secrets of storytelling

The 5 Secrets of Good Storytelling (That Writers Forget All the Time)

I’m having a harder and harder time getting excited about stories these days. Not because I don’t love stories, but because I do love them—and because it’s ever-increasingly difficult to find truly great ones that employ all the secrets of good storytelling. By “great stories,” I mean stories that are put together with intelligence, understanding, passion, […]

How to Write Funny

Part 17 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel If you ask me, the trifecta of must-have story elements are: relationships, action, and humor. Of the three, arguably the most difficult is learning how to write funny. You can’t fake humor. It either works or it doesn’t. This might prompt some writers to […]

Creating Character Arcs Workbook Launch

Introducing the Creating Character Arcs Workbook!

All you need to create a solid story is a solid character arc. If you can do that, chances are good you’ve also written a book that will give readers a solid experience with story structure and theme. This is why the study and practical execution of character arcs has become one of my primary […]

How to Amplify Your Characters' Subtext:

4 Ways to Amplify Your Characters’ Subtext

The magic ingredient in fiction is subtext. In part, it is magic because of the dynamic reaction it creates in readers: their sudden ability to become an intelligent participant in interpreting the story. But also, it is magic because, like any good trick, it can be difficult for authors to interpret exactly how to execute it. Nowhere […]

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 […]

The Only Reason You Should Write A Female Protagonist

Why We Need More Thematically-Pertinent Female Protagonists

It’s become a mantra now: “We need more female protagonists.” But I say: No. Uhh…. what? No. I say stop already with this crazily simplistic demand for “female protagonists.” Because it’s so totally not working. The problem, as is so often the case, is that authors, producers, and directors, who are either feeling pressured to […]

4 Ways to Write a Thought-Provoking Mentor Character

Part 16 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Good stories rise and fall based on their minor characters. You can write an amazing protagonist, but if he isn’t supported by an equally amazing cast, the story will fail to fully develop the protagonist himself, fail to flesh out the thematic premise, and, […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes (Flat Plots)

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 61: 5 Types of Clunky Dialogue

When you write excellent dialogue, you will simultaneously sharpen the rest of your narrative tools. When you write clunky dialogue, however, it’s unlikely readers will be able to engage with the story on any level. Happily, dialogue is usually one of the most enjoyable and intuitive parts of writing narrative fiction. We all do dialogue […]

5 Tips for Writing a Likable “Righteous” Character

It ain’t easy being green, but sometimes it’s even harder being good. When you think of great characters in books and movies, those who pop to mind are often people of moral complexity: youngsters coming of age in a complicated world, antiheroes haunted by their own dark natures, wounded souls fighting not to succumb to […]

6 Questions to Help You Choose the Right POV

6 Questions to Help You Choose the Right POV

Stories are defined by their narrators. Narrating characters implicitly tell us whose story this is. More than that, they determine which facets of plot and theme will be emphasized. How do they do this?  By also determining which elements will be eliminated or sidelined. In short, figuring out how to choose the right POV for your […]