Is Backstory Sinking Your Book?

Backstory is often misunderstood, mostly because it has gained something of a bad reputation through misuse. It’s important you neither underestimate this crucial storytelling technique, nor allow it to overwhelm your main story. Backstory, as its name implies, is intended to stay in back of the main story. It’s never the point of the story, […]

6 Ways You Can Use Dialogue in Your Story

Dialogue is one of the hardest-working components in fiction—but only if you take full advantage of it. It’s easy enough to make your characters talk to each other and even relatively easy enough to make what they say interesting to readers. But if interesting is the only burden your dialogue is carrying, it’s not doing […]

6 Do’s and Don’ts of Creating Mystery in Your Novel

Creating mystery in your novel is important in every type of story, not just mysteries and suspense. The last time you stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, what was it that transformed your normally practical, serene self into an obsessive page-turning maniac? I’m willing to bet this month’s royalties it was something […]

Why Narrative Isn't a Bad Thing

How to Write Compelling Narrative

Modern authors are taught the only way to keep readers’ attention is keep the writing action-oriented. You must show not tell, dramatize your scenes, and keep characters doing and talking and in the moment every step of the way. These so-called rules are prevalent for good reason. Readers read because they want to see the […]

Boring! How to Diagnose Your Bad Backstory

Backstory is the history of your character—the part of the story that happens before the story. As writers, it’s often tempting to think readers are every bit as fascinated with our characters backstories as we are. But don’t be fooled. Readers are only interested in what’s going to happen next. If your character’s favorite cat getting […]

Learn Story Structure in 90 Seconds3

21 Must-Haves for Your Story Structure (in 90 Seconds)

A writer’s life is busy. Sometimes we need shortcuts. And while there really aren’t any shortcuts, sometimes there are, at least, cheat sheets. Today, I’m going to give you a Mouse-ter Class in story structure—in all of 90 seconds. Ready? Strap in and take a look at the video below to see the foundational art of […]

The “Establishing Shot”–and 9 More Ways to Strengthen Your Story’s Beginning

Just for the record: I hate beginnings. The first fifty pages of my novels are inevitably torture to write. I’m always sure I’ve lost my touch, convinced that every successful story in the past was a fluke, absolutely certain I’ll never make these opening scenes gripping enough to hook a reader. And it’s no wonder. […]

Backstory: The Importance of What Isn’t Told

Backstory: The Importance of What Isn’t Told

When Ernest Hemingway spoke about the dignity of an iceberg being “due to only one-eighth of it being above water,” he was speaking about the importance of the part of the story that isn’t told. Those seven-eighths underwater are the ballast for the tiny bit that juts up to glisten in the sun. And, more […]