Search Results for: subtext

Critique: 6 Tips for Introducing Characters

Most of the time, I hate real-life introductions. For one thing, I almost always forget the person’s name in the rush of shaking hands, smiling, and saying something charmingly banal. Then there’s the small talk, important but often tedious. Squirm. But that’s most of the time—because occasionally I run into one of those special people […]

6 Steps to Create Realistic (and Powerful) Scene Dilemmas

Scenes are the building blocks of your story. As go your scenes, so goes your story. If the scenes present a solid chain of deliberate structure, that’s what your story will be. But if too many scenes lack focus or dramatic impetus, so will the story. Every aspect of scene structure is important. Any aspect […]

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 […]

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Critique: 10 Ways to Write Excellent Dialogue

For many people, dialogue is the heartbeat of fiction. As arguably the only true form of “showing” in written fiction, it offers an inexhaustible source of energy for dramatizing characters, catalyzing conflict, and enhancing every available opportunity for entertainment. That’s why it’s so important to take full of advantage of dialogue, and that’s why we’re […]

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How to Tell if Your Story Has Too Much Plot, Not Enough Character

Can a story have too much plot? It might surprise you (especially if you’re a regular reader of the site), but the answer is absolutely, yes. Implicit in the question of too much plot is the idea that a story should have more of something else. Usually that something else is character. This is where we […]

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Critique: 4 Ways to Write Gripping Internal Narrative

The old joke about how “the book was better than the movie” is a reflection of several attributes written fiction offers over visual fiction. One of the main ones is the ability to get inside characters’ heads via internal narrative. Narrative, by its very nature, is narrated by someone. Usually, that someone is the protagonist. […]

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5 Ways to Earn Your Audience’s Loyalty

Part 22 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel There’s little in this cosmos that writers want more than our readers’ love and respect. We want them to buy our stories, love our stories, tell their friends about our stories, buy more stories, support us in style for the rest of our lives, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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4 Pacing Tricks to Keep Readers’ Attention

Part 21 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Stories live or die on their pacing. Great characters and concepts are the heartbeat of good fiction, but even the greatest can struggle to keep readers’ attention if the pacing is off. Pacing is a lot like tone. It varies depending on the type […]