3 Ways to Test Your Story’s Emotional Stakes

Part 14 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel You can do almost everything right in a story, and it will not matter. Acing your story structure, constructing a solid thematic premise, and punching your card on every important character-arc beat will not matter—if you don’t also nail the emotional stakes. The craft of storytelling […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 55

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 57: Dead-End Relationships

Once upon a time there were two characters. They got along very well, cared for each other very much, always had good advice for one another, and always, always, always had each other’s back. The End. Oh yeah, and even though it’s hardly worth mentioning, there was also this subplot character, who once betrayed one […]

6 Bits of Common Writing Advice You're Misusing

6 Bits of Common Writing Advice You’re Misusing

Recently, I found myself reminiscing about some of the early books on writing advice that transformed and molded my understanding of storytelling and writing. They opened my eyes, honed my craft, and changed my life. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without the solid writing advice I’ve received from the writers who have gone […]

Boba Fett’s Guide to Writing Cool Characters

Boba Fett is one of the most beloved scourges of the Star Wars universe. Yet, he says only 27 words (28 if you add the Wilhelm Scream), and is on screen for a mere 6 minutes and 32 seconds. He even gets defeated in a pathetic way by being knocked into the Sarlacc pit by […]

Deepen Your Story with Character Misdirection

Deepen Your Story With Character Misdirection

In childhood, stories are always about exactly what they appear: “See Spot. See Spot run.” But as we grow older and our life experiences deepen, so do our story experiences. What emerges is often a complex weave of subtext and misdirection. Life isn’t always as we perceive it on its surface—and even when it is, half the […]

The #1 Way to Write Intense Story Conflict

The #1 Way to Write Intense Story Conflict

One of the main pursuits of any writer is story conflict. The old saw tells us, “no conflict, no story,” so we’re always chasing after this little friction-causing engine. But as with so many things in writing, sometimes concentrating on the thing itself ends with us missing the forest for the trees. Story conflict is […]

3 Things to Do if Your Antagonist Is Taking Over Your Story

Next to your protagonist, your antagonist is the single most important character in your story. But beware, lest you discover your antagonist is taking over your story. What does this look like? Why might it happen? And how can you guard against it? Glad you asked. Antagonists are fascinating people. The reasons why people choose […]

The Nanowrimo Guide to Outlining (Learning What's Important About Your Characters)

Making the Most of Character Interviews (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 8)

Plot and character aren’t so different after all. In fact, in many ways, they’re the same thing. Over the course of the last seven posts, as you’ve focused on outlining your plot, you’ve also been outlining your characters, perhaps without even knowing it. But now it’s finally time to focus exclusively on character interviews. By […]

How to Write Stories Readers Will Find Inexspected

How to Write Unexpected Story Events

Stories are all pretty much the same. Something happens that inspires something else to happen that inspires a resolution of some sort. With all the billions of stories out there, it’s no surprise we see the same plot elements recycled frequently. But don’t let the frequency of blasé, expected plot events become an excuse. Instead, […]

It’s Here! My Brand-New Writing Book: Creating Character Arcs!

If you’re writing tight plots, beautiful prose, and engaging characters—and yet your stories still don’t feel as if they’re gelling, you may yet be missing what is arguably the single most important piece of your storytelling puzzle. Maybe your characters aren’t engaging, despite your best efforts. Or maybe they’re following transformative personal journeys, but those journeys always end up […]