Brainstorming the Wound in Your Character's Backstory

Brainstorming the Wound in Your Character’s Backstory

I’ve spent the better part of the last year digging into the topic of character wounds or “Ghosts.” If this topic sounds familiar, it might be because Angela Ackerman and I (among others) have been yammering about it to anyone who will listen. The wound is a fascinating and vital piece of your characters’ pasts, […]

3 Ways to Choose the Right Protagonist

Ever had a minor character steal the show and run away with your story? This scenario has its good points and its bad points (usually, it means a great minor character and a problematic plot), and it always leads writers right back to the all-important question of how to choose the right protagonist from the get-go. […]

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 […]

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Foreshadow a Story

Part 11 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Really, your job as an author can be summed up in one simple word: control. It is your responsibility to control readers’ experience of your story, to make them think and feel very specific things. One of the most important and powerful ways in which […]

The #1 Key To Relatable Characters: Backstory

The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory

Part 10 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Ever stop to think about why you enjoy backstory? I receive lots of questions from writers about backstory, most of it along the lines of: I love my backstory soooo much. How can I cram as much as possible of it into the main story? I […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50: Info Dumps

On its most fundamental level, a novel is nothing more or less than the dissemination of information. As such, the writer who understands exactly how and where to share information is a writer who understands the most fundamental skill of storytelling. That’s why info dumps are such a big, bad deal. They’re peanut butter in […]

Why Cool Character Traits (Just for the Sake of Cool) Are Not Cool

We’re all looking for high-concept ideas for our stories and character traits these days. You need to come up with something unique that’s going to make your story stand out on the bookshelf. Plus, who among us doesn’t like a little extra “cool” in our stories–just because? But hold up right there. “Cool” for the sake of cool […]

The #1 Problem With Backstory (and Its Simple Fix)

There’s a problem with backstory? Among writers that’s a rhetorical question. We all know there are lots of potential problems with backstory—everything from where to put it in the story to how much of it we should even be sharing with readers in the first place. But before you can start worrying about any of […]

Find Out if Your Prologue Is Destroying Your Story’s Subtext

Find Out if Your Prologue Is Destroying Your Story’s Subtext

You hear it all the time: prologues are evil. (And writers everywhere commence howling.) Now I’ll grant that “evil” is a slight exaggeration. We might call them “dangerous” instead, except that word is pretty ironic, since one of the chief reasons a prologue is so dangerous is because it allows authors to play it waaaaay yonder […]