From Lead to Gold: The Alchemy of Character Arc With Carl Jung

Storytelling is a mystical crucible. Just as the ancient alchemists sought the transformation of base metals into gold, writers strive for the metamorphosis of their characters’ inner selves throughout the story. Alchemy, as explored through the lens of Carl Jung’s insights, can elevate your characters from the leaden weight of initial flaws to the gleaming […]

A Writer’s Comprehensive Guide to Backstory

Hello, welcome to Everything You Need to Know About Backstory! I’m K.M. Weiland, and you are listening to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast or watching it because this is also a video post. This video is in answer to a question from SW, who asked: “I’m interested in how you figure out how to […]

Lessons From 2023: 5 Reflections on “Flat Arc” Periods

Welcome to 2024! And welcome to what has become a yearly tradition here at Helping Writers Become Authors. Every January, I write a New Year’s post in which I look back at the year that has passed and reflect on its major themes, lessons, and gifts. When I began this little ritual six years ago, […]

How to Use Archetypes in a Series

One of the most common questions I receive is how to use archetypes in a series. The short answer is: however you want! Archetypes are endlessly adaptable. However, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Most have to do with understanding the shape of the story you’re going to be telling over the […]

Announcing Archetypal Character Guided Meditations! (+Giveaway)

All this summer, I have been working hard on a secret project that combines two of my favorite things: archetypes and guided meditation. Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am releasing six Archetypal Character Guided Meditations! Based on the six transformational character arcs that I shared in my book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs, these meditations […]

A New Way to Think About the Lie the Character Believes

One of the simplest entry points to understanding how story works is the Lie the Character Believes. It is the fulcrum of any character arc or thematic discussion within a story. It’s also the gasoline in the engine of a character’s inner conflict—and, by extension, it can either power the outer conflict or at least […]

What’s the Difference? Your Character’s Ghost vs. Wound vs. Lie vs. Weakness

One of the major keys to engineering characters who can create reader-favorite moments is understanding your characters’ weaknesses. But those weaknesses seem to be known, in writer terminology, by a dizzying array of names, including “ghost,” “wound,” and “lie.” What’s the difference? And which goes where in the story, and how do they each operate […]

5 Ways to Use Your Character’s Shadows to Power Your Story

Complex characters mirror real-life humans in their contradictions of inner light and dark. As writers, it is our job to create these contrasts in ways that become cohesive and thematically meaningful. One of the simplest—and most effective—ways to do this is to explore shadow theory. In last week’s post, we talked about the concept of […]

How to Create Insanely Complex Characters Using “Shadow Theory”

Complex characters are the beating heart of good fiction. The simplest and most effective ways to engineer this complexity is to create contrast, and one of the most intuitive tools a writer can use for identifying which contrasting elements are organic to any given character or story situation is… shadow theory. The “shadow” is a […]

How Archetypes Changed My Life and My Writing

Story and life are inextricably linked. To write better stories, we study life. And to live better lives, we study stories. There are many obvious reasons why this is so. Stories, after all, are meant to be relatively accurate reflections of life. However, the more I study story theory, the deeper the rabbit hole seems […]