going to be the exception to the rule. Backstory is actually at its most powerful when we don’t tell it—or rather when we don’t […]

How to Write Strong and Silent Characters

One of fiction’s great archetypes is that of strong and silent characters. You know the type: broad shoulders, tortured past, Clint Eastwood squint. He doesn’t say much, but, hey, since he oozes charisma out of every pore, he really doesn’t have to. But how do you convince readers of your character’s supposed strength, when his […]

Captain America's 10-Step Guide to a Likable Hero

Captain America’s 10-Step Guide to Writing a Likable Hero

Make me like your characters, and I will follow them to the center of the earth. I will fight with them in the trenches. I will slog through bogs, brave tsunamis, and face down volcanoes for them. If I like your characters, I won’t just read your book, I’ll ache when it’s over, buy it […]

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Writing by Making Your Reader Your Co-Writer

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Writing by Making Your Reader Your Co-Writer

Authors can save themselves a lot of work just by remembering they have a partner in this storytelling game: their readers. Literature, more than any other art form, is a collaboration between writer and reader. The writer provides the building materials—the plot, characters, dialogue, and details—which readers then use to construct a visual and auditory […]

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Save Readers From Boredom: 5 Fool-Proof Preventatives

The bored reader is the writer’s worst nightmare. Angry readers we can tolerate—some writers even cultivate them—because anger at least indicates emotional involvement. Boredom, however, indicates only apathy. The scary part of all this is that we don’t always realize when we’re being boring. I once turned over to a beta reader a handful of […]

The Kung Fu Panda Guide to Writing Action Scenes

You don’t have to love kung fuuuuuuu to enjoy a good action scene, but you do need to understand the basics of the action scenes scene if you’re going to blind readers from overexposure to your action awesomeness. Fight scenes, chase scenes, and other action extravaganzas appear in stories of every genre, so consider the […]

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Do You Need a Prologue? One Way to Tell

Do you need a prologue? This question confronts authors in every story they write. Unfortunately, in large part because authors don’t always understand the true function of prologues (and epilogues), the answer often results in unnecessary padding. So can how can you tell when you need a prologue in your story? And when don’t you need […]