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 […]

When Your Backstory Becomes Your Story

Backstory is called backstory for the very reason that it belongs in back of the story. It’s not the point of the story; it’s only, in a sense, the explanation for the story. So, naturally, you’re always careful not to let the backstory take over. You’re alert to its sneaky attempts to horn in and […]

How Much Should You Explain in a Story’s Beginning?

One of the trickiest parts of any story is the beginning. And one of the trickiest parts of a story’s beginning is figuring out how to balance the need to keep the story moving forward with the need to explain lots of important background details to the reader. This is a balance that will be […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Nothing Happening in Your Scene

What happens next? is the question we all want to inspire (in breathless tones) from our readers. But in order for something to happen next, something has to happen to begin with. At first glance, that’s a no-brainer, but it’s actually ridiculously easy to write scene after scene in which one big fat stinking hunk […]


Discover the Perfect Place to Insert Backstory

How is an author to know the perfect place to insert backstory? Sooner or later, most authors feel constrained by the technique of opening a story in medias res, when we know readers won’t fully comprehend events unless we’ve first given them an understanding of the important backstory that preceded the opening. But by the […]

The 4 Most Common Mistakes Fiction Editors See

Wouldn’t it be great if nobody ever needed an editor? If all of our stories and novels appeared in readers’ minds just as beautifully and vividly and succinctly they do in our own? Wouldn’t it be great if the story we think we’ve told were, in fact, the story we’ve told? There are more aspiring […]

walk-on character

Making the Most of Walk-On Characters

Walk-on characters are often the neglected heroes of fiction. If the protagonist didn’t have other people with whom to interact, most stories would quickly fall apart. So, whenever the need arises, we stick in a taxi driver or a receptionist or a bum on the corner. Often, these unnamed characters fulfill the needs of the […]

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 […]