Why Your Protagonist Might Not Always Be Your Hero

This week’s video uses the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty to help writers think outside the box when choosing protagonists. Video Transcript: We often use the word “protagonist” interchangeably with “hero” or “heroine.” And this tends to conjure images of ogre-slaying, cape-wearing, entirely-dazzling-why-can’t-I-look-that-good people. But this is a little misleading. Sometimes the requirements of certain plots are going to lead you […]

if you keep in mind these five elements of story structure, you’re more likely to succeed than you’d be if you ignored them.

5 Elements of Story Structure

A few years ago, on the West Side of Manhattan, a rusting hulk of elevated railroad tracks metamorphosed into a promenade called High Line Park. Its transformation soon turned the Meatpacking District, through which it passes, into one of the hottest neighborhoods in New York. If you go visit the park, you’ll see a relatively new hotel called The Standard, […]

What’s the Most Important Moment in Your Character Arc?

This week’s video discusses the problem of making a character react without logic and why this decision becomes the most important part of character arc. And, after you’ve finished watching the video, be sure to drop by Roz Morris’s site to read about the music that inspired my recent fantasy novel Dreamlander! Video Transcript: Character and […]

The Two Conflict-Creating Needs of Every Character

In Frank Oz’s comedy What About Bob?, Bill Murray’s neurotic character sobs to his psychiatrist (who’s trying desperately to get rid of him), “Gimme, gimme, gimme! I need, I need, I need!” To some extent this is what every one of our characters should be internally screaming. We’re all familiar with the idea that the […]

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 10: The Climax

And, now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The climax is the pièce de résistance of our gourmet meal of a novel. When we wheel out the climax and lift the serving dish’s gleaming silver lid, this is the bit that gets all the “oohs” and “aahs.” The climax of a story should have readers on the edges […]

Two Surefire Signs of a Static Character

Two Surefire Symptoms of Static Characters

When you think of good characters, what words come to mind? How about dynamic? Dynamic characters are the stuff of literary legend. But at the other end of the spectrum, we have static characters. Except in instances in which the author purposefully leaves the character unyielding and unchanged over the course of the book to […]

Has Your Protagonist Changed? Prove It!

Personal transformations are always at the heart of strong character arcs. Our protagonists are faced with trials that force them to acknowledge their own inadequacies and then, usually, change their ways in a manner that allows them to overcome both their faults and, as a result, the bad guy. This moment of personal revelation and […]

character thoughts

5 Ways to Write Character Thoughts Worth More Than a Penny

One of the key benefits of written fiction is also one of the most difficult techniques to master: the characters’ inner narrative. The inner narrative of the characters—their thoughts put on paper—is the essence of fiction. Mastery of that essence equals mastery, in large part, of the art form of fiction itself. No wonder it’s […]

External and Internal Conflict: The Killer Combination

A general writing rule of thumb states that every page of your story should contain conflict. But sometimes it can be difficult to think up enough conflict to fill the nooks and crannies. After all, your hero can’t be battling it out with the villain on every single page. So what to do? The secret […]

Keep Unlikable Characters From Alienating Readers

Keep Unlikable Characters From Alienating Readers

Because a strong character arc often requires a deep change of personality in the main character, writers are sometimes forced to begin their stories from the rather compromising basis of a main character who is less than likable. In some instances—redemption stories and their ilk, in particular—the main character starts out being a real jerk. […]