Search Results for: subtext

successfully start a book with a dream

5 Ways to Successfully Start a Book With a Dream

Don’t start a book with a dream.  This has become one of those bits of writing advice that has passed into legend, right along with “show, don’t tell” and “write what you know.” There are so many good reasons for this. Dream openings are notorious for being boring, irrelevant, misleading, and cliched. As a “fake” opening, […]

5 lessons from a lost novel

5 Lessons From a Lost Novel

Mistakes are unavoidable. To fear them is to fear life itself. To try to eliminate them is to waste life in a futile struggle against reality. I daresay no one has more opportunities to learn these truths than does a writer. As writers, our lives are a never-ending litany of mistakes. Certainly mine has been […]

how to up your show don't tell game

3 Tips for Improving Show, Don’t Tell

When looking for a new book to read, there are a couple quick tests I do to determine whether it seems like I can trust the author to know what they’re doing all book long. The first and most important of these tests usually requires just a quick glance across the first page to see […]

Ant-Man and the Wasp Big

4 Ways to Choose a Better Theme for Your Book

Part 20 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Writers often have a complicated relationship with theme. We love it. It loves us back. But reaching a harmonious happily-ever-after with theme sometimes turns into as much of a soap opera as a long-running CW drama. Just writing a story that has a theme is […]

Use Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene

How to Intertwine Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene

If plot, character, and theme are the foundational underpinnings of story itself, then they must be present in every scene as well, right? But that gets tricky. How can you make sure these elements are doing their job in every scene? And if they’re not present in every scene, does that necessarily mean the scene is […]

5 Steps to Writing Great Character Chemistry

5 Steps to Writing Great Character Chemistry

What is character chemistry? And how can you use it to make your story un-put-down-able? We most often hear about character chemistry in reference to actors—particularly those playing love interests to each other. Chemistry is hard to define but easy to spot. When two people show up on stage together and the result is a […]

4 Ways to Write a Better Anta

4 Ways to Write a Better Antagonist

Part 19 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel I have to believe Thanos would be a good writer. Why? Because he totally understands one of the most important principles of story theory: Pretty, isn’t it? Perfectly balanced. As all things should be. Too much to one side or the other… [and it […]

How the Truth Your Character Believes Defines Theme

How the Truth Your Character Believes Defines Your Theme

Part 18 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel The best stories always rest upon the foundation of believable character change and thematic depth. In turn, these two vital elements pivot upon the fulcrum of the Lie Your Character Believes and the Truth Your Character Believes. The Truth Your Character Believes is the […]

What Should Your Characters Talk About?

Dialogue is the best part of stories. (Yes, even better than Dickensian narratorial diatribes about crooked politics.) But it’s tough to write scintillating dialogue when you find yourself asking that fundamental question: “What should your characters talk about?” As writers, we’re familiar with the rant about “show, don’t tell.” We’re supposed to bring our stories […]

6 Ways to Set Up Your Story in the First Chapter

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 3: Introducing the Story

The reason the first chapter of a story is so complex is because it bears a triple load of responsibility. First, it must hook readers. Then it must offer a compelling and interesting scene of its own. And finally, it must set up the entire story to come. Today, let’s dive into our third and […]