5 Tips for Organizing Subplots

Imagine you walk into a candy shop, but what you discover inside, instead of candy, is display after display of subplots. Enough to make any writer’s mouth water, right? Writers love the idea of subplots. They’re rich, juicy, complex, and full of opportunities for taking your story to the next level. But organizing subplots, or […]

Why Doubt Is the Key to Flat Character Arcs

Flat Character Arcs create some of the most exciting and powerful stories. Most of the time, when people think of “character arc,” they’re likely to think of Positive Change Arcs, in which the protagonist himself undergoes an empowering personal change. Flat Arcs, by contrast, are about a protagonist who does not personally change, but who […]

3 Ways to Choose the Right Protagonist

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 Nanowrimo Guide to Outlining (How to Find the Heart of Your Story)

3 Steps to Find the Heart of Your Story (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 3)

Most of the time when you start figuring out how to outline a story, you know one of two things about that story. Either you know the skeleton of your story (its premise or plot), or you know the heart of your story. But it’s not enough to have just one. You gotta have both. On its surface, […]

Learn How to Set Up the Potential for Change in Character Arcs

Note from K.M. Weiland: Welcome to a special follow-up post to my (temporarily) completed series The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel. Wordplayer and frequent blog commenter Usvaldo de Leon, Jr. (who will no doubt remind me “commenter” is not a word!) sent me the following thoughts on the use of excellent character arcs […]

How to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters

How to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters

Part 13 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Sometimes the greatest act of courage any person can perform is simply that of being honest. This is arguably more valid for writers than for just about anyone—and it is nowhere more valid than in being willing to stay true to your characters. Here’s the thing […]

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It's Always Their Fault

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault

It’s a morbid joke among writers: we are so mean to our characters. And we love it. It’s the stuff of good stories. It’s the stuff of epic conflict. And yet, all this very important imaginative cruelty can sometimes trip us up on our way to writing dynamic characters who can, in turn, deal with this epic […]

Powerful Themes in Captain American Winter Soldier

Is This the Single Best Way to Write Powerful Themes?

Part 9 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel The longer I study stories, the more convinced I am that the one single thing that sets apart the great stories from the meh ones is theme. What this means, of course, is that figuring out how to write powerful themes is possibly the most […]

Use Minor Characters to Flesh Out Your Protaognist

Use Minor Characters to Flesh Out Your Protagonist

Part 3 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Stop thinking of your minor characters as characters. If that flies in the face of everything you’ve ever heard about your story’s supporting cast, then just hang with me for a minute as I first ask you this all-important question: What is story? […]

5 Secrets of Complex Supporting Characters

5 Secrets of Complex Supporting Characters

Supporting characters don’t get nearly enough love. We come up with amazing protagonists who do amazing things and we labor to give them solid and complicated character arcs. But after all that work on the story’s forerunner, what happens to the supporting characters? Too often, they’re an afterthought. Of course, your protagonist needs a dad […]